Category: Uncategorized

“MERRY CHRISTMAS” FROM URBANFLYVENTURES

By , December 26, 2009 9:04 pm

Merry Christmas to all of our loyal readers and fellow urban anglers.

We appreciate your support and comments.

In fact, your consistent feedback and positive comments have had a huge role in keeping us moving forward with this web site and blog – Thanks!

I spoke to the East Coast based “familia” this morning to wish them the joy of the day. After exchanging thank yous and other pleasantries, they started to whine about the temps hovering around 5 degrees F and threatening to snow hard. I happened to be standing in front of the kitchen window at the time and glanced at the outside thermometer attached to the glass. It read 60 degrees and I could not find a cloud in the sky.

Now far be it from me to gloat on the most charitable holiday of the year– especially over something like amazing weather but especially since my sister and bro-in-law are currently in the process of buying a Connecticut property with its own running stream and private lake (and which also happens to be mere minutes from the ocean).

So I just urged them to enjoy each others company whilst snuggled up in front of the fire and casually re-confirmed that the new house does indeed have ample guest quarters…

After additional phone calls to the rest of the family members scattered across the lower forty-eight, my lovely bride and I refilled the coffee mugs and sat down to open the gifts under the tree.

In keeping with the spirit of the day, let me publicly declare that we are blessed beyond compare with family, friends, adopted family and mentors whom we deeply love and appreciate.

But, since this is a FISHING blog – I gotta say, I am particularly blessed to have a fishin’ buddy who knows how to warm the cockles of the heart like no one else. I’m not bragging or anything, I’m just sayin’, who else but a fellow angler truly understands that you really can’t have too many hemostats or rigid fly rod tubes – thank you Sean.

Also, though it may cost me that new fly vest, I have to thank Sean again for providing a convincing argument to my Beloved that she would indeed look hot while participating in the very sport that is so near and dear to my heart.

A couple more pics of her outfitted in said fly vest and new hat and I bloody well may have her convinced that a week at a Montana fishing lodge IS as much fun as Maui.

So, thank you readers, thank you Sean and thank you to the unsung seamstress somewhere in China that skillfully sewed that new fishin’ vest – God bless us, everyone!

DUCK, I’M FISHIN’

By , November 22, 2009 7:00 am

Wanna go fishin'One thing about being an avid angler AND owning and operating a veterinary housecall practice is that every day has the potential to bring surprises and smiles that simply don’t exist in a traditional brick and mortar hospital

Imagine, for example, my surprise when I spied the phrase, “Go Fishing — $2.00” added to the bottom of the sign for the Montebello Barnyard Zoo where we were scheduled to conduct annual exams and administer vaccines to the livestock there.

Now, if your mind works anything like mine, just seeing the word “fishing” triggers something akin to what must go on in the brain of a hound dog when he finally picks up the sought after scent.

However, focus is required when one is working on full-grown llamas and such lest one catch a kick in an unexpected place or a face full of alpaca spit. And it takes concentration and a steady hand to rope a goat or catch a running chicken. (Remember the training scenes in “Rocky”?) So even though I had noticed that darn “fishing” thing on the sign as soon as we walked through the gates, I had to intentionally shove that thought deep into the recesses of my head until we were finished checking everyone out and the sharps had all been safely stored away and the vaccines were back in the fridge along with any blood and/or fecal samples.

But you can bet, once everyone was inspected, injected and given a clean bill of health and all that was left to do was to settle up the accounting, I inquired about the fishing phrase posted on the sign.

“Oh, you wan’ to see my newest proyect?” The owner replied in his heavily accented English. “Is jus’ a little thing I thought los ninos would like.”

So like an obedient puppy, I followed the proprietor to the back of the property while visions of a private lake stocked with Alpers Trout danced in my head.

We worked our way around the rental picnic areas and the gold-panning sluice and in between the merry-go-rounds and past the mini train station and out toward the far end of the property to… a small pond approximately ten feet wide and twenty feet long and about a foot deep.

Reality hurts sometimes.

Still, it was a charming little pond. The rockwork and landscaping were well done and it all fit in nicely with the overall theme and scale of the zoo. It just wasn’t the private estate lake I had built it up to be in my mind during the brief walk to see it.

Nor did it hold any prized Trout. In fact, the “fishing” turned out to be snagging plastic, floating decoy ducks by a cleverly designed hook and ring system as they drifted by a split-rail fence.

Somewhat disappointed, but not wanting to appear rude or discourage the inventiveness of our host, we each took a fishing pole in hand while one of the farm hands fired up the high volume pump that caused a whole flock of plastic ducks with metal rings protruding from their backs to go zipping past us in an endless swim to nowhere.

Duck Fishing

The rods had a fixed length of heavy monofilament attached to the end and a rather unique hook. I took consolation in the fact that they were vaguely similar to the Tenkara rods that are carried by TenkaraUSA. After a few half-hearted attempts to land one of the ducks, I realized that this fishing game was actually rather challenging. After ten minutes, I realized it was bloody addictive and down right ingenious.

We might have spent the better part of the afternoon there twitching and jerking the rods with the oversized hooks on the ends in an a near futile attempt to snag one of the bobbing birds but we had other patients to see and other stops on the schedule so I somewhat reluctantly relinquished my pole and congratulated the proprietor on his newest venture, wishing him much success and many two-dollar ticket sales.

What a game!

As we pulled away from the farm, I smiled to myself, partly because of the surprising way the day had turned out but also because I know SoCal is a big, eclectic and eccentric place and there are a whole lot of pets out there. One day we will stumble across the right property and the right pet owner and I will have a standing invitation to practice my roll casts on a private pond stocked with fat, sassy Rainbows.

I love this addiction called Urban Fly Fishin’.

 

RUN!

By , October 23, 2009 9:56 am

Google Map of Echo Park Spend enough time around virtually any urban lake in SoCal and you will eventually meet some of the more colorful characters that make the urban environment so…eclectic.

Usually, the universal head nod along with a quick, cordial, but not too dopey smile will dispel any hostile intentions. Every once in a while though, quick thinking and fast action distilled from years of being in places one ought not to be is the only recourse to ensure a happy ending…at least for one of the parties concerned.

Several years ago, I had a job with a certain governmental agency that required me to visit most of the urban waters in SoCal, collect water samples for basic water chemistry data and make observations on the numbers and species of fish being caught and taken.

I was given a stack of official looking tally sheets on an official looking aluminum clipboard, the keys to an official looking white pick-up truck, an official looking khaki colored uniform, complete with official looking patches and the official admonition to be discreet.

So naturally, SoCal being the melting pot that it is, as soon as I pulled up to any lake about 50% of the folks would give me one look and immediately pack up and leave. Another 30% would kick over their buckets, spilling the contents back into the lake and pull the hoods of their sweatshirts up over their heads to hide their faces and the remaining people would pretend to ignore me or glare threatening in my general direction. As far as being discreet, I might as well have put on a fuzzy pink bunny suit and skipped around tossing jelly beans, except one citizen at one lake already had that gig covered.

One morning, Echo Park Lake showed up on my list of lakes to visit for the day. Now, I had grown up not too far from Echo Park and always thought it was a funky, quaint kinda place, and as I had not been there for a couple of years, I was looking forward to visiting it as part of my assignment. As I collected my gear and grabbed a final cup of coffee, my supervisor called me into his cubicle. “I see Echo Park is on your list today,” he said. “Make sure you park the truck parallel to the shoreline and collect your samples from behind the truck. Have a good day and be safe.”

I arrived at Echo Park around lunchtime. Since it was a week day, the lake was fairly empty of fisherfolk but there were a few homeless folks lounging about, as well as a couple of people walking their dogs but no gang bangers or obvious druggies – all in all nothing out of the ordinary.

After cruising around the park once, I found a service driveway and drove across the grass until the truck was only a few feet from the water, parallel to the shore as my boss had instructed. I grabbed the testing kit from the passenger seat and began getting my samples.

About ten minutes into the test, an angry voice came from the other side of the truck.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m collecting samples and testing the water quality of the lake.” I replied, without turning around.

“No you’re not.” Said the voice from much closer.

Startled by the sudden proximity of the voice, I spun around only to come face to face with a thin, raggedly dressed man wearing an honest-to-goodness aluminum foil hat.

It's A Conspiracy

His skin was yellowed and his eyes looked ready to pop right out of his head, “You’re one of them. You came to poison us poor folks so you can claim this land for yourselves.”

“No, I’m testing the water to make sure it is safe for the fish that are stocked here,” I said, rising to my feet.

“It’s a conspiracy,” He said, “You put something in the water from one of those tubes in your hand, didn’t you?”

He started intently at the test tubes in my hands. I could see this was rapidly deteriorating into an ugly confrontation — Like I said, years of experience being in places one ought not to be in…

“I’m testing the water to make sure it is safe,” I said again slowly and deliberately, emphasizing the word “safe”.

“It’s poison. You got poison,” He hissed while smacking the side of his head.

That’s when the fast action part kicked in. Mind you, it was not elegant or completely manly, but it did turn out to be effective.

I dropped one of the test tubes.

As luck would have it, it hit the ground and shattered with a crisp, tinkling sound. I faked a gasp, opened my eyes wide and in the most panicked tone I could muster, shouted, “Holy crap! Run! Run right now!”

Unfortunately, Mr. Foil Hat, screamed like a little girl and did the duck and cover thing right there next to the truck. He may have done something else right there next to the truck too, but I didn’t wait to find out. I yelled again, “Get up, you idiot! Run! Run as fast as you can!”

I grabbed my gear and tossed it in the cab of the truck. Tinfoil guy jumped up and started running. I leapt into the bed of the truck (for effect) and across to the driver’s side, all the while yelling at the guy to keep running.

For good measure, I fired up the truck and did a little peel out in the grass. Jiffy Pop Boy was about fifty yards ahead of me at this point, moving along at a fair clip but in a manner that told me I had probably guessed right about what else he had done while curled up in a fetal position next to the rear tire, so I started driving across the park in his general direction while honking the horn and yelling out my window for him to keep running until I finally made it to the street.

Last I saw of him, he was headed down Glendale Blvd. towards downtown L.A.

When I got back to the office, the first thing I did was hunt down my boss and ask, “why did you tell me to park my truck next to the water at Echo Park?”

“Oh, so the crazy guys will think you’re a city worker fixing a broken sprinkler and leave you alone.”

BASS: THE MOVIE PREMIERES IN HOLLYWOOD

By , October 15, 2009 6:00 am
 

BASS: THE MOVIE PREMIERES IN HOLLYWOOD
Pacific Design Center Silver Screen Theater
8687 Melrose Ave (at San Vicente Boulevard)
West Hollywood, CA 90069 (310) 657-0800
Recommended to purchase tickets in advance
for “Bass: The Movie” as seats are limited!!
October 17, 2009 at 3:15 pm
Premiere will feature speakers, drawings, gear
demo and a Hollywood casting contest!
Portion of proceeds to goes California Delta conservation organizations.
BASS: THE MOVIE PREMIERES IN HOLLYWOOD
20 LOS ANGELES, California—September 9, 2009—HowardFilms announces the premiere of Bass: The Movie at the Pacific Design Center in Hollywood, California, October 17th, 2009. The event will start at 3:15 pm PST, with featured speakers one hour before and the hour after the film showing.

Director Jamie Howard brings bass fishing to the big screen for the first time with Bass: The Movie – a road trip through California in search of fishing secrets and a world record. The self proclaimed Bass Happening will feature the film as its axis and include boats, gear, fishing pros, speakers and prize drawings. In a state known for many things but bass fishing, this unusual journey within a few miles of the Pacific Ocean, pits fly rod fisherman and conventional rod fisherman on the same boat to share approaches and cultures side by side. On the conventional rod side, the film begins with interviews with ESPN Bass Elite Series pros including, Mike Iaconelli, Kevin VanDam, and Kelly Jordon. Then follows (by air, 20 land and sea) California Delta legend and guide Bobby Barrack, California fly rod pro and Delta guide Kevin Doran, world-record holder Raymond Easley, fly rod world-record holder Larry Kurosaki, bass pro and guide Marc Mitrany, and fly rod pro John Sherman. Sherman, an accomplished angler, whose caught trophy fish all over the world, was still new to the bass world. So he sets off to visit all these men, in search of bass secrets and a trophy bass.

The film’s initial revelation is that the state of California is a haven for the world’s biggest bass with numerous fisheries unlike any other: The endless maze and tidal waters of the California Delta’s levee system, contrast with the clear waters of southern California reservoirs. Another revelation is the backdrop of the Delta is listed by American Rivers as #1 on their list of 2009’s most endangered rivers in North America. Note: A portion of all proceeds will go to calsport.org.

Modern bass fishing has grown into a multi-billion20dollar sport since it’s simple roots, and the chase for George Perry’s 75 year-old record has helped stoke that fire. A record anyone with a fishing rod is eligible to match. California is considered one of the most likely places to find it. Though the record has been challenged several times in the years since Perry’s catch, it has remained the benchmark. It is one of the longest standing records in the sport of fishing. The film is not solely concerned with besting it, but rather exploring the ways the men who have made this bass their life go about their hunt, by fly rod or by conventional – in search of the big one. The movie will be released to public on 2-disc DVD set (includes legend Bill Dance retrospective interview) October 31, 2009.

Additional Information:
In 2009, ESPN Outdoors previewed Bass: The Movie with a weekly series of 2 . minute shorts on the project to expose viewers a new world of bass fishing in California through a cinematic perspective. It was one of the most-viewed projects by HowardFilms to date. The full-length film is not owned by ESPN.

Jamie Howard has won numerous awards for his films, including Chasing Silver (chasing tarpon in the Florida Keys) and In Search of a Rising Tide (bonefishing in the Bahamas) and helped promote the genre of the fishing film. Howard is a graduate of The University of Virginia, and worked in advertising as a writer and commercial director in New York City and Los Angeles.
 

 
Bob Marriott’s Flyfishing Store
2700 W. Orangethorpe Ave., Fullerton, CA 92833
•   www.bobmarriotts.com ; •   (800) 535-6633   •

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

By , October 14, 2009 10:19 am

SoCal isn’t usually the first place that pops into the head of most people when they are thinking about places rich in history. Strolling Main Street at Disneyland and gazing upon Clark Gable’s star on Hollywood Blvd. don’t exactly stand on the same footing as visiting Monticello or paying respects to the fallen at Gettysburg.

And while most tourists can be forgiven a lack of knowledge about the subtle yet fascinating history of the region, I have no idea what to say to the local natives who claim the movies Chinatown and L.A. Confidential as primary reference sources on the history of Los Angeles and it environs.

No wonder we have an actor for Governor.

Despite all that, there is a ton of history layin’ ‘round here that not only makes living in SoCal a great adventure but serves to make things like the urban fishing experience much more enjoyable, in my humble opinion.

Take Lincoln Park for example. Now, every major city in the U.S. and many not so major ones as well, have a Lincoln Park. What makes the one in L.A. unique is…well, that is in L.A.

But seriously, Lincoln Park and its lake were once one of the open-air gems in a quartet of parks situated roughly in the four cardinal directions from the city center. Established in the final years of the 19th century, it was originally called East Los Angeles Park then Eastside Park then Eastlake Park and then, after firmly establishing its direction from downtown in the hearts and minds of the citizens, Lincoln Park in honor of … the High School down the road.

In its heyday, Lincoln Park was THE place to stroll on a warm Sunday afternoon and possibly take your sweetie out for a pleasant rowboat ride on the small lake. If rowing was not your thing then a meander through the alligator farm might have been in order. Over a hundred large gators were on display as well as a wide variety of alligator related trinkets – some things in L.A. never change. It is recorded in several historical articles that escaped alligators would frequently make the lake in Lincoln Park their temporary home until they could be rounded up and returned to the farm, none the worse for the wear.

If large, bellowing reptiles were not your cup of tea, then you could check out the ostriches at the adjacent ostrich farm where, aside from the obligatory gift shop selling ostrich plumes for your hat, you could watch ostrich races or have a photo taken of you sitting in a small cart being pulled by – what else – ostriches.

In case that wasn’t enough distraction to hinder your back cast and confound your choice of flies (just what does one use to entice a gator to strike?) William Selig of early movie studio fame went on to establish a zoo on the north edge of the park and in a most Disney-esque fashion had high hopes of turning East Los Angeles into an entertainment destination par excellance.

He never got beyond a couple of Ferris wheels as far as amusement parks go but his property adjacent to the park eventually became a huge movie studio and the zoo grew to became one of the biggest zoos and most famous botanical gardens in the world with over 700 animals including many “celebrity” animals from Selig’s movies

Other historical documents tell of a mock Indian Village in the park where real Native Americans demonstrated traditional arts and crafts and of various fairs and of a variety of other amusements for the general public.

One of my favorites was a series of stepping stones that allowed one to seemingly walk on water across a corner of the lake. That might have been handy in those days prior to reliable waders

Sadly, the magnificent zoo, alligator farm, studio buildings and Ferris Wheels have vanished from the landscape of Lincoln Park as have the stately greenhouses, the rowboats and the wooden carousel. Laundromats and donut shops stand in the places where beautiful entry gates topped with sculptures of elephants and big cats used to tower.

Today there remains a closed and shuttered boathouse and the occasional portion of an odd pathway or awkwardly positioned streetlamp as well as similar out of place fragments of stone walls or curbs which serve as clues to a mostly forgotten yet glorious past.

The shallow, comma shaped lake is still there and many a local youth still gets his or hers first taste of fishing from that lake. As with nearly every SoCal urban lake, there are plenty of Panfish, the occasional Bass, Catfish and a few skulking Carp to entice the novice to keep trying.

Valley Blvd. literally forms the south shore of the lake which means incredibly easy access for the lazy angler and certainly makes the timing of your backcast critical if you fly fish – I don’t like busting off a fly on a wayward branch I failed to notice so I certainly don’t want to hang up my size 8 Carp fly on the antenna of a passing Chevy.

I don’t fish Lincoln Park much anymore. We reside in the O.C. now and the traffic makes it difficult to hop over there quickly. But Lincoln Park still holds a warm spot on my heart. Back in my college days I always had a fishing rig in my car and Lincoln park was on the way home.

Nothing eases the ache of a blown essay or missed math equation like an hour on the water and as I struggled through school, there were many occasions I needed that hour on the water.

The best part was, if you positioned yourself just right, with your back to the Blvd., you could almost imagine that the rumble of the trucks from the nearby 5 freeway were the bellowing of giant alligators or the twilght calls of Selig’s big cats.

Eastside park, Eastlake Park or Lincoln Park. Call it what you will but for my two cents worth it’s all part of that addiction I call urban fly fishin’.

BACK IN DA’ DAY

By , September 20, 2009 6:00 am

Glendale NarrowsIn the world of L.A. urban fishing, the Glendale Narrows portion of the Los Angeles River is frequently and favorably mentioned. And, indeed, today it is a pretty awesome place to get in some local brown-lining.

Forty years ago though, if you said you were going to fish or especially fly fish on the L.A. River, my school chums and I would have probably called you the “Spanglish” equivalent of a hick or an idiot and might even have thrown a few rocks at you if we saw you doing so.

Not that fish weren’t found there — to the contrary, my friends and I spent huge chunks of our summers and many of our weekend hours yanking hand-sized goldfish and catfish out of the various pools and pocket waters using home-made nets and traps we carted down there on our Stingray bicycles.

Likewise, while it is not uncommon today to see a guy wearing a pair of waders while plying the middle reaches of the Narrows, back then it was black canvas and white rubber Chuck Taylors and jeans for everything – hiking, biking, fishing, fighting, football, baseball, basketball, rock-hopping, school, weddings, funerals – everything. You would have definitely caught a portion of grief if you had shown up in rubber pants in those days. Forget about roughing up the Simms Freestones in polluted urban waters, we worried about the “tenderizing” our backsides would get if we couldn’t get our shoes to dry out by the time we got home.

Yeah, things down in the River were a lot different back then.

That’s why it has been such a blast to reconnect with the River through our urban fly ventures. Being able to pass on long forgotten secrets of the river to my fishin’ buddy, Sean (aka the young guy) and re-discover old stomping grounds and stretches of water I used to know the way some guys know the route from couch to kitchen, has been good for the soul.

I’m thrilled at the way the River has matured (recovered is probably a better term). The height and health of the trees, the clarity of the water, the number of bird species and the quantity of catchable fish are all signs of a thriving ecosystem … yet, there is one thought that keeps jumping around in the back of my mind after each visit to the Narrows…

Back in the day, tens of thousands of toads inhabited the River. They were everywhere. They even made annual mass migrations into the surrounding neighborhoods that became the stuff of legend. I can remember one hot summer night when the street literally undulated in the fading light of dusk as an army of toads made their way up from the River – I couldn’t sleep for a week.

Toads where so common that the section of the River tucked between the Golden State Freeway and the old Taylor Rail Yard was, and still is, known locally as “Frogtown”. There is even an art festival known as the Frogtown Art Walk that draws its name from that little piece of SoCal natural history.

Frog Town

It used to be virtually impossible to go down to the River and not see toads. Nowadays, I rarely see them.

Not that I mind all that much.

Truth be told, toads kinda give me the Willys. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a trained biologist. I understand the vital role they play in the balance of things and how they eat insects and such and how they in turn are an important food source for fish and birds. I know that they serve as indicator species – canaries in the global coal mine. I know all that stuff.

It’s just that I have much stronger, visceral memories of unexpectedly stepping on them in the wet grass at twilight and of them jumping out of the dog’s water bowl as I walked by in the dark and of riding my bike into a massive swarm of toadlettes in my haste to get home before my curfew and wiping out as though I had hit a patch of black ice. (If you think parents make a stink over soggy Converses, try ‘splainin’ away “toad kill” all over your good school clothes.)

Some folks speculate that improved water flow and quality have made it less favorable for tadpoles. Others issue dire warnings about climate change and eco-altering toxins. Could be. The water flow is definitely faster than I remember and some of the old familiar rock hops across the River are now partially submerged. There are definitely fewer stagnant pools where tens of thousands of tadpoles used to congregate. Not sure about the toxins theory either. The water sure seems cleaner now. Way more fish live in the River than in times past and I don’t encounter the dreaded Black Ooze nearly as often as I used to. Sure seems to be a lot more birds living down there now too, even some of the supposedly fragile species. I just don’t really know where all the toads went.

I do know that me and the River have this forty year plus history goin’ on and toads or no toads, it’s been a wild ride.

I love this addiction, called urban fly fishin’.

No Frogs, Just Flowers

WILL TROUT BECOME THE NEXT LAB RAT?

By , September 10, 2009 1:34 pm

Due to financial and logistical constraints, researchers usually use only a few hundred rats to test a particular carcinogen. They typically determine which dose causes about 10% of rats to develop cancer. Then they extrapolate down several orders of magnitude to estimate what dose would cause acceptable above-background cancer rates in people, leaving much room for error.

Since the cost of caring for trout is about 5% of the cost of caring for rats, researchers can use many more trout to test carcinogens. For example, George Bailey of Oregon State University (Corvalis) and his team tested the carcinogen Dibenzol [a, l] pyrene (DBP) at ultra-low doses of 0-225 ppm in 40,800 rainbow trout for 4 weeks and then fed them a normal diet for 9 months (Chem. Res. Toxicol. published online 18 May 2009; doi: 10.1021/tx9000754). They found that a DBP dose of 0.45 ppm caused an additional 0.02% of trout to develop liver cancer.

Bailey’s team then estimated the dose of DBP that would cause an additional one liver tumor in 1,000,000 people and found it was 500-1,500 times higher than that predicted from higher-dose DBP experiments in rats. This means that some carcinogens could be safe at levels far higher than currently thought. Additionally, researchers might need to re-evaluate how to best assess carcinogen toxicity. Exactly where trout fit into the picture remains to be seen. 

Taken from LabAnimal Magazine, Vol.38 No.8 / August 2009

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