Saturday, January 7, 2012

Urbane Pursuits

Fly Fishing urban on regular time.

  On the face of it, going fishing in the confines of the big city as an average Joe who lives paycheck to paycheck has its limitations. We have jobs, families, and all the obligations that go with them and often the weekend is filled with other things that need tending to outside the world of fish and hooks, or at the very least one day is dipped in the honey do list. Ours seems to get longer over here as time goes by rather than the other way ’round. It need not be so.
One of the buzz phrases of the times is time management. I have found this can be applied quite readily to fishing during the work week as well with a little creative thinking. For instance when the fry migration is on in my nearby urban estuary, once the time changes I get up a half hour before first light and fish from 5AM (first light) until 7 or 8AM depending upon obligations. Very often this pays off well and it keeps me coming back for more. Also heavy traffic days can be waited out in nearby slough, estuary, ocean, stream or rivers that abound around us. Too, if one can adjust their day to leave earlier and stay later, (or vice versa) then some if not all of that time can be allotted for fishing and exploring.

We drive over and by them all the time, those big brackish slough type waters along with merry rivulets and small creeks whose names we don't know, never mind where they flow from in our day to day doings. Most if not all hold fish of some sort from bullheads to coho salmon depending upon where and when you are poking around. Armed with a copy of the current edition of the fishing regulations and a good understanding thereof, combined with both a fresh and salt water license opens up a giant world of fly fishing right at anybody who lives on the West Coast literal doorstep.
To be somewhat blunt, to me a fish is a fish. If I get it to eat what I’m tossing then it’s game on. Sure I prefer to target the glamour species as much as the next guy, but the truth is if you can’t fool the coarse fish then you sure as hell haven’t upped your chances at anything you consider smarter, (as in women with fish, looks aren’t everything and definitely doesn’t denote brain power) and that’s a fact. Try fly fishing for carp sometime, they’s pretty ugly but man they are a wary lot. Strong as well.

Before running out and flogging water you have no idea about, besides checking the regulations one might want to do a little research on the area you live or commute through. The internet (the various forums and fly shop report pages come to mind) is a great resource. Before a decent yield can be expected in the forum area however, an introduction along with participation is required by what’s known as internet etiquette. Some time invested tends to give the other posters a feeling of yourself and form an opinion on whether they feel it’s worth responding to queries as sensitive as which rock to stand on. Google Earth is definitely a bonus program to download, to check road access and the like along with potential fishing areas on individual waters.
One of my personal favorite resources is an old paperback book that was published in 1973. It lists a bunch of ‘fished out’ areas and places where it was considered worth trying 20 or 30 years ago. Considered ‘dead’ by most anglers and driven by at light speed on the way to ‘better’ fishing, these areas that have faded into obscurity lend them to very little if any fishing pressure. Consequently there can be some pretty good solitude along with decent fishing available though deemed otherwise. This is a call to possibly make use of a building from the days of olde – The Public Library. Many issues and back issues of old mags, books, and maps are available there for the asking.

For gear I usually like to use a 10’ 5wt over lined with a weight heavier 40+ Ghost tip (6wt) unless there are salmon in the system where I will opt for a 6 or 7wt outfit. I prefer to fish subsurface as a rule so the tip works for me. A floater probably would do just as well, but for myself in the often windy conditions encountered I like the punch the 38’ head provides along with the ability to fish a shorter leader. Also it is a superior roll casting/single spey line which is essential for much of the waters you may find yourself fishing. Adding the spey mentality to your casting will open up far more water than conventional overhead casting by nature of not needing as much if any back cast room. Make no mistake much of the water you can be hunting will have very few trails to it, because of the lack of pressure. For reels, again, it depends upon what I expect to encounter but for the most part I prefer something with a medium to large arbor along with a disc drag. Couple these with a good stripping basket and you are set. I find the stripping basket indispensable for this (and pretty much all) type of fishing allowing a person to navigate the oft tangled bank which is usually littered with debris, gives a goodly length of line coiled and waiting to be shot out the top eye at a sudden rise.

For this fishing a vest is not essential though an inflatable vest is a good idea as most of this fishing is done alone. Always consider a PFD. Mostly I just take a single fly box, tippet, an extra leader along with all the gadgets of the trade on a lanyard.

Flies are as simple or as complex as you prefer to roll. A few prudent choices regarding what you might encounter and what type of water you will be fishing (gleaned through your research looking for things like whether the water supports a salmon run etc.) If I am fishing still waters or sloughs and back channels, I’d be sure to include patterns I can strip and that have life like movement in the water along with a few flash patterns and small natural staples such as the hare’s ear and the prince nymph. I also never leave the house without at least a few soft hackles in a few different designs. They have saved many a confounding day on the water.

More moving water/stream then I am most apt to break out the dry line and weighted patterns and work diligently on getting a drag free drift with stone flies, mayflies, caddis patterns and again the soft hackles with the odd chironomid mixed it. Round that selection out with a couple of egg patterns and an enjoyable day on the water most likely less than half an hour from your driveway awaits.

Oh, and in closing each and every one of the fish in this little write up was caught well within ear shot of traffic, dog walkers, and people of all kinds. Please be quiet when you get a slab, the rest of us who frequent the hidden right in plain view would appreciate it and are giving you big thumbs up.


  1. Great blog guys. First rate, I can only wish I was that tech savvy.

  2. Thanks so much! We aren't either but we are slowly getting the hang of it. cheers :) R&D