A San Francisco Reel-Life Story with a Cast of Thousands
Part One, Hidden in Plain Sight
My line unfurls lazily, the loops straightening until taut, then it retracts, launching over my shoulder and snapping out ahead of me, until the fly drops lightly onto the glassy water. (At least that’s how it’s supposed to go!)
Surrounded by lush green trees and a lingering morning fog, you’d never guess that at the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club you were moments away from an epic burrito in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Located in Golden Gate Park, the Gold Gate Angling and Casting Club is not a place that you would easily stumble upon. Eric and I were told by those in the know to locate the Bison and Buffalo enclosure in the park, and to then turn onto an unmarked road directly across from it.
We still weren’t sure we were in the right place until a break in the eucalyptus and conifer trees revealed a starling sight: a giant lawn of three concrete ponds, bigger than a football field.
A rustic, mountain-style lodge sits to the side, offering a fly fishing museum, expansive library of videos, photos, and books, as well as a chance to sign up for free lessons (every second Saturday of the month) or borrow a rod and line
In fact the club is a well-kept secret for the city-dwelling fly fishermen, who have been practicing their art there for almost a hundred years.
(This was the class that I signed up for. Eric was with the advanced anglers)
We decided to join a group class primarily because of a New Zealand fly-fishing trip we’re taking.
As I quickly learned that day, picking up the basics is relatively easy, but a truly great cast takes years of practice to attain. To be a good fisherwoman is a science and an art.
The science is about knowing the eating habits of the fish. The art is in the presentation: how you lay down the line, how the fish sees the fly. So it looks like I will be at this for years.
As I watch and listen to people cast and mingle with other chatty fishermen, I notice one thing. There may not be any fish in these pools, but there’s no shortage of fish stories.