Just because you’re still paying your dues and working in the big city doesn’t mean you can’t get out on the water and make a few casts. Even if you’re in the heart of the concrete jungle there are likely a handful of fisheries close by that are receiving little or no pressure at all, you just have to find them.
Instead of hearing your cubicle-mate Gary drone on about his two cats during lunch, your rod could be doubled over on a 25-pound carp you watched sip a dry fly in two feet of water. Good luck explaining that fish smell to your boss during the afternoon meeting, though. Maybe blame it on a bad tuna salad sandwich from lunch. Who knows, he could even let you leave early (and go right back to the carp spot before heading home).
Find The Water, Find The Fish
Google Maps, a fly angler’s best friend in the digital age, is the best place to start if you have no other intel coming in for where to find fish. Local fly shops might have some vague idea of a few bodies of water that are rumored to hold fish, but you’re likely on your own. Spend a lunch hour just walking around the water will likely give you clues as to whether or not you’ll be able to find fish for next time when you bring your rod. Public parks are a good first bet for scouting, as there is often a body of water big enough for fish to winter over.
Try to plan your scouting trip for a Monday, that way you can look for clues around the water like discarded bait cans or old fishing line leftover from the spin fishermen from the past weekend. Otherwise, nice structure change, current flow or clean water (or as clean as you can expect) can be a sign that a spot is fishy. Imagine you’re in the backwoods of your favorite national park and focus on the water. The city starts to feel pretty familiar once you can block out the glitzy or bizarre–like that guy that keeps staring at you as he bathes himself in a nearby fountain.
Hit Your Targets, Not Pedestrians
The trickiest part about fly fishing in tight quarters is your backcast and in a big city, tight is exactly what you’re going to find. No matter if you find the most remote water in the city, you’re likely going to have to watch your backcast for signs, fences or nosy pedestrians. Before every cast make sure to take a quick look behind you to make sure you don’t snag your hook on something you don’t want to actually catch.
Even if you’ve found a spot with plenty of casting room, limit your false casts to as few as possible. The more you false cast, not only is your fly out of the water longer, it’s also more and more likely to hook a tree or a sign. When in doubt, a roll cast can keep you fishing in even the tightest spots.
Commute With Your Gear
Carrying a two-piece, nine-foot rod is downright awkward on the train, bus, or walking through the city–even if you have a case for it. Actually, a long metal tube without explanation might look even weirder. At all costs try to find yourself a four-piece rod and a rod tube that you can stuff in a backpack.
Since that backpack has to double as your walking tackle box and still carry your laptop and notepads for work, learn to pack flies with an eye for minimalism. One fly box, like a Fully Loaded Tacky Box (only $79 for a limited time), filled with enough flies to cover every spectrum of presentations will allow you to move quicker on the water and the city streets.