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.