Category Archives: Tales of the Urban Angler

Chapter 11: Don’t Need Bait

“I hate my brother” said the little boy. “He took almost all of my bait and left me with almost nothing, and now I can’t fish anymore” he said, trying to choke back the tears.

“Now-now” said Urban gently, “Hate is a strong word. Anyway, I’m not so sure you need any bait. Here, let me see what I can do for you …..”

It had all started when Urban had ridden Quicksilver (the Urban Assault Vehicle) down to one of the local ponds that he occasionally fished. The pond was in close proximity to Urban’s house, but it was also open enough to the surrounding community that the little lake saw a fair amount of angling pressure from it’s shoreline. Nevertheless, the pond always seemed to have a good stock of sunfish and the occasional bass, and with a fairly open shoreline it allowed full-cast fly-fishing without having to resort to other various improvised casts to get to the fish.

Urban had parked Quicksilver, tied her up (locked with a cable) and had proceeded a way down the bank. There he had spied a little boy, maybe around 8-10 years old, who was sitting down at the waterside with his head in his hands. It looked like he was crying.

“Hey there, little Marlin” said the Angler amiably. “You caught anything yet?” Instead of getting a reply, the little boy began to sob.

“Whoa, whoa” said Urban, “what’s the matter?”. And that’s when the little boy began his story.

A story that younger brothers everywhere know all too well. It seems like his big brother was going fishing, and this boy wanted to go too. Mom and Dad said that the older boy had to take the younger boy too, which did not go over with older brother very well. The older brother took the good spinning rod and reel and made the little boy (“Thomas Landcaster” was his name was when Urban asked) take a cane pole “since that was all he could cast”. He then caught up with some of his older friends, took most of the bait –bread — and took off, telling young Tommy to stay right there and to not follow them, and he’d come back for him later. “Not very smart”, thought the Angler to himself, “I bet Mom and Dad would not be pleased that older bother just left younger brother all on his own”.

“And, and, and, I would put on the bread but it just comes right off” said Thomas, now not crying anymore, seeing that Urban was interested in hearing what he had to say. “So now I’m almost out of bait, and the crummy bread won’t stick to the hook anyway, and my brother left me here and I’m supposed to stay here until he comes back, and, and, and ….”

“Ahh, I see” said Urban, interrupting the little boys monologue. “well, I think we can do something about that”.

Urban asked to see the cane pole the boy was toting. The pole was a bit over ten feet long, with some 10 lb test line tied at the tip, a small cork cigar bobber and a hook way oversized for the fishing. Urban said “OK, first thing, the hook is too big, that’s part of the problem with the bread not sticking”.

“But I don’t have any other hooks!” said Thomas.

“That’s ok, I think I have something that will work” said the Angler, pulling out his flybox.

“Oh wow, they’re so pretty” oooed Thomas with eyes gone wide at the sight of the flies all lined up in the box. “Can I hold one?”


Thomas reached in, and picked out a chartreuse and orange rabbit-tailed streamer. “Cool, look at the colors. Can we use this one”

“Too big, and I think what we need to do here is match the hatch”

“Match the hatch? What do you mean?”

“I mean this” said the Angler, taking back the streamer and pulling out a #16 brown and white spun deerhair fly, clipped thin.

“That won’t catch anything” said Thomas.

“No? Well watch ……. ”

The Angler then pulled out some 4lb tippet material and tied it to the 10lb main line, took off the bobber, then attached the fly to the tippet. “Now, we have to get the fish in the mood first. Hand me over whatever bread you have left”. The boy passed over the last piece of bread, which was actually the end piece of a loaf, mostly crust. Urban tore the curst into very small pieces, and threw it out on the water.

Thomas about choked — “Stop, you’re wasting the bread!!!”

“No, I’m priming the area for the fish that will come. Let’s just sit a minute and wait …”

The Anger and Thomas sat back and watched the small patch of water where the bread lay floating. After a minute had passed, the Angler glanced sideways and noticed the boy getting antsy. “Patience is not something that comes easy to little boys” half-laughed the Angler to himself. Urban rolled up a couple small pieces of bread between his fingers and flicked them out into the water. Urban noticed that as the bread balls sank, some of them disappeared from sight before they should have ….

Another minute passed and the Angler continued to feed small amounts of bread both on top of the water and below. The boy missed the first swirls, but finally saw the water dimple.

“Hey, did you see that!!??!! Something was biting the bread!!”

“Something indeed” said Urban. “Now come over here, and I’m going to help you cast. We’re not going to do this like a bait fisherman, but like a fly fisherman” Urban explained. “We want to be gentle and quiet. So, watch me the first time, and then you’ll do this. We cast by raising the rod and get the line to go back-and-forth. Back-and-forth like this …. you see?” as Urban imitated a fly cast. “Then, when everything is nice and smooth, we lower the rod down to the water on the forward cast like this …..” and Urban laid the fly out onto the water. Almost as soon as it hit, there was a little slurp and the fly disappeared. Gently raising the rodtip, the little bluegill was hooked.

“You got him!”

“See how easy that is? Now here’s the pole — you bring him in and we’ll unhook him”. Urban passed the cane pole and Thomas pulled the fish out of the water and onto shore. Urban grabbed the little guy, unhooked him and then placed the bream in Thomas’s hand. “You let him go” . Thomas got him close to the water, and when the bluegill did a little wiggle Thomas let go, and the bream fell back into the water and splashed away.

“Wow, cool. Do it again!”

“Not me — you. But wait a sec while I keep the fish interested” and Urban tore a couple more pieces of bread and tossed them out. Now the bread was getting consumed almost as fast as it hit the water. “OK, put your hands on the rod like this ….. ok, let’s start the back-and-forth. Back-and-forth. Back-and-forth and drop the rod …. ” and the cast went out. Again, as soon as the fly landed, it was inhaled by a bluegill. “Pull up, pull up! Gotta keep your eye on the fly so that when it disappears you pull up. That’s it!” cried Urban as another ‘gill came sliding out of the water. “Good job, Thomas!” and the little boy beamed with pride.

“Let me do it now by myself” said Thomas, all excited, and while the boy did need a little help at first, he seemed to get the knack of casting pretty quick. “Pretty nice loops” thought the Angler, “a few more years and this boy will be ready for his first real fly rod”. Urban kept feeding small amounts of bread into the water, and the boy kept hauling in bluegill after bluegill. After a baker’s dozen or so, they were out of bread.

“Here, let me see your pole for a sec, we’re gonna change flies” said Urban. He snipped off the small bread fly, and tied on a small #6 green and white clouser and then re-attached the bobber. “We’re going to put on this fly that looks like a minnow. With all the bread we’ve thrown in, we’ve attracted a lot of little fish, and maybe we have a bigger fish nearby”. Same cast, but when the fly hits the water, wait a sec, then do a small tug with the tip of the rod like this — see how the cork wiggled? Do that, slowly bringing the line back in until it gets close to shore, then we cast it out again, OK?”

“Sure” said Thomas.

“Tho-mas. Where are you” called out an adult voice.

“Over here Dad!! I’m catching fish!!”

Guided by Thomas’s voice, Mr. Landcaster made his way to the spot just in time to see the cork sink, Thomas rear back and a hand-sized bluegill come skipping out of the water. “Wow, Thomas you got one! Who are you fishing with here?” and the Angler introduced himself and told the story of coming up on Thomas, being out of bait, and how they improvised. As they were finishing introductions, out from the side path came three older boys, one looking very much like he could be Thomas’s big brother.

“William? Didn’t I tell you that you had to take Thomas with you? Why did you leave him here?” demanded the father. “Awwww Dad, Thomas was just going to slow us down, and he wasn’t really gonna catch anything anyway. I just left him here with some bait”.

“Oh yeah? You left me with the ends of the loaf and you took the rest” countered Thomas hotly. “But I still caught 14 fish anyway”.

“No you didn’t!” said William, “don’t lie. I only caught two; no way you caught more than me”.

“I’m not lying!” shouted Thomas.

“He most certainly did, William. I watched, and I know your Dad saw him bring in the last one, right?” said Urban. “Thomas, show William and your Dad how you did it”.

“Dad, it was like this” explained Thomas. “Mr. Urban came up when I was almost out of bait, and he told me I didn’t need bait. We took some of the last of the bead and threw it out on the water, and we waited. Then he tied on this small fly with something on it that looked like bread, and every time I threw it out I caught one! Then we were out of bread, and Mr. Urban tied on another fly, and I cast it out like this and got a big one!” and with that Thomas did his very well executed back-and-forth and dropped out the line. “Then I just tug the line like this, and …..” and the cork sand beneath the water one more time “..and I got one again!!” This time the rod bent a bit deeper, and Thomas struggled a bit holding onto the pole. “OHHH!!!” he cried and with a big pull managed to drag the pound and a half bass out of the water. “Dad, as bass!! That’s a bass!! I caught a bass!!”

The Angler reached down to grab the bass, and brought it up for all to admire. “Wow, that’s a pretty fish” said Mr. Landcaster, “Thomas, that’s your biggest fish ever, right? I think that’s bigger than anything William has caught! The Angler looked in the eyes of William, downcast and not wanting to admit the truth, and Thomas, so proud of beating his brother.

“Thomas, I think it would be the right thing to do to show your brother how to cast like I showed you, and I’ll leave a couple of flies for the both of you, OK?”

“Sure” said Thomas, “but only if he takes me with him the next time and doesn’t leave me behind”.

“Oh, he won;t leave you behind, not if he ever wants to go fishing again, and not if he wants to learn from you and get the flys from me” said Mr. Landcaster, giving a swift look and a stern stare at William, who understood the implied meaning. “Boys, lets go home, Mom is waiting for us”.

Urban shook hands and said goodbye to the Landcasters. “Wow, that was an interesting day of not fishing” thought the Angler. “and it goes to prove, you don’t always need bait on the hook to catch fish”.

“That ol’ cane pole did a pretty good job of chucking that bread fly out there. I wonder …….” mused the Angler as he unlocked Quicksilver and mounted up. “…I wonder …….. you know, there is a patch of bamboo not too far from here. I wonder if I can find a good stick and turn it over to Da’Wand and have him craft his magic” ……. and the Angler set off, his mind reeling with new possibilities from this day when bait was not really needed ……

Chapter 10: “Take it Back!”

“Ahhhhh, I really don’t wanna go, Urban.” said Urban’s best friend and saltwater flyfishing affectionado AP. “Don’t take offense, but catching freshwater fish just doesn’t put a bend in the rod, ya’ know? Not like my kind of fishing.””Is that so?” responded the Angler, fiddling with his vise and getting his fly-tying materials read for a tying session.

“Well, yeah …… at least here in Florida. I mean, I haven’t caught Steelhead or Atlantic Salmon, so I can’t be 100% about all this, but for us here in the Deep South, yeah, I’d have to say freshwater fish pull ……. crappie” AP said with a laugh, pleased at his own pun.

“Tell you what, AP, just come back by the house and pick me up tomorrow morning around 8am — I’ll leave QuickSilver in the garage for this trip — and we’ll take a ride and see …… I’ll even spring for breakfast”.

“Damn, that makes it tempting now …. OK, I’ll come by to get ‘cha. What are we fishing for? Don’t want to hurt these fish — do I bring a 1wt?” he said with a chuckle. “I don’t even own something that light”.

“Bring a 5wt with a sink-tip because of the depth and current, and I’ll tie us up the flies we need tonight. Wear clothes you won’t mind getting a bit muddy and wet” said Urban, secretly pleased at the now-puzzled expression on AP’s face when he mentioned the fishing conditions.

AP nodded and gathered up his coat and keys and departed from the Angler’s home. Urban settled back down at the vice and begun tying a dozen or so flies like this ….



Shortly after 8:00am Urban and AP were sitting at their breakfast table enjoying some scrabled eggs, ham, sausage patties and pancakes with syrup. “Gotta say, Urban, I’m usually on the water over an hour ago so I always miss breakfast like this … sure is good. Even better with you paying!” he said with a laugh. “But where are we going and what are we fishing for?”

“Don’t worry about the details, AP, I’ll direct you ….. and you’ll have to wait and see what we’ll be catching. ”

After finishing up and paying their bill, they got into AP’s truck and Urban directed AP to drive east for a bit. After a while, they crossed a bridge over big water, and Urban then had AP turn down a side road that seemed to parallel the water they just crossed. On and on went the road, finally pavement ending and turning into crushed limestone. After a couple of miles, Urban said “turn in here to the right” and they followed a small trail that finally made it’s way out of the woods and to wide open country. Not a tree in site — in fact this was pasture land — and in the distance AP saw water. “Just head that way until you can’t any more” said Urban, and a minute later they were parked next to the banks of the river. The bank was only a few feet above the water, and AP could see how the river wound back and forth through the land here, creating oxbow turns and corkscrew twists.

“Let’s go ahead and get rigged up; we have to walk about a half mile down to one of the better spots”. Urban tossed AP one of the flies, and AP let out a groan.

“Mighty small fly there, Urban. I know big fish eat peanuts, but sheesh!”

Urban ignored the last comment, assembled his fly rod and tied on his fly. “Let’s go — this way” and he started walking down the banks of the river.

After just a couple of steps, he now knew why Urban had talked about “getting muddy” the night before. The thick, black soil was covered in a thin layer green grass, but just beneath it was soaked with water, and it was hard to tell what exactly was dry land and what was a bog ready to suck the shoe right off your foot.

“A little help, Urban” said AP after a partiularly nasty bog sank his right leg to mid-calf. “Is it much further? — I’m a mess”.

“Right at this bend” said Urban after extracating AP from the muck.

Together they stood at a bend in the river system. Water flowed west and then north agan around this bend, with the far shoreline about two cast-lengths away. You could see current, and felt that the waters ran deep here as well.

“OK, just cast out parallel to the current as far out as you can, and let the fly sweep around …… Start your retrieve three-quarters of the way downstream. Just give short little jerks ……… and we’ll see what happens”.

AP and Urban spread out and began to cast. “Well, one nice thing about this place” thought AP “is you sure don’t have to worry abut your backcast!”. He dropped the fly into the water and let it swing with the current …… and felt a little tap. Not sure if he had a strike, he raised up the rod tip, and sure enough he felt weight at the end of his line. Stripping it in, he saw a small, green-and-black speckled fish attached.

“First fish” called out AP “and I’m not sure I can land him — I need help” he added dryly. “Urban, this guy barely bent the rod. Is this what we are after?”

“Just keep casting” said Urban, frowning a little.

AP unhooked the speck and released him back into the current. He made a few more casts … nothing …….. and was about to say something to AP about dead water and blind-casting when he felt a sold “thwack” on the flyline. Instinctively he set the hook, and he was fast to a powerful fish! “Urban, I got something good here!!”

The fish pulled hard, running upcurrent but AP did not want to give the fish any line. Moments later, he felt the line go slack. “Damn, rat bastard got off.” Urban called over, “Gotta be a bit more gentle — tender mouths”.

AP was going to call back to ask what kind of fish has tender mouths that pull that hard, but intead cast out again. At the end of the drift, as he started to strip back in he felt a “ka-pow” on his line as he was fast to another fish!! “Another one!” he cried, and this time remembering to give a little line when the fish pulled hard. “Wow, nice fight in this fish – look at my rod” thought AP. After several back-and-forth runs, AP was able to see the fish in the tannic water. Pulling it close and then scooping it up, he held it up to to show Urban. “I got ’em, Urban. She’s about 3 lbs, but what a fight!! Is this what I think it is?”

“Yeah” shouted Urban, who’s rod was also bent over in a cresent. “Alosa Sapidissima … American Shad. There’s a winter run of these fish up the St. Johns. You never know exactly if the run is going to go off, but when it does ……….”

AP was already casting, and the second cast produced another strong strike. This time the fish came to the surface and jumped clear of the water “Oh my Gawd, he thinks he’s a tarpon” shouted AP ” …… and he fights as hard as one too” he thought to himself.

Over the next two hours, Urban and AP caught fish until they quit counting. AP was amazed at the strength of these fish. “They slam a fly like a snook, pull like a redfish, and jump like a tarpon” he thought quietly to himself. “Man this is more fun than …….” as another fish slammed the fly, went aerobatic, and began pulling again against his rod ………………………………..


On the drive home, AP drove with a satisfied look on his face and his mind was replaying the day.

“Take it back” said Urban quietly with a smile.

“Uhh — what’d ya say?” said AP, shaken out of his reviere.

“Take back what you said about freshwater fish yesterday” said Urban with even a bigger grin.

AP smilled and nodded. “You got me Urban. I take it back. I can’t tell you the last time I had so much fun catching fish. Those guys pull HARD! And they jump like tarpon! Boy, that was great!!”

Urban smiled.

A little later, AP was still thinking about the day and the shad when he shouted “Wait!! I take it back again!!!”

“What?” said Urban. “Youre taking it back again that freshwater fish can’t fight like saltwater fish?”

“You’re a sneaky one, Urban, but I know that the American Shad spends most of it’s life in the ocean before coming into fresh water to spawn. So technically this is a salt walter fish” AP said pointing at Urban. “So I was correct the first time”.

“No, no, no” said Urban. “We caught him in fresh water. So technically, it’s a freshwater catch and fish”. And with that Urban turned and looked straight into AP’s eyes. “So you have to take it back again!”

It was quiet for a few moments ……………

Then both AP and Urban began to laugh together …………………………

Chapter 9: Halloween Special — Unobtainium!!

“What am I gonna do?” the Angler asked himself. “I just picked it up. Now it’s… it’s …. it’s ……. just gone! Urban sat down in silence and nearly in tears, being soaked by rain. What remained from the brand-new rod was some thread, the guides, the cork handle and the reel seat. The reel itself was laying in the mud. Everything else had vanished.


It all started with the rod.

Urban had just taken delivery on a new rod from his rod-building friend nicknamed “Da’Wand”. Wand was somewhat of a legend in and among the local fly-fishing cosignotti, as he designed and turned out fly rods of unsurpassed beauty and execution. There was fierce debate among some of the more-knowledgeable casters that Da’Wand was doing something really “different” to get the results he did. What exactly that was none was sure ….

Urban had been introduced to Wand through his saltwater friend, AP. AP had a close relationship with Wand, as he was infamous for breaking a fly rod in all kinds of manners (“But it wasn’t my fault!!” he’d claim “I wasn’t even near it this time!! It’s a conspiracy!!”). Suffice to say, AP was Wand’s best customer. Through AP, Urban had put in a special request for Wand to build him a new, ultra-lightweight fly rod capable of casting incredibly small flies long distances. Wand was up for the task, saying “I know just want you need, Urban — I’ve been working on a secret new blank formula: stronger than carbon fibre, lighter than boron, faster than bottled lightning. This new stuff, when used to create a wand, it will change your life forever, my Brother! Amen to that!!” he said with a laugh. “But the material is hard to come by ……. ” and a furrowed brow and a frown came over his face.

“What’s it called, the new stuff?” asked the Angler. Dropping his gaze and lowering his voice Da’Wand whispered: “I call it ….. Unobtanium!!”

Urban put in his order right then and there.

It had taken three months of agonizing wait for Wand to craft the rod. Da’Wand would say “Not yet, Urban … it takes time, my Brother, to craft Unobtanium into perfection of length and weight, proportion and speed and balance. But it’s coming along nicely …..”. Finally the day came and a call from Wand had Urban excitedly pedaling Quicksilver over to Da’Wand’s residence to pick up his new stick.

When Wand answered the door and saw Urban, he broke into a grin and said “C’mon in. I think you’ll find it worth the time you waited, Urban. Wait until you see it! I have to say, I may have outdone myself on this one” and he reached back around the door corner and brought out a rod sock. Untying the bow, he slowly drew out the two-piece rod, assembled it, and handed it slowly over to Urban.

“Hope you don’t mind the color” said Wand, while Urban could only stare in wonderment at the sight in front of him. Finally finding his voice, he said “Mind? It’s beautiful!!”. And indeed it was, a unique pearl-white translucent shine made the rod appear as if it was it was made of half-moonlight and half misty fog. The cork handle was done in bands of dark and light, and with the silver and black thread wrapping the guides stood out from the rod color, but complemented it at the same time. “The unobtainium can vary blank color” said Wand, “and each batch kinda finds it’s own hue and patina. But I have to say, this one is unique”.

Wand went on to say, “Now Urban, watch this!” And he held the rod out at arm’s length, and dropped it!!! The rod slowly dropped from Wand’s hand and drifted towards the floor, finally settling in onto the carpet like a feather. “See, this unobtainium is feather-light. But the rod is strong, almost stronger than ol’ AP can handle….” he said with a twisted smile. Urban thanked Da’Wand and paid him (dearly!) for the rod, and rushed it home. He mounted his new ultra-lightweight reel (not made of unobtanium, he mused), strung the rod, and then slipped outside for some test casts.

It was all that Da’Wand had promised — the rod was amazing. Tight loops, long casts, and no effort!! Urban was casting well into the backing, making roll casts, Belgian casts, parachute casts, mend casts, and curve casts. Double-hauling produced casts of prodigious lengths, and with accuracy. Best of all it was taking next to no push. The rod was doing all the work; Urban might as well have not been there.

As he was casting at his local retention pond, who would drive up in his old battered pickup other than AP, Urban’s saltwater-fishing friend. AP got out of his truck and came down to the water’s edge. He didn’t say anything for a whole minute (that was unusual!) and then let out a long sigh. Urban looked over at him, but continued casting.

Still not looking directly at Urban and staring out into the water, AP sighed again and said “I see you have a new rod. Unobtanium?”

Urban stopped casting for a moment and looked at AP. “Yes ….. got it today from Da’Wand. It’s incredible!”

“It’s cursed”.


“It’s cursed, man. I know.”

“What are you talking about!?!”

“I’m talking about the Unobtanium. Did he tell you what happened to me?”

“No. What happened?”

“What always happens. To me. Will to you too. Do me a favor, Urban. Resist. Resist the urge. OK? Can you do that?? Can you??”

“Sssssure thing, buddy. I’m putting the rod up now” said Urban, kinda confused by AP’s rambling speech.

” OK. Good. Just resist, OK? And maybe it won’t happen.” Another sigh. “Guess I’d better go … just wanted to tell you”. And AP looked at the rod, then back at Urban — his eyes full of sadness — and then he turned around, got back into his car and left.

“That was weird” thought the Angler to himself. “I wonder what got into AP?”


That night, when Urban went to bed, he had powerful dreams. He was casting his new rod, and it was talking to him!! “Cast!! Cast!!!!” it would say, and Urban responded with shooting more line into his backcast. He has making casts of ridiculous lengths, but Urban was placing the fly exactly where it needed to be …….. and the rod was still talking to him “Again!!! Cast!!!” “Again!!!!” …..

Then everything dissolved and spun while a bleating alarm clock woke Urban from his dream. “Wow” thought Urban as he got out of bed and begun putting on his fishing attire, ” that was a strange dream. Never had a rod speak to me before …….” but he quickly forgot about the dream and focused on getting ready to go fishing.

Today would be the first time he would take his new rod out, and he knew just the place to give it a go. The old Miller plantation had a large pond located on it, and the pond, back in the day, had been stocked with fish. Over time the best fishing locations shifted from the shoreline out to a island situated near the middle of the pond. Urban had seen the size of the bass beds near the island, and often saw the school of over-sized bream and tilapia that cruised in and out of the grass-and-sand bottom. But it was too far a cast to get a fly anywhere near the island ….until today, Urban though ….

Mounting up on Quicksilver (the Urban Assault Vehicle), the Angler pedaled his way towards the old Plantation pond, taking in the sights as he went. The weather forecast was not promising — there was supposed to be a front coming through that would produce wind and rain — but nothing was going to deter Urban today. “I’ll cast right through the wind today!” he said to himself and smiled. “No problemo with this magic wand!”

By the time Urban got to the old Miller plantation, the sky had lost all of it’s blue and had gone misty grey. The winds had picked up too — not uncastable, but they were definitely putting ripples on the pond’s surface. Securing Quicksilver to a nearby tree, the Angler made his way down to the shoreline of the pond. Assembling his rod, he once again noticed it’s beauty — it almost seemed to be glowing in the half-light overcast day. “I’m looking for Bass today” said the Angler “no bream or tilapia this time”. And he tied on a large minnow pattern ( a Bendback Beadbutt Baitfish to be exact – dressed in white and olive with some black dashes and a little flash, and the ever-present red bead at the butt) that AP had given him a while back ( AP only tied flies with exotic names or materials, and it usually had some rabbit fur somewhere on the pattern — that was his signature).

Urban was a bit concerned with the size and the weight of the fly, but he shouldn’t have been, as the flyrod acted as if the fly wasn’t even there. His first cast sailed forward, quartering against the wind, and landed 50 feet out in the pond. “Dang! Did I just make that cast, or did Lefty Kreh?” said the Angler. “Yes, I think it was me!!” he laughed. And indeed, cast after cast was effortlessly made, even against an increasingly active wind.

For the next thirty minutes or so, the Angler enjoyed making all kinds of casts into the pond, each one prettier than the next. While not getting any strikes, he availed himself to the wonders of how effortlessly he was able to make cast after cast. But now the cold front was almost upon Urban, and the first drops of heavy rain were making rings on the surface of the pond. “Almost time to go ….” he said to himself, but that is when he saw her.

Her, because in the Bass world only females get to be that big. Urban caught sight of a yellowish sand hole way out in the pond, and had seen a large shape swirl around that hole. Intuitively, he thought “bass chasing tilapia” but what had caught him off guard was the size of the shadow. He squinted, and again caught a glimpse of the impressive dark shadow circling the sandy bottom. Urban had seen 15lb. bass before (in the aquarium at Bass Pro Shops), and this shadow looked larger!! She had chosen a spot on the lake that no one could cast to or reach …. “until today”, thought the Angler.

By now, the cold front’s leading edge was driving the rain down harder, and the winds were blowing directly into Urban’s face. No matter, since Urban began his false-casting he could feel the rod come alive in his hands. The dark clouds were ominous, but Urban ignored everything except the timing of the cast. Back …forth (Cast!! he thought he heard) …back …….. forth (Again!!!), each time extending more and more line, back, and he double-hauled for the final forward cast (CAST!!!!!!!!) ………………………..

CRASH!!!! BA-BOOOOOOOMM !!!!!!!!!!!!

Urban was knocked off his feet and momentarily stunned. There was a cloud of …. something around him that quickly blew away. And that’s when he saw ….what was left of his new rod. Not the rod, but just the parts that had been attached to the rod. The rod had disappeared, and the reel was sitting at his feet, in the water and mud. Urban shook himself, and then gathered up all the remaining parts ….


AP was sitting on Urban’s front porch when the Angler peddled up to his house, dirty, soggy-wet and carrying a small plastic bag of parts ….

“The Missus said you went fishing” said AP and then looking at the bag said softly “looks like you couldn’t resist either”.

“What are you talking about, AP? I was struck by lightning!!”

“No, my amigo, you were cursed by the Unobtanium”

“What curse? I was casting to the biggest bass I had ever seen, when ….”

“No Urban, there are no bass in the Miller Plantation lake”

“What!?!?! No, I saw it — It was huge, over 15lbs easy!!”

“So did I, only it was a bonefish that would have weighed 20 lbs or more”

Urban looked at AP all confused, and AP continued, “It was out on the Lagoon. It was almost dark, a full moon was up, and I was about to paddle back in, when I saw the tail come out of the water — 5 feet of water! The tail was as big as a industrial broom ……. I thought it was a shark, then a big red, then I caught a glimpse, and it was a damn Bonefish!! Did I tell you I had Da’Wand make me a 10wt rod of Unobtanium? No? I did ….. and the rod was like nothing I had cast before; so perfect — you know what I’m saying …. anyway, so the bonefish turned, and when I got a look at the size of the wake it was making, it was like a miniature submarine …. it turned and started moving away from me …. I had to make a cast, quick … a long, long cast that had to lead the fish perfectly, but I knew this rod could do it, and when I made the cast “BOOM” everything disappeared and the reel fell into the bottom of the KAYAK ….

Urban shook his head …. “AP, you were mistaken — there aren’t any bonefish in the Lagoon. Too far north”.

AP replied “I know ….. but did you know that the Miller’s had chemically treated their pond about 2 months ago and killed off all of the fish? They were tired of people fishing their pond, and then leaving their trash behind. So they wiped everything out of the pond with rotenone. There are now no fish left there.”

“None? But I saw …………”

“I know …..” said AP and sighed. “I saw too, and made the biggest cast I ever made, and now I have nothing to show for it …… except a bag like yours”.

Urban sat down, stunned with the news he’d just been given.

“Damnedest thing though …” said AP, “all the time I was casting, I swear I could hear the rod talking to me …..”


Da’Wand built replacement rods for both AP and Urban, telling them how he also had found out about the fatal flaw of Unobtanium. “Yeah, it was too good to be true …” sighed Da’Wand, “when it hits that perfect vibration point, it amplifies through the entire rod and each molecule fails at the same moment, and the rod explodes into powder”.

“Just curious ……” said AP, “but where did you get the Unobtanium?”

“Now that’s a funny story ……” said Wand. “I get it from a fish I catch”

“Huh?” said both Urban and AP simultaneously.

“Yeah ….. this sounds strange, but I go fishing down at this bridge, and I catch the same fish over and over each time. And when I do, it always coughs up a pellet of this stuff…… shiny, hard and ….. well, then I let the fish go. But I always catch him again.”

“Well what ever possessed you to use this to build rods with?” asked AP.

“Well, when it coughs up the pellet, it makes a sound like “Build!” “Build!!”. I know that sounds strange, but that’s what the fish is saying to me ….”

Urban thought a moment and asked “Say Wand, what does the fish look like?”

Da’Wand replied ” I don’t know …weird. Like a cross between a black bass and a bonefish”.

AP and Urban just looked at each other and gulped ………………………………… :shock:

Chapter 8: Tall Tales of the Urban Jungle

“Oh Jeez!!” said the Urban Angler to himself as he was vaulted up and over the handlebars of Quicksilver, the Urban Assault Vehicle. “Ya’ know, I bet this won’t end pretty” he thought, and then marveled at how time had slowed down such that he was able to have these clear, concise thoughts moments before disaster would strike.

It had started out innocently enough. The trail, starting down to the creek, was a bit rough, but wide and hard-packed. There was little sand to cause any concerns. Farther down, the trail shrunk in width and also pitched steeper, making for an adrenaline-laced run to the bottom, where the trail once again opened up into a wide, softer-sanded shoreline next to the moving water of the creek.

The creek, while somewhat difficult to get to (both in distance and in the approach) was a location that harbored large red-breasted sunfish and the occasional bass. The cool creek water was especially nice during the warm summer months; it seemed to be something that the redbreasts liked. The gentle current allowed Urban to toss his soft, white-and-yellow foam spiders up and underneath the overhanging brush. The current carried it downstream, until a “slurp” and a disappearing spider indicated a take. “This is as close as you’re gonna get to real dry-fly Trout fishing here in Florida” thought the Angler.

The approach down to the creek was always an adventure. But Urban had run it enough times to know where to guide Quicksilver: what side of the gully to ride down, where to jump the rock or limb that lay half-buried in the path. Indeed, it was part of the thrill to come to this place; to test your skill and nerve to ride down at-pace, one hand on the wheel, the other holding your gear. And, of course, once you were there, the fishing was generally excellent.

The night before, thunderstorms had dumped a large amount of rain in the area. Urban went to bed that night planning his trip in the morning with the thinking that the rain would have swollen the creek and made for a bit faster of a current flow. “Those red-breasts like a little current” he said to himself as he set the alarm for o-dark-thirty. “If I get there early, it should be optimum”. Right before falling asleep, his wife told him “Be back home early — you have chores. Need to clean out the gutters and then mow the lawn. Don’t forget!”

Before you knew it, the alarm was bleating it’s call; he reached over to turn it off before Ms. Angler woke up. He dressed quickly, gathered up his gear and went out into the garage to saddle up Quicksilver. While still dark, he started on his way to the creek, yawning and pedaling. After about an hour, he arrived at the top of the creek. It was still a bit dark — the sun had not yet fully crept over the horizon — but Urban heard the gurgle of the creek and could not wait.

Down he plunged into the trail, gaining speed. Urban’s excitement of getting to the creek turned to mild concern as he raced down. The creeks trees and shrubs effectively blocked most of the early light, so it was dark heading downward towards the creek. Mild concern grew into panic; he almost missed the second turn, recovered, over-corrected on the next, got the front wheel a little off-line and his weight off the seat when a previously-hidden root now exposed after the hard rains of the the night before, momentarily blocked forward progress. Inclined downward as he was, there was only one place for Urban to go — up and over the handlebars.

It was, as Urban reflected afterwards, a spectacular crash.

Urban had just enough time to unload his flyrod from his left hand and push it away from his body. His hope was that it would miss Quicksilver and land among the brush without breaking. He somersaulted in mid-air, and then landed with a “Ooouumph!!!!” on his back and right shoulder. Quicksilver flipped up and over and landed right next to Urban — fortunately not on him he thought to himself. After a few moments, the pain kicked in — his shoulder and elbow hurt from the impact. Sitting up, still a bit dizzy from the spill, he checked himself for other crash-rash. His shirt was torn on his sleeve, and he felt some scratches on his knee, but it was his shoulder and elbow that had taken the brunt of the impact, and they both hurt like hell. “Damn” said Urban, “that was bad and it could have been worse. Let me see how Quicksilver fared …” and he shifted over to where the Urban Assault Vehicle lay in the trail. He noted the front rim of the bike was now shaped a bit like a twisted taco. “Gonna be a long walk home with Quicksilver hobbled like this” he said to himself. He got up, dusted himself, and walked over to his flyrod, mentally crossing his fingers. The rod lay partially on the trail and partially in the brush. Picking it up and inspecting, Urban saw no breaks. “Thank goodness for that” he thought. He then gathered everything up, and marched the rest of the way down to the creek.

Once at the bottom, Urban began taking stock of his situation. It was still early in the morning — most people were still getting out of bed about this time. His shoulder hurt and his right elbow had begun to swell a bit. No way he was going to be able to fish ……… or could he? Maybe he’d have to cast left-handed. Could he do that?

Urban gingerly strung together the fly rod, tied on a white foam spider, and held the line in his right hand and the rod in his left. He attempted a cast …….. it was not a pretty cast, but it did make it half-way out into the creek, where the fly floated for and instant, and then disappeared with a little “ploop”. Raising the rod set the hook, and a nice red-breast began dancing on the other end. “Well, at least I caught one” thought Urban. He unhooked the little guy, tried a second cast (a little better than the first) and had another strike. Five casts and five fish later, he’d forgotten about the shoulder and elbow and was delighting in the spunky fights the redbreasts were putting up on Urban’s off-hand.

About an hour (and countless sunfish with a small bass thrown in) later, Urban could hear traffic, and decided he’d better leave. His elbow, he noticed, had a knot on it the size of a lemon and his shoulder was stiff and ached. It took him about 20 minutes to get back up the trail and starting on his slow push home. As luck would have it, a truck pulled over in front of him, and out popped AP, his saltwater fishing buddy.

“What the Hell happened you you, Urban?” he said with a look of concern “I’m on my way to grab some breakfast, and then to the Fly Shop to pick up some more rabbit strips for my Zonkers when I saw a bum pushing a bike on the side of the road. Imagine my surprise when I see it’s you! Do you need a ride somewhere?”

“Yeah — home if’n you don’t mind. Need to see about my elbow and shoulder, and see to Quicksilver. As for what happened, what can I say? It’s Close Combat Fishing here in the Urban Jungle, and it ain’t always pretty. However, I did manage about a baker’s dozen fine redbreasts and a small bass, all on topwater — left handed even” he said with a hint of pride.

“Based on that lump on your elbow, you might better get good at casting lefty” said AP. “And your wife is going to be PO’ed at you for not taking your cell phone to call in case of an emergency. Lucky for you I was coming by … .. and how did exactly this happen again, Mr. Jungle-Out-There?” he said with a half-laugh.

Urban winced at the mention of Ms. Angler, who would indeed scold him for not taking his phone. She’d ask him why he didn’t immediately head for home, and instead stayed and fished for over an hour, letting his elbow swell and his shoulder go stiff. And he couldn’t let AP know the whole truth. “Yeah, I know ….. I took the trail back there down to my secret spot a bit and ……… you wouldn’t believe it, there was a Gator lying across the path!!” he said. “At least, I thought it was a Gator — was wearin’ an orange shirt and had on blue Crocs. Could have fallen asleep there after a night of rum-drinking or something” said Urban, laying it on thicker. “Anyway, so I have to bunny-hop this Gator, and now I get crossed up goin’ over, so I spin the handlebars and now I’m going down the trail backwards! I almost make it to the bottom, hit the rear brake, up comes the front wheel and I try a BMX kick flip but the front wheel hits a low branch on the 360 and …… well, you see. But I almost made it …….”

AP is laughing. “I call BS, but I have to say that’s pretty good BS there, Urban. He chuckled again “well, let’s get you home so you can take your whoopin’ like a man” and he loaded the Urban Assault Vehicle in the truck bed and bade Angler to hop in the cab.

As they rode down the street, Urban was quiet and was thinking to himself. “AP, the wife is gonna pitch a fit. I need another story, or else I’ll never hear the end of it … and I got an idea. But I need your help” and then he spoke in quiet whispers about his plan …..


Around mid-morning, Ms Angler woke up to the sounds of the garage door opening and a call “I’m back, dear, getting the ladder for the gutters”. She knew Urban had left while dark to go fishing — she never really understood why he had to get up so early — but was glad Urban had heard her the night before and was taking care of house projects ( Urban often slipped away while she wasn’t looking). She heard the clatter of the ladder being hoist against the side of the house, and all was quiet for a minute, until …….. CRASH!!!!

Running outside in her bathrobe and slippers she rounds the corner to see Urban sprawled out on the lawn, the ladder fallen off to the side and next to Urban’s bicycle, which was also down on the ground. Urban yells “OUCH!! That hurt!!” and then says “Look at my elbow!” and offers it to Ms. Angler.

She runs over to him to look, and he explains “Dang ladder slipped sideways on me and I landed a bit awkward on my shoulder and elbow. And will you look at that! The ladder hit Quicksilver! It bent her rim! Now that just isn’t right! – what bad luck!!”

Ms. Angler is looking at Urban’s elbow and saying “Will you look at how that bump came up so fast? Urban, you get inside and put some ice on it right now! We’ll clean this up in a bit. I told you to wait for me and I’d hold the ladder — why didn’t you wait? Now you’ve gone and hurt yourself.”

” …. and Quicksilver’s hurt too” said Urban with a small smile. “yes, hon, I’m sorry, I should have waited for you — I just wanted to give you the opportunity to sleep in. I’ll go get an ice wrap to put on this right now …. and I’ll mow later in the day, OK? Let me run in and take a shower now ……” and Urban hurriedly got up and headed for the house.


That evening, Urban took the dogs out for their nightly duties and while out placed a quick cell call to AP.

“So how’d it go?” asked AP. “I did like you said — opened the garage door, got the ladder and made some noise. I gave it all to you, and then skedaddled”. Urban explained how he staged the fall.

“And she bought it all. She doesn’t suspect a thing” said Urban.

“Urban, for a guy who’s been married for 20+ years, you still haven’t figured out wives yet, huh? How many other ‘chores’ did you have to do today?”

Urban frowned “A few. I had to finish the gutters, mow and edge, then I had to help with dusting and vacuuming the house. Took her out for some dinner, where she stopped at ‘Shoes for More’ and she picked up a few pairs. I had to pay for everything because she forgot her wallet ……. oh crap!”

AP laughed. “Yep. Think Ms. Angler knows all about Close Combat in the Urban Jungle there too …….. Goodnight, Urban”.

Urban hung up, turned around and looked. Ms. Angler was out on the front porch, trying to look busy with a smile on her face.

All he could do was laugh. He walked back to the door, and said, “Hey, honey, did I tell you about the Gator I saw today? About 6’4, with brown eyes and blue crocs ….” and they headed on inside for the night ……

Chapter 7: Mystical Memories and Places

“I knew it!!” said the Urban Angler to himself, “I knew this place existed!”.

The Urban Angler had just spent the morning staring into his computer while using GoogleEarth to show him potential places to investigate while mounted up on Quicksilver — the Urban Assault Vehicle. Since places had to be within a reasonable biking distance, it was necessary to look at every retention pond, creek, drainage area, and local lake to see if opportunities existed.

Once pinpointed, a reconnaissance mission was mounted to determine viability — that meant several things to the Urban Angler. Was the prospective fishing hole accessible by bike? Was it private property? Was it open to fly-casting? Were there any signs of fish? The latter two questions were of more importance, mused Urban, because there was always places to lock his bike even if not close to the prospective place, and private property was ….. well, let’s just say that fishing the hours of the day that Urban fished meant little chance of meeting with people. Urban’s night maneuvers had taken him to fishing destinations that would never let him close during the day — way too many eyes. The public golf course nearby was a perfect example — crowded by day, but shortly after sundown when it was dark, it was a lonely place — save for Urban. There was excellent fishing there, and as long as he kept out of sight, there had been no complaints, he thought to himself with a smile.

Over time, Urban had collected a half-dozen or so places that were special like that. At night, casting in the shadows with little to no moonlight, the fishing became different. Perceptions changed. Sounds grew louder. The eyes caught every little glimmer of light. Smells were more noticeable. Urban came to believe that to be there, in these places, catching what he did, it was a mystical, almost spiritual experience. To pay homage to the experience, Urban never took home any fish. All were released back into the darkness from which they came. That was his way, and he hoped the Fish Gods were pleased with his decision to do that.

Today, Urban was excited. His map viewing showed him a small creek that started in some woods next to a housing development. The creek wound it’s way south and east, vanishing at a large 10-lane highway. However, on the other side of the highway where the creek disappeared, there was an apartment complex. The area next to the road was shaded by high trees …. but further down the map, the creek suddenly appeared again, wider, and finding it’s way into a nearby lake.

“I bet that creek flows all the way underneath the road, somehow” thought the Angler. “I’m going to go investigate it tonight right around sundown!”.

So when the sun finally slipped beneath the horizon, Urban was trekking on his way mounted up on Quicksilver. He packed a light snack in his bag, and of course had his fly box and trusty 2wt rod and reel. Approximately a half hour later, much darker than when he started out, Urban had reached the highway where the creek disappeared. Dismounting, he began walking the Urban Assault Vehicle down the sidewalk that bordered the road. He soon found what he was looking for — a large culvert from which he could hear water pouring, but it was too dark for Urban to see the details. Off in the distance, through the surrounding woods, Urban could see the lights and outlines of the apartment complex. “Think I’ll ride over there, lock up the bike, and walk back up to this place” he thought to himself.

After securing Quicksilver, Urban slipped into the shadows and immediately picked up the creek. As he walked towards the sounds of the highway, he saw how the creek opened up. Coming out from underneath the highway was a very large concrete culvert. The creek waters came out of the culvert and dropped 10 or so feet into a large holding pool, which itself filtered into another smaller pool, which then became the creek that Urban had followed.

Urban closed his eyes. He could sense the vibe. This place was magical, mystical. No trash, which meant no one frequented this place. A splash in the water told him fish held here. He could smell several different smells — a strange combination of harsh auto fume overpowered by the organic funk of plants and wood and leaves that had sat in wetness for too long. The moon was out, casting filtered light here and there. All of this held hypnotic sway over the Angler, and for a few moments he just sat there, taking it all in ….

Finally, he unstrung his rod, and began casting — casting out into the smaller pool first. Casts were difficult due to the amount of underbrush and plants, but he was successful in getting his fly out into the current, where it swept into the dark eddies of the pool. His line immediately went tight, and Urban was fast to a feisty bass. He brought it in, admired the little beauty, and released it back into the pool. Two more fish came out of the pool, one a little bigger than the first, before Urban moved up to the main pool.

A quick cast, the line drifted, and then started moving against the current. Urban raised up, and all of a sudden his rod bent into a crescent as the fish ran to the other side of the pool and jumped. “Big splash — thing this is a good one!” he thought to himself. Sure enough, after some give-and-take, a nice 5lb bass came to the Angler’s hand; he lifted it in triumph in the moonlight.

“Hey mon — you gonna keep dat?” said a voice from the other side of the pool. “Dat’s a nice on’ – feed me jus’ fine”.

Urban was startled to see a man along the opposite shore. He was dressed in a loose-fitting robe of some kind cinched with a belt that looked more like a wide scarf. Looking closer he could see long dreadlocks spilling out from underneath a knitted cap.

The man said “So, wat you gonna do, mon? Fish can’t live forever”.

Urban replied, slowly “I know ……. it’s just ………’s just that ……….. it’s just that there’s something about this place. I know of just a few that are like it. And I know this sounds silly, but when I find places like this, I make a little promise to myself and the place, to never take anything away from it except memories”. And Urban knelt down, and released the bass back into the water. “I sure hope you underst …..”

But the man was gone. Urban looked and listened, and waited for the man to appear again, but after a few minutes determined he was alone. Slightly spooked, he broke down the flyrod, packed up, and slowly began making his way back to the apartments and to his bike. When he got there, he noticed that his bike bag was open.

“Damn — someone’s been into my bag. What did I leave in there?” he thought. A quick survey showed everything still there except for the snack he had brought with him. Left was a small piece of paper with some kind of writing on it.

Bringing it out into the light, Urban could faintly read the scribbled handwriting: “I understan’. Hope’n you do too.”

Urban laughed a good laugh, mounted up, and started pedaling home.

Chapter 6: Match the Hatch

“Phtooey!” spit the Urban Angler. “Damn gnats — I hate it when I eat them when riding — and today the air is filled with them. Must be some kind of hatch” … he thought as he closed his mouth and squinted his eyes. “Look at them all — they’re all over me. Thank the Fish Gods that I’m here” he said to himself as he downshifted and coasted into his parking spot beneath the large oak tree beside the retention pond.

The small pond was alive, with dimples spreading out all over the surface of the water. The winds had calmed down after the typical heavy afternoon thundershowers had stopped and there was still about an hour of daylight left on this summer afternoon. The Urban Angler had spotted this small pond a while back, and now was his first chance to fish it. The pond was not large, and had the typical drainage culverts directing water from the street down into the pond from two locations. The banks were not overgrown and while there were a few trees surrounding the pond there was ample space in which to make a backcast without getting it snagged. Everything seemed perfect.

The Urban Angler started off by tying on a #8 small white spider with chartreuse legs. This fly usually excites the bigger fish in the pond ….but after several minutes with no takes, the Urban Angler switched to a yellow fly of similar type and again experienced zero takes. This was perplexing, as he noted the dimples and splashes of fish rising and slurping something off the water. He tried several different flies, including sinking Ants and Wooly Buggers, and was skunked for all his efforts.

Pedaling home the Urban Angler mulled over his disappointment in his mind. What was going on? Why were the fish not eating any of his offerings? For now, he’d chalk it up to “one of those days” but in the back of his mind it kept gnawing at him, because he knew that he knew the answer.

Once he was home, Urban spied his wife unloading shopping bags from her car. “That’s the danger of leaving her unattended” he thought half-jokingly to himself. She called him over to help bring the bags inside. They were from a store called “Small Designs” ……

Ms.. Angler insisted that Urban check out all of the new clothes she had just shopped for. He groaned and rolled his eyes and said “Do I have to?” and got a stern look back that said “Yes you do or else!!”. Once inside, Ms. Urban began unpacking the different selections and talking about each. “look at this one — look at the colors in this dress! And see the matching scarf and how it has the same pattern, but much, much smaller? You have to get up close to notice, but …….”

But the Urban Angler wasn’t listening anymore, and had a look of triumph on his face. “Yes!” he said. “That’s it!”. “That’s what, dear?” said Ms. Angler with an arched eyebrow, but Urban simply said “your dress and scarf and the shopping bag gave me the answer I was looking for — thanks!!!” , kissed her on the cheek, and then ran off into the spare bedroom that acted as his fly-tying studio.

It had been right in front of him all that time — or more actually on his lips and in his mouth.

Urban began feverishly tying up several flies of his recent inspiration. Checking the clock, he figured he had just enough time before sundown to get there. Packing everything up, he kissed the wife and said “back right around dark — need to see if this will work” and he saddled up on Quicksilver and began pedaling to the small pond.

Just as earlier, the pond was active. Urban slipped on his latest fly — a #24 gnat. The fly was so small that he could barely see it on the water. But a slab-sided bluegill saw it fine, rising up from the depths and slurping in the offering. The 2wt. rod bent, and Urban shouted “Gotcha!” and smiled to himself. “Mother Nature was giving me the clues, but I kept ignoring her. I know better now, and will keep my eyes open … but my mouth shut”.

Chapter 5: The Balance of Curses and Blessings

“I hate these damn headwinds” said the Urban Angler half-out loud to himself, “they are a pain in the ass blowing me almost backwards!” The strong East winds had been blowing for a couple of days now, and this particular section of the trail the winds were funneled directly down it’s length. “Easy there, QuickSilver” he said as a particularly fresh gust pushed the Urban Assault Vehicle both sideways and backwards. “You know, I’ll bet that there is a Stubb Rule Corollary that says anytime you ride a bike, the winds will be in your face no matter which way the trail goes, and much stronger than predicted”. Ahh Hell, he thought — that’s just one of the curses when you’re human-powered …..

The Stubb Rule thought made the Urban Angler think about his friend, the author of Stubb’s Rules of Absolute Certainty (When Paddlefishing), a grande storyteller, and a man with a few curses of his own. El Stubbo was infamous among the brethren of EldoraWatch for his ability to break any hook, any time — but especially his favorite Jobee leadhead hooks — off on any redfish. How many times had Stubb set the hook on those big redfish, watched and listened to his drag sing, felt the big bend of the rod, only to have it all go slack, and upon reeling in he’d have his broken hook? He’d broken hooks off of countless Zara Spooks and ChugBugs and Exxude jerkbaits. Stubb fished out of “Rule 13” — a highly modified Gheenoe-type skiff with poling platform, electric motor and a 20hp Yamaha that always ran out of gas (well, that wasn’t the motor’s fault). He was dead-set on catching big redfish, but heartbreak always happened when hooked up ……

Then there was someone that the Urban Angler knew very well. His closest friend, AP, was a salt-water guy who threw flies at anything and everything that swam. Only problem is that AP had a disturbingly expensive habit of breaking his flyrod in ways unimaginable for most mortal flyfishermen. At last count, he had confessed to seven breaks in the last year alone. Once casting, once by snagging his backcast on mangroves and breaking the rod on the forward cast, once with his car (by somehow leaving the leader outside of his truck with the rod inside — when backing up the truck ran over the leader causing the flyrod to bend like a bow and explode inside the cab of the car!), once by the curse of all flyfishermen, the overhead ceiling fan that decapitated a tip section, and a couple others that the Urban Angler couldn’t recall the details on, but AP tried to implicate Aliens and a Government Conspiracy.

There was French, who’s boat’s lower end unit could find any bar (oyster, sand, etc.) and ground up on it. The only saving grace was that French had this same ability on land as well as sea, and this could be an asset when needing a margarita or a rum-and-coke. Friend Jeremy traded in a perfectly good dry-riding boat for a better one that bathed you every time the water got a little rough. Monkey always forgot things when going fishing — one time he turned up with his kayak and half a paddle, another time he trailered his boat and drove for an hour to meet AP, but forgot the boat keys. You always brought spare of everything if you fished with the Monk … TailHunter was a friend and fly-fishing guide who was cursed with clients who could not cast.

Just about everyone had something in their lives they just shook their heads at and said “Why me?”. But equally true was that for every fault one could have like this, there was an equally amazing blessing given to this same person.

In Stubb’s case, it was his skill with the pen. The stories told by El Stubbo were legendary, many times involving the Brethren of EldoraWatch in various escapades and adventures. AP, on the other hand, had a lot of luck when it came to catching fish. “He has a lucky horseshoe sewn up up his butt” as French said one day. French himself was a chef par excellence. “Monkey and Jeremy both just had new baby girls born — I’m sure they think of them as a blessing” thought the Urban Angler. TailHunter was a top-notch caster and could thread a fly through a gap underneath a dock without a second thought.

So yes, it seems things balance out in the long run. Whatever the Curse, there seemed to be a Blessing to offset it. Maybe that’s the way its supposed to be thought the Urban Angler. And as he pedaled home he thought maybe all of fishing was like that. Good times, bad times, but it all balanced out. That brought a smile to his lips. Today was a perfect example in microcosm. The Urban Angler had ridden to a far-away destination, it taking him a good hour on the back of the Urban Assault Vehicle to get there. Once there, he enjoyed one of those rare days when everything seemed to go right. There were fish, they were hungry, and they liked the flies that the Urban Angler was presenting. Now, on the ride home the winds had come up making the ride home difficult, and of course would make him later than he already was, and thus the Missus would be upset at him. A balance of sorts.

The Urban Angler found it interesting that his thought always seemed to be circular and whole, coming from a beginning to an end, finding a balance. “Blessings and Curses” he thought, “like a Yin and Yang that gives interest to Life”. He pedaled up to his home, finding the Missus outside in the yard, giving him a smile and a stern look all at once. “You’re late, and now your dinner’s cold” she said to him. “I know — I’m sorry, but the fishing was great today! You should have seen …” and he stopped when the frown came up on her face. “Ahh, um, I better go in and get cleaned up first — maybe I’ll tell you later …”.

He parked the Urban Assault Vehicle, put up his tackle and rod, and made his way into the house. He saw the pile of bills on the table, right where he had left them earlier that day. He hated the drudgery of paying bills, but knew he had to do it and get it over with. “Curses before Blessings”, he thought, “and I’ll even Balance the checkbook”. That brought a small laugh. He headed to the shower, thinking about the next time life offered him either a curse or a blessing, and how he would react …………. hopefully, in Balance.

Chapter 4: Beauty’s Where You Find It

The rain clouds kept gathering up, and finally the first drops of rain started falling from the sky, from their formation in the grey bowels of the cumulonimbus clouds, pushed slightly sideways by gusts of wind, down towards the ground, and then finally breaking apart on the yellow poncho that the Urban Angler had thrown over himself just a few minutes before. He had parked QuickSilver, his Urban Assault Vehicle, against the large oak tree and now settled himself against the same tree, it’s large limbs offering some protection from the rain. “Looks like a brief one, won’t rain too hard” said the Urban Angler to himself. Leaning back against the tree, he dug out his old corncob pipe and his tobacco pouch. “Hmmm, probably a good time for a smoke — maybe a little Nutt Brown Burly with some Vermont Maple Cavendish” he said as he started the ritual of loading the pipe and lighting it. As he sat there, gently puffing and enjoying the pipe, he looked out at the retention pond he had been fishing.

There was nothing beautiful about it, at first and even second glance. It’s probably why all the local residents quickly drove past, or walked right by the pond with hardly a look. The small pond did not have a lot of pretty vegetation growing close to the shore — it had been removed because of concerns about snakes. As if snakes were a concern! They were a blessing and needed — they were top-notch predators who kept the insect, lizard, toad/frog and even rat population in check. At the Urban Angler’s home, he had two large Black Racers that he would catch glances of once in a while. They had a habit of laying in his hedge with about 6″ of their heads lifted up over their surroundings, tongue flicking out to sample the air around them. They were beautiful — smooth, sleek, jet-black uppers with a soft-white underside and throat.

The pond could not hold snakes without the shore vegetation, but at least there was vegetation in the water. Out towards the middle, the pond was deep enough to support a small lilypad population. Nothing large, but the shade it provided was enough to keep the local bream population close by, and therefore the bass were probably close by as well. The drainage culvert that directed all of the run-off in the area was gurgling now, and the Urban Angler could see the small minnows and bream picking off whatever small bits of food came tumbling out into the pond. Occasionally, a larger swirl took place — a bream chased by a bass. “And anyone who can’t see beauty in that is just missing it” said the Urban Angler. “Nature at work”.

Other ponds and lakes in the area had their own special beauty, if you looked. Some did have shore vegetation, and early in the morning you would see the dew-drenched Morning Glories opened up as their vines had intertwined with whatever it could touch. Of course there was wildlife. The male red-winged Blackbirds would be calling out and flying around from cattail to cattail. In certain ponds you would see ducks — Coots and Mallards mostly. Then there were the wading shorebirds, ever-graceful as they slowly walked the shallows — the White Egrets, the odd Green Herons, and occasionally the grand Great Blue Heron. How could anyone not see the beauty in all that?

As the rain slowed up, the Urban Angler put out the pipe and stashed it in his pocket, took off his poncho, shook it out, and then folded it up neatly and placed it into the Urban Assault Vehicle’s carry-bag. He took the Towney Two-Weight, strung it up and attached a size 10 olive Wooly Bugger and walked down close to the culvert. Stripping some line off the reel, he false-cast twice before sending the fly out to deeper waters near the lillypad. Before he had a chance to start a retrieve, the flyline went tight and a bass leapt from the water and tail-walked it’s way away. The Urban Angler grinned, and stripped in a small bass that didn’t quite go 12″ in length. He studied the bass — the green back with the black markings, the white underbelly, the head that took up almost a third of it’s whole body-length, the size of the mouth. Beautiful. He lowered the scrappy largemouth back into the water, and with a swish from it’s tail it zoomed out of the Angler’s hands and back into the depths.

Fish were beautiful. He remembered the purple iridescence on the heads of the giant bluegills in his own pond near his house, and the deep orange-red of the red-breasted sunfish on the Wekiva. He remembered the intense green, black and orange in the Peacock bass he caught in the canals of metro Miami. The beautiful tail-spots of turquoise and orange of the Mayan cichlids and Oscars from Alligator Alley. And of course he remembered the beautiful colored splotches and dots of the Brook and Brown trout, and the red slashes on the Cutthroat and Rainbows he’d caught up in the mountain streams of Colorado. All different, all beautiful.

The dark clouds had moved off to the East, and now the setting sun in the West threw it’s remaining energy at the clouds, producing a sight that everyone delighted in and saw as beautiful. The rainbow was only half-formed, but it shown vibrant in the sky. One end came down to the ground …. “that’s where the gold is” he thought and smiled again.

The Urban Angler mounted Quicksilver, and was off just as the sun set. The missus would have supper ready, he thought. As he slowly pedaled his way towards his home, he thought again of the little retention pond just a few blocks from the homestead.

“Beauty’s where you find it” — and the Urban Angler smiled again “but it’s usually right in front of you “.

Chapter 3: The 10 Immutable Laws of Urban Fishing

“Now I’m stuck good” said the Urban Angler out loud, not that anyone could hear him. “I think I’m going to leave a flip-flop buried for all time if I make it out”. The Urban Angler looked around for any easy remedy, but none were within reach. So, with brute strength he leveraged one leg out of the muck, and buried the second leg. However, he was close enough now to grab an overhanging limb of sorts and finally extricate himself from the bog.

Tired, mud-covered, and minus one flip-flip, he sat down on the side of the lake and decided to take a small rest break. Of course his first thoughts were how he got into this predicament in the first place. Chasing fish of course, but more to the point, he had ventured out on what looked to be solid footing, only to be surprised when it sank him to his upper thighs. “There should be a Law about this situation” he said shaking his head.

That thought got him thinking: there are several Laws that are in effect when Urban Fishing, especially by bike. He decided to see if he could get them all listed, so that anyone taking up the Art of Urban Angling would know what to expect. As he spent a few moments in contemplation, it occurred to him that the Laws coincided with two things: first, Transportation to said fishing grounds and two, Fishing Issues in particular.

And so, here are the Laws the Urban Angler came up with, in no particular order …….

LAW #1 : Anytime you ride a bike to fish, the winds will be in your face no matter which way the trail goes, and much stronger than predicted. Any casts made to fish will be wind-impaired to wind-denied.

This was a direct take from one of friend El Stubbo’s Rules of Absolute Certainty (when Paddle-fishing)** and could really be applied to almost any sporting endeavor that requires you to be outside. Headwinds on a bike just cause you more time and effort getting to your destination. And of course, they can mess up your casting and fishing. Was it even possible to accurately predict the winds speed and direction? As Stubb has pointed out on many occasions “Boy, I’d sure like the Weatherman’s job. Get paid even though you are dead wrong 50% of the time ….”. And in never failed that when you had to make a long cast to the fish, it was always into the wind and your cast would come up short ….

LAW #2 : A water’s fish potential is is directly proportional to the difficulty of getting off a cast

You never find fish where you can make a simple cast to them. They are either just out of reach, or you are surrounded by Jungle that keeps you from being able to cast. Oh, you try to beat it. Roll casts, Bow-and-Arrow casts, etc. — but to no avail. And you know the fish are just laughing at you …….

LAW #3 : The closer the fish, the less solid the footing

Well, proved that one today, didn’t we?

LAW #4 : Water is attracted to bicycle-mounted fishermen

The Urban Angler can sniff out water like nobody’s business. The thunderclouds can sniff out the Urban Angler like nobody’s business. That’s just how it works.

LAW #5 : When riding your bike, treat cars like sharks, dogs like barracudas, and pedestrians like jellyfish

There are several road hazards to be on the watch for when pedaling the Urban Jungle. Cars, like sharks, prowl the streets, preying on the unwary. Unwary because they is talking on their gawd-dam&*^ cellphone. Respect them, don’t be afraid of them. But realize if they bite, it’s gonna be bad. Dogs, like barracuda, like to show you their teeth. Most are just showing off. The Urban Angler did find it interesting that the size of the dog is inversely proportional to it’s attitude. The smallest dogs are the most dangerous — growl, bark, bite and try to run under your wheels . The largest dogs just look at you and then look away, bored. Finally, pedestrians are like jellyfish in how slow they move … until right when you are up close to them, then they blob directly into your path. The sting of asphalt from wiping out on your bike trying to keep from hitting a pedestrian is not soon forgotten …..

LAW #6 : No water goes un-Fished because you never know

Small water retention areas and narrow creeks can hold big surprises. Not all of the time, but enough that every place deserves an inspection.

LAW #7 : The closer the fishing destination, the more it gets fished

Like boating — the smaller the boat, the more it gets used. In this case the closer the destination, the more you can and will fish it, because it’s easy. Walking is best — then you can fish even if you only have a few minutes. Biking gets you a little further out, but still can be done for a short time if that’s all the time you have. But starting adding a car, and then a kayak or a boat, and then you are committed for a long time just getting prepared, getting all the gear, and then getting there. Keep it simple, and either walk or bike with minimum gear.

LAW #8 : Weight matters

There is a temptation to take everything possible with you when fishing. That’s not necessary or desired when Urban Angling. A small fanny-pack or a plastic bag on the handlebars with your flies and some tippet material. Mojo necklace with clippers. Sunglasses. A poncho in your bike’s carry-bag (see Rule #4). Too much weight is a pain to walk around with when fishing, and to carry on the bike. Speaking of weight, bike more and stop eating those chocolate donuts and maybe you’ll lose a few pounds there, Chubby! Good for bike speed, good for your knees, good for your health. Lose the weight!

LAW #9 : You are not really wanted

Earl and Warren, the not-so-friendly Security Guards included, nobody really wants to see you fishing in “their” waters. Legally speaking, it may actually be their waters so it’s best to arouse as little attention as you can possibly get away with. Early morning and late evening are the best times for both fish catching and for limited attention drawn to you. And of course, there is night fishing ……. but at some point you may be asked to cease and to move on. It’s best just to do so — later check and see if you actually have rights to fish there or not. And if you are fly-fishing, you can always say “Oh, I’m not fishing, I’m just practicing my casting” and quickly do a whiplash on your backcast “CRACK!!” snapping off your fly, and then showing the person your empty tippet. “See, no hooks” ……

LAW #10 : The fun is in the hunt

You’re not going to get your picture on the cover of B.A.S.S. Masters Magazine, or any other magazine for that matter. You’re probably not going to catch any record-sized fish. But, if you are like most Urban Anglers, you know the thrill is all about the hunt in the Jungle. The hunt for a new location. The hunt to find the fish. The hunt for the correct fly. Making a cast and hooking up despite Laws 1-9. That is all it takes to put a smile on your face …….

LAW #11 : If you are out of cash, head to McDonalds (this one’s for free)

You’ll need: One bike, one plastic Publix bag, one fishing rod, an extremely wrinkled shirt and pants of non-descript color with some grime swiped on clothes, a 3-day growth of facial hair, a beaten up ballcap, some sweat, and 4 little old Church-ladies sitting inside …… (see Chapter 1: Rewards)

Happy Urban Angling!!!

** All references to 10 Laws of Anything can be directly traced to Sir Stubbo and an essay in his published book “Confessions of a Fishermen and Other Lies”. Used without permission — he’d want royalties. It’s kinda like hole-jumping and NASCAR cheating — part of the sport but you damned sure better not get caught. What’s the worst that could happen? As El Stubbo would say himself “What, sue me? Get in line with all the others and be damned” …..

Chapter 2: Danger / Opportunity

“It is somewhat dangerous at times …” the Urban Angler said to himself, swerving QuickSilver, the Urban Assault Vehicle around another instance of broken glass shards littering the sidewalk, “… fishing here in the Urban Jungle, but perhaps it is like the Ying-Yang and the old Chinese proverb: Danger = Opportunity”. And so the Urban Angler’s mind drifted back to adventures of old Dangers and Opportunities as his legs pumped the steady cadence that got him closer to his ultimate destination.

The Urban Angler remembered back to a time when he had found a bream bed full of large spawning bluegills. Getting close to bed required some trailblazing through massive amounts of chest-high grasses and bush. Finally, in the correct position, he made two casts without a strike before feeling something on his toes and ankles. Looking down, he simultaneously screamed from the sight and from the bites — he was standing in a fire-ant mound and his feet were covered in swarming red dots. There was only one place to go, and with a mighty leap he jumped out into the bream bed waters, flailing about. “My how those little bastards can bite” swore the Urban Angler as he shook off his legs and examined his ankles and toes. The ant bites were already starting to swell with little red marks, and he knew from experience that the fire and the itch were not long in coming. The ants that were shaken off were now drifting out into deeper waters — the same waters where the bluegills had retreated upon the Urban Angler’s splashing entry. As the Urban Angler watched, some of the more aggressive bluegills rose from the depths towards the surface, and with a “pop” started feeding on the ants. Joined by more and more of his brethren, the sound was like popcorn in a popper. Despite the pain, the Urban Angler took this in and said “Yes, tomorrow, I will load up with small ant patterns and some Calamine lotion and I will be back!”

Danger Equals Opportunity!

There were other instances he remembered that involved wildlife. Like the corner of the Econ River that held a lillypad and grass bank that always held bass and usually held one of the biggest gators the Urban Angler ever cared to see. And there was the time he had scrambled around the bank of a small retention pond and nearly stepped onto a cottonmouth, who gave him a serpentine stare and opened to show the fangs and the mouth that gave the snake its name. “But, …” the Urban Angler mused, “I’d have to say the most dangerous wildlife situation is when I deal with Security Guards ……”

It is a fact of life that large industrial parks contain large industrial buildings that have large parking lots and paved areas. As part of the Municipal Code, the parks must provide adequate drainage for said facilities, and thus is born one of the Urban Angler’s first-choice destinations — the Industrial Park Retention Pond. It always puzzled the Urban Angler how the bass and bream got into these ponds — he didn’t think the Parks stocked the lakes — but the Parks protected the ponds as if they did — by hiring their Security Guards. These Security Guards are hired, thought the Urban Angler, not for their brains but for their Bulldog tenacity to latch onto an idea and not let go. Like the idea of “You can’t fish here!”. They had run him off of many a pond, so the Urban Angler did his best to avoid them.

The Urban Angler had a recent run-in with some local security. The Urban Angler had just positioned himself at one of the prime Industrial Park Retention Ponds and had cast his small green and white popper out next to some lily pads when he heard a voice.

“You can’t fish here” said the Guard “this’s Private Property, you know”.

“No, this is a StormWater Retention Pond” said the Urban Angler, “and under Orlando City Municipal Code if the Pond is used as part of the Stormwater Management System, then access rights to the pond are automatically given to the public. You can see the stormwater access drainage culvert over there in the corner. So I have every right to be here” said the Urban Angler “Look it up — Chapter 31.04 in the Code”. While not entirely correct, the Urban Angler hoped to scare off the Guard with this fusillade of semi-factual information. It didn’t work.

“You can’t fish here” said the Guard, his eyes going Bulldog. “this’s Private Property and its the Rules. What is you name, sir?”

“Why, I am the Urban Angler — perhaps you have heard of me? I, along with my trusty steed Quicksilver the Urban Assault Vehicle, have made it our duty to explore all fishing opportunities in this Urban Jungle we call home, and to report all findings to my fellow Brothers and Sisters of the ….”

“Who is this Earl?” interrupted a second Security Guard who had driven up in his white truck and yellow police-like lights.

“Why, I am the Urban Angler — perhaps you have heard of me? I, along with my trusty steed Quicksilver —”

“Name’s Urban, and I tol’ him he can’t fish here, Warren” said the first Security Guard to the second — Warren was obviously Earl’s boss.

And right at that instance, as the Urban Angler started waiving his hands to explain about the Municipal Code, Stormwater Drainage et al, the little popper that was sitting out by the lillypads skipped a step (from the Angler’s hand gestures) and then disappeared in a toilet-flushing explosion. All three parties turned and stared, just as the line came tight and the Towney Two-Weight began to buck in the Urban Angler’s hand. The waters burst white and tan with a large green bass thrashing in the center of it all.

“My Gawd, she’s huge!! She’ll go 7-8 lbs at least. Now don’t horse it, Son. Take it easy — wow, look at that jump — she can only get half-way out. She’s a hawg!!” shouted Warren. “Don’t let her get you wrapped around those lillypads or it’ll be all over!!”

The Urban Angler did all he could, but he didn’t have time to tell Earl and Warren that he only had 4lb test tippet (would they even know what a tippet was?) and it would take a huge stroke of luck to land a fish this big on such a light rod and light line. The Urban Angler skillfully played the fish, and bass grew increasingly tired. As he tried to steer the largemouth towards the shore, the bass made one last run for freedom and managed to wrap itself around a small group of lillypads a few yards from shore. The bass lay sideways in the water, almost panting. The Urban Angler started to step in the water …

“You can’t go in there!” shouted Earl. The Urban Angler stopped, turned and said “What would you have me do — leave the fish as it is?”

“Oh, go on in there and get ‘er” said Warren. The Urban Angler waded to his knees and lip-locked the bass, untangling his leader from the lillypads, and then waded back to shore. Earl and Warren crowded around, admiring the size and girth of that big female largemouth. After a moment, the bass was returned to the water and they all watched quietly as she gently took off to deeper water.

“Wow, that was cool” said Earl. “but Urban, you can’t fish here”. The Urban Angler said nothing, and for a moment all was quiet. Finally, Warren shuffled his feet and said “Earl’s right, Urban. You can’t fish here while we are here. We could lose our jobs. But …..” he said with a sly smile, “seeing as we don’t get here until 8:00am, and if ol’ Urban here gets some time to fish before we start, then I guess there’s not much we can do, is there, Earl?” Earl smiled and said “Yes, boss, that’d be true”.

Danger and Opportunity. That’s what the Urban Angler had on his mind when pedaled up to his house. He was late — he’d forgotten to call, not for the first time and certainly not for the last. The missus would be mad, but he hoped the small gifts that he picked up on the ride home would be enough to soothe. A couple of rose stems snipped from a local garden and Haggan-Daas Vanilla Swiss-Almond –her favorite — from the local convenience store. That should help set things straight.

Who knows, maybe even later ……………………

Danger, and Opportunity.