The Artful Angler Reels in Local Fishermen

A local resource of knowledge and equipment for experienced or inexperienced fishermen is in our backyard. Eric Rangel, a 39-year-old native of Ventura County (Fillmore area), is the owner The Artful Angler, a fly shop on Santa Claus Lane in Carpinteria.

Eric has owned the shop for about two years and juggles the commute with his wife Lisa and their two young boys, Luke and Joshua. Eric is knowledgeable about local river spots, ocean fly-fishing and where to take fishing classes. He is in tune with the latest gear and apparel to make both salt and freshwater fly-fishing more enjoyable and to yield more fish. He has five years of experience as a fishing guide in several Northern California waterways such as the Klamath, Sacramento, Trinity and Pitt Rivers and Hat Creek. He is also knowledgeable about many Southern California rivers including the Santa Ynez, Sespe and Piru. He even worked out of the Mammoth Lakes’ Orvis school one season and in Northwestern Colorado for three. He’ll set you straight on how to approach the rivers, which flies to use and how to use your own equipment effectively.

The Artful Angler is a small shop inside the tallest white building along Santa Claus Lane with the flag on top. There’s a small sign under the trellis.

It’s rare to find Eric’s combination of excitement and knowledge of this outdoor sport. Eric says the sport has been evolving locally over the last 30 years with two general groupings of fly fishers. “There are the guys over 60 who are minimalists and only want to use the stuff they have, stuff which they are comfortable and familiar,” he says. “They bring a tradition of toughness and style and have learned to make due with what they have. Then there are the guys in their 20s to 40s who are learning about all the new advances in gear and tackle that make the sport more diverse and productive.”

He says many are also getting into ocean fishing. Eric offers 16-foot poles called Spey Rods, which are cast with two hands using an old technique that originated in Scotland for large rivers. “They’re really growing in popularity on the west coast for surf fishing,” he says. “But, you can also shoot out some of the newer lines on standard fly rods that cast long distances from shore or a skiff.”

He says many only think of fly-fishing in fresh water, but that the sport can be easily applied to the ocean. A new world of fishing can open up for people along Santa Barbara’s long coastline and at the Channel Islands with just a few classes and some gear. “We have a year-round fishery right here in our own backyard,” Eric says.

I made a decision to try it since I am one of these “older guys” who never tried fly-fishing in saltwater. Eric’s logic and enthusiasm were contagious. The next weekend we both went down to the shoreline at the public beach west of his shop. He had all the tackle and gave me a demonstration. We donned our waders, strapped on the stripping basket belt, a handy device to control your line, grabbed the rods and went about knee deep into the surf.

“You don’t need to go out far,” Eric said, “but you must time your casts to reach just beyond the breakers to find the smooth, clear water that’s above the sandy trough on the ocean floor that tends to hold feeding fish.” He said he often catches barred perch, corbina and an occasional halibut there in three-foot water.

It took me a little time getting use to handling the line in the waves and the wind was a factor. But, for a first time, it was quite decent and the scenery was terrific. No fish were caught during the short lesson, but that’s why they call it fishing not catching. I shall return.

For more information, contact The Artful Angler, 3817 Santa Claus Lane, or call (805) 566-5900. They are also on the Web at: www.artfulangler.com. Eric’s prices are excellent, but his guidance in selecting and rigging your tackle is priceless.