After complaining (OK, grousing incessantly) for months about the lousy weather here in the Pacific Northwet, Mrs. UA booked us a flight to Arizona for the week of Schpanky’s Spring break. I fully acknowledge that we were all in need of some Vitamin D, but I’m convinced that her underlying motive was to get me to shut up. It worked, temporarily.

This was not, obviously, a fishing vacation. But every time I go anywhere, I have a tendency to ponder the area’s possibilities for wetting a line. My conclusion is that the Phoenix area is not exactly a hotspot for fly fishing. Certainly if one is willing to drive a fair distance they can find water that holds fish, and in fact many of the area golf courses have ponds with some sort of fish. There are a lot of golf courses in Arizona so if you like golf it’s probably akin to Montana for fly anglers. But I don’t golf. In fact, I loath the game.

For most of the week we simply relaxed and did a lot of nothing, which was fine by me. The cement pond in the back yard provided the closest thing to fishable water that I would see the entire time we were there. With plenty of time to sit and think, I formulated some thoughts based on observations:

The AZ desert is a cruel place inhabited by evil shrubbery that will hurt you if you let your guard down. There are cacti known as Jumping Cholla that do appear to jump on you if you get too close. This did not happen to me, but my brother-in-law was describing it and ended up with a shoe-ful of prickly spikes. They’re harder to remove than a barbed treble hook. The last photo is not someone I know, but serves as another good reason not to ever golf.

Jumping Cholla

A minor case of having been jumped by Cholla.

A major case of being jumped by Cholla.

While different than the species that have been driving me crazy in the Pacific NW, the desert has wood peckers. The peckers around my home seem to like the wood on our house, and our rain gutters. In the desert nearly all the homes are built with something resembling stucco, and a rain gutter contractor would go broke for lack of business, so I am not sure what the birds bang their peckers on. I didn’t see many trees, either, but I did see a lot of saguaro cacti with holes created by birds. Likely the peckers are to blame for this.

Arizona woodpecker.

We don’t have In-N-Out Burger joints up here in our corner of the nation, but they do have them down in Arizona. I’d never eaten there before but have been told the burgers are good. We ate there twice and while it was good both times, I wouldn’t say that it warrants a trip to Arizona for the sole purpose of eating at In-N-Out Burger.

Phoenix has a Major League Baseball team: the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team is referred to as the D-Backs,  for short. Or so I thought. What I discovered is that the local sportscasters affectionately refer to them as the “D-Bags”. I kid you not. The first time I heard it on a television newscast I was sure I’d merely heard what I want, and not what was actually said. And then I heard it repeated over and over: D-Bags. Clear as day. Go figure.

The Arizona D-Bags

Fishing for coldwater species is not big on the list of things to do while in Phoenix, nor apparently, is fly fishing. A visit to Dick’s Sporting Goods revealed a very limited selection of fly tackle: a single Pfleuger starter kit. However, there was a ready supply of other fishin’ poles.

Even though fly fishing may not be big on the list of recreational activities in the desert, this does not prevent people from driving the #1 Stupidest Fly Fishing Car from 2011. Which reminds me, it’s probably time for the 2012 list, although I’m confident the Nissan Cube would take top honors. Stupid car.

I was privileged to see my first real, live roadrunner while in Arizona. I was disappointed to learn that the birds are not purple, nor do they make a call that sounds anything like “Meep-Meep”. You can imagine that I felt like a child when they discover that Santa Claus isn’t real.

Fence post runner


Arizona nights are clear, and good for star gazing. Mrs. UA is very proud of the app on her iPhone which tells you exactly what you’re looking at when you point the phone toward the dark heavens. I’m not a big astronomy buff, but I never tire of sophomoric humor. Ever.

It's funny every time.


It was a nice change of pace and change of scenery, but after a few days I felt trapped, like a fish out of water. The desert is too dry; too hot. Not enough of the stuff that I complain about back home.

Inadequate fish passage.


Like the fact that it’s 50 degrees and raining today.