As sobering as the thought is, I’m actually old enough to remember the original Man from U.N.C.L.E. television series.
I loved the intrigue, gadgetry and action of that series.
OK, let’s be honest, I mostly loved the gadgetry, but I know I wasn’t the only kid who ruined his good Sunday’s-best black pants running around setting booby traps for his siblings and scaling walls with crude, homemade spy gear while trying to act cool and sophisticated like the suave Napoleon Solo.
Of course, as I got older, James Bond movies became the must-see Saturday matinee event followed by a fondness for the Get Smart television series.
And naturally, I also developed a taste for the Mission Impossible series.
So you see, it really isn’t too hard to understand how I might have developed a passion for the heavily gadget-oriented sport of fly-fishing coupled with the espionage-like nature of exercising that passion in the most unlikely of public places.
Urban fly fishing could be considered a subtle yet sophisticated form of intelligence gathering…only, as it relates to fish rather than fiends bent on world domination, though more than once I have had to endure the conspiracy theory ranting of a bass fisherman after I released a Carp taken on a fly at an urban lake.
Instead of the men from UNCLE, we could be known as the men from UFV – Urban Fly Ventures.
Yeah, OK, so the roll-off-the-tongue smoothness of the acronym needs a little work.
But, in all honesty, as much as I may have wanted to aspire to the cool factor of guys like Illya Kuryakin, I seem to have been blessed more along the likes of Maxwell Smart as far as grace and savoir faire go.
I try, but genetics don’t lie.
Sure, I may show up at a park or urban fishing hole and I may look like I know what I’m doing, but there are times when the inescapable creeps through and I know I’m just a geek, more like “Q” than the graceful “007”.
The other day for example, I showed up at a local park to exploit the hour of free time I had while my beautiful bride attended a music rehearsal.
I grabbed my 5-weight and neck lanyard and started tying on an olive woolly bugger while making my way across the grass.
Nothing new there.
Half way across the grass though, my right foot slid and I looked down to see that I had gracefully stepped in a pile of…duck stuffing.
A quick glance to my left and then my right confirmed that no one had observed my mis-step so with a little urban version of a boot scoot boogie I continued on.
The sun was already setting and the temp was dropping fast so I hit this little lake hard. The only other fisher-folk were a couple who both were flinging those life-size soft bait blue-gill imitations halfway across the water and then hauling them back with high speed intensity.
I smiled to myself and in my best British accent muttered a paraphrase from Sun Tzu’s Art of War about knowing the enemy being the key to success.
I made my first cast… and hung up on the same tree branch that has eaten many of my flies over the years.
Another quick glance to the left and then to the right confirmed that I was still not being observed so with a quick tug I snapped the two-pound test tippet as easily as JB dispatching a villain.
After tying on yet another olive wooly bugger and shifting my casting position slightly to the right. I cast again…and again…and again.
Finally, with only about fifteen minutes to go before I had to go pick up my spouse (I would have said 007 minutes but you wouldn’t have believed me) I saw my line stop ever so slightly during the retrieve and felt the tiniest of resistance.
I set the hook and, sure enough, I had tied on to a fish.
My line peeled off my reel and zigged and zagged across the water. I realized that what ever it was, it seemed rather large and definitely feisty. My first impression was that I had hooked onto a Carp. This was confirmed when a large bronze back appeared about ten yards out a few moments later.
I played the fish as gently as I could, all the while wishing I had used heavier tippet. It seemed like I was getting the upper hand. I wished I hadn’t left my net in the car. I allowed myself the luxury of looking for a suitable landing spot.
And then, with one quick lunge, it was gone.
Fish gone. Fly gone. Line hanging limp and useless at the end of my rod.
I stood there and stared.
And then, whatever illusions of sophistication and coolness I may have had went right out the window. Without the slightest glance to the left or to the right, I spontaneously broke out in the “unhappy fisherman” dance, which, unfortunately resembles a cross between the gyrations of a street corner sign-twirler, the jerky motions of a pan-handling meth-addict and the overly dramatic arm motions of a televangeist all rolled into one. Throw in a barrage of a Tourette’s Syndrome-like nonsensical words and …well, you get the picture.
Unfortunately, so did the couple walking down the meandering pathway a few yards away – all on their cell phone cameras.
Curse you, modern technology and YouTube.
You know, I might have to rethink my stand on cool spy-wear gadgetry.
But in any event…I love this addiction called urban flyfishin’.