I had an opportunity to squeeze in some early morning mid-week fishing recently and jumped at the chance as quickly as a bluegill on a wind-blown ant.
So, imagine my frustration when I pulled up to my chosen destination only to be confronted by two hundred or so high-school age cross-country runners as well as dozens and dozens of orange safety cones, yellow tape and a half dozen coaches barking orders and blowing chrome whistles.
Now, any normal person would have stayed in the car and headed over to the nearest regional park which was only about fifteen minutes away.
But the operative words here were: “squeeze” and “normal”.
I did not want to sacrifice even another fifteen minutes battling more SoCal commuter traffic than I had just taken on and I did not want to spend five dollars on admission to a place I was only going to be at for an hour or two at most.
So, I assessed.
I assessed and then modified my game plan so that, one way or another, I could fish.
From what I could discern from the layout of orange cones, the designated course for the runners appeared to follow the entire perimeter of the small body of water I had targeted and then seemed to disappear off into the surrounding hills before re-entering the park and looping around the lake again.
I figured that would mean a few moments of heavy foot traffic and then some relative peace followed by a steady stream of runners as the pack thinned and spread out according to the runner’s abilities and strategies.
Because of the proximity of the course to the water’s edge, I also figured out pretty quickly that fly-rodding was probably not gonna work so well. I already lose enough flies in bushes and low-hanging branches as it is, I didn’t particularly want to snag a lycra clad, eighty-five pound freshman in the middle of a race on the backcast.
So, I left my five–weight in the car and, instead, opted for my trusty Pen Rod Extreme with the MX-15 rear-drag spinning reel loaded with two-pound test.
I rigged up a tiny, clear bubble float with a size 16 treble suspended about eight-inches below it and baited the hook up with pink Powerbait crappie bits.
Then, with the rhythm of heavy breathing and running shoes pounding the dirt behind me, I start pulling out Bluegill like they were goin’ out of style.
Sure, it wasn’t exactly the most serene setting for fishin’…OK, it was anything but serene, but it sure was fun thanks to my day-saving, handy-dandy ultralight Pen Rod Extreme.
About an hour later, as the final runners wheezed across the finish line, I released the last of several dozen decent sized fish that, surprisingly, found pink crappie bits… irresistible.
So, while dozens of young people roamed post-race around the park looking pretty much worse for the wear — spittin’ and groaning and holding their sides and all, I gathered up my gear and felt pretty darn good considering the unexpected change in plans.
Like I said, it’s all about squeezing recreation into those free moments.
I love this addiction called urban “ultralight” fishin’.
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