Month: May 2018

Innovative Vamos a Pescar program teaches locals to fish



(Click on the photos above to read the captions.)

They came, they saw and, boy, did they conquer.

The first day of the first weekend of Vamos a Pescar brought kids, parents, young adults and volunteers to Marsh Park on a May Gray morning to learn the beginnings of becoming an urban fisher for life: tidbits about our river; safety; rigging a spin outfit; casting a bobber inside a Hulu hoop ring, sort of like the pros, only with more smiles (and tangled line).

“We gave out 120 spots, an overflow from our original number,” said Bob Blankenship, Trout Unlimited South Coast Chapter and co-organizer of the event.

What does this mean for readers of this blog who know how to fish and want to pass that skill along to others? There are volunteer spots open next weekend  (Saturday and/or Sunday, 9 a.m.-noon) when all these new fishers will try out their nascent skills at the Bowtie Parcel. Please sign up by contacting Blankenship at

See you on the river, Jim Burns




Arroyo Seco hosts free trout workshop

With proper care, this little guy will grow up to make us all proud. (Courtesy Steve Kuchenski)

Greetings Trout Scouts!

As a reminder, the Arroyo Seco Foundation will be hosting a free trout habitat survey workshop this Sunday.

The workshop will feature Ken Jarrett, a fisheries biologist with Stillwater Sciences, and cover key methods for professional stream assessment. This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in river restoration and native fish!

There are still spots left. Please RSVP to me ( if you can make it.
Date & Time
Sunday, May 20, 9AM – 2PM (includes a lunch break)

Hahamongna Native Plant Nursery in Hahamongna Watershed Park (The nursery can be hard to find. Click here for directions.)

Parking and restrooms are available at the nursery. From there we will take a short walk over to the stream channel and learn stream surveying methods for the assessment of native trout habitat. Be prepared for insects and uneven/slippery terrain. Some activities (such are measuring the stream gradient) will be done in the water, and closed toe shoes are required.
What to Bring
• Water
• Sun protection
• Sack lunch
• Note-taking materials
• Closed toe shoes (ideally water shoes or rubber boots if you have them)
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you!
Scott David Cher

Rainbow Trout Restoration Project
Arroyo Seco Foundation
(323) 405-7326

Editorial: What will define an LA River Ranger?

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Last fall, the legislature passed AB1558 with little fanfare. In fact, I hadn’t heard about it until I received an email this week from River LA extolling me to take a survey to help “ensure that the River Ranger Plan reflects your community’s needs.”

I’m a survey sucker, so I enthusiastically began filling this one out, checking boxes. But when I came to the screen above I had a sad realization: Once again, the fishing community that grows more vigorous with each passing spring carp spawn, was sidelined as a recreational activity.

Enjoy biking? It’s covered, no problem.

How about kayaking? Oh, yeah, during the rec zone months, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, it’s made a splash.

Bird watching? Sure thing. There are birds a plenty, and you might even want to pick up Prof. Charles Hood’s “A Californian’s Guide to the Birds among Us” to better understand what feathers you’re seeing.

But when it comes to fly fishing and spin fishing, well, get ready to fill in the “other” box.

As a constituency, it’s time for all of us to wake up and start making some noise, a recurring theme of this blog. Note that the committed, spendable money going to the river is actually going around the river  with a focus on creating parks and open spaces along its banks for the city’s underserved communities. That’s great — there are boxes for both “visit a park” and “picnic” — yet when I’m on the river, I don’t see many doing either one. And, how many on horseback have you actually counted on the river while you were casting?

Time is ticking away and it’s not in our favor. Surveys such as this one should holler a wake-up call to our growing community that you are all but invisible to the powerful interests taking control of our river.

If nothing else, please click on the survey and let the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy know that what you like to do on the river is fish.

Personally, I’d like to see an LA River Ranger with a 6 weight in one hand and a net in the other.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Are there ‘trainable fish’ on the LA River?

At today’s first Carp Town Hall, carp guru and recent California transplant Trevor Tanner makes a point about our local river’s prime catch. (Jim Burns)

This just in from one of the heavyweights of carp fly fishing: LA River carp are trainable. Trevor Tanner, the master behind the unfortunately almost-shuttered Fly-Carpin’ blog, and recent transplant from Denver to Ventura, ran through a mind-boggling grab bag of carp-catching tips during the first Carp Town Hall at Fishermen’s Spot this afternoon.

Moderated by local salt master Al Q, the informal panel also featured Dustin Sergent, one of the winner’s at and last year’s Carp Throwdown  and longtime river fly fisher Jon Nakano.

This guy is obviously in love with a species once spurned, which has caught on with fly fishers across the country since the publication of “Carp on the Fly” in 1997.

Word on the street and not independently confirmed, but apparently four Colorado fishing guides in town for the obligatory Disneyland E ticket also found some time to fish the LA! Let me repeat that: guides from Colorado took time out of their vacation to fish our river. Wow.

From one generation to the next, anglers take notes while dreaming of that big fish to come. (Jim Burns)

But the negative of this newfound popularity: If you’ve been loving the lack of pressure on our river, it’s coming. And, as Tanner pointed out yesterday’s fly patterns may not be working as well as they used to because, yup, carp learn what’s being thrown at them and eventually stop responding. I’ll be featuring the newest carp fly in a later post.

It was a fascinating lecture from a man who has established himself as a go-to guru in the field. He estimated his own take at 1,500 carp.

Tidbits from his lecture:

— Carp will thrash your typical trout knots (Amen). Ditch the surgeon’s knot and improved clinch. Instead, learn to tie a Bimini Twist for tippet, as well as the non-slip loop knot for flies.

— But, conversely, use a “trout set” instead of a “strip set” for hook-ups.

— Stick with the more gnarly (and expensive) fluorocarbon, instead of monofilament.

— Forget the overrated crayfish fly and instead try matching your fly to the scenery instead of to the hatch. This may sound weird, but it makes sense.

— Learn the “drag ‘n’ drop” presentation to avoid scaring the bejesus out of the fish with a Blue Plate special — aiming the fly at the sweet spot “dinner plate” around the head, only to watch him quickly swim away, spooked by your fly.

— Use a net.

And, of the 12 states and various places in which he has fished for carp, Tanner rated the No. 1 most difficult as Denver’s South Platt River and the easiest as … I’ll let you put two and two together.  So if you’re just starting out and missed a load of hookups, don’t despair, it could be worse.

See you on the river, Jim Burns