One thing about being an avid angler AND owning and operating a veterinary housecall practice is that every day has the potential to bring surprises and smiles that simply don’t exist in a traditional brick and mortar hospital
Imagine, for example, my surprise when I spied the phrase, “Go Fishing — $2.00” added to the bottom of the sign for the Montebello Barnyard Zoo where we were scheduled to conduct annual exams and administer vaccines to the livestock there.
Now, if your mind works anything like mine, just seeing the word “fishing” triggers something akin to what must go on in the brain of a hound dog when he finally picks up the sought after scent.
However, focus is required when one is working on full-grown llamas and such lest one catch a kick in an unexpected place or a face full of alpaca spit. And it takes concentration and a steady hand to rope a goat or catch a running chicken. (Remember the training scenes in “Rocky”?) So even though I had noticed that darn “fishing” thing on the sign as soon as we walked through the gates, I had to intentionally shove that thought deep into the recesses of my head until we were finished checking everyone out and the sharps had all been safely stored away and the vaccines were back in the fridge along with any blood and/or fecal samples.
But you can bet, once everyone was inspected, injected and given a clean bill of health and all that was left to do was to settle up the accounting, I inquired about the fishing phrase posted on the sign.
“Oh, you wan’ to see my newest proyect?” The owner replied in his heavily accented English. “Is jus’ a little thing I thought los ninos would like.”
So like an obedient puppy, I followed the proprietor to the back of the property while visions of a private lake stocked with Alpers Trout danced in my head.
We worked our way around the rental picnic areas and the gold-panning sluice and in between the merry-go-rounds and past the mini train station and out toward the far end of the property to… a small pond approximately ten feet wide and twenty feet long and about a foot deep.
Reality hurts sometimes.
Still, it was a charming little pond. The rockwork and landscaping were well done and it all fit in nicely with the overall theme and scale of the zoo. It just wasn’t the private estate lake I had built it up to be in my mind during the brief walk to see it.
Nor did it hold any prized Trout. In fact, the “fishing” turned out to be snagging plastic, floating decoy ducks by a cleverly designed hook and ring system as they drifted by a split-rail fence.
Somewhat disappointed, but not wanting to appear rude or discourage the inventiveness of our host, we each took a fishing pole in hand while one of the farm hands fired up the high volume pump that caused a whole flock of plastic ducks with metal rings protruding from their backs to go zipping past us in an endless swim to nowhere.
The rods had a fixed length of heavy monofilament attached to the end and a rather unique hook. I took consolation in the fact that they were vaguely similar to the Tenkara rods that are carried by TenkaraUSA. After a few half-hearted attempts to land one of the ducks, I realized that this fishing game was actually rather challenging. After ten minutes, I realized it was bloody addictive and down right ingenious.
We might have spent the better part of the afternoon there twitching and jerking the rods with the oversized hooks on the ends in an a near futile attempt to snag one of the bobbing birds but we had other patients to see and other stops on the schedule so I somewhat reluctantly relinquished my pole and congratulated the proprietor on his newest venture, wishing him much success and many two-dollar ticket sales.
As we pulled away from the farm, I smiled to myself, partly because of the surprising way the day had turned out but also because I know SoCal is a big, eclectic and eccentric place and there are a whole lot of pets out there. One day we will stumble across the right property and the right pet owner and I will have a standing invitation to practice my roll casts on a private pond stocked with fat, sassy Rainbows.
I love this addiction called Urban Fly Fishin’.