The legend of El Dorado is centuries old. It is a tantalizing tale of unimaginable riches and fame. It is a tale that has cost men their lives and fortunes. It is a tale that still drives men into the darkest reaches of the remotest stretches of the world. It is the tale of a quest… and in that regard, it is a lot like fishing.
Just like the famous and infamous explorers seeking the treasure of El Dorado, my buddy, Sean, and I spend an inordinate amount of time pouring over maps and charts, haunting the musty aisles of used bookstores, investigating leads and tips and researching equipment to help us in our quest.
Sometimes the payoff is better fishing than we imagined and the contentment of a hard fought victory is great, other times it is frustration, lost flies and bruised egos.
This past weekend we got to experience both as we headed over to El Dorado Park in Long Beach.
El Dorado Park sits on the east side of Long Beach, nestled between the 605 freeway and the San Gabriel River. It is an attractive park with lots of trees, a nature center and four interconnected lakes with a variety of fish and terrain to suit most every fishing style. The lay out of the park belays the fact that is surrounded by tens of thousand of people and homes and is a stone’s throw from a major shopping center. For the urban angler craving a little adventure and some possible excitement, it IS an El Dorado of sorts.
We hit the park about mid afternoon, just ahead of a cold front sliding down the West coast and bringing the promise of cooler temps and possibly real rain for the first time in months. Truth be told, there was a bit of a nip in the air, which almost made long sleeves inviting, almost.
The small horseshoe shaped lake near the entrance of the park is known Carp and Bass habitat so we opted to start there. Immediately, Sean began pulling in small panfish on his tried and true hopper-dropper rig.
I on the other hand, kept hanging up in the weeds and submerged brush.
We worked our way around the shoreline with Sean continuing to score hits on his dropper while I continued to foul up and break off flies.
About halfway around, we both started getting light hits on the dropper flies. I kept losing them but Sean managed to pull in a couple of Crappie – his first on the fly. Needless to say, he felt like he had found the elusive treasure for this day’s particular quest.
I know one of the nicknames for Crappie is “papermouth”, now I know why. They took the fly with barely a ripple or tug and they were lost with anything more than a gentle set.
As we walked further around the lake, I continued to experience hang-ups and fouled lines and a myriad of trifling problems that all add up to a frustrating and non-productive day. Just about the time I seriously considered calling it quits, the lowering sun burst out from behind a band of clouds and washed the lake and trees in a golden-orange hue that was, quite simply, stunningly beautiful.
Now, I know that angling is all about catching fish. But just being there, at that moment and seeing the incredible, fleeting beauty of that lake and those trees awash in the rays of the setting sun was like looking upon a glimmering city of gold — like gazing upon the mythical El Dorado.
And as with many quests for riches and glory, while I did not capture the intended prize, I did walk away a richer man for the effort.
I love this addiction called urban fly fishin’.
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