I am always amazed at the so-called coincidences and subtle interwoven interactions of life. Toss in a connection with fishing, and I am not just amazed, I am also amused.
Consider, for example, the following thread of events from this past week:
I spoke to my sister on the phone last Monday and during the course of the conversation, we reminisced briefly about the tiny flat she and her husband used to rent in London.
It was literally on the banks of the mighty Thames, and seriously within a stone’s throw of the London Bridge and Tower.
I could actually sit out on the balcony sipping my morning coffee and casually converse with guys who were flyfishing from the muddy banks below – all in the virtual center of one of the greatest cities on earth. I loved that little place.
So then last Tuesday, while heading to our next appointment, my wife and I were cruising down one of the major thoroughfares that knit the various communities of Orange county together when we crossed over one of a thousand small drainage channels that spider all over SoCal.
From my elevated vantage at the helm of our rolling veterinary hospital I caught a quick glimpse of the mild flow of water coursing between the rip-rap lined and concrete reinforced banks.
In the milli-seconds that I had to capture the entire scene – something which I am convinced is a by-product of growing up in the car culture of SoCal – I made the assessment that that little waterway would be a great place to practice fly casting and line mending techniques. The only thing lacking would be fish.
That, of course, started me thinking about the previous day’s conversation with my sister, those barely remembered conversations with retired stockbrokers on the banks of the Thames and…
…that led me on a whole other tangent of thought with regard to loss of native fish species, the wonders of civil engineering, the re-establishment of salmon in the Thames River, urban renewal and so on and so on
Thus, with those thoughts swimming around in my head, once we finally settled in for the evening, I feverishly tuned my attention to the info super highway and typed away into the wee hours of the morning tracking down useful information which just might possibly lead to a new, untapped or long forgotten spot to fish. I am singular in purpose, if nothing else.
I did not turn up any secret “honey hole” that I’m willing to share but I did stumble upon some fascinating info nonetheless. It turns out there are something like a hundred miles of those open channels all across the greater L.A. Basin. They in turn connect to some 1500 miles of underground pipes and tunnels and eventually it all feeds into sixty or so outflows that pour into the ocean. Seems that that little phrase from the movie, Finding Nemo, does have a basis in truth (at least in SoCal) — “all (storm) drains lead to the Ocean”.
Folks who get paid to calculate such things, tell us that roughly 100 million gallons of water flows through this network on any given dry day. Toss in some rain and the flow jumps to an astounding 10 billion (yeah, with a “B”) gallons per day! That’s a lot of water.
One only has to look at a map of these channels and such and it isn’t too hard to surmise that SoCal was once a magical place of meandering creeks and small streams and living, breathing rivers.
As coincidence would have it, the very same day I was pondering these things, our fellow bloggers over at L.A. Creek Freak posted a great story (excerpted from a Press-Enterprise story of a year ago) about the re-appearance of the Santa Ana Speckled Dace in the City Creek portion of that waterway.
Dace are smallish and minnow-like and probably wouldn’t put up much of a fight except maybe on a 00 weight rig. The bigger battle would be trying to convince the judge that you were actually fishing for a legal to catch species.
Nevertheless, the story by Creek Freak directed me toward additional sites and eventually I came across some pretty interesting articles documenting the fact that at least until the 1930’s, honest-to-goodness Steelhead used to swim very close to the present day location of Los Angeles City Hall.
So…in a little more than twenty-four hours I had come full circle. From a brief snippet of conversation which stirred a memory about flyfishing on the heavily urbanized Thames to a study on the drainage system of SoCal to copies of historical documents indicating that Steelhead swam the L.A River to my fishin’ buddy, Sean and I crawling through a hole in a fence to fish a section of urban channel we had never fished before… Like I said, what an amazing and amusing series of interactions…
I love this addiction called urban flyfishin’.
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