So the other day, after a rather complicated and slightly stressful two-and-a half hour surgery, we were just getting underway to our next appointment when we drove past a rather large park in Garden Grove.
In the middle of this park there is a very large, flat, grassy area. Now, a heavy downpour had just stopped so this grassy area was pretty well flooded and actually looked like a decent sized pond.
In fact, if I weren’t familiar with this particular park from previous visits, I might have thought that it was a pond and would have excitedly added it to my list of places to explore as potential urban fishing spots.
Just as I caught this little trick of weather in the corner of my eye, a rickety, dented and rusting gardener’s truck chugged out of a side street in front of me and forced me to focus on the task and challenge of bringing an eight-ton rolling hospital to an abrupt slow down on a partially flooded and rain slick road,
“What is that guy doing?” My wife asked but without the same hint of malice that I was harboring for Mr. Gardener at that moment.
“Attempting suicide.” I shot back.
“No, over there.” She said while pointing toward the park, apparently unflustered by our near brush with catastrophe. (That partially explains why she is such a good surgeon — she’s unflappable.)
Secure that we would not have a 1972 Chevy pick-up truck as a new hood ornament, I glanced over to where she was pointing and saw a man spey casting on the same little psuedo-pond that I had been admiring just seconds ago.
“Oh, that. He’s spey casting.” I replied. “And from the looks of it he’s got a Mirage reel from Orvis…”
“What’s that? How can you tell all that from 100 feet away?”
Gifts like that don’t just get handed out every day: My wife was asking ME to tell her about spey casting and equipment…
(as they say on Facebook; OMG!)
… Long story, short. That flung open wide the door for a whole discussion (OK let’s be honest – pontificating) on the art of spey casting and perhaps even allowed for the hint of a seed to be planted regarding potential upcoming birthday gifts and such.
Ah, I love this addiction called urban fly-fishin’.
Most of you already know that Big Bear Lakeis where my beautiful bride and I escape to when we are short on time but long on needing to get away fast.
Big Bear fills the bill in a whole lotta ways as far as being a true source of re-creation for us with the schedule we generally have to keep.
But, we don’t get up there as much during the winter because we’ve gotten snowed in a couple of times and things get a little testy when we have to call our clients and try to explain that we have to re-schedule their appointments because we are hunkered down in the cabin (…with the fireplace roaring away…and hot chocolate simmering on the stove … and the radio playing softly in the background…) trapped behind glistening snow drifts which won’t be plowed until at least the next day.
Anyway, the weather has been kinda wet and crummy the last few days and the streets are filled with insane holiday shoppers zipping about from mall to mall and the fishing has been just plain lousy so I’ve been spending a little time hunkered down in the “man cave” cleaning up some of the files on my computer. While looking through some picture files, I came across some shots I had taken a couple of months back during one of our get-aways to Big Bear.
The last time I wrote about Big Bear Lake, it was to let you know that there is a new fly fishing shop up there on the Fawnskin side. And while I was waxing poetic about being able to walk into a shop and instantly revert to “kid in a candy store” status, I forgot to mention that there have been some big changes up there on the lake itself.
The biggest change is, of course, the building of the new dam. The venerable and aesthetically pleasing arched dam that has served so well for so long just doesn’t meet current seismic or traffic load requirements so a new dam is being built just downstream.
(As an aside: There is nothing like the sound of solid granite being dynamited to get your heart beat into the aerobic workout range really quickly – especially when you forgot what time it was scheduled to happen.)
When completed sometime next year, the dam and re-routed road way will have improved traffic flow for motorists driving the “front way” into Big Bear and better water regulation capabilities for water users down the hill.
Since the area immediately adjacent to the dam is already closed to boat traffic, I’m not sure what effect it will have on fishing. I suspect that the shoreline around the dam will become much more pleasant to fish as you will not have vehicles rumbling past quite so close to your head.
Another change to the Lake is at the park over in Boulder Bay.
I like Boulder Bay. I have spent many a pleasant early morning flyfishing there while enjoying my morning coffee and watching the sunlight play on the rocks as it rises in the sky.
If you position yourself just right, “the modern world” sort of melts away and there is an ageless beauty to the Bay that can be described well enough but can really only be experienced to fully understand it.
Apparently, lots of people like Boulder Bay as it is rumored to be the most photographed place on the Lake. In any event, the park there has been upgraded with new picnic tables, a gazebo, improved walking paths and…a fishing pier.
Now, I’m not so sure how I feel about a utilitarian metal and recycled plastic structure jutting out into the middle of this beautiful Bay but the last time we drove over there, there it was.
It will most certainly up the number of photographs taken of the Bay as it allows you to get out and away from the shoreline and closer to those picturesque boulders that every kid wants to climb on and every tourist wants to photograph.
There are signs posted on the pier warning against overhead casting but, then again, there are signs on every pier I have ever been on that warn against overhead casting. Officially, that pretty much puts a damper on fly fishing unless you happen to be an exceptional roll caster or maybe a spey caster.
But, as with most such things related to the urban fishing mindset, a careful consideration of the situation may find me out there some early morning in the not-too-distant future testing heretofore unreachable sections of the Bay with a nice black or olive wooly bugger… I’ll even have a level place to set my coffee cup down should I hook on to a nice, fat trout.
Hmmm, I guess I just took a little mental trip up to my favorite get-away.
What do you do when you have a couple hours to fish while your wife goes to a Christmas Party?
Well I don’t know about you, but I’m hittin’ the salt. Last Sunday I pulled up to my little spot on Naples, and not a swimmer or another fisherman in sight. Yes! This must be my lucky day. Not to mention the 85 degree weather and not even a rustle from the wind.
I pulled out my Okuma 8 weight hoping to get into some Flatfish. Maybe a couple of Sole, Halibut, or maybe even a few Turbot. But the one thing I have learned over the last two years or so, is never think that you have Fly Fishing all planned out.
I stepped into the warm water and my feet sunk into the sand, suddenly I had this warm feeling that I was home (I guess a little So Cal just runs in my blood). I threw out a couple of casts with a Two Tone White and Orange Clouser Deep Minnow and on about the fourth cast was my first fish of the day (a small Lizardfish). Not bad, not what I was hoping for. But I’ll take what I can get. Anthing is better than going home with a Skunk stinking up the car.
After a while and a few Lizardfish I started noticing these strange colored things all around the shoreline. Curiosity got the better of me, and I dropped my net into the water and pulled out what looked liked a colorful version of something you sneeze into a tissue. So, I snapped a quick pic and let it go. Back to fishing and another one of these Sea Slugs right at my feet, and another, and another what the heck is up with all these things. They were literally covering the beach. I counted about 50 before it got too dark for me to see the bottom.
Back to fishing and a few more Lizardfish. I decided to start throwing around a boat that was docked up next to me, and I’m glad I did. First Cast and my line went tight. Was I stuck on the Eel grass, no it’s fighting back. I set the drag, and the first thing that went into my mind was finally a Halibut and a big one at that. The fish turned and started coming straight for me, was it a Leapheard Shark. I started walking back stripping in line as fast as I could. Then the biggest Sand Bass I’ve ever seen was at my feet, and with one shake of it’s head it was gone forever. UHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
I stood there for a minute contemplating what went wrong. I pulled my line out of the water, the fly was still there, the hook wasn’t bent out, and I just lost the biggest Bass that I will probably ever have the chance to catch. What a day!
I decided to cut my fly and take a couple of pics before I headed home. I hopped in the truck and had to slam on the brakes as soon as I hit the corner. Blue and Red lights everywhere. What’s going on? I rolled down the window and the Police Officers were too busy to even look my way. Well, this was the only way out.
So, I pulled back into the parking lot and got back in the water. I guess I was supposed to fish a little while longer. I got into a conversation with a paddle boarder about a few good spots to fish and caught two more Lizardfish.
After the Cops left and the lights faded. I got back into the car, enjoyed driving by all the Christmas Lights. On the way home I reflected on the last couple of hours. What a great time! Not at all what I was expecting, but still a great couple of hours Urban Fly Venturing!
Have you ever been out fishing fast water (let’s say something like Kern River) and you were having the worst time trying to get your fly down to the bottom where the Big Bass and Trout want it?
I have, and trying to add Split Shot or using Sinking Lines can mean all the hassle in the world. Here is a quick solution that I learned from a Guy Fishing an Urban Park Lake about a year ago. Tie on a Bullet Sinker (Cone Head Weight) in front of your Woolly Bugger or Crayfish imitation, just like the conventional guys use. It gives the fly a really nice jigging action that Bass and Big Trout can’t resist.
I especially love this method when site fishing to feeding Carp. It can be extremely effective and gets that fly down in the strike zone fast. Just make sure that if you fish this rig to keep a big open loop, and not to cast the fly anywhere close to your head.
I figured this out the hard way down in the salt at Seal Beach. My Fishing buddy and Co-Author Dan Z and I were fishing the SGR River Outlet (against the wind). One cast a little too close and whack a nice little knot in the back of my head for about a week. All joking and pain aside, try this setup on the next outing and I don’t think you will be disappointed.
I would start out with a 1/16 or 1/8 ounce weight, to keep from cracking your skull on the first cast!
The last couple of weeks haved been some of the most trying times in my life. Personal issues running rampant, work is non stop at what is supposed to be the slowest time of the year, and the ear ache of the century. What more can I say, it’s been tough!
I remember thinking to myself “I wonder, how can I get some time away from the daily grind?” That’s right! What was I thinking? All I need is a little Urban Fly Fishing. Sometimes you just have to pick up your gear and leave the world behind.
So I locked the doors to my truck and left it all in the parking lot of Chantry Flats for some adventure in the local San Gabriel Mountains.
The air was crisp, the sound of the creek was filling my ears, and my hands were still warm from my daily caffeine fix. Away I ran. Barreling down the Santa Anita Creek Trail with my 3 weight in hand, ready to hit the stream with full force. I tied on a size 16 Stimulator with a dropper Prince Nymph and the fish didn’t even know what hit them.
It was amazing, for hours it seamed like every cast produced a fish. One, Two, Three, Ten, Twenty, Thirty, I lost count. Not even an hour on the stream and the battery on my camera was already running low from flash, after flash, after flash.
Was I dreaming? Is this real? I has to sit down, and take it all in with a few deep breathes. What just happened? Suddenly I could not think about anything butRainbow Trout, where was the next one hiding? Would this keep up, could I really catch a fish on every cast for more than a couple of hours? So many questions running through my head. What was I doing different? Where is the hatch?
All these questions mixed in with one profound thought “ Thank you Randall Kaufmann”!
It was amazing! I have caught a lot of fish on Santa Anita Creek over the last couple of years, but never had a day that came even close to this. After 4 hours of hiking from hole to hole and fish after fish. I decided to call it quits.
As I made my way back up the canyon to the parking lot (the only part of Santa Anita Canyon that is not to my liking) I just remember sitting down on the edge of the trail for a minute and thinking “Thank You GOD”. This was exactly what I needed!!!