Your reel is screaming and your buddies are hooting and hollering from across the pond. The fish you’ve hooked takes you on a peeling run, and you have to sprint along the bank to keep up. After seeing your backing not just once, but twice, the behemoth finally finds its way into the net. Pure joy and radiant victory are what you feel. Normally, when the day comes to an end after an experience like this, there’s a long drive back home, and you’ve just spent an entire day on the water. This time, however, all you’ve got is a five-minute walk back to your front doorstep. Did I mention that it’s 5:00 pm on a Tuesday? Oh, and that fish you just fought for ten minutes and gazed so longingly upon while it swam back into the depths? It wasn’t a kyped up brown trout; it was an “urban bonefish,” or in other words, a common carp.
Endless Opportunities and Species.
In the world of fly fishing, people tend to overlook experiences like this. Urban angling is an aspect of our sport that is just beginning to rise in popularity, and people are realizing the plethora of angling opportunities that exist within their cities. These places may not be very obvious and can go completely unfished for long periods of time. Warm water species such as the common carp, bluegill, pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, and even the elusive catfish can be found and will eat a well-presented fly. These fish provide a fresh new challenge to fly anglers of all skill levels and should be given ample consideration when selecting species to target.
Where to look?
Finding urban places to fish is actually much easier than it may seem. Any and all pieces of water can provide angling opportunities. Do you remember that pond ten feet from the highway that you drive by every day on your way to work? Give it a chance; there’s potential there. That lake people walk their dogs by with that cheap fountain in the middle? There’s potential there. The beauty of urban angling is that you can fish anywhere. It’s a perfect opportunity to see your city and get out there when you may not have the entire day to go fishing.
Exploration is key when it comes to the concrete jungle.
Some ponds and streams may be completely void of anything that even resembles a fish, while others may be hidden gems just waiting for someone to stumble upon them. The best urban fishing spots are sometimes the least likely, and a trial and error process is required to find them. If you go to a few different places and leave smelling like a skunk, don’t be discouraged; its all part of the urban angling experience. Once you find those fish, you won’t even think about the times you didn’t.
Arguably the most prized urban species is the common carp.
Though these fish may not have the conventional beauty of a wild trout, they take just as much, if not more skill to catch, and are one of the most prevalent warm water species found in urban areas. Carp are resilient fish that can survive in a vast array of environments and should not be underestimated. They are bottom feeders and usually feed in shallow water, much like bonefish in the salt. This makes them exceptionally fun to sight fish for. They are also very spooky and require much precision when casting and presenting your flies. This challenge mixed with the fact that a large carp will surely take you into your backing, and you’ve got yourself a complete angling package.
Next time your inner weekend warrior is telling you to wait until the end of the week to go fishing; fight against it. Give in to the urge to get out there, and understand there are plenty of great angling opportunities only a skip and a hop away from your home. No matter where you live, there is fishy water available. All it takes is getting out of your comfort zone, and in the process, you will become a better and more well-rounded angler. Urban fly fishing can be extremely rewarding for those who put in the time, so get out there and get after it! You never know what lurks in the depths.
Ameen Hosain is a content creator and fly fishing guide based out of Boulder, CO. Follow him on Instagram @thefishboulder.