Standing in front of a Walmart in Canyon County isn't in itself a weird thing. However standing in front of a Walmart holding a fishing pole may look a little strange. But the fishing was too good for me to care. I tried to convince myself that I didn't mind if everyone driving by knew I like everyday low prices ... and trout.
Right now in the valley, every fishing spot I know of on a river is flooded: Swan Falls is a wreck, the Parkcenter Bridge is a flood danger, and I won't take the boat out on the Snake River anytime soon. But Wilson Creek runs right smack in front of the Walmart on 12th Avenue Road in Nampa, and Idaho Department of Fish and Game stocks it regularly with trout. And it was there that I did some "urban fishing."
For me urban fishing is all about getting my kids out of the house, so I tend to pack light. I sport a pole, a bobber and some worms.
Not everyone fishes as equipment-challenged as I do. Bruce Dunn, a sales associate at Sportsman's Warehouse in Meridian, recommends the "Flying Bubble Technique" for most of the ponds. It involves using a clear bobber and a dry fly cast out onto a pond.
"Reel the fly in slow, like a bug on the top of the water," Dunn explained simply. This technique is like fly fishing but does not require the skill and years of practice and is much easier to do while fishing from the bank of a tree-lined pond.
Fishing can be a fun, relaxing way to spend the afternoon with the kids--unless they don't catch anything. Their disappointment can turn into a fit of frustration. Here are a couple of ways to increase the odds of reeling in prizes for the youngsters and decreasing the chances of a meltdown.
First, fish the coverage, which means fish where a fish can hide. Cast under trees, near the plant line along the shore or in any area that is not wide open. Fish can be skittish, so luring them out of their hiding spots with cast placement is best. Also, cast light for little fish. While as an adult I might find the idea of catching a 19-inch brown trout much more appealing than catching a dozen small bluegill, my children don't really care. So be prepared to catch little fish. For the kids, I use a very light setup: a size 10 hook (that is fairly small), a bobber and a little worm. The bobber is for training: it makes it easy to tell when the action is happening. Holding the attention span of a 5-year-old is hard enough, so giving a kid a bobber to check on every few moments is a good idea.
IDFG maintains programs that let hatchery-raised fish loose in public waters for recreational fishing and to increase the odds of success, Dave Parrish of the IDFG recommends doing a little research before heading out.
"[Check] out the Idaho Fish and Game website to find stocking numbers and dates for the ponds around here," he said.
Even when fishing in an urban area, there are rules. Anyone age 14 or older needs a fishing license. They are sold in sporting goods stores and many big-box retailers. Certain areas have seasons, but most of the ponds and canals in the Treasure Valley are open and unrestricted year-round. All of that information can be found at fishandgame.idaho.gov.
These next-to-a-supermarket fishing areas are never going to yield trophy fish, so I look at urban fishing as training time. I work on my form and use the time to teach my children--and urban fishing is easier to get to than people might think.
Boise has a number of accessible spots. Two of my favorites are the Bernadine Quinn Riverside Park--otherwise known as the Clock Tower Pond--on Pleasanton Avenue near 30th Street, and Veterans Memorial Park Pond near State Street and Veteran's Parkway. You can find a whole host of other in-town fishing holes at cityofboise.org.
In Eagle, the best spots are at the ponds right on the corner of Eagle Road and State Street. They are all stocked with some large fish and a number of small bluegill, which makes these some of the best places to take the kids.
In Caldwell, one of the easiest urban fishing spots to get to is the redone Indian Creek Park right in the heart of downtown. You can walk on the tidy greenbelt, watch the waterwheel spin and toss in a line at the same time.
As I watched my son reel in another fish in front of Walmart, a passing car honked at me. Maybe they were mocking me or maybe it was a honk of solidarity. Either way, I hope it wasn't someone I know unless they could see the fish on the end of my son's line.