Month: December 2015

Musings written in pencil — LA River Top 10 laundry list

Get to know the river, up close and personal, like this shot under the Sixth Street Bridge. (Courtesy FOLAR)
Say goodbye to the Sixth Street Bridge and hello to its replacement project. (Courtesy FOLAR)

Goodbye 2015, and ‘tis the season for Top 10s. Read through, and you can see there’s plenty of contention about some topics, and for those of us who want healthy waters in which to fish, there’s still plenty of work ahead in 2016.

Noteworthy today is the fact that Congress, although finally getting more public laws enacted (113 this year as opposed to 72 last year, according to Pew) neglected the very important Klamath River dam removal deal.

No. 10 Last week, this site received its 100,000th view, which is incredibly gratifying for me. In 2010, my first post, “Glendale Narrows adventure No. 1” got 51 views – all year! This week, generous readers pushed the 2015 blog total to 32,500.

"Bet you can't do this, hahaha!" (Courtesy Weekly Times Now)
“Bet you can’t do this, hahaha!” (Courtesy Weekly Times Now)

No. 9 “Why do carp jump?” won this year’s most-viewed post. In the last 12 months, 1,125 readers read why these crazy fish do what they do, as well as taken the poll to post their own opinion. The all-time winner, however, “Holy mackerel, Dad caught a largemouth bass” snagged more than 2,900 views last year, with “jump” in seventh place. That piece was a landmark showing the popular game fish indeed lives in our river. By midsummer they came back again after last year’s rain made them scarce for the first half of 2015. In fact, look at the mega-largemouth John Tegmeyer caught yesterday.

No. 8 After the much-publicized death of Fred, the Great Blue Heron, last year, a collaborative effort among Friends of the L.A. River, Trout Unlimited and Berkley Conservation Institute brought fish line recycling tubes to three spots in Glendale Narrows. According to Robert Blakenship, look for a TU-sponsored water temperature survey next year.

No. 7 Expedition found no Arroyo Seco trout. “The year of the bummer” stayed true to its name when this Arroyo Seco

Matus Solobic, one of today's Off Tha' Hook winners, with a sweet hog. (Jim Burns)
Matus Solobic, two-time Off Tha’ Hook winner, shows off a sweet hog. (Jim Burns)

Foundation expedition with contributors Roland Trevino, his son Ansel, Roderick Spilman, found nary a smolt at the headwaters to the Arroyo Seco in the San Gabriel Mountains. Blame the drought, the Station Fire and neglectful, woefully underfunded forest management.

No. 6 “Off Tha’ Hook” celebrated its second year. It’s become a party down by the banks on Sept. 3, a Dept. of Fish and Wildlife “free day,” when no license is required to fish. Matus Solobic again took home first place and lots of bling. Best memory: the number of children fishing at least doubled over last year. I’m a sponsor for next year, so come on down. The entry fee will be reduced, according to FoLAR.

No. 5 Wild Steelheaders United, Trout Unlimited and CalTrout chose Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific to host the Steelhead Science for Anglers event in November. A good antidote to the Klamath River congressional collapse is to watch what NOAA fisheries lists as West Coast wins for the year: both four and a half miles of restored steelhead habitat on Arroyo Sequit Creek in L.A. County and 34 acres of kelp forest habitat off Palos Verdes made the list.

No. 4 FoLAR completed its Long Beach Fish Survey– and moved up to the Valley, where biologists Rosi Dagit and Sabrina Drill lead a dozen volunteers in the fine art of seine netting in late November.

“This is a particularly enterprising survey, William Preston Bowling, FoLAR’s special projects manager told the Los Angeles Times. “But then, surprisingly few studies of fish in the river, natives and nonnatives alike, have been conducted. There’s a lot of learn out here.”

The haul of more than 3,600 fry tilapia thrilled the group, especially after the slim pickings from three trips to Long Beach that netted, by my count, under a dozen carp and other fish. There’s nothing more discouraging that seeing fish swimming at your feet and not being able to land them. The Long Beach segment is most certainly undercounted.

No. 3 President Obama signed into law (2014) the Los Angeles National Monument, but fishermen say “so what”?

I’m one of those tax payers who thought national monument status would quickly fix the West Fork of the San Gabriel River. Naïve, I know, but I’ll ask again: How can the West Fork be classified as a “wild and scenic river” when it is so battered and beaten down? If you want to see where it could end up, drive over to the East Fork. “Mad Max” is an exciting dystopian movie, but not what I want to find in the national monument. Two explainers, here and here.

No. 2 Congress green-lighted L.A. River habitat restoration plan – all $1.3 billion of it (2014), but what does that really mean? Yes, the same Congress mentioned at the beginning of this piece is ready to unload the coffers for Los Angeles, and it remains to be seen which vision of the new river will win out.  If fish and fishing aren’t a major part of that vision, we will have lost out on one of the major urban recreational opportunities in the West this century.

No. 1    “Star-chitect” Frank Gehry outed as rehab river architect.

For those who believe the planning objectives from the Army Corps Los Angeles River Feasibility Study – 1. Restore valley foothill riparian strand and freshwater marsh habitat; 2. increase habitat connectivity; 3. increase passive recreation (meaning recreation compatible with restored environment such as fishing and kayaking) — this phrase, uttered to the Los Angeles Times, makes us very uncomfortable:

“I said, ‘Oh, you want me to be Olmsted,'” a reference to Frederick Law Olmsted, one of the designers of Central Park. “I told them I’m not a landscape guy. I said I would only do it on the condition that they approached it as a water-reclamation project, to deal with all the water issues first.”

Question to Mr. Gehry: Does “water reclamation” jive with the three objectives from the ARBOR Study? The renewed Los Angeles River must be a steelhead trout friendly habitat. Rainbow trout, the same species as steelhead, once planted in its renewed, restored water must be able to make their journey out to the ocean, if that’s what they choose.

See you on the river in 2016, Jim Burns


Quick mends: New article finds proposed Glendale Narrows habitat restoration plan doesn’t include fish

STEELHEAD imagery abounds on the Los Angeles River, yet plans to reintroduce this endangered species aren't included in the habitat restoration plan. (Jim Burns)
STEELHEAD imagery abounds on the Los Angeles River, yet plans to reintroduce this endangered species aren’t included in the habitat restoration plan. (Jim Burns)

This in-depth piece on different visions and conflicts for renewing the Los Angeles River makes for an engaging read. Check out these quotes from “L.A. Remembers It Has a River” by Willy Blackmore in TakePart, the digital news and lifestyle magazine, and social action platform.

“There’s no keystone species for riparian habitat in Southern California—no iconic, ecologically significant animal whose health and abundance can stand in for that of the larger ecology. But Lewis MacAdams—who cofounded the river’s first dedicated environmental group, Friends of the Los Angeles River, in 1987—has said he’ll know his work is done “when the steelhead trout run returns to the Los Angeles River.” MacAdams and his organization have played a major role in bringing the city’s attention back to its central waterway, and while he has been critical of Gehry’s involvement, MacAdams has been supportive of the Corps of Engineers’ vision for the river.

“Yet the habitat restoration plan for the Glendale Narrows accounts for neither fish nor frog. According to the plan, the restored habitat would help the endangered least Bell’s vireo, a small brownish bird, but the question of steelhead, a member of the salmon family, is couched more in terms of maybe or someday.”

I found the same thing — no plans for fish — during research for my 2012 piece about steelhead.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Lewis MacAdams is right!! I think that there is an iconic species for this river. If you bring back the steelhead, you solve many issues of the river in terms of ecology and beauty at the same time.

The current statement from Frank Gehry, that it is going to be a ‘hydrology project first, and then a beautification project’ seems to be the same level of logic that channelized the river in the first place – solving one problem. Also its a RIVER. Anyone who has been down into the Glendale Narrows can see that if you give it some freedom, it will naturally meander and create beauty that doesn’t need an architect to design or intellectualize it.

There are many examples of rivers that have been problems when cities built into their rain sheds. the South Platte through Denver always comes to my mind. It has hard edges and intersections with the city and has areas where it runs free and is natural. It also has monster carp and trout in these areas respectively.

Celeste Walter
Celeste WalterHabitat for what? Is it going to be sterile like a city park? Sounds like playing Jenga with half the levels of blocks missing from bottom. As a child I remember hiking with an elderly couple , the woman watched while I did my best to catch a tadpole. She told me tadpoles in the stream were evidence of the health of the stream and surrounding area. Is it different now?

Orvis Fly Fishing, the ultimate fly-fishing app

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 9.57.14 AMBy Jeff Williams

Guest Contributor

Anyone who’s ever gone fly fishing has undoubtedly heard of Orvis, and the brand has become known for its range of gear and equipment for the outdoorsman. Be it fly-fishing, hunting or travelling, Orvis seems to have thought about everything there is to keep in mind, and with our growing reliance to our smartphones, they’ve also released a great app for fly fishers.

Over the past few years, the mobile app market has skyrocketed to unprecedented heights, much of its growth is due to the fact that mobile internet is among the fastest growing trends on the Internet landscape today, as more and more people use their phones to access information. Through dedicated apps, there’s no need to do Google searches for information you need, and for the outdoorsman, an app that puts all the information on knot-tying, fishing spots and fishing reports in one place is indispensible.

Orvis’s Fly Fishing App puts all of this information together, and more. It’s great for both beginners and advanced fisherman alike, as not only does it have hours and hours of instructional videos for the budding fisherman, but it also has fishing reports for over 300 of the top fly fishing destinations in North America, Central America, South America and the UK, with real-time updates sent directly to your device. This means that even the experienced fly fishers can use the app to explore spots they haven’t fished in yet. What’s more, renowned fly fishing author Tom Rosenbauer uploads podcasts to the app for all users to listen to, sharing tips and tricks for fly fishing as well.

“This is some real forward-thinking from ORVIS,” says Fly Fish America, “and one of the most useful and practical fishing apps we’ve used.”

While the app is free to download, certain content must be bought, but any in-app purchase will get you a $10 Orvis gift card.

Quick mends: Will El Nino be able to flush fish invaders from LA River?

Keith Mosier nabs his first L.A. River carp. Oh, yeah! (Ken Lindsay)

A straight flush? That’s the topic environmental writer Louis Sahagun ponders in today’s LA Times, and the hypothesis being tested in this recent citizen science event: Can nonnative species survive in So Cal’s boom-or-bust water cycles?

For those of us who enjoy fishing them, the answer is “sure, hope so!” But as many of you can attest, the bass, also a nonnative, went away for many months following last winter’s storms.

See you on the river, Jim Burns