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

6 thoughts on “Are there ‘trainable fish’ on the LA River?”

  1. Jim Please note Jon Nakano is the correct spelling of his name Thanks for the great write up! Al

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. This was really great stuff, Al. So good. And thanks for pointing out the spelling error. Contrary to what most seem to believe, reporters strive for accuracy. This is what happens — a Jon/John? when you don’t ask. Very glad to get it right!

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