Man-oh-man has it been a wacky series of storms and crummy fishing weather here in SoCal. But there finally seems to be an end in sight and the itch to fish is turning into a raging burn, if you know what I mean.
Now, it’s not like we haven’t tried. Over the last several weekends my fishing buddy, Sean and I have hit assorted local waters both separately and together with little to show for our efforts.
This Sunday however, the dry streak finally broke in a most unexpected way. Sean was down for the count with some kind of intestinal bug and I had several things to attend to all day Saturday and most of Sunday morning. But late Sunday afternoon while out on some errands with my beautiful bride she just happened to mention that she wouldn’t object too much if we happened to stop by one of the local lakes and perhaps…fished a little. (Sorry guys, she’s all mine).
Anyway, after bringing the car back into the proper lane and apologizing to the guy in the silver SUV who now had Starbucks all over the inside of his windshield, I made a quick adjustment to our itinerary and had us over at Legg Lake in no time at all.
The fact that we immediately found a parking space right near the start of the path leading to my favorite spot only served to confirm, in my mind, that I had chosen wisely.
It wasn’t until I opened the back of our vehicle that I realized that I had only one fly rod in the car and since my wife had made it fairly clear that she was willing to go fishing on the condition that she could practice her fly casting, it seemed like an obvious conclusion that I wasn’t going to be.
Fortunately, long time readers will recall, I vowed way back in July during our trip to Connecticut that I would ALWAYS have a plan “B”. Sure enough, tucked down under a couple of duffels sat an unremarkable black case in which I just happened to have my trusty Penfishingrods.com collapsible Goliath model rod and matching reel. (For which I paid full price and do not receive endorsement reimbursement for mentioning, by way of full disclosure).
It was a beautiful moment.
So, after rigging the 5-weight up with an olive wooly bugger for the Mrs. we headed down to the water. When we got down to the lake it was blatantly clear that the burn I mentioned earlier was an epidemic. I hadn’t seen so many fishermen at Legg for weeks.
These guys were fishing hard. Most had multiple rigs with dark colored plastic worms and oversized swimbaits dominating the menu. One guy had a backpack set up with at least six baitcasting poles pointing heaven ward. From a distance he looked like a walking cell tower. The atmosphere was cordial but intense.
We picked a spot where I had success catching everything from Bluegill to Carp to Bass to Trout. I reviewed some technique with my wife and stepped a few yards away with the Penrod and a tiny single-hooked trout-patterned lure. She worked on her backcast while I gently shouted encouragement and suggestions her way (keyword: Gently. Think domestic tranquility. Also remember I don’t like our couch as a sleeping platform).
All the while I just sort of plinked around with my rig. After one particularly well executed cast on the fly rod I was praising my Beloved when I felt the telltale twitch of a hit on the little lure.
I set the hook and the battle was on.
As is made abundantly clear on their website, the key to success with a Penrod is maintaining a loose drag and being patient.
My wife noticed the splashing fish but not that I was tied on to it. She excitedly pointed at it and suggested that I cast toward all the commotion. I gently explained that I was actually the reason the fish was acting so strangely.
Now, I’m not gonna lie to you and say that my little protracted battle was nowhere near as exciting as if I had been on a fly rod because frankly, it’s been a looong winter and I was just so happy to actually have a sizeable fish on that I could have been using a broomstick and wouldn’t have cared. So Purists, say what you will — I was fishin’!
Long story short, I’ll let the photo do the talking. It looks like it is gonna be a great Spring and Summer.
I love this addiction called urban fly fishin’.
(Got a phone call today from Michael Di Pippo, President & CEO of Penfishingrods.com. We had a brief but very cordial conversation during which he mentioned that in my previous post, Plan “B”, I did not give the correct e-mail address for his company and the fine products they offer.
Now, with all the scams and cheap knock off versions floating around out there, not giving our readers the correct info was a great disservice to all of you as well as to the REAL pen fishing rod guys who work so hard to offer the quality gear they do and who back it up with exceptional customer service – my sincere apologies.
As I mentioned before, my pen fishing rod is my constant travel companion, fits in my standard all day bag and is a reliable back up rod for those days when fly rodding isn’t gonna cut it.
So, with the mea culpa out of the way, let me suggest that you pay a quick visit to penfishingrods.com site and check out their products. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.)
We’ve been getting a lot of emails this week about Fly Fishing Bass during the spawn, starting the day after I published FIRST LIGHT OF DAWN, FIRST BASS OF THE YEAR. Here’s a great article from Norh American Fishing Club that talks about the spawning habits of Bass. Remember if you are fishing bedding Bass, get the fish back in the water ASAP. This will help to prevent other Bass from eating all of the newly hatched fry that the Male was guarding.
One of my best friends when I was growing was a diehard fan of the rock group, Chicago. It may have had something to do with the fact that he was part of a drum and bugle corps and had a thing for horns or maybe he just liked their vibe. Either way, he always seemed to be playing their music whenever I dropped by his house to hang out.
Not that anyone really had to make much of an effort to hear a Chicago tune back then since they got a lot of airtime on the radio.
In any event, I can’t say that I was a diehard fan like him. I was struggling just to pick up the nuances of pre-algebra so it seemed like a waste of brain power to memorize concert dates and useless trivia about the kinds of foods various band member liked and so on and so on. Rather, I remained just an ordinary kid who liked some of their songs and would usually sing along to the ones I liked — provided certain young ladies weren’t around.
Anyway, one of the Chicago songs that I liked (and still do) was, “Saturday in the Park”.
Now, I am just old enough to remember going to some of the parks around L.A. and seeing the balloon venders walking around with, what seemed like, hundreds of bright, helium balloons swaying in the breeze and I am also just old enough to remember the organ grinder guys standing near the merry-go-rounds cranking their tinny sounding hand organs and “singing Italian songs” while their little dressed up monkeys did tricks and then approached you with a tin cup to collect loose change.
I can also remember family outings in the park when we would by ice cream from the man selling it out of a little rolling cart and I remember playing baseball, rolling down the grassy hills just for fun and watching old men argue over Bocce ball and horseshoes. I can even remember rowing around one or two of the lakes – lakes that I now fish – in a rented rowboat with my Dad.
I guess you could say I like that old Chicago song, ‘cause I lived it, even if only for a brief (but happy) period in my young life.
So, you can probably already guess my serendipitous delight, when my fishing buddy, Sean and I encountered a “Saturday in the Park” scenario the other day when we shot over to Heartwell Park in Long Beach to fish the little pond there.
We both had had a very busy week and the weekend was fast slipping away. We both had also wanted to get in some late season fly fishin’ before the start of another equally busy week however morning obligations which then turned into a leisurely lunch with our beautiful brides meant we had to pick a place really close if we were going to get in any time at all on the water before dark.
Heartwell seemed like the obvious choice – not just because of where we were but also because my annual pass to El Dorado Park had just expired.
Sean had scoped Heartwell Park out a couple of weekends ago but despite the fact that I drive by it all the time, I had never actually been there. Upon arriving at the park, I was immediately (and nostalgically) charmed by the well-tended little pond, the trees, the thoughtfully placed benches and the meandering paths. As we rigged our fly rods up and walked towards the little pond, the lowering sun cast long shadows across the wide expanses of grass and also turned the pond water a rosy pink color. I noticed couples of all ages and description sauntering arm in arm along the paths around us talking and laughing. I noticed a young man playing his guitar off in the distance and a couple of kids dancing to the music in their heads. I also noticed a veritable smorgasbord of dog breeds parading past with their owners in tow as we worked our way around the concrete bank. It was a scene that I hadn’t seen in a long time — a real celebration.
Charmed as I was, I didn’t forget the purpose of our little expedition and I managed to hook onto a small Bass on my third or fourth cast while Sean tied on to a couple of sunfish straight away. We each continued pulling in small fish while curious families stopped to watch for a moment or two but then went back to whatever game or activity it was that they were involved in and left us to our fishing.
Eventually, a gentleman did approach Sean and, as fishermen are prone to do, they got to talking. They back and forthed about different places they had each fished and different techniques the had each used and then this generous stranger shared a little history about the pond we were standing at that he had garnered from watching it being drained and cleaned a few years ago.
He wished us well and continued with his late afternoon stroll. We immediately positioned ourselves to take advantage of this new-found intel and within moments Sean had hooked on to yet another fish. I was several yards away, working a corner under a large tree but when he threw his net on the ground, (sort of our unofficial signal for help), I laid my rod down and scooted over to where he was successfully bringing in a fat and sassy twelve-inch largemouth Bass who had fallen for the tried and try black wooly bugger pulled along at a fairly quick clip in short strips of line.
Now, with all of the excitement this fish generated from the two of us and with all the subsequent flash from Sean’s camera lighting up the twilight like fireworks you might have thought our afternoon in the park “was the fourth of July”.
Can you dig it?
I love this addiction called urban fly fishin’.
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 week has been crazy thus far. Work is picking up; we’re getting all of our stuff packed to move; family issues are running rampant, and I needed to get out and fish. Fly Fishing is the one thing in my life that can take my mind off of anything. As soon as I pick up the rod I step into a different world, and nothing but catching fish and enjoying nature matters.
I arrived at the park and the water was flat. The temperature was starting to rise and I could see the shad hitting the surface, as Little Bass chased them around the lake. I’m not sure how the little Shad got there and how they sustain every year, but there they are! (I have netted a few and caught a couple on little dry flies).
I tied on a small white Flash-A-Bugger with a trailing White Mysis Shrimp Imitation. My imitations of the Shad seem to drive the Largemouth Bass wild every time. I throw a cast as far out into the middle of the lake as I can, and start an extremely fast twiching retrieve.
Now this tactic only seems to work for me in the late Summer through late Fall, the rest of the year I can cast until my arm falls off (usually without one hit). I usually will catch a small Bass on about every 5-10 casts and on good days I feel bites on every cast.
At first I thought, well it must be the flash fooling the fish. So I tried other colors, Black, Olive, Purple, Yellow, Rust, with only a few bites. Then I thought, well maybe it’s the color, and I tied on the same white Woolly Bugger and Mysis Shrimp without any flash tied in. Guess what? NO BITES! Okay so now I am thoroughly convinced it is the color and the flash imitating one of these little shad running for it’s life.
On this day the Bass were relatively small anywhere from 5-12 Inches, but I have caught big Bass on this rig.
I especially remember one morning being out just after the sun had come up. I tied up my rig, cast into the center of the lake , and started stripping vigorously. Just as I was about to pick up my fly and recast, a huge Bass came flying out of the water attacking my fly like a Great White Shark after a seal. He was hooked and the fight began. I chased the bass around the lake for about 10 minutes and when he finally was close enough to lip I bent down hands shaking, and with one more shake of his giant head my fly came loose and hit me square in the forehead. I pulled the fly of my skin to find that he had totally bent out the hook and by the looks of the Bass he was pushing 8-10 pounds (that is one big park lake Bass)!
Hopefully next time I get a monster like that there will be a photo to follow, and smiles for days!
The other day my phone rang at 4:00p.m. and on the other line was a fellow “UrbanFlyVenturer” letting me know that his brother is in town from the south, and he wanted to fish with me at a local park lake for an hour or two. Work was slowing down and I figured I would make it out of the office by 5:30p.m., so I asked where they wanted to meet. Ralph Clark Regional Park Lake was close, so that’s where we headed.
I arrived not really knowing what to expect. I had not fished with either of them before, and was not really sure what they were hoping to gain from the trip. Did they just want to talk to me? Did they want some fishing advise? Or was there some other motive?
Always excited to meet someone new and gain some fishing insight. I pulled up and they were waiting for me anxiously. I said “hi”, and they quickly asked “you bring any Poppers”. “I advised as a matter of fact, I brought just about every fly I own, I wasn’t sure what species or tactic you guys were after”. The brother advised that he wanted to show me some cool tactics he had learned for all flies in the popper category: poppers, chuggers, sliders, etc. All in exchange for a little info on a few tactics for Carp in streams.
A fair deal I thought and we got right down to it. We fished a total of about two and a half hours, and I was amazed at how many fish we caught in that time span. Usually when I’m getting a lesson catching fish isn’t really involved. But wow! Did I ever walk away with a new sense of confidence on how to fish these flies.
I was asked to keep the names anonymous for reasons I am really not sure, but a big “THANK YOU” to John Doe non the less!
So talk to people, get involved in a forum, and you never know what valuable information you might gain!
Just landed back in the Mainland last night from our trip to Hawaii. It was an amazing vacation filled with time for family, site seeing, and even some time out on the water with my fly rod.
The trip was mainly for my wife to visit her Grandparents and her Dad, and for me to visit my Grandparents. In between visit however we did manage to do some site seeing like visiting Iolani Palace and Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay.
Before I left on my trip to the islands, I got into contact with one of our site followers Chris who knows the island and the fish on it extremely well. The weather patterns have been a little strange there for the last few weeks and the Saltwater bit has been slow. So, we decided that it would be best to hit up th local Nuuanu Stream in the morning and get out on the flats in the afternoon when the tide was coming in.
The morning started off interesting with me missing the cutoff sign for the stream, and getting lost. I found my way back to the road to find my host waiting for me on the side of the road to flag me over to my parking destination. We talked for a few minutes and he briefed me on the terrain and the equipment to use.
The fishing was amazing. We both managed a few Smallmouth Bass, I think I caught about 15 (since he gave me all the good holes to fish) within a hour or two. The hiking was a little strenuous in the rain with us (mainly me) slipping and falling all over the stream, but the results were well worth it.
I want to give a big Mahalo to Chris for showing me this little stretch of paradise!
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