Fly fishing in cities

Don Oliver

When I was growing up, 1950’s and 60’s, there were an inordinate number of westerns on television. One of my favorites was one staring Richard Boone, as Paladin, in “Have Gun, Will Travel.” For those of you too young to remember anything about the heyday of T.V. westerns, you missed some great shows. Paladin, a West Point graduate, lived a quiet and stylish life in a San Francisco hotel. When he heard of someone who needed the help of a “Knight Without Armor” (from the theme song), he would send them his business card. Then dressed in all black, “Have Gun, Will Travel” headed out, solved the problem, and quietly returned to his hotel in San Francisco, to wait for his next outing.

For my travels to big cities, I have modified Paladin’s business card to, “Have Fly Rod, Will Travel.” It’s my new mission statement. I’ve adopted this statement because recently I found myself in several big cities, either by choice or need, and accompanied by my best friend. On these trips I ended up in Albuquerque, Dallas, and Austin. None of the cities visited are known as hot beds for fly fishing, but it’s there. And, if I hadn’t had my fly rod with me I, would have ended up sitting in my hotel room or in a wooden chair at the mall.

For such trips I suggest you take two rods, a 3-and 5-weight. Also, take a large variety of flies, 4 or 5-X leader, and tippet to match. Once you’ve arrived in a city you’re not familiar with, finding a place to fish can be challenging. The first thing I do is look on the internet for “fly fishing” in that city. You would be amazed how many sites you’ll find. If there is a fly shop, pay them a visit. My second choice is a sporting goods store that has a fishing department. If I can’t go by, I’ll just call. I have found all the store personal more than happy to direct me to places to fly fish.

The professionals at the fly shop in Albuquerque, N.M. suggested I fly fish at a park that was across from the zoo and along an irrigation canal. The park had three or four ponds, one for only flies and artificial lures. The park was well maintained with easy access to all the ponds. While I didn’t fish the canal, I will next time. Dallas was my next venture. Should you fly into Dallas be sure and look out the window on approach. You will see small lake after small lake, many connected by streams. Many of the small lakes and ponds are close to hotels, and many non-gated subdivisions have ponds. If the ponds aren’t fenced or signed for no trespassing, I fly fish them. These ponds usually hold large numbers of pan-fish or small bass. What a great way to spend the day. Also, some of the industrial parks have ponds that are fishable. Once you know where you’ll be in a large city, go to Google and these ponds will show up in the areas you’ll be. Be sure and look at the areas where shopping is available for anyone with you who doesn’t fly fish. It will make life easier if you can just be dropped off on the way to the mall. The mall owners get upset if you cast to the coelacanth in their ponds.

My last outing was to Austin, Texas. Austin is on the edge of what is called the “Hill Country.” Austin, similar to Dallas, has a large number of ponds all over. It also has a couple of rivers that flow through the entire city. Access to the rivers can be difficult. Much of the shoreline is private, and most people don’t want you walking through their property to get to the rivers. However, close to the downtown area there are parks that have access to the rivers. Again, call a fly shop or look on the internet. The areas in Austin will produce bass, catfish, and panfish.

I have found that “Have Fly Rod, Will Travel” can help keep the peace between two people that head out to travel and shop. Give it a try.

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