Category: Park Lakes


By , August 17, 2011 6:24 pm

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’.


By , April 20, 2011 10:51 pm

“Sonrisa” is the Spanish word for smile. My dear Grandma would say it to me as she gently tried to awaken me each morning during my summer time stays at her little casita. She would softly shake the bed and say, “Sonrisa Mijito.” which was her way of saying, “Get up, son, it’s a great morning.” I obeyed out of respect for her but I rarely saw a reason back then to smile about getting up so early, especially during summer break.

As the years have passed though I have come to deeply appreciate the memory of my beloved “Abuelita”. I fondly recall her unwavering love for me and her love for the simple joys of life including a beautiful morning.

I thought of her as I got up with the sun this morning.

I’m not sure why I arose so early since I had not gone to bed until almost 3am. Nevertheless, I was up and ready to go at first light. I stumbled out into the kitchen, fired up the coffee maker and opened the back door for a look around. All was still and I noticed that the sky was clear and just turning into the lighter shades of blue indicating a beautiful day ahead.

I peeked back into the bedroom and listened to the regular, deep breathing of my wife and knew it would be several hours before she roused.

So, I quickly and quietly got dressed, gave her a quick kiss and whispered to her that I’d be back shortly, to which she mumbled back something sweet-sounding but incoherent.

Back in the kitchen, I pulled down the large travel mug, practically drained the entire pot of coffee in to it and slipped out into the crisp morning air. Even though it was early, there was no need for a jacket or even a heavy shirt.

I caught myself smiling.

As I backed out of the driveway I made some quick mental calculations. El Dorado Park just seemed like the right place and the right distance away for the time I had allotted so I headed west.

When I got there, there were the usual early morning walkers and bicycle riders but only one other angler at my first stop, Horseshoe Pond. I could see small Panfish working the reeds and I could see an occasional olive-backed “torpedo” busting through the schools of Bluegill causing a momentary boil of activity in the water. I rigged my new 4-wt with a small tan wooly bugger and began working the weed beds near the shore myself.

My first Bluegill was a feisty and determined male in full breeding color.

The other guy fishing on the opposite bank saw my immediate success and asked me if I would mind if he moved a little closer to where I was fishing. He was using a little spin casting rig with bait and bobber and was only casting out a few feet at most so I invited him on over. Since my primary goal for the morning was to try out some new gear, any fish I happened to land where icing on the cake.

After about an hour and a half, I was feeling pretty comfortable with the new gear so I decided to switch rigs and move over to the other side of the pond. I wanted to test a couple of theories I’ve been working on so I rigged up the penfishingrods set-up I mentioned in a previous post and began casting to an area I knew was frequented by Carp and Bass.

I gave myself five minutes before I would pack up and head home.

No sooner had I said to myself, “OK, last cast,” when my rod doubled over and some 30 yards of line peeled of my reel in mere seconds.
Whatever was on the other end zigged and zagged across the middle of the pond and the fight was on. The little PenRod performed admirably, to say the least, and I was having a great time just trying to outmaneuver the fish on the other end.

Unfortunately…or maybe not so, the fish shook off after a few moments. Either way, I was seriously content though my heart was pounding, my hands were shaking and the zing from the drag still echoed in my ears.

I caught myself smiling again.

I reeled my little ultra-light lure in and touched up the hook with my little hook hone before tossing a few more casts across a narrow outlet of the little pond. After a couple of casts I decided to pitch it back to the same spot where I had just hooked up.

Sure enough, another strike, almost as exciting as the first. That one too, shook off after a few moments but, again, it did not matter nearly as much as I expected it would.

However, this time when I reeled in, I knew I would have to get back to the reality of the day and the errands that still needed to be run and the office tasks that still needed to be completed and so on and so on but for just that brief little while I was on holiday and life was just grand, as they say…and I smiled all the way home.

I love this addiction called urban flyfishin’



By , December 28, 2010 8:19 pm

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?”

I paused.

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’.

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