I’m on a mini-speaking tour, talking to different fly fishing clubs in Southern California. Funny thing is, I think I might actually be enjoying some of the coolest (meaning most comfortable) weather to be had anywhere in the Lower 48 right now. And that’s fine by me.


I woke up in Santa Barbara yesterday, then drove a short clip down Highway 101, and hooked up with Eric Rangel, owner of The Artful Angler Fly Fishing Outfitters in Carpinteria, California. We threw on some waders, and hiked down to the beach (behind Santa Claus Lane), and started surf-casting with fly rods (8-weights with fast-sinking lines, and bright orange attractor flies), just to see what might happen.

What happened was, I landed a species I had never before encountered on the fly (actually four of them)…the barred perch. They aren’t massive by any stretch…but they’re extremely sporty little critters. In my book, any time you can add a new species to the lifetime “fly-caught” roster, that’s an extremely cool thing. And dabbling in the complex currents created as swells break against a beach is an intriguing and rewarding challenge. You have to time the sets…then make casts into the “bucket” depressions on the sea floor, and retrieve your line with abrupt strips before the wave action washes your line asunder.

Eric has this scene dialed. (He’s also an accomplished trout and steelhead chaser.) I flailed…but I figured it out just enough to add another species on my personal fly tab. And as such (along with the wildlife spectacle, with seals working, birds crashing, dolphins rolling, and waves cresting in the dim of a cool California coastal morning) it made for an epic experience on the fly.

What’s the next species on your “to-do” list?