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”.