Ah, Memorial Day, the traditional beginning of summer, baseball, eating hot dogs, drinking roadside lemonade from stands run by enterprising youngsters and, yes, that time of year when the Los Angeles River also opens for recreation. You may not have realized it, but the rest of the year, it ain’t legal. But authorities no longer raise an eyebrow if you’re wading through its Tide-scented waters, fly rod in hand.
So, dig in legally from Friday, May 31 (because of the recent storms), through Sept. 30 to try your hand at fishing and kayaking in either the Elysian Valley or the Sepulveda Basin. The dets are all here, provided by the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority. And, to avoid getting a ticket for fishing without a license, be sure to pony up the $49.94 if you are 16 or older. There are also two free fishing days this year, both Saturdays, July 6 and Aug. 31. I get my license every year at Big Five sporting goods store.
If you want to know what the water quality is before you go, LA Sanitation and Environment staff sample and test water twice a week at two locations in each Recreation Zone, according the its website. I always keep hand sanitizer in the car for river visits and the city also recommends you:
- Avoid/Minimize water contact
- Wash your body with soap and water if you contact the water
- Do not drink the water
That said, remember the river flows with recycled water that comes from reclamation plants, such as the Donald C. Tillman Reclamation Plant near the rec zone in the Sepulveda Basin. I’ve never gotten sick from wet wading in the water.
So, take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and visit the river this summer. Throw in a line, try some urban kayaking, or bring the binoculars for some birding. Here’s a trip down memory lane, from my story in 2013 when all of this was a pilot project.
See you on the river, Jim Burns