Autumn 2009 officially began in North America on September 22, 2009 at 5:18 pm EDT.
For much of the country, Autumn or Fall traditionally means a transition into cooler temperatures, changes in the foliage and shorter days.
In SoCal, we get the shorter days all right, but for us, the Fall is notorious for being incredibly hot, dry and windy. The seasonal Santa Ana winds blow in and the temps can easily soar into the triple digits while the humidity plummets in the opposite direction to the single digits.
No one really knows why they are called the Santa Ana Winds, though many explanations are put forth as fact. My favorite one is that the name harkens from the Spanish colonial days and is a corruption of the phrase for “Devil Winds”. Besides appealing to the romantic notion of a California long gone, that explanation is certainly an apt description, especially when an unanticipated hurricane-velocity gust drives a size 10 wooly bugger between your shoulder blades– though I have been known to call them something else during those moments.
At any rate, urban fishing in SoCal during the Santa Anas is always an adventure – Sure, fickle breezes befoul every other cast and cause flies to drop into places not aimed for, but in the same way that the hot, irritating winds stir up the darker passions of Angelenos, they also seem to induce a frenzied, maddened bite in local Bass and Panfish populations.
Sean and I both experienced this during the last bout of “Devil Winds”, when we each had opportunities to sneak off for a couple of hours to different local lakes.
I had a scorching good time, taking a dozen five to six-inch bass on a yellow egg imitation rigged as a dropper off of a grasshopper fly – all in about an hour. Sean, likewise, smoked ‘em at the lake he hit, pulling in another dozen Bass and Panfish on a similar rig, though the lake he hit was paradoxically shrouded in coastal fog.
What made these little ventures exciting was the fury with which these relatively small fish hit our flies. These fish charged and fought and shook their heads just like the big boys. I even had one shake out the hook only to have another one hit it before the ripples of the first fish had died down.
When we compared notes, Sean told of similar ferocity amongst the fish he encountered.
Chalk it up to the season or the winds, either way, we both had a devilishly good time pursuing this addiction called urban fly fishing.
“Those hot dry winds that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happern. ”
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