There are many great things about not having to work on Christmas Eve, one is that I can go fishing in the morning and another is that a lot of people are working or at home with family. That means that every year on Christmas Eve morning I am out on the water all by my lonesome.
I had to decide where I was going to fish and I have been long overdue for a hike up into Santa Anita Creek to get in a little Wild Rainbow Trout Action. I was amazed when I got the the Chantry Flats parking lot and it was almost empty, when it is normally busting at the seems with people looking to take a nice stroll amongst the beauty of the canyon.
The hike and the fishing was great. I managed a few small native fish after just a few hours time and the weather was crisp, cool, and refreshing. I was amazed to see how many trees had been uprooted though by our recent rainstorm, after such a dry season the last couple of years and then the sudden rain the roots must not have had a very strong hold.
Can’t wait for my next trip up there, I am such a sucker for the beautiful waterfall dams that line the hike about every 1/4 of a mile. If you decide to do any kind of fishing up in Santa Anita Creek, please remember to practice “Catch and Release Only”. The creek is small, has not been stocked in a long time, and cannot spare even one fish to power bait and treble hooks!!!
Merry Christmas to all of our loyal readers and fellow urban anglers.
We appreciate your support and comments.
In fact, your consistent feedback and positive comments have had a huge role in keeping us moving forward with this web site and blog – Thanks!
I spoke to the East Coast based “familia” this morning to wish them the joy of the day. After exchanging thank yous and other pleasantries, they started to whine about the temps hovering around 5 degrees F and threatening to snow hard. I happened to be standing in front of the kitchen window at the time and glanced at the outside thermometer attached to the glass. It read 60 degrees and I could not find a cloud in the sky.
Now far be it from me to gloat on the most charitable holiday of the year– especially over something like amazing weather but especially since my sister and bro-in-law are currently in the process of buying a Connecticut property with its own running stream and private lake (and which also happens to be mere minutes from the ocean).
So I just urged them to enjoy each others company whilst snuggled up in front of the fire and casually re-confirmed that the new house does indeed have ample guest quarters…
After additional phone calls to the rest of the family members scattered across the lower forty-eight, my lovely bride and I refilled the coffee mugs and sat down to open the gifts under the tree.
In keeping with the spirit of the day, let me publicly declare that we are blessed beyond compare with family, friends, adopted family and mentors whom we deeply love and appreciate.
But, since this is a FISHING blog – I gotta say, I am particularly blessed to have a fishin’ buddy who knows how to warm the cockles of the heart like no one else. I’m not bragging or anything, I’m just sayin’, who else but a fellow angler truly understands that you really can’t have too many hemostats or rigid fly rod tubes – thank you Sean.
Also, though it may cost me that new fly vest, I have to thank Sean again for providing a convincing argument to my Beloved that she would indeed look hot while participating in the very sport that is so near and dear to my heart.
A couple more pics of her outfitted in said fly vest and new hat and I bloody well may have her convinced that a week at a Montana fishing lodge IS as much fun as Maui.
So, thank you readers, thank you Sean and thank you to the unsung seamstress somewhere in China that skillfully sewed that new fishin’ vest – God bless us, everyone!
I received this email from a regular follower of our site Jeffry Lizar, and I wanted to pass it on to you guys!
Thanks again for the information and keeping up such a great website. I thought I would give you some feedback on our weekend fishing endeavors. My brother and I set out to try our hand at mountain fly fishing for the first time. It was an adventure to say the least. We were discouraged by the weather on Saturday but were resolved to get in some fishing wherever we were able to find a place. We met up at about 6am Sunday morning on Azusa Blvd. before we head up the mountain. Shortly after, we were met with CHP and CA Dept of Transportation telling us that most of the mountain passes were closed due to mud slides. Since we were resolved to do some mountain fishing we tried Rancho Cucamonga (don’t remember the river) and were met again with a road closure. We head over to Lytle Creek and found some pretty cold temps but running water. The flow was extremely fast and we could barely find more than muddy white water. The couple of pools we found around the water department dams were mostly muck with zero visibility. We of course got in some casting practice at these spots for kicks. All in all, Lytle Creek was a bust. After an hour or two of that we head over to the North side of Silverwood Lake. I had on one of my maps that there was fishing on the West Fork of the Mohave River just to the north of the lake. All we could find was an Owens River-like stream running through private land. We jumped over a few unmarked fences to get close to the water but neither of us was much interested in fishing on private land so we left.
After taking the back road through Hesperia (don’t ask) we made our way back to the 138/5 intersection. Just as we were about to give up on the day, I checked the CADOT road closure report on my phone and found that the 39 was back open. So…we headed back to West Fork and arrived at about 3pm. There were a couple of dozen people there, most notably four or five youngsters singing and playing guitar on the rocks by the river. I’m sure the fish were enjoying themselves! We walked up an eighth of a mile or so (at this point we wanted to fish more than hike) and found a couple of interesting looking pools. Not much action there. As it started to get dark with a few more rain drops, we started walking back to the car. As we walked past the area where the troubadours were playing, we realized it was a promising spot to fish. It was getting dark but we could still see enough to tie on a tippet and fly (we used various nymphs). About ten feet from the side was pretty active with small sized trout. In the 20 minutes we spent there I failed to pull in three smallish fish (I used barbless for the first time with much too large gear 9’ – five weight). My brother had about the same amount of action but pulled in a five inch bow which he promptly returned to its habitat. So there you have it.
West Fork is a beautiful place and we will certainly return. We can see why it would be beneficial to hike in a bit to get away from the crowd.
I you have any stories or photos that you would like to share with us, please send them in we would love to hear about them and maybe even post them on the site. Thanks to all our readers out there for your continued support!
In the world of veterinary medicine there is an adage that goes “see one, do one, teach one”. It is an adage that is most frequently cited and recited in the surgical theater where mental acuity, fine motor skills and, sometimes, physical endurance are valuable traits but where the realities of time and resource limitations mean one best be a quick study. For some, it is a reassurance and confidence builder. For others, it is a grim reminder of abilities lacking.
Without going into potentially endless philosophical debate and all, I would suggest that that adage is applicable to how the art and practice of flyfishing is most often passed along from one fellow to the next or from generation to generation.
Now just to be clear, let me state up front that I am an avid proponent of taking classes from a fly fishing school, joining a local fly fishing club, hiring professional guides or some combination of all three in that never-ending quest to improve one’s casting abilities.
However, I am also a realist and understand that sometimes fellow anglers see you out there and just want you to let them try their hand at that “crazy stick waving” before fully committing to the fine art of fly fishing and a lifetime of perpetual debt and insatiable envy for the next greatest 5-wt.
Such was the case last Monday, when my friend Ray convinced me to take him out for a morning of “instruction”.
(Disclaimer time: Those three things I mentioned earlier as being an avid proponent of…I’m none of them.)
Now, Ray probably has more years of fishing under his belt and more pictures of himself holding more Trout over fifteen pounds than anybody I know. This guy knows fishing and knows how to catch fish like there is no tomorrow. When he rattles off the names of all the lakes he’s fished, it is like an atlas of California waters. His rod and gear collection rivals the Christmas inventory at a Bass Pro Shop.
Yet, despite all these reasons for me to like Ray, he has never flyfished. Nevertheless, I felt a twinge of anxiety as we scheduled to meet up for some informal lessons and “crazy stick waving”.
So, Monday morning, after a restless night spent listening carefully to see if the 50% percent promise of rain and wind would materialize, I headed over to El Dorado Park to spend a couple of hours flinging fly line.
I brought several rods with different actions and a variety of line types and made sure to tie on a hook-less piece of yarn to the ends of the leaders. I wanted Ray to like flyfishing and, in my experience, nothing spoils the lesson like a hook in the back of the head, especially when said head is as bald as a cue ball.
The park was mostly deserted and we had virtually the entire Horseshoe Lake to ourselves. There was no wind but due to the storm from the day before, the lake had an abundance of broken tree limbs and floating debris. As we went over the basics, the surface would occasionally boil from Carp taking advantage of the floating salad bar so aside from me actually figuring out how to explain things in a comprehensible fashion I had to suppress my desire to let Ray figure things out on his own while I tied on one of the new carp flies from Mad River Outfitters.
But, like I said earlier, Ray knows his way around fishing and gear and such so soon enough, we were swapping stories and sharing the locations of favored fishin’ holes between casts and coaching tips and we fell into an easy rhythm of back and forth which pretty much sums up my attitude of how to approach urban fly fishing.
Interestingly, the old and mostly forgotten adage mentioned above popped into my head as I found myself assessing my own acquired bad habits while trying to verbalize what I had learned and knew to be correct.
I found myself once again becoming the student as well as the instructor – which is probably a good thing.
I ’m not sure if I converted Ray to the “Way of the Fly”, but I think he was excited to have gained some insight into this method of going after fish.
He asked multiple times if he could accompany Sean and me next time we hit the L.A. River so I’m guessing that he wasn’t completely turned off or maybe he just needs a picture of a massive Carp to complete his picture album
Whatever the case, it was an enlightening morning for both of us and it was one of those mornings that makes Urban Fly Fishing such a blast.
I love this addiction called urban flyfishin’!
I went up to the San Gabriel River to get in a little Rainbow Action this past Saturday, because the Urban bite has slowed down and all of gangsters and people wanting to swim the river have realized that it is now to cold to go up there.
I started off the day on the West Fork but the road was closed at the Second Bridge and there were fly fishermen on all my usual spots, so I decided to hike and fish the North Fork. Most of the fish caught on this fork are small in the 2-4 inch range, which is good to see because it means that the Rainbow Trout are still producing naturally ( since the river will not be stocked with fish for a while).
However this heavy rain that we started getting today is making me a little worried, since all the recent fires in that area mean landslides and poor water quality. But, I decided to spend a few extra casts on each hole, and I was rewarded with 3 or 4 fish all in the 7-12 inch range (and if you don’t know that is a good size for that section of the river).
The strangest thing about my catch of the day was that with every cast the fish just got bigger and bigger. Yet after all this fishing, I am left still wanting to hike up into the West Fork at least a few miles, there is just something about those fish. In my opinion they are the most beautiful Rainbows that can be caught in the San Gabriel Mountains!
There are several places around the world where it is often claimed that the weather is so variable that one need only wait twenty minutes or so for a change if the current situation isn’t to one’s liking.
SoCal would not be one of those places.
Instead, one of the claims to fame for SoCal is that the weather and geography is such that one can ski in the morning and turn around and surf in the afternoon.
As a native Angeleno I can vouch for the accuracy of the second statement and as a fly fisherman I would further refine that phrase to say that one can stream fish for trout in the morning and surf fish for perch in the afternoon.
It often happens that, depending upon the time of year, one can also be standing in the snow in the morning while roll casting a 3-wt. on said narrow mountain creek and then be wet wading in the surf with an 8-wt. come the afternoon.
It’s an awesome thing, even if it does make packing the car and loading the vest or pack a tad difficult.
Now as most of you probably already know, this past weekend we celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday and, as is the common custom here in SoCal, about a hundred thousand of us trekked up into the mountains to “get away from it all”. As much as I hate crowds, I must confess that I, along with my lovely wife and some of our dearest friends (yes that includes my fishin’ buddy Sean and his beloved bride) were among the mobile masses.
Nothing says “over the river and through the woods…” like struggling to maneuver around a thirty-five vehicle long line of SUV’s in the drive-thru for Starbucks and then crawling along in a twenty-five-mile long traffic jam while the vehicle next to you literally shudders from the bass beats of the Black-Eyed Peas.
However, once we eventually inched past the turn-off toward Las Vegas, where most of the vehicles seemed to be heading, traffic opened up and my mood lightened in proportion to the frequency that billboards gave way to oaks and then pines.
We finally arrived at our mountain retreat by late afternoon under clear sunny skies and mild temperatures.
My parents had made the drive up the hill (as we call it– even if it is a 6500 foot high “hill”) earlier in the week and good ‘ol Mom had immersed herself in a cooking frenzy such that we were greeted by the mouth-watering aromas of turkey in the oven and sweet potato pie cooling on the counter.
Needless to say, in addition to our feast, we had much to be thankful for and the rest of the day, including the moonlit walk along the boardwalk over the southeast shore of Big Bear Lake, more than made up for the mildly rocky start.
Before retiring for the night, Sean and I confirmed and reconfirmed with our spouses and the rest of our party that they had absolutely no intention of arising early (as in before 11 a.m.) and thus assured, he and I made plans to hit the upper portion of the Santa Ana River while everyone else recovered from a turkey and stuffing induced coma.
Friday dawned clear and cold. We fortified ourselves with hot coffee (I also managed to break into the fruitcake — yes the fruitcake — without making too much noise) and we headed off.
If this “Black Friday” was chaos at the malls, it was bliss in the local mountains. We saw only two other vehicles during the entire drive to the river and encountered no other anglers the entire morning. Tens of thousands of people in the mountains and we saw no one – such is the paradox of SoCal.
But then again, perhaps the rest of the angling world had heard that conditions were less than suitable and we were the ones on a fool’s errand.
In any event, we found the correct turn-off and drove about a mile back on the dirt road paralleling the river, stopping frequently at various wide spots and near bridges that criss-crossed the water. Sean used a dry/nymph rig and I fished a size 18 nymph in the deeper pools and wider riffles–which is to say the sections that were wider than what we could jump. We hop scotched along the different sections of the river working our way downstream. The sun had not yet reached into the bottom of the canyon and it was cold. In fact, ice lined the bank of the stream, especially in the deeper shadows.
As the morning wore on, the sun eventually peeked over the ridge and the overall scene immediately took on a magical quality. Sunlight washed over the tops of the trees and highlighted the light glazing of frost in the almost bare upper branches. A few moments later, shafts of light poured down through the trees and illuminated the ice, transforming the river into a something like a Thomas Kincaide painting.
As beautiful and as peaceful as it was, the fishing was poor. Sean managed to pull in only one small but vibrant Brown Trout the entire time and I only managed to illicit one feeble, half-hearted rise toward my fly. We changed flies frequently but just couldn’t find the winning pattern.
We moved further downstream. Sean found a smooth, clear pool with what looked like the dark outlines of several decent Trout holding by the near side bank. I held tight where I had a panoramic view of the unfolding mini-drama as he crept slowly forward in a low, crouching position using the spindly brush along the bank for cover so as not to spook the fish. He made his cast. It was textbook perfect with a fine, tight loop that slipped between the overhanging, barren branches and past the leaning trunk of an old Jeffery Pine.
His dry/dropper combo landed neatly at the edge of the pool but did not move in the normal fashion. After a few seconds, he picked up and cast again. It was another well-formed loop landing precisely where targeted and still it did not drift as it ought.
Puzzled, he cast yet again to the same pool only to get the same result.
Now, it is often said that the definition of insanity is attempting to do the same thing over and over while expecting to get different results.
To the best of my knowledge, Sean is not insane.
Thus, after the third cast with the same results, he pulled in his line and approached the pool that had looked so promising but now simply seemed perplexing.
I too could stand it no longer, so I also approached this little pocket of water. We both stood there for a moment until the cause of the mystery revealed itself. A crystal clear and amazingly thin sheet of ice had formed on the surface of the water where Sean was casting. It extended out from the bank to about mid way across the pool.
He was effectively casting onto a glass tabletop though neither one of us could see it from our original positions along the bank.
There were indeed Trout beneath the ice. They sat tight to the bottom watching us, confident that we could not reach them. They were like the boorish uncle who teases the lion from the outside of the enclosure, smug in the knowledge that the thick plexiglass will allow him to escape the fate everyone else secretly wishes upon him.
We continued to stand there and laughed about this neat little trick of nature. We joked about being true SoCal boys and thus being naïve to the subtleties of frozen water.
It seemed like a good time to wrap things up so we decided to call it a morning and head back to our wives and breakfast.
The trip home was quiet and reflective. We didn’t speak much but when we did, it was to comment on the quiet beauty of the river and the unexpected but very welcome lack of anglers on what should have been a very busy holiday weekend.
We both agreed that a huge part of the appeal of fly-fishing is the discovery of the unexpected – sometimes it’s unexpected but obvious once you stumble upon it and other times it’s as fleeting and as elusive as crystal clear ice on a lonely, narrow mountain stream deep in the heart of a forest surrounded by millions of people.
I love this addiction called urban fly fishin’.
Switch to our mobile site