SUB-URBAN FLY VENTURE

By , July 7, 2010 11:35 pm

There is often a very fine line between what something is called and what it actually is.

We call ourselves “urban” fly fishermen, for example, but that moniker is highly flexible and probably denotes a mindset rather than one hundred percent reality. The truth of the matter is that both Sean and I will readily explore a likely looking fishery whether it be urban, suburban, rural, wilderness, freshwater, saltwater or even perhaps runoff.

To be an “urban” fly fisherperson is more about opportunity than image.

Not that we are without a code of conduct. We won’t steal, trespass on private property or lie about what we caught – life is too short for that stuff and at the end of the day we will have to answer to a Higher Power and the Ultimate Fisher of Men.

That’s not to say we aren’t having a blast along the way though.

Case in point:  This past week my beautiful bride and I found ourselves in the lower end of Connecticut in honor of my nephew’s high school graduation.

If you know anything at all about the geography of lower Connecticut, you know that it is a convoluted, ragged, hodge podge of coastline, rivers, inlets, streams, ponds and islands all covered in intense, temperate-climate greenery that boggles the mind of a SoCal native more used to landscapes composed of subtle shades of brown and yellow (and concrete and garish multi-hued graffiti). Water is virtually everywhere and much of that water is filled with fish. In other words, I got off the plane and walked into a fishing paradise.

And, if you know anything about me from following this blog you might recall that I vowed after the Hawaii Trip that I would not travel to a fishing paradise ever again without some kind of fly rig stashed in the luggage.

So it should come as no surprise when I tell you that since Hawaii I have spent a considerable amount of time researching and planning and modifying and practicing and I did indeed have a little trick up my sleeve which I planned on using in that extremely narrow window of opportunity between family events, pre-arranged side trips and the plane ride home.

My secret weapon was/is a carefully modified collapsible PenRod Extreme fishing rod with a matching fly reel and 00-weight Sage floating line.

Google PenRod Extreme and you’ll get a better idea of what I’m talking about. In its original format the tip top of this little rod is too small in diameter to handle even 00 weight fly line so with a gulp and a decisive snip of the side cutters, I cut off the end and replaced it with a suitable fly rod tip top that I picked up at Bob Marriotts.

The disadvantage to this was that it slightly shortened the end section, voided the warranty in a heartbeat and no longer allowed the protective “pen cap” cover to fit properly. Undaunted, I modified an old plastic tackle pack to carry both rod and reel and a few basics and thus created an instant travel kit which easily fit into my luggage.

So naturally it wasn’t very long after making the cross country flight, then navigating the twisting, turning , horse-carriage width roads leading to my sister’s new house ‘til I convinced her that we needed to pick up some supplies from Trader Joe’s… which just happens to be conveniently located next to an Orvis store.

Now as much as I like TJ’s mango salsa and blue corn tortilla chips, I like new flies even better and the guys at the Orvis store were only too happy to oblige. However, lest you think them as purely mercenary, let it go on the record that they were quite helpful in dispensing vital local fly fishing info (one of the sales reps was president of the local TU chapter) as well as assisting me with a selection of weighted nymphs suitable for the local rivers.

When we returned from our little “supply run”, I dutifully went online to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and purchased a three-day license. Then armed with the info from the Orvis boys, I google-mapped the region, looking for promising target sites and plotted my strategy. I even printed out the appropriate maps and a satellite view of the area…hmmm, maybe I am more urban than I thought.

In any event and despite all my high-tech prep the one thing I failed to take into account was the weather. Sure enough, just as I was set to go out the door a fearsome thunderstorm broke out.

I hate thunderstorms. I’ve seen what lightning does to fishing rods and the folks on the other end of them.

Optimistically, I decided to drive over to the river anyway.

The rain fell harder, the thunder clapped louder, the river turned browner, my prospects looked slimmer…

An hour passed and all I had succeeded in doing was muddying up the rental car and soaking myself.

With family events pressing ever closer, I called it and headed back to my sister’s house.

You already know where this is headed.

One block from her house, the clouds broke, the rain stopped and the sun started to show. I pulled into her driveway and there was even a slight breeze blowing.

I put the car in park and thumped my head on the steering wheel. As I glanced in the rearview mirror to assess the size of the horizontal forehead bruise I had just given myself, I instead noticed that the breeze was actually pushing the thick scum layer toward the opposite end of the little pond (the little private pond)across the street from her house.

Dashing up the stairs and into the family room, I quickly ascertained that she did, in fact, have property rights and access rights to that same pond. Her “yes” still hung in the air in the time it took me to run back down the stairs, grab my gear and high-tail it across the road. I’m sure my entire family thought I lost my mind.

I quickly tied on one of my new nymphs and cast out only about twenty feet. Bam! Fish on. I landed a Bluegill. I cast again. Bam, another Bluegill. For the next hour, every cast brought in a Bluegill save one. The only fish I did not land was a small but respectable Bass that shook my fly in that classic way that Bass tail walk and shake their heads.

Like I said…a fishing paradise. And my little experimental, collapsible rod? It performed admirably.

Am I disappointed that I never made it to the river? Nah, my niece graduates in a couple of years and we’ll be back.

Remember, it’s all about opportunity.

I love this addiction called urban fly fishin’.

5 Responses to “SUB-URBAN FLY VENTURE”

  1. Josh says:

    Great Report!

    Are there any details you can say about the rod-mod you did? I’m very interested in it (maybe a future post)? Also, how was the reel?

    Thanks!

  2. fishing says:

    amazing fishing report and great catch, i love you blog articles and pictures. I will also try the PenRod extreme

  3. Dan Zambrano Dan Z says:

    We appreciate the kind comments and encouraging words. As mentioned in the last article, I used a PenRod extreme unit which I modified by putting a fly rod tip top in place of the standard tip top. The reel is small so it does not have much capacity. I used 20 # test backing and Sage 00 weight double taper line. I actually used only half of the fly line, saving the other half for another season. The rod is fairly stiff so i had to modify my casting technique. Still i was able to make some pretty decent casts after only very little practice. The best part was being able to effectively reach areas where heavy brush and other obstacles would have made it very difficult to cast a “regular” fly rod. I used a 6x tapered leader from Orvis but probably could have gone lighter. I ended up using only one fly the whole day — a light brown hare’s ear. Hope that helps.

  4. Josh says:

    Thanks for getting back to me on the question. The reason I asked was there were some complaints from a fishing forum that the Penrod used in a fly fishing application didn’t work too well. However, now that I understand the mod you performed with the tip that might have alleviated the issues reported that the line would not feed through the standard guides well.

    Thanks again, I’ll have to put one of these together!

  5. Enrique Sossaman says:

    Great read. Thanks for the info!

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