RED CAR PARK

By , March 23, 2010 10:02 pm

Alright, so my fishin’ buddy Sean is back from a well-deserved vacation in Hawaii. But he picked up a flu bug of some sort and didn’t even make it to church today. My other fishin’ buddy, Ray made it to church today but then he had a rehearsal this afternoon for an upcoming band gig. My wife (and newest convert to “the way of the urban fly”) was supposed to be at the same rehearsal as Ray but she had a paper to finish writing. I had to write a paper for the same class but I finished mine last week.

The long and short of it was that if I wanted to go fishing, I was going solo.

So after a very pleasant lunch with my lovely bride and some of our dearest friends, I opted to check the conditions at the Glendale Narrows portion of the L.A. River, where I haven’t been in a couple of months due to all of the winter rain.

When I crested the small hill at Red Car Park I glanced downstream and immediately noticed that the rains had scoured away most of the emergent weeds and rushes leaving the River looking a bit plain and lifeless. I also noticed that the remaining trees growing up from islands in the middle of the River were all pushed over in a downstream direction.

The good thing about this was that I could get a rather detailed mental picture of the general layout of the many small islets and sandbars and channels that would eventually be hidden by vegetation – vital information for later in the season.

The bad thing about all this was that every bit of trash and debris lay exposed like so many open wounds on the landscape.

In a strange twist of nature and geography, the same storms that brought the white, blanketing snow to the mountains — covering, hiding and beautifying everything up there, stripped away the lush, verdant growth in the River — exposing the mud, debris and refuse of civilization down here.

Seriously, trash was everywhere. Bits of plastic bags, tarps, towels, clothing, and paper hung from the trees like Tibetan prayer flags. Mounds of debris, both organic and otherwise, were draped around the upstream side of every bridge abutment, pole and tree trunk.

It was kind of an eerie feeling. I kept wondering which items represented someone’s thoughtlessness and disregard for the environment and which items bore silent witness to the fury of nature and the lost dreams of some family who’s home hadn’t fared well in the previous month’s storms.

Then, as I got down to the water, I saw thick ropes of string algae curtaining many of the pools that had held decent size carp last summer. In fact, I would spend an inordinate amount of time pulling string algae off my flies for the rest of the afternoon.

I tried all of my favorite spots. Upstream then downstream for about a half mile in each direction, I cast to all of the productive spots of last season and got not so much as a nudge on any of my offerings.

I took advantage of the missing plant cover and rock-hopped out to where I could cast to the main channel – still nuthin’.

For several hours I worked the River ‘til my arm ached and my eyes burned.

The sun was sinking quickly so in one final attempt to squeeze some kind of proof that fish, any fish, even still remained in the River, I ventured back to an area where the water slows significantly and a large, deep pool forms.

In the summer this same pool is a favorite with bait fisherman. Judging from the piles of dried string algae strewn about on the shoreline it probably wasn’t high on anybody’s list at the moment.

Still, I had to know. So I stripped off a little more line than usual and false cast a couple of more times than usual and stretched to reach a little further across the pool than usual and… was rewarded with a rising Carp.

Not a strike, mind you, but a rise.

Sure, I would like to say that a fish took my fly and I landed it after an epic battle but…I only got a rise.

Yet, it was enough.

Knowing that the River was on the mend from the assaults of winter and that fish were still there was enough for the day.

Now, lots of guys would count the day as a wash. OK. If your only measure of success is the raw number of fish you land then the day was a wash.

But, if you count the opportunities I had to observe aspects of the River that are normally hidden and if you count the mental maps I had the opportunity to make and if you count the extra effort and opportunity I had to refine and improve my casting skills and technique then, by my count, it was a great day.

Toss in the warm sun, the diversity of bird species present and the solitude of the River on the last official day of winter and I’d say again, it was a great day.

I love this addiction called urban flyfishin’.

OAHU STREAM FISHING

By , March 20, 2010 10:46 pm

Just landed back in the Mainland last night from our trip to Hawaii. It was an amazing vacation filled with time for family, site seeing, and even some time out on the water with my fly rod.

The trip was mainly for my wife to visit her Grandparents and her Dad, and for me to visit my Grandparents. In between visit however we did manage to do some site seeing like visiting Iolani Palace and Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay.

Before I left on my trip to the islands, I got into contact with one of our site followers Chris who knows the island and the fish on it extremely well. The weather patterns have been a little strange there for the last few weeks and the Saltwater bit has been slow. So, we decided that it would be best to hit up th local  Nuuanu Stream in the morning and get out on the flats in the afternoon when the tide was coming in.

The morning started off interesting with me missing the cutoff sign for the stream, and getting lost. I found my way back to the road to find my host waiting for me on the side of the road to flag me over to my parking destination. We talked for a few minutes and he briefed me on the terrain and the equipment to use.

The fishing was amazing. We both managed a few Smallmouth Bass, I think I caught about 15 (since he gave me all the good holes to fish) within a hour or two. The hiking was a little strenuous in the rain with us (mainly me) slipping and falling all over the stream, but the results were well worth it.

I want to give a big Mahalo to Chris for showing me this little stretch of paradise!

HAWAIIAN VACATION

By , March 12, 2010 6:00 am

We will be on vacation for about a week in Hawaii and will not be posting anything during that time. Don’t get discouraged though we should be pushing out new material by the end of next week.

-Aloha from UrbanFlyVentures.com

A GUY CALLED CHUCK

By , March 9, 2010 5:53 pm

So, I have this friend named Chuck.

And over the course of time, I have come to the conclusion that everyone should have a friend just like him.

He is not a fishin’ buddy and “adopted son” like Sean. He’s not a twin brother from a different mother like Bill. Nor is he a ministry partner like John. He’s just Chuck and he’s the guy that is not afraid to tell it like it is, the guy who will straighten me out when I’m gettin’ too full of myself and the guy who keeps me on my toes.

Chuck rolls to the beat of a different drum for sure but, in a world that can be so shallow and plastic, he’s the Real Deal.

Besides that, he has a wicked sense of humor and the uncanny ability to make me laugh hard enough to shoot coffee from my nose – usually at the most inappropriate times. (As if there is an appropriate time to expel hot liquids from your nasal passages.)

Anyway, Chuck is the guy that can find anything. Mention that you’re looking for a copy of an old fishing book long out of print and sooner or later he will toss it on the table as you sit down to have lunch.

Tell him about your quest for a tool or gadget that hasn’t been seen in forty years and he’ll track it down like a bloodhound.

The amazing part of it is that Chuck doesn’t drive and has only been using a computer for the last two of his sixty-odd years.

He is definitely old school in his methods but he knows his “craft” and he knows it well. I often liken him to Fagin from the Dickens classic novel, Oliver Twist, which he has never read but is sure that he would like it if he ever did.  He has a network of cronies and dumpster divers and swap meet rats and garage sale cruisers that he manages like the CEO of a corporation – his Minions, he likes to call them in an ironic sense of the word.He is also supremely self-confident and talkative and regularly rubs elbows with city council members and business execs with the same casual familiarity that he has with the wino on the bus stop bench or the Jehovah’s Witness knocking on his door.

And he is my friend.

So last week between services at church, he came shuffling across the parking lot with his oversize shopping bag thumping heavily against his leg with every other step. It must have taken him a full half hour to walk the two hundred yards from the bus stop to the church parking lot, but there he was, unmistakable in his light pink Fedora – his Mac Daddy Hat – as he likes to call it. He flagged me down and told me that he had something for me.

Sure enough, he had an old copy of McClane’s Standard Fishing encyclopedia (1965 edition), a copy of the Complete Book of Flyfishing from Sweden and…a trout shaped telephone.

Not that I had asked him to find a trout shaped phone! In fact, we are seriously contemplating dropping our landlines completely and just using our cell phones at home. Nevertheless, he had taken it upon himself to gift me with these items solely on his knowledge and understanding that I love most things fishing and flyfishing in particular. So, he proudly pulled this full-size, plastic, rainbow trout-shaped phone out of his black bag and presented it to me with the same amount of fanfare and excitement that would be exhibited at the Oscar ceremonies later that same day.

Now, it is hard not to draw attention to yourself when someone presents you a trout shaped, vibrantly colored, plastic phone in the midst of three hundred or so jovial, chatting, upbeat people who all know you. It is even harder not to draw attention to yourself when you suddenly and forcefully eject hot coffee from you nostrils in the midst of those same three hundred or so people…

So, I have this friend named Chuck and he knows how to keep me humble and not take myself too seriously.

I think everyone should have a friend like Chuck.

“I love my buddy Chuck and I love this addiction called urban flyfishin”.

OKUMA INTEGRITY FLY REEL

By , March 7, 2010 6:15 pm

I have recently been fishing with my new Okuma Integrity 8/9 Weight Fly Reel. I bought it for my 8 weight Surf fishing set up, and have been using it as my all around Saltwater reel. As always with Okuma, I am extremely satisfied with all aspects of the reel. This large disk drag reel was extremely smooth and carried a ton of line, which is a lifesaver in the surf. The reel feels a little heavier in your hand than some of it’s competitors, but the solid design and superior drag system beat out the competition any day. It’s low maintenance and does not require cork oiling. After a few times of  being dipped into sand infested water, not even a grain made it into the internals of the reel.  For this kind of set up I would recommend buying  at least one backup spool as you will want one set up one with an Intermediate or  Floating line and another with a sink tip or full sinking line. The solid design of this reel along with the affordable price make it great for Urban Fly Fishermen.  We are notorious for giving our fly equipment a beating, and Okuma makes these reels to take it. The reel comes in 5/6, 7/8, 8/9. and 10/11 weight designs. Get yours today and get an amazing priced reel that in my opinion blows the competition away!

STAFF RETREAT

By , March 5, 2010 10:24 pm

So every couple of years my wife and I recognize that our veterinary practice needs a “shot in the arm”, so to speak, in order to revitalize and refresh our business plan and… to keep our heads from popping off our necks.

This “shot-in-the-arm” usually comes in the form of what we call an upper-level staff retreat. Now, since we are the only two upper level staff, that usually means we go somewhere where we can relax for a bit and have some long, uninterrupted discussions and planning sessions without the day to day pressures and busy-ness of our normal routine intruding.

Last week, we had the amazing blessing of holding our “retreat” on the island of Kauai.

I gotta tell you, if you want to get away from it all, and if you want to remove yourself from the busy-ness of urban life, Kauai is definitely the place to go. It ain’t called the Garden Isle for nothin’ – sure the end of our trip had a little drama in the form of a tsunami warning and evacuation to higher ground and all but…we were still in Kauai.

Needless to say we were able to squeeze in some serious relaxation time between planning, reviewing schedules and goal setting for our business. However, as I have mentioned frequently in previous articles, I am hardly the personality type to “relax” by sitting next to some pool sipping pretty looking drinks with miniature paper umbrellas in them.

Rather, we relaxed by hiking and kayaking and swimming in flowing rivers and snorkeling over reefs and standing on the edge of immense canyons and crawling over ancient lava fields and going into caves and walking along mostly deserted, endless sandy beaches and whale watching and eating mounds of white rice covered with spam and fried eggs followed by shave ice and fresh papaya and…well, you get the picture.

The one thing we did not do was fish.

Now, I debated long and hard with myself about bringing one of my fly rods with me because I knew that of all the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai is THE island for both freshwater and saltwater flyfishing.

I also knew that there is a guide service on Kauai (www.bonefishkauai.com) that will take you out onto the flats for some bonefish flyfishing, which is supposed to rival that of the Florida Keys.

I was also acutely aware that Kauai is jam packed with Bass holding waters. Not just largemouth Bass but Smallmouths and ferocious Peacock Bass which are found in the more than 160 ponds, reservoirs, and holding basins as well as in portions of the nine rivers of the island. I also knew that Tom Christy is the guy to guide you if you want to go Bass fishing on the island (www.sportfishhawaii.com) though he does not guide specifically for fly-fishing and does not provide fly gear.

Yeah, I knew all that and more.

What I did not know was that we would kayak up rivers where massive, fly-ignorant Tilapia were lined up like salmon getting ready to return to their home waters.

Nor did I expect to see schools of two-foot long mullet hovering beneath bridges attacking every leaf that fell into the brackish waters.

Likewise, I did not anticipate snorkeling with barracuda and nervous schools of Jacks mere yards from the hotel beach.

Neither did I guess how my jaw would drop in amazement and how tears would well up in the corner of my eyes when I turned the corner and discovered the quantity and variety of fishing gear filling the sporting goods aisle of the local Wal-mart where my wife was busy clearing out the souvenir section.

 

Yeah, I left the fly rod at home but I still had a fishin’ adventure. And you can bet that when we return to Kauai (and we will) I will have the fly rod and I will have the right assortment of flies and I will know where to go and how to fish that area and I will have made the proper contacts and…I will have a large wild Hawaiian double shave ice with ice cream and red beans to celebrate the peacock bass that I will catch and…well you get the picture.

I love this addiction called island flyfishin’.

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