Month: March 2015

Summerlike heat throws LA River carp back into spawn

QUACK: Hope our friends from Canada brought sunscreen.
QUACK: Hope our friends from Canada brought sunscreen. (Jack Kelly)

By Greg Madrigal

Guest Contributor

I wanted to let everyone know what I saw yesterday, what I have seen going on in the Long Beach area where the FoLAR event happened Saturday.  I got one nice carp and my two buddies were skunked. I also caught a female turtle, chased by two males in an attempt to mate. We have a real red slider colony there.

I  also spotted mallards and Canadian geese nesting with eggs on the water, I caught a quick glimpse of an African-clawed frog zipping to the surface for air and back down into the algae. And I also saw what I believe could have been a mirror carp, and I definitely spotted a koi in reddish orange and black mottled.

We were surrounded by a cacophony of birds, including black-necked stilts, Canadian geese, mallards, seagulls, gray blue herons, red-winged blackbirds, and coots.

SLIDERS aren't just for stealing bases.
SLIDERS aren’t just for stealing bases. (Jack Kelly)

On a sad note, we have noticed on more than one occasion, snaggers throwing out treble hooks and trying to snag carp.  Yesterday, I noticed one poor carp who looked like he was nailed twice on the back by one of these large treble hooks.  He had two very large and deep gashes across its back.  Heads up to anybody heading there to anonymously call DFG’s CAL-Tip hotline (888-334-2258), if you see these guys.

Editor’s Note: Nick Blixt emailed: “I hit the river today (as did a lot of people), and wow are those fish in spawning mode. I still saw quite a few hook-ups, but people had to target the few non-mating stragglers that weren’t running up and down the currents. Al Q. and I observed one guy chucking rocks at a group of them—luckily karma took hold, and he fell in waist deep a few minutes later.”

The spawn seems to be in full swing with carp completely oblivious to our presence and boiling in packs of five- to-15 fish.

Good news for next year!

CARP-I-LI-CIOUS: Greg Madrigal grips and grins in Long Beach.
CARP-I-LI-CIOUS: Greg Madrigal grips and grins in Long Beach. (Jack Kelly)

A common and a mirror netted in Long Beach fish study

So, if you asked me, “hey, Jim, did you have the work week from hell?’ I’d pretty much say, “yup, and goodbye to all that.” Because today is Saturday. And Saturday was custom-made for fishing, just like a sweet, summertime mint julep.

Why have a workweek gloom-over when my calendar read: FoLAR Citizen Fishing event, 2 p.m.

And isn’t citizen fishing just really a wonderful excuse to fish for the best cause (science), jaw-bone with old friends, meet new ones,  and be in awe (I know I am) of both Rosi Dagit and Sabrina Drill, the biologists who keep mining our river for fishy clues? And a shout out to FoLAR’s Bill Bowling, organizer extraordinaire, and to Trout Unlimited’s Bob Blankenship.

So this marvelous (hot) Saturday afternoon, about a dozen anglers and assorted others all met to continue the conversation of what the heck is in the river in Long Beach. Observers could tell something was up from the telltale Home Depot orange buckets that lined the bank. No mullets, nor smelt. Today’s puzzle pieces: a 5-pound common carp and a slightly smaller mirror.

And it is on days such as this one that I count  

DRIPPING WET: Todd Suttle pulled in this common carp on a tortilla fly. He also found a dollar bill. (Jim Burns)

 my blessings to have many riverly friends, and feel connected to something truly awesome.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick mends: Report pegs LA’s river tab as much as $1.2 billion

This sign should stand for a peaceful experience in the heart of 4 million people.(Jim Burns)
This sign should stand for a peaceful experience in the heart of 4 million people.(Jim Burns)

Cherry-picking from this piece that ran in today’s Los Angeles Times:

— The city’s share of the project has ballooned from $500 million to $1.2 billion

— Restoration will take 30 to 50 years

— 9,000 construction jobs will be created

— Sale prices for riverfront property in Elysian Valley, between the river and the 5 Freeway,

have doubled in the last 24 months

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Preview: Countdown to the Eastern Sierra trout opener

Avid Eastern Sierra and SoCal troutster Johnjay Crawford is a magnet for trophy trout, and an experienced backcountry stick as well.
Avid Eastern Sierra and SoCal troutster Johnjay Crawford is a magnet for trophy trout, and an experienced backcountry stick as well.

By Johnjay Crawford

Guest contributor

It’s time to dust off the tackle box, put some new line on your reels, and let the daydreaming begin.

The days until the 2015 Eastern Sierra general trout season opener on April 25 will be getting longer and the trout will be getting hungrier. With a little over four weeks until “Fishmas,”  whether you fly fish the East Walker River, troll Crowley Lake, or ice fish Rock Creek Lake, the excitement is surely building in all of us and the waters are primed with anxious trout just waiting to test your angling skills.

The Bishop Creek Canyon is always a popular spot and in past years Lake Sabrina and South Lake have offered anglers a rare opportunity to ice fish in California. Don’t hold your breath this year. With the combination of the lack of snow and warmer weather, both lakes should show at least some open and fishable water.

The North and South forks of Bishop Creek will surely be stuffed with Dept. of Fish and Wildlife trout, while Intake 2 will see some standard half-pound DFW trout plants with some bigger models mixed in.

Middle Owens and Pleasant Valley Reservoir have been getting regular stocking s of DFW broodstock fish, so those fisheries should be prime. PVR received 35 “Sierra Spirit” wall hangers in the 10-15 pound class for the Blake Jone’s Derby in March. Not but a few have made the local press, so perhaps dunking a line there would be wise.

“Crowley is going to be the place to be. We put in a ton of fish and some really big ones too. We release our 3- and 4-year-old fish and some of them looked over 10 pounds,” according to an individual I spoke with at Hot Creek Hatchery,

Convict Lake will be another hot spot and is definitely worth putting on your agenda.

“We should be getting about three-four loads of fish in the 3-5 pound class. Each load runs about 900 pounds. DFW stocks the lake and the creek and the county may be stocking as well, but I am not sure,” according to one individual I spoke with from Convict Lake Resort.

The road to Mammoth Lakes is usually not open until Memorial Day weekend, but the June Lake loop is a great spot to land a lunker. June Lake Marina released some 9-12 pounders after the “closer” last year in preparation for 2015. They will also be stocking a mix of 4-7 pounders for the opener along with some DFW trout mixed in. The other lakes in the loop will also be receiving fish from the DFW before the opener and will have plenty of holdovers — some of size — to fill a stringer.

The Bridgeport Fish Enhancement program has already stocked the area waters with some really nice fish. The East Walker, Bridgeport Reservoir and Twin Lakes have all received some of the 7-10 pounders raised through the program and along with the monster brown trout should be enough to entice any trout angler.

Just got back from Bishop – the lower Owens is at very low flow rate currently; Bridgeport reservoir, I’m told is in danger of drying up – the East Walker/Hot Creek flows were dangerously low at 30 CFS per recent reports. The trout I saw were small and skinny – many may not survive the summer temperatures and persistently low expected flows due to poor snowfall this year. Stocked trout are one thing, but wild ones are a precious commodity. Please avoid any fishing if the water temps are in the 60’s!! Art Strauss, Irvine

Quick mends: NYC’s East River could get a floating pool


A designer’s concept shows the four pools, shaped like a cross. (courtesy Pool Plus)

According to today’s Los Angeles Times, an architect has created a working model of a massive pool that would filter its own water from the East River. Our river and New York’s East River share the storm runoff pollution problem.

“More than 27 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwater flow into New York Harbor each year, according to the clean water advocacy group Riverkeppers. Supporters of the pool design are confident the filtering system will be a game-changer.”

One of the supporters: Google.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Earth Quotes: Garrett Fallon

The UK’s Fallon’s Angler is the sharpest magazine about fishing and writing to come out since Gray’s Sporting Journal in 1975. After all, it takes some braveness to bankroll a print magazine in this digital century. As he says, “Some of my friends think I’m two sandwiches short of a picnic to launch my own angling magazine.”

The writing includes some of the brightest young urban angling writers, including Dominic Garnett of the “Crooked Lines” blog, and Theo Pike, who published the highly regarded “Trout in Dirty Places” in 2012.

Each quarter, Garrett’s writers take readers to the intriguing and the far off, such as fishing for Atlas trout in Morocco’s mountains of the same name; or catching dorado by catamaran in Cuba. And I’m happy to say you can read my piece about carping in our river in this latest issue. It’s not available online, which makes it even more exotic. It’s worth a deep dive if you love longform journalism about fishing places you may only get to dream on. Better still, many of these stories may inspire you to actually pack up and go. Currently, mine would be to catch giant trout on Hottah Lake on the edge of Canada’s Artic Circle.

Here, an excerpt from Garrett’s 1994 musings:

     “I like to take my fishing very seriously, planning everything down to the last detail and hoping in the process to catch some fish. Yet occasionally, for reasons unknown, the fish just don’t bite, and so I am consigned to hours of fruitless labour. But during these times I have earned some of my fondest angling memories, as I find myself lapsing into a state of closeness with the environment around me. I have sat there, on the banks of the canal, watching my float and wondering why on earth it has not dipped or slid under the surface in the past hour or so, when suddenly my eyes catch something moving at my feet, and a field mouse makes its way across my shoes. Once, when I was sure there wasn’t a fish within a mile of me, the biggest tench I had ever seen cruised from the depths to browse for offerings beneath my feet.

     “The English writer Tom Fort has a theory about fishing, believing that somehow (using some super sixth sense), the fish waits for a lapse in the angler’s concentration, and in this moment of weakness, bites, removing the bait from the hook. There isn’t an angler alive who, during a fruitless session, hasn’t left his rod fishing by itself in order to empty his bladder in the local shrubbery, only to turn around and witness his (fishing) tackle sliding away into the depths, pulled by a great fish.

     “I find sinking into the background of my surroundings deeply satisfying, but you only reach this point if you’re not thinking about it. Izaak Walton ended his later versions of The Compleat Angler with the words “Study to be quiet,” and surely these resonate with all anglers? The fact he was quoting Thessalonians 4.11 shouldn’t be held against him. He successfully makes his point with all the effort of a gentle kiss blown from the lips of a milkmaid.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns

The two-part Saturday

UPDATE, March 8: Greg Madrigal of Sierra Nets writes,

I took a couple buddies down to the LA River in Long Beach and we saw hundreds upon hundreds of carp, but could not get any to go! It was very frustrating but exhilarating at the same time.

I don’t think there was a better day than today anywhere else. Really. We Angelinos have it made if we’d just get out of our cars, get outside and LOVE what we’ve got going on the Left Coast.

After my niggling review of the Orvis Beginner’s Carp Fly book in the previous post, I felt sheepish attending the free Orvis fly tying class. There were only three of us knocking on the door in Pasadena at 9 a.m., and all I can tell you is run, don’t walk, to the next session given by the incomparable Frank Burr. Ready smile, terrific stories, and Frank has been tying flies for more than 40 years, beginning in grade school! The man has the skill and patience to make you a better tyer.

WAIT! What's that speck doing in my bourbon bottle? (Jim Burns)
WAIT! What’s that speck doing in my bourbon bottle? (Jim Burns)

Without his gentle guidance I would have never had the confidence to try tying a No. 20 beadhead midge. I mean, those suckers are small. The bead looks like a dust mite and the hook resembles a speck you might flick off your kitchen counter. With Frank’s guidance, all three of us produced something that was at least close to the midge we were imitating. Awesome. Thank you, Frank.

Then, off to the LA River. As soon as I got there, I knew I was toast because of the cruising, crazy-lovin’ behavior going on close to the weeds. Big females and small males had a high, old time, which didn’t mean they didn’t spook easier than normal. I knew working weekends would make me miss the pre-spawn, when the hookin’ is easy (ier), and, sure enough, that’s what happened. Still, I saw at least 30 fish in a few hours, including having several bruisers swim between my legs!

In honor of this skunk, which beats the hell out of working, I’m offering the skunk video from a couple of years ago. Enjoy. And if you hook up, please send pics!

See you on the river, Jim Burns