Let me just start out by saying that I love Fly Fishing for Bass. They can be as picky as Trout, and as ferocious as a pike launching after it’s prey. They are the reason why I started Fly Fishing, and the species I target the most. Growing up in Southern California means that my childhood was filled with warm memories of Bass Fishing just about anywhere I could(including the local golf courses).
So, it was not much of a leap to start out targeting Bass when I picked up the Fly Rod. A couple of Woolly Buggers and some 5x and I was hitting the local park as soon as the sun started over the horizon.
Moving on from my love affair with Bass and yet staying on the same subject. Last Saturday I decided to head up to Peck Road Park, a water reclamation center that I have heard has great Bass Fishing. I got off the 605 and on to the side streets, pulled into the parking lot with a morning drizzle coming down on my Okuma fishing hat. I reached for the 5 weight and the 4x and off I went, in search of hopefully Bass and anything else that was willing to take a fly.
I was extremely disappointed right off the bat. I hit the shallow end of the lake with no luck in what looked like 5- 10 text book Bass Spots. As I moved over to the deeper end of the lake, I started seeing fish cruising the water. The nibbles started and the fishing was in full force. I started pulling out Bass on almost every cast. Small little guys (maybe only 10-14 inches long). But hey now, Bass are Bass no matter what size (and any fish is better than a skunk).
As I made my way around to the other side of the lake, I noticed what looked like an orange road hazard cone at every hole. It would suddenly disappear as I made my decent onto the shore line. It was not until about the 5th spot that I realized it was a great Carnival Prize (Goldfish) sipping the roots along the shoreline. At the next section I ripped out about 50 feet of line and threw down a cast only to have the fish take the fly and turn for the deep water with a fury vengeance. I set the hook and snap, my Prize Goldfish had made a jailbreak.
Things like that just have a way of breaking your little fishing heart. I went home with dreams of showing off my Monster Goldfish in the next LA County fair crushed, and a realization that I should be fishing any water reclaimation center I can get my hands on.
This is exactly why you should never underestimate Urban Fishermen. A 67 year old man fended off not one, not two, but three armed robbers with his fishing pole last Tuesday night. This man was fishing a small pond in St. Louis when three young men attacked him announcing that they were going to rob him. He managed to send them fleeing and two of the villians were caught later that night. When police asked for a statement the young men responded that they were attacked by “A man with a fishing pole”. Let this be a lesson to anyone thinking they are going to rip off some guy fishing alone in the park. You may have just messed with the wrong Urban Fisherman!!!
Sometimes it’s all you need. A little time away, just you and the fish. Not thinking about anything else that is going on in the world, just what fly to tie on the end of the line.
The local mountains are my get away destination and at 1-2 hours from doorstep to water, getting away is a whole lot easier than most people think. The Santa Ana River was my most recent get away destination, and the fishing was amazing.
I arrived at the entrance just as the sun was rising and the crisp cool air felt great. I hit about a 3 mile stretch of the stream and caught many Wild Browns and both Wild and Stocker Rainbows.
It’s amazing to me how these local mountain Trout can change so much from one day to another. Some days I gets hits all on dry flies, others on nymphs so tiny you can barely tie them, and still other days like this one when a good ol’ Woolly Bugger does the trick.
I am not exaggerating I tried every flies in my box, with all a couple of small fish to show for about 1 1/2 hours time. Fed up I pulled out the bugger, and the Trout ‘Went Wild”. I was getting hit after hit after hit. Browns & Rainbows it didn’t matter, I couldn’t keep them off the line.
At about 1:00 pm I decide to call it quits and make my 2 hour long journey home.
Thanks to the infamous 91 freeway traffic and people driving like a 16 year old the first time they put their hands on the wheel. But, with all my limbs in tact and no claims to my Insurance Agent (ME) I was home safe and sound with memories from the day running through my head like a wild fire.
Suddenly all of the work waiting on my desk for me on Monday, choirs to do around the house, etc didn’t seem as stressful as I had made them out to be the day before.
Late last week, my fishin’ buddy, Sean sent me a text about an hour after I had had the same thought: “smmr nd ner, bttr hit LAr this wknd or 2 L8” which translates to “The end of the Summer fishing season is near, we better hit the L.A. river this weekend or it will be too late.”
Perhaps it was some unconscious thing we each felt from years of watching for the subtle changes in our seasons or perhaps we had each felt the constraints (read that as anxiety) that comes with shortening days, but in any event, we both seemed to sense that change was in the air and we might not have another chance to brown-line the Los Angeles River before the first rains of the seasons flooded the channel — changing the bottom terrain and washing fish and vegetation downstream so as to render unproductive the spots we had worked so hard to learn.
That being said, I texted back, “Sun aftr 3rd” which translates to “ Let’s hit the river on Sunday afternoon after church.” (more or less).
Sunday couldn’t have cooperated any better. The air temp was pleasant. The winds were light. The lush summer growth of saplings on the sand bars provided plenty of shade and, best of all, there were virtually no other anglers at our target site. In other words, urban fly fishin’ at its best.
We both eagerly headed upstream, rigging our 8-weights as we walked.
We hop-scotched the various pools where we had each had taken fish on previous visits and we fished hard…but with no success.
The lengthening shadows from the lowering sun added to the beauty but also increased our anxiety and desire to find the fish before it got too dark.
While we fished, long, noisy v-formations of Canadian Geese began to fly in overhead before dropping down to the smooth water out toward the middle of river.
Despite the intensity of our quest, it was one of those moments that truly takes the breath away and the few pictures we were able to snap betray the shakiness of our hands as we watched in awe. We were after all, and as I’ve said before, standing in the geographic center of some tens of millions of people and roughly eight minutes from the very heart of Los Angeles.
It was utterly amazing. The only thing lacking were the fish.
As the shadows grew deeper we reluctantly turned and began making our way back toward the car. Normally at this point of the day, we would hump it up the steep sides of the bank and walk along the flat portion at the top of the channel where we would be less likely to trip or slip. This day, however, neither one of us seemed willing to concede to the River so we fished our way downstream, back over the water we had already covered.
I have no idea if it was dumb luck, sheer desperation, acquired skill or a combo of all three, but some little tickle in the back of my skull told me to switch flies to a bright yellow egg pattern. I fumbled around in the gloom and took twice as long as usual to tie on my fly and after a seeming eternity, finally made my cast in the proximity of a large flotilla of paddling waterfowl.
And, just like in the movies and all the really good books, my line went tight, droplets of water sprayed, my rod doubled over and…I had my fish.
Not just any fish mind you, but a decent size Carp – a “Barrio Bonefish” that had sucked in my offering and then in a split second had stripped three-quarters of the line off my reel in an insane dash toward the deeper middle parts of the river.
And suddenly, right there amidst the green slime and bits of trash and discarded Styrofoam coffee cups and graffiti and broken beer bottles – I was back in church, if you catch my drift.
Now, just so you know, I get just as excited as the next guy but I rarely yell and scream. That day however, and for that fish, I yelled and screamed. So much so that it set a considerable number of geese off in an explosive though short-lived panic flight.
My fishin’ buddy Sean, who was yelling and screaming too (after all that’s what fishin’ buddies do) was there with the net when I finally brought my fish in and he was also there with camera ready when said fish was finally in hand.
After the obligatory pics and after I thanked said fish for a good fight and after I sent him off to fight again another day, we made our way up the steep sides of bank and onto the flat portion at the top of the channel.
It hardly took any time at all to get back to the car. “Smmr nd ner, bttr hit LAr this wknd or 2 L8”.
I love this addiction called urban fly fishin’.
My wife and I had a chance to sneak off to the cabin up in Big Bear the other day so I naturally utilized her penchant for sleeping in late to squeeze in some early morning late season fishing.
The thermometer outside the kitchen window hovered around the 35 degree mark so I threw on my favorite heavy flannel fishin’ shirt, steeled myself with a large mug of extra strong Java and headed off toward the Lake.
My destination for the morning was Grout Bay so I wasted no time heading over that way.
Construction on the new dam is in full swing so I chose to take the north shore route. As I drove through Fawnskin, I noticed a new sign neatly lettered on the window of the North Shore Trading Company (canoe and kayak shop) which read, “Big Bear Fishing Adventures – Spin & Fly Shop”.
After neatly recovering from a potentially nasty swerve, I made a mental note to go back and check things out at a more reasonable hour of the day.
Unfortunately, Grout Bay was a little lower than anticipated and a little weedier than anticipated so my dreams of a full morning of pulling in record size fish quickly evaporated with the morning mists. I tried a few other spots but to no avail. Fortunately, fishing the lake whether successful or not always builds a great appetite, so a big breakfast when I got back to the cabin almost made up for the disappointing catch rate.
Later in the day however, I did return to the North Shore Trading Company and I did get to chat with them and I found out that they are indeed partnering with Mike and Susan Tuttle to bring a more prominent flyfishing presence to the Lake — not that I don’t appreciate the always sound and friendly advice from the guys at Big Bear Sporting Goods. It was just kinda nice to be able to wander into a local fly shop and “speaka da same dialect”, if you catch my drift.
I learned that the Tuttles have over fifteen years of guide experience and run one to three day trips out of Captain John’s Marina. They will also customize trips to the various local creeks and streams.
For more info you can contact them at Big Bear Fishing Adventures or at 909-436-8882.
Now as long as the weather holds, my beautiful bride and I will probably try to squeeze in another quick trip up the Hill. She will probably want to sleep in late and I will probably be out on the Lake as the sun peeks over the eastern edge of the Valley. I’ll probably have to wear the heavy weight flannels and I’ll probably need another oversize cuppa Joe to fortify me against the early morning mountain chill.
What is a certainty is that I will be paying another visit to Big Bear Fishing Adventures Spin & Fly Shop where I can pick up a few flies, catch up on the local news, swap stories and support another local business.
I love this addiction called urban fly fishin.
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