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” …..