Month: March 2012

Photograph captures spawning carp on the Los Angeles River

Photographer Derek Bourassa was out on the river, snapping shots last week, as the carp boil went crazy. He was nice enough to let me post this amazing shot. For those of you who go beyond shooting with an IPhone, he reports this photo was taken using a Canon EOS REBEL T2i. Check out more of his nature shots on the river at

See you on the river, Jim Burns

L.A. River spring spawn gets it on!

If you were wondering if today’s weather in the low 60s would stop the spring spawn, the answer’s a definite “no.” Unless it’s raining tomorrow, considering going to the river to see one of the coolest things we’ve got going on in L.A.: spawning carp running up the river. We watched dozens and dozens and dozens of beautiful gold and sometimes rust fish going absolutely nuts.

Anyone who’s fished the spawn know that it’s not easy, but here are some tips:

— don’t go after jumping fish. They won’t strike.

— do get those egg flies out. Tie a bunch in chartreuse. That’s the color.

— don’t expect the fish to strike in fast, running water. Look for the slow pools.

— do let your egg hit bottom, in front of the fish you’ve targeted.

— don’t let your line foul under seaweed. You’ll get broken off (happened today).

— do get excited that you can fish the L.A. River right now.

— don’t play the fish too tightly(happened today as well!). This is not a San Gabes trout. These are big, frickin’ fish.

— do bring your camera. It’s that amazing.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

LaRiverFlyFishing gets 10,000th hit, celebrates by supporting wider access to the river

From top left, clockwise, the tranquility of carp-filled pools, at the beginning of Glendale Narrows. Once you get past the city locks, you can see self-shadows and nifty bridge architecture. (Jim Burns)

Dear Senator Kevin de Leon:

I strongly support the bill (SB 1201) that I understand would significantly widen access to the Los Angeles River.

The Los Angeles River is the whole reason I became an environmental and fly fishing blogger. I’d been assigned a story on carp fishing in the river by Richard Anderson, publisher of California Fly Fisher, a bi-monthly publication that is carefully read among the fly fishing community.  As I’d never actually been to the river, my first step was to find access to the water. This turned out to be no easy task, and I can still clearly remember driving around the Atwater Village area of Los Angeles with my son. We zigzagged through parking lots, truck depots and all manner of what seemed possible entrances, only to find dead-ends, walls and barbed wire fencing.

Finally, we found an entrance tucked almost invisibly between the I-5 freeway and  a golf course. I later learned that this entrance is known as Steelhead Park.

I spent weeks researching that first piece, gleaning lots of information about the river, its fish and its restricted access. For example, I learned that Griffith Park rangers as well as Los Angeles Police Department officers were charged with ticketing anyone who strayed off the bicycle paths. Obviously, those fishing were actually doing so illegally.

In a short two years, recreational access has increased, largely thanks to the work of river advocate George Wolfe, FOLAR, a mostly cooperative city, and a vastly changed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But we must go further.

When lives are not in danger from floodwaters, vast stretches of our 51-mile jewel should be open to the public. And, the public should be able to enjoy the access without the trepidation I first experienced.

Today, my blog reached its 10,000th hit, so I feel it is an apt celebration to make this letter to you public, in the hope that others will also write to you to support your efforts.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick Mends follow-up: Forest Service reaffirms all mining prohibited on East Fork

A recent post on this site stirred up the pro-con constituencies about suction dredge mining, with the arguments basically boiling down to habitat vs. access. Although the petition was directed at the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Forest Service has just posted this on its site:

All mining operations (location of mining claims, prospecting, and mining, including panning, sluicing, and dredging) under the 1872 Mining Law are prohibited within withdrawn areas of the Angeles National Forest.  Public Law No. 578 (1928 withdrawal) withdrew areas from entry and location under the mining laws.  There is no provision in PL 578 which provides for even a limited right to enter the withdrawn lands to prospect.  Therefore, National Forest System lands within the East Fork of the San Gabriel River are not open to prospecting or any other mining operations.

When I called for comment, the Arcadia office was closed (at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday), but without further reporting on this topic, looks to be a win for fishing habitat.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick Mends: Bill to widen access to the L.A. River introduced

Once electric Red Cars delivered passengers all over L.A., which is celebrated in this riverly mural.(Barbara Burns)

This from Lewis MacAdams, founder of Friends of the River:

Dear River Lovers,

Last week State Senator Kevin de Leon introduced a bill (SB 1201) into the State Senate that would significantly widen access to the Los Angeles River.

Authored by Friends of the Los Angeles River in collaboration with the Environmental Law Clinic at UCLA, the Bill would amend the 1915 Los Angeles County Flood Control Act, which limits the County Department of Public Works role on the River to flood and stormwater control, to add recreation and educational purposes to its mandate.

The Bill would also establish a State Los Angeles River Interagency Access Council whose members would include the State Department of Fish and Game, the State Lands Commission, and the California EPA, chaired by the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, to coordinate the actions of State and local Agencies with responsibilities for River access.

We strongly urge you to write or e-mail Alfredo Medina in Senator De Leon’s office (alfredo.medina@ in support of the SB 1201 immediately And as soon as you do that we want you to join FoLAR. If you like what we do on the River, in advocacy, science and education, if you’ve gone on one of our river walks, or taken part in our River Clean-Ups, and our river walks, then send us $50 for a one-year membership. For almost 25 years, we have been the voice of the River. the Voice of the River Users, your voice on the Rio de Los Angeles.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick Mends: Strong California salmon fishing season predicted

It might be time to gas up the buggy ( even at a predicted summer $5 a gallon), and get up to Northern California for some salmon fishing. Peter Firmite’s recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle quotes fishery experts as saying there are more chinooks swimming in the ocean now than at any time since 2005. A two-year commercial fishing ban on the fish ended last year, which may account for their increase.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

California DFG considers suction dredge mining OK on San Gabriel River

Jim Blomquist of Friends of the River writes:

Yesterday afternoon I learned that the state Fish and Game Department is considering regulations that would reopen streams to suction dredge mining all across California including on the East Fork of the San Gabriel, pictured below back when it was open previously.  The draft regulations are open for public comment until 5 p.m., Monday.  I have attached a fact sheet from Steve Evans of Friends of the River on the situation.  Please distribute this information and the urgent call to make comments far and wide:

Suction dredging – a mining practice that requires a gasoline-powered motor to run an underwater vacuum to suck up large amounts of gravel and sediment from the river bed to collect gold – harms water quality, as well as fish and wildlife and the habitat these wild creatures depend on.

The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) recently issued revised suction
dredge mining regulations and is seeking public comment on them by 5 p.m. March
5. Unfortunately, the revised regulations will cause serious water quality
problems and harm fish and wildlife on many of our rivers and streams, including
the East Fork San Gabriel River.

The revised regulations propose to reopen the East Fork below its confluence with
Cattle Canyon to suction dredge mining-induced noise, water pollution, habitat
degradation, and conflicts with other recreational visitors. Please send an email
TODAY to the CDFG urging the agency to withdraw the revised regulations and
to specifically close the East Fork to suction dredge mining. In addition, the CDFG
should start over with new regulations that fully protect water quality, threatened
and endangered species and their habitat, and other recreational activities.


Suction dredging – a mining practice that requires a gasoline-powered motor to run
an underwater vacuum to suck up large amounts of gravel and sediment from the
river bed to collect gold – harms water quality, as well as fish and wildlife and the
habitat these wild creatures depend on.

Unfortunately, revised regulations recently issued by the California Department
of Fish and Game (CDFG) will allow this destructive practice to restart in the East
Fork San Gabriel River and other waterways throughout California that are already
impaired by mercury pollution or sediment, provide sensitive habitat for threatened
and endangered fish and wildlife, and offer important non-motorized outdoor
recreation opportunities.

For years, suction dredge miners were literally allowed to take over the East Fork
downstream of Cattle Canyon for the pursuit of gold. This led to conflicts with other
recreational visitors, disturbed river habitat and water quality, and possibly harmed
the Santa Ana sucker, an endangered native fish found primarily in the San Gabriel
River in the Angeles National Forest. A statewide moratorium on suction dredge
mining was imposed by the California Legislature in 2009. But the new revised
regulations threaten to return motorized suction dredge mining to the East Fork
and other waterways throughout the state.

The newly revised regulations require CDFG to issue mining permits where mining
would otherwise be illegal, including the East Fork. A 1928 federal law withdrew
the public lands along the East Fork from mining to protect its watershed and water
quality. Mining on the East Fork is also inconsistent with Wild & Scenic protection
of the river, proposed to protect its endangered fish habitat, water quality, and
outstanding recreation values.

Less than three weeks ago, CDFG issued new revised regulations for public comment
with a deadline of 5PM, March 5, 2012. In addition to the unusually short comment
period, it will be difficult for the public to comment in any meaningful way on the
revised regulations because the revised EIR that justifies the new regulations will
not be available for public review until after the March 5 deadline.

The revised mining regulations will harm rivers and streams throughout California,
from the Klamath River in the north to the East Fork San Gabriel River in the south.
Please help us convince CDFG that the East Fork San Gabriel River and other
ecologically sensitive and water quality impaired rivers and streams in California
should simply be off-limits to the destructive affects of suction dredge mining. Send
an email TODAY to CDFG urging the agency to prohibit suction dredge mining on
all forks of the San Gabriel River in the Angeles National Forest, and withdraw the
revised regulations and start over with a regulatory program that fully protects
water quality and threatened and endangered species and their river habitat, and
Native American cultural values.

Remember, the deadline for comments on the revised regulations is 5 p.m. on
Monday, March 5.

To view a copy of the revised regulations, visit For
more information, contact Steve Evans at Friends of the River, phone: (916) 442-
3155 x221, email:


Suction Dredge Program
California Department of Fish and Game Northern Region
601 Locust Street
Redding, CA 96001

Re: Suction Dredge Program Revisions to Proposed Amendments

Dear Department of Fish and Game:

I am concerned that the revised regulations allow destructive and harmful suction
dredge mining in the East Fork San Gabriel River. This river supports endangered
native fish and other recreational uses that are often incompatible with suction
dredge mining. It also harms water quality in a river that contributes significantly to
the local water supply. In addition, a 1928 federal prohibits mining on this river to
protect its water quality and watershed values.

Water quality and fish and wildlife in the East Fork and other rivers and streams in
California must be protected from the adverse impacts of suction dredge mining.
The revised regulations simply do not provide sufficient protection for these

sensitive resources. I urge the CDFG to withdraw the revised regulations and
propose new ones that prohibit suction dredge mining on the San Gabriel River in
the Angeles National Forest and that fully mitigate all significant impacts, cover the
state’s costs to administer and enforce the program, and meet all other laws and

Recreational and commercial mining is not a legitimate activity in California if
it is done at the expense of the state’s fish, wildlife, water quality, human health,
and state-protected beneficial uses of the San Gabriel River and other rivers and

Thank you.


(your name, address)

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick Mends: Say goodbye to the Adventure Pass

Could this sign soon include "national recreation area"? (Courtesy Forest Camping)

Darn, you must be saying to yourself, I loved paying $30 a year for the right to park my car on public lands to go fishing. Well, according to this article in the Los Angeles Times, the unpopular fee is about to join such other relics of the past as the Edsel, 8-track tape players and  the same newspaper’s Food section (Today was its last issue …).

In other words, California fly fishing just got a little bit less expensive!

See you on the river, Jim Burns