Month: December 2011

Wonder Bread blues

Wonder Bread: A loaf of Classic White will costs you $4.50 (Jim Burns)>

With a day off and perfect L.A. winter fishing weather, my son and I hoped to follow up on a thread that’s been going around and around on this blog — the bread fly — so we headed down to the rio, armed with a freshly baked and newly purchased loaf. That’s really the first rub of this story.  Wonder Bread will now set you back $4.50!

Our strategy was simple: chum one, chum all.

L.A. River carp are tough to catch, period, so why not chum for them? Previous comments here  have shown that our comrades in other states will fish their bread flies while bird fanciers are carbo-loading ducks, geese and other waterfowl on the water. The idea is carp swim under the feeding fowl to munch their fair share of the treats, while the feathers on top continue feasting. Sounded like stealthy fun.

That mid-morning, armed with “classic white,” we approached the most likely fishing hole, one where the current doesn’t drag the bread toward Long Beach in a few seconds. We set up the rods and started rolling gummy bread balls.

After a few misfires, our aim got better as we tossed the white morsels away from the constant current in the pool. Excited as schoolboys with a snow day, we waited for the inevitable rise, the inevitable feeding frenzy. Carp enjoying a free meal, and one that would allow us to place our newly tied bread flies right in front of them.

Problem: Nothing happened, or rather what did happened wasn’t what we wanted, the story of so many science experiments.

After a few minutes of Wonder Bread chumming, lots of creatures did show up, eating the sandwich morsels kids used to love. Unfortunately, they were winged, instead of finned.

Watching sea gulls hover, then swoop down on a tasty inch-round ball gave me new respect for them. Not quite eagles zeroing in on mice, but their aim from 10 feet up was dead on.

Not to be outdone, the thin line of mallard ducks flapped up as well, and about that time, we did see two suspicious water circles, hugging the bank, too funky for a decent cast. That was it …

Cursing the fact that we were landlocked, having left the waders at home, we tried chumming three different spots with even worse results: no fish, no birds, no nada.

No bread-induced chum boil of carp.

No big fish bending rods to the water.

No spinning reels with whining line chasing a fast shadow.

Which brings me to my New Year’s fly fishing resolution: Spend more time on the three above points.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

‘Improvement Overlay’ is Councilman Reyes next approach to coaxing money from the feds

Lots of buzz this week about a proposed ordinance to establish the Los Angeles River Improvement Overlay District. That’s a mouthful to say to Washington, “hey, Obama, where’s our money?”

Cash, authorized by Congress, is needed to complete an essential Corps  study that analyzes the effects of ripping out lots of concrete. Currently, the last phase of the study is years behind schedule. Until it’s finished, Reyes’ river project can’t be completed.

Councilperson Ed Reyes chairs the Ad Hoc River Committee (courtesy photo).

He went to Washington last month to press his case.

Last week, both the L.A. Daily News and Curbed L.A. ran reports about the city council’s new-and-improved plan for waterfront development.

As Councilman Ed Reyes, who chair the council’s Ad Hoc River Committee, told the Daily News:

“This is the final step for us at the city to offer a map to developers on what the river can offer. It has taken us eight years to get to this point and we can use this as a way to convince the Obama administration to provide the funds to the Army Corps of Engineers to complete its study.”

The Army Corps has loosened up its river grip since the establishment of the Urban Waters Initiative in early summer, even going so far as to permit a pilot kayaking program, close to the Sepulveda Basin.

But, remember, even though the enforcement arms of the law, the LAPD and Griffith Park Rangers, have lightened up on handing out tickets, it’s still illegal to fly fish or even walk along the river’s bank, once you’re off the path.

And without the environmental impact statement, reshaping the river to echo what it once was ain’t gonna fly.

We’ll see where it goes, as Councilman Reyes’s office told Curbed L.A. that the council did not pass the final ordinance:  “The Council approved a Note and File update report on the RIO. Final ordinance will come back to Council in approximately 3 months.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick mends: Denver’s Sand Creek spill

A dead carp floats in Denver's Sand Creek, site of a recent benzene leak. (Courtesy Will Rice)

What can you do, as a recreational fisherman, to protect the environment?

You can write letters to the powerful, join an environmental group, give money, pitch in to restore habitat, tell your friends, hell, turn them into fly fishers, so they’ll see what they’re missing. After all, at the habitat-loss rate we’re enduring, fishing for fun could sadly end up solely on private water a la England. And … that’s un-American.

Not what we want to see happen in L.A.

Or you could let your nose tell you something stinks, as in this story. While recently stalking our favored gamefish, carp, Denver-based fly fisher/blogger McTage knew something wasn’t kosher. He reached for his cellphone, reported it, later dogged it, and made sure the agencies charged with protecting his waters actually did their job. Important story here.  In his case, what he reported after getting a whiff  turned out to be benzene. How long did it take from his first call to actually getting some action? Read the story and be appalled.

Writer Will Rice of Drake Fly Fishing magazine, describes the chemical this way: ” If you are on the fence about Benzene, here are a few things you should know: Petroleum ether, also known as benzene is a group of various volatile, highly flammable, liquid hydrocarbon mixtures used chiefly as nonpolar solvents. During the Second World War some extermination camps experimented by killing people with benzene injections. Benzene causes cancer. Benzene is useful for removing the gum from self-adhesive stamps.”

Stay alert, vigilant. Whoever thought fishermen could be first responders? But when you think about it, we all could be. Bravo, McTage.

See you on the river, Jim Burns