Posts tagged: UrbanFlyFishing
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Court Dates, Hospital Visits, Long Work Days, the list goes on and on.
That sentence to preface the fact that I’ve been holding onto this great Urban fly Venturing story without the opportunity to actually sit down and get to write about it.
So here goes nothing.
About a month ago in between all that was swirling around me, I found myself with a Monday Morning free from anything on my calendar. It was just waiting there with a big empty circled space, waiting for me to write FISHING in all capital letters.
So guess what it did, that’s right I went FISHING.
Now my only regret is that I cannot share this location with you guys, due to a secret fishing spot swap. All that I’m aloud to say is that it’s a reservoir up in North Orange County, California.
This place definitely lived up to all the hype, and the back and forth emails about how big the Bluegills and Red Ear Sunfish are.
As I backed my truck up to the dead end dirt road. I pulled out my Okuma Guide Series 5 Weight Rod and SLV Fly reel. I laced them up with fly line and grabbed my streamer box.
That’s right I said streamers! Accord to the email bragging, my Hopper Dropper set up was better left in the truck.
I slid down the steep embankment of gravel onto an old cement boat launch, and cast out about 30 feet in front of me. Slowly stripping in line, checking the clear water for any signs of movement.
Strip, Strip, Strip, and all of the sudden I could see a striking flash right by my Minnow imitation. But for some reason there was no strike. This happened about 5 times, and I finally begrudgingly decide to change flies.
I pulled out a Rust colored Bead Head Flash-A-Bugger and started working the fly a little slower letting it sink farther to the bottom with a sudden jerk to imitate a Crayfish or leech moving across the gravel.
This time the flash went straight for my fly, and I was hooked into what I thought was a decent sized Largemouth Bass. But after getting the line within about 15 feet where I was standing, I could see that I was hooked into one of the largest Panfish that I’ve ever caught.
I pulled out my measuring net to land the fish, and picked it up to admire my catch.
Believe it or not (I have the pictures to prove it). I had just caught a 14 inch Red Ear Sunfish! That’s Right, 14 INCHES!
I sat there for a moment with a silly grin on my face, and then snapped back to reality. I still had the fish in hand, so back into the water he went.
Without skipping a beat I moved 10 feet down the bank and cast out. Smack another fish on the line. Then another, and another, and another.
When it was all said and done, I had caught about 13 Sunfish over 11 Inches.
Now that’s a good day fishing. I don’t care who you are, or where you live.
My Time for fishing was up.
So away I went. Back to the meetings, Hospital Visits, and Court Dates. But for a moment, just a moment. I was able to get away from it all, and focus my mind on only one thing.
And that’s why we call it Urban Fly Venturing, a Disease Worth Catching!
In Urban fly Fishing this one statement rings so true ”Timing is Everything”.
Especially when your doing a little Urban Park Fishing for stocked Rainbow Trout.
In the Urban setting we have a lot to compete with.
First there’s the Bait Fisherman. They fish for Trout at park lakes for one reason and one reason only, to eat the fish!
Second there’s the Cormorants, those vicious swimming birds that gobble up any fish they can get their beak on.
Third there’s the Bass. I’m not so much complaining about this one. Just take a quick look at the “All tackle top 25 Largemouth Bass ever caught”. California litters the list, and the main reason is our Trout stocking program. Our bass are getting protein, and a lot of it. Which makes for faster growth rates and heavier fish across the board.
The fourth and final road block is the Trout themselves. We’re talking stocked fish here, and their diet of pellets at the hatcheries sure looks a lot more like Power Bait than it does a Caddis Dry Fly or a Prince Nymph.
However a lot of times genetics kick into high gear, and the Stockers will just as readily take a Garlic Dipped Nightcrawler as they will a Woolly Bugger.
I had one such day last Saturday, as I pulled up to one of the Local Park Lakes with Rod and Reel in hand.
I could see a load of bait fisherman stacked up on edge of the lake. Not hard to see that the Fish and Game truck must have been there just hours ago, and the Bows were still schooled up trying to acclimate to their new environment.
I took my position carefully across from where the baiters were, and tied on a size 14 Yellow Stimulator with a dropper Red size 18 Midge, and a small Egg Pattern.
One cast and I was into a really decent sized Rainbow splashing about. I finally got it to the net, and before I had even looked up there were 5 guys surrounding me “What are you using” they asked. A Fly I answered somewhat sarcastically.
They stared at me for a moment and then retreated back, so as not to lose their precious spot they had been in since 5 am that morning.
Second cast. Wait for it “Fish on” I shouted out with excitement, another great sized Rainbow. I let him go to the reply of “Come on save some fish for us”.
I cast a few more times without luck. So I reeled in my set up, and decided to switch over to a size 12 Black Bead Head Woolly Bugger.
A couple of casts getting the action right , and whack a fish comes out of left field and nails it at my feet so hard the rod almost slipped out of my hand. After a little fight and a quick 16 inch measurement in the net, back to the water he went.
By this time all of the bait fishermen had switched over to a micro jig, and one kid had even ran to the car to get his Fly Rod.
At that point I decided to call it a day. The water was getting crowded, and I could feel the glares burning holes in the back of my head.
I did make a quick stop over to the kid to check out his fly rig. He had some 10 pound test rigged up to a wet fly with a bobber at the end of the fly line.
I pulled out a couple of flies and some tippet, and showed him how to rig up a hopper/dropper. After a quick casting lesson he was off to the races.
That’s what it’s really all about, seeing the enjoyment on a kids face the first time he picks up a fly rod. I think I can genuinely say that moment was worth more than any fish I had caught that day.
Urban Fly Venturing, a Disease Worth Catching!
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’.
One of the most common questions we, as urban flyfishers, get from our non-fishing friends is: “why?”
Why do we fish tiny ponds in overcrowded, noisy parks in the middle of the city?
Why do we venture out amongst the homeless, seedy or just plain crazy? (The three are NOT necessarily one and the same – don’t rush to judgment here).
Why do we get up way too early, creep around long after dark and fish with one eye always on the look out for gangbangers, thieves or unsympathetic cops?
Why do we not even think twice about squeezing through holes in fences, crawling through storm drains or scaling locked wrought iron gates to pursue our passion?
Why do we have fighting knives fastened rapid-deployment style to our pack straps yet carry giveaway food bars and pocket-size editions of the gospel of John within those same packs?
Why the heck would we be willing to tolerate all this stuff that seems so very foreign to the traditional concept of fly fishing?
Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words:
I love this addiction called urban fly fishin’
A couple of weekends ago, my beloved and I went on a double date with my fishin’ buddy Sean and his beautiful bride, Sarah. Although there were many recreational/entertainment options available to us, the oppressive heat quickly made retreat to the air-conditioned comfort of the local multiplex the best choice out of the bunch.
Once there, I didn’t have to twist any arms too hard to convince the other three members of my party to check out the latest installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, “On Stranger Tides”.
Say what you will, but I make no apologies for liking these movies. In fact, I will go so far as to say that the Pirates ride at Disneyland was a powerful spark that ignited a certain land-locked barrio boy’s life-long interest in maritime history, things nautical, marine biology and, of course, pirate history (even before it was a fashionable interest).
So as the house lights dimmed and I used the cover of darkness to grab an extra handful of popcorn from my wife’s bucket, (…We pillage, we plunder, we rifle and loot. Drink up me hearties, yo ho…) imagine my momentary mood squash when, instead of tall ships and clanging cutlasses we were confronted with Stetsons and horses and six-shooters and … spaceships. Yeah, that’s right, the first images on the silver screen in front of us were from a trailer for a movie called Cowboys and Aliens. It’s a sci-fi/western thing with grizzled trail riders in spurs taking on extraterrestrial creatures in gleaming high-tech space craft.
Talk about a “huh?” moment.
Such odd pairings in the physical realm are sometimes called “ooparts” which stands for “out-of-place-artifacts”. Things like modern hammers found in allegedly untouched coal seams, battery-like devices amongst the items within ancient tombs, ancient pottery with images of people interacting with dinosaurs– those are “ooparts”.
Cowboys taking on aliens is, of course, not an out-of-place artifact but it is certainly an out-of-place concept (“oopcept”, to put a twist on the phrase); which is probably the whole point. It’s an idea that is just out there enough that you want to see how things play out. It’s one thing for the original Terminator to take on the new upgraded T-1000 model. It’s another to watch saddle weary cowpokes use Smith & Wessons to battle beings with the ability and gear to travel across the vast reaches of space.
Deep down, we all like “oopart/oopcept” stuff. It makes us feel like we are in on the joke.
Which got me to thinking (but only after watching and thoroughly enjoying the Pirates movie) “oopcept” sort of sums up the idea of urban flyfishing for many people. For most folks who have never touched a fly rod, seeing someone using fly gear, popularly associated with trout fishing on wild mountain streams, in urban ponds and lakes, not typically considered fishable, just seems odd. It’s an “out-of-place-concept”.
So be it. Let it be a point of bafflement for the general public. Let it be an “oopcept” idea for the masses but for those who practice it, it works and it works well.
What happens when you have an “oopcept” urban fly guy hitting an urban pond and he comes across an “oopart” fish in said pond?
Let me ‘splain what I mean. A couple of days after the double date night with our brides, Sean and I snuck off for some twilight urban fly fishin’ and while we are working a particular pond I noticed a very unusual shape cruising in the shallows and making the water roil every now and then. Now, I’ve seen plenty of bass, carp, sunfish, koi, goldfish, crappie, catfish, and even tilapia with all manner of deformities and doing all kinds of crazy things in urban waters but this fish didn’t match any of ‘em.
So, I reeled in my line and stepped back far enough to prevent my shadow from hitting the water and then I just stood there. After a few moments, the strange shaped fish cruised back into the shallows and made some half-hearted lunges at the small sunfish hovering around an aquatic weed.
I ran through the mental rolodex at least twice before it dawned on me that I was looking at a roughly eighteen-inch long gar, probably a smallish alligator gar to be more precise. Then I remembered that Sean had said something about a rumor of an unusual fish having shown up in this particular piece of water.
Which was kinda cool, except that … we don’t have gar in SoCal – an “oopart” moment, for sure.
Not that I have anything against gar. In their native habitat they are top of the food chain predators and, depending upon the species, can grow to several hundred pounds. In their home territory they are highly prized gamefish and certainly an interesting, worthy and respectable fish by any account.
The problem is that SoCal is not their native habitat. This particular gar was a couple thousand miles too far west and/or a couple of latitudes too far north.
Now, I know that virtually every species in the ponds and urban lakes of SoCal is a non-native transplant or genetically modified mutant. For that matter, the majority of ponds and lakes in urban SoCal are freakish aberrations of the term “lake” and most didn’t even exist in their present form until relatively recent times and then often with huge, unintended impacts on the natural setting. From a purist’s perspective, urban SoCal is an ecological trainwreck.
Still, there is a fragile (often frighteningly fragile) and noticeable balance in our urban waters and the introduction of such a fish into a relatively small body of water had the potential to seriously throw a wrench into the works.
My goal instantly became to get that gar (and possibly any other recent introductions) out of that lake before a precious and prized fishin’ hole tipped out of balance and become just a wet low spot in the middle of a grassy field.
Fortunately, many in the local and loosely affiliated fishing fraternity felt the same way and over the next couple of days much energy was expended and tons of hardware thrown, pitched, reeled and twitched across that particular puddle.
Then on a Thursday night, after I had finished all my work related stuff for the day and was seriously contemplating another twilight gar-fishing trip, I got word from Sean that local rod-slinger, J_____ had finally taken the gar on one of his hand made balsa wood crank baits.
Sure enough, grainy, low-light photos were soon blazing across cyber space offering proof that the common “threat” had been eliminated.
Yet, there was no euphoria or giddiness over this victory. It just seemed wrong to celebrate the demise, however prudent, of a magnificent creature such as this gar, especially since it had ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time due to someone’s carelessness, thoughtlessness or twisted sense of humor.
The knucklehead who dumped or planted that particular fish in that particular place hadn’t done it or anyone else any favors.
Sometimes “oopart” isn’t interesting, it’s just dumb.
Still, when all was said and done, I had to admire the spirit of cooperation (competition?) from the local urban fishing community (which many would describe as a very pirate like sub-culture anyway). A bunch of widely divergent guys, with widely divergent fishing styles and tactics had momentarily formed a loose alliance to tackle a common problem.
“…We’re rascals, scoundrels, villains, and knaves.? Drink up me hearties, yo ho …”
I love this addiction called urban fly fishin’.
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