Month: December 2010

Batter up: Carp clubbing takes river to new low

Here’s a winter’s tale that should prove cautionary and more.

We decided not to visually bust this guy for carp clubbing. He's the one who got away -- for now.

My son and I went out last week for some fishing on the city’s river. As we were leaving the water, we came upon a couple of friendly gents who intimately knew the area. Both had on caps; both had on backpacks; both had good senses of humor; and one should have been arrested:

“You don’t need that rod to catch carp down here,” said the one.

How could you not ask?

“What you need? You need a baseball bat, a Louisville Slugger, that’s what you need — a bat!”

He then went on to tell us that he and a friend “caught” three white plastic bucketfuls of carp in an hour, and lugged them to a nearby Korean buyer who paid cash. He said that the next day — Sunday — he went by  the buyer’s church and there was a big fish grill, making everyone happy.

“I don’t have a lot to do besides hanging out and drinking beer. Imagine, me in that water with my pants rolled up,” he said with a grin. “Nope, you don’t need that. You need a baseball bat.”

We all nodded like it was the funniest thing we’d ever heard, but by the time I got home, I wasn’t laughing anymore.

I called a marine biologist with the California Deptartment of Fish and Game to get her perspective.

“There’s nothing legal about anything you just told me,” Carrie Wilson said.

She went on to detail the wrongdoing:

“First off, taking with a baseball bat is not a legal take,” she said. “And a carp is still a California fish. That means you have to abide by fishing regulations.”

Those regs include owning a fishing license (you can buy one online this year), as well as having a commercial fish seller’s license.

Then there was the matter of the baseball bat. According to Wilson, a bow and arrow is a legal method of fishing in some areas of California, and spearing might also be allowed, she wasn’t sure. But whacking fish with a baseball bat? Positively ghetto in the worst sense.

Finally, even though the FoLAR’s 2008 Los Angeles River Fish found low levels of toxicity in fish analyzed for the report, serving up a heaping plateful of river carp is insidious. Think of your guests, man!

So if you see anyone yelling, “batter up,” and then swinging for the fences, call the Griffith Park Rangers.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Pass the Dijon

It's 94 pounds of carpilicious fun for lucky Brit Paul Roberts, who caught the purported world's largest mirror carp near Dijon, France. (Credit Y&M Media)

Christmas came early for Brit Paul Roberts. According to the Daily Mail, the bloke from Dorset snapped up the world’s biggest (caught) carp at Le Graviers, near Dijon, France. That’s big as in 94 pounds, so big it has a name on the local waters, “The Scarred Fish.”

To make the story even better, Roberts, a boat builder, witnessed his friend, Richard Middleton, pull in a brown fish, weighing 83 pounds only the night before.

That made the two buddies a double-threat — all in only 48 hours.

“As I was reeling it in, I saw what fish it was and then my legs turned to jelly,” Roberts told the Daily Mail.

But a quick bit of Internet reporting reveals that in June the same fish was caught at the same lake as — a 99-pounder! Maybe we should blame the Lap Band. Or the Daily Mail should get a better scale.

If it weren’t raining as I write, I’d grab my rod.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick Mends

Yes, once again under the “shameless promotion” category, this time KCET Departures Story Share allowed me to tell my tale about fly fishing on the river.

Even if you can't see the river, these bird-loving signs point the way.

Question: is all black the best look for a happy, early afternoon interview?

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick mends

I’m writing this while listening to Clay Dyer, a professional bass fisherman, who doesn’t have any limbs. Never heard of this guy, but found his video when I was researching C.A.S.T. for Kids. Turns out that this truly amazing fisherman is also the group’s spokesman. It’s based in Renton, Wash.

Children get a taste of the reel life through the Dan Hernandez Youth Foundation. (Photo courtesy Dan Hernandez Youth Foundation)

Closer to home, check out  the Daniel Hernandez Youth Foundation. Another professional fisherman, Hernandez started  “Meet Me at the Lake” to help under-served children get their first fishing experience.

Question: When are flyfishers going to start doing something like this  on our river? If you’ve been following these posts, you’ll remember I met a couple of kids a few weeks ago, and we all had fun fishing for carp.

At least we know that the equipment is there. Bob Milne explains the ins and outs of the Redington Crosswater Youth Outfit in an informative post.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Inspiration in the bike lane

Councilman Tom LaBonge makes a point at Saturday's event.

Anybody out there ready for the odd bit of good news?

We all should be, what with the continuing recession/depression, unemployment that won’t go down, unending Afghanistan… And it is getting closer to Christmas.

So, from the thank-goodness-for-small-favors-and-the-occasional-infusion-of-political-will department came a ribbon cutting Saturday along the banks of the Los Angeles River: the eight-mile stretch of freshly paved and dutifully yellow-lined Elysian Valley asphalt is now officially open for rubber, both tire tread and Nike sole.

It’s always  hard to get an accurate crowd count, and the cops left before we could ask them (peace has its advantages), but approximately 200 people listened — and cheered — as Los Angeles councilmembers Eric Garcetti, Tom LaBonge, and Lupe Vella, representing councilman Ed Reyes, talked up the accomplishment under Saturday’s threatening early afternoon skies.

Well over one hundred people attended the opening of the Elysian Park extension of the river bikeway and pedestrian path.

“The dream moves a step closer to reality,” Garcetti said, referring to eventually creating a bike path that will run the entire 51 miles of the river, from the Sepulveda Basin in the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach. Flanked by the L.A. River Keepers, teens who advise those along the river not to trash it and pick it up when ne’er do wells do, it was a day in which public and private cooperation inspired even the most cynical.

Scott Wilson, founder of North East Trees, listened as Ron Olive, of the Dept. of Public Works, told onlookers the project took 10 years to realize. And L.A River Expeditions founder George Wolfe beamed when Vella said “We want nonmotorized kayak access next year.”


Flyfishers should be happy because the new access and traffic cuts the threat of meeting people you really don’t want to meet while carping under the 2 freeway. In the past, this area had a bad rep.

Jesus with buddies Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge

Finally, a young man named Jesus rode his new, donated bike alongside Garcetti and LaBonge, southward toward the future. The only thing missing was a donated fly rod for Jesus to strap onto his shiny silver ride.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

KCET Story Share is tomorrow!

This from KCET producer Justin Cram:

The KCET Departures StoryShare event is this Saturday, Dec. 4, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Crystal Park in Elysian Valley.

The event coincides with the opening celebration for the Elysian Valley Pedestrian/Bike Path.

Even if you can't see the river, these bird-loving signs point the way.

Crystal Park is located off of Crystal Street, South of where Fletcher crosses over the LA River and North of Riverside drive. Parking is street only and Crystal Street will be closed for the event. For more information on parking, traveling to the
event, and location, please go to

You do not need an appointment to participate in the StoryShare event, simply arrive to the event between 10am and 2pm and locate the KCET Departures booth. You will be able to tell your story on camera, or if you prefer, as audio only.

For those of you who have already sent in a teaser of your story, we have begun to publish these on the KCET StoryShare site as some of you cannot make it the event. Feel free to contact me via email if you would like to adjust or add to your story on
the site.

See you on the river (tomorrow!), Jim Burns