Month: December 2021

On New Year’s Eve, 10 different LA River stories from 10 consecutive years

Photo by Damir Mijailovic on

Much to my surprise, I’ve been writing/curating this blog for the past 10 years. Too legit to quit or something else all together? All I know is I started writing because I was fixated on a river running through Los Angeles that I’d never visited after living here for more than 30 years. Just finding access back in the day was difficult enough, but then to also consider you could catch fish in it seemed improbable at best.

Fast forward to the end of 2021 and our river has become famous, and not just in the movies. Carping the LA is now on fly-fisher bucket lists. That, of course, isn’t because of my writing, but I can say that the blog has grown up in a similar way to our beloved river. As you think about the end of the year, here are 10 winter stories in chronological order I thought you might enjoy.

I’ve made lots of friends through river work and hope you will be lucky enough to do the same. Eventually, some of the concrete will come out, and new habitat will go in. As poet Lewis MacAdams used to say, “We will know our work is done when the steelhead return.” So be it.

Happy New Year and see you on the river, Jim Burns

Dec. 23, 2010 — Carp clubbing takes river to new low

My son and I went out last week for some fishing on the city’s river. As we were leaving the water, we came upon a couple of friendly gents who intimately knew the area. Both had on caps; both had on backpacks; both had good senses of humor; and one should have been arrested:

“You don’t need that rod to catch carp down here,” said the one.

How could you not ask?

“What you need? You need a baseball bat, a Louisville Slugger, that’s what you need — a bat!”

Dec. 10, 2011 — ‘Improvement Overlay’ is Councilman Reyes’s next approach to coaxing money from the feds

Lots of buzz this week about a proposed ordinance to establish the Los Angeles River Improvement Overlay District. That’s a mouthful to say to Washington, “hey, Obama, where’s our money?”

Cash, authorized by Congress, is needed to complete an essential Corps  study that analyzes the effects of ripping out lots of concrete. Currently, the last phase of the study is years behind schedule. Until it’s finished, Reyes’ river project can’t be completed.

Dec. 29, 2012 — Lariverflyfishing rings in New Year with 20,000th visit

I was pretty stoked about that number back then …

Nov. 13, 2013 — Seven tips to follow when stalking LA River carp

My favorite tips is No. 1: Don’t be in a hurry.

Dec. 18, 2014 — FoLAR seeks anglers for Long Beach fish study

Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) in partnership with the Aquarium of the Pacific will host Phase 3 of a scientific fish study with help from the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains. We need Citizen Scientists, in this case, volunteer anglers to help us catch what is in the soft bottom section of the Los Angeles River at Long Beach.

This is a rare chance for you to fish in an area that one does not normally access, contact to hold a spot. Fishing will start at 2pm until dusk on Saturday, January 3rd, 2015.

Dec. 15, 2015 — Musings written in pencil: LA River Top 10 laundry list

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. 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.

Dec. 2, 2016 — River Health Update: Biologists and volunteers return to work on the Upper River Fish Study

On our return to Sepulveda Basin, to continue the upper river fish survey, we captured 203 fish, a far cry from the more than 3,600 tilapia fry caught this time last year.

Dec. 1, 2017 — Huck Finn retelling along the LA River in debut novel

Dec. 16, 2018 — Holiday Twofer: Zinke out, rockfish in

So, it was with great holiday pleasure that I paged through the print Los Angeles Times this morning, to find two memorable events: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is following former scandal-plagued Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruit out the revolving Trump door, pursued by a cloud of more than a dozen ethics violations. Here’s a summary of what he did during his close to two years in office. Top of mind for me was his tone deaf response to millions of comments asking him not to recommend shrinking Bear’s Ears National Monument. 

Dec. 13, 2019 — Help restore Southern California Steelhead habitat

Sespe Fly Fishers was awarded a $1,500 grant from Fly Fishers International. The multiple-page grant request was submitted by SFF Conservation Chair Randy Nelson who worked on the application for several days.

The funds were awarded to help Sespe Fly Fishers, in partnership with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, to restore the habitat of the endangered Southern California Steelhead along several tributary streams of the Ventura River.

Dec. 29, 2020 — Ten things to cheer about in 2020

We’ve never experienced anything like this year that’s coming to a close, both collectively and individually. As my wife and I watched the Christmas star last week, its first appearance in some 700 years, it made me wonder. As a writer, I’m all about signs and portends, so I thought it could either mean the coming apocalypse or a brighter future, as it did so many centuries ago. I chose the latter.

Outside LA, Nature Conservancy creates 72,000-acre refuge that is ‘off limits to development’

The Nature Conservancy’s new 72,000-acre Randall Nature Preserve in the Tehachapi Mountains north of Los Angeles gives wildlife a hedge against 11 million people and development.
(Tyler Schiffman/Nature Conservancy)

The preserve is a Grand Central Station of wildlife corridors sustaining gene flows of native wildlife,” said Cara Lacey, the Nature Conservancy’s director of wildlife corridors, “by connecting them to swaths of undeveloped habitat that run from the Sierra Nevada to the Baja Peninsula.” Read the whole story in the Los Angeles Times about the new Randall Nature Preserve in the Tehachapi Mountains, two hours north of Los Angeles.

Holiday cheer: The Revelator reveals its favorite solution stories of the year

This year has been especially tough in the “doom scrolling” category. (Courtesy Trout Unlimited)

Hello Revelator readers,

I love this time of year. We finally get a chance to take a breath and reflect on the past 12 months — the highs, the lows, the continuing COVID-ness. Among all that, two bright spots jump out. 

First are all the inspiring people we interviewed. They shared their experiences of fighting for clean water, studying climate change biology, writing their way through extinction grief, and a lot more. Read some of our favorite interviews here.

The second is that despite a lot of bad environmental news these days, we published dozens of stories about what’s working. Below are 12 solution stories that we hope help keep your flame burning in the year ahead.

1. A Nose for Science: Conservation Dogs May Help in Search for Endangered Franklin’s Bumblebee 

2. How Wildlife Rescuers Can Protect Public Health 

3. The Divestment Movement’s Big Month 

4. Fisher Rewilding: How Washington State Is Restoring a Native Carnivore 

5. Stormwater Could Become an Important Water Source — If We Stopped Ignoring It 

6. New Clues to Help Monarch Conservation Efforts

7. Are We Managing Invasive Species Wrong? 

8. The Race to Build Solar Power in the Desert — and Protect Rare Plants and Animals

9. Our Last, Best Chance to Save Atlantic Salmon 

10. Could Property Law Help Achieve ‘Rights of Nature’ for Wild Animals? 

11. Do Species Awareness Days Work? 

12. Scientists Find New Way to Reduce Marine ‘Dead Zones’

Why do water districts oppose CalTrout’s efforts to list Southern Steelhead? Join a DFG Zoom meeting to voice your opinion

Update 12/19/21:

All, To let you know that CalTrout received guidance from CA Fish and Game Commission (FGC) that this 12/15/2021 meeting would be a consent item for the Southern steelhead CESA listing petition, not geared for public comment. This follows the notice to FGC in November by CDFW that upon evaluation of the petition, they deemed it to contain sufficient scientific information to warrant action by the Commission.

CalTrout is implementing our petition campaign and building support for the February 16/17 2022 meeting where this will be heard by FGC, and public comment will be incorporated into the pre-meeting binder for Commissioners. We are recruiting letters of support from legislators, stakeholders and the public. Please watch your inbox for a call to action email which will be broadcast soon, and presentations scheduled on the CESA petition to So Cal fishing groups and others. We encourage any partner, individual or organization that supports this petition to comment. Please have comments in prior to Feb 2nd so they will be added to the pre-meeting information binder.

If you have questions, please contact Russell Marlow, CalTrout lead for the listing petition, at



Sandra Jacobson, Ph.D.

Director, South Coast and Sierra Region

California Trout

Hi Fish Folks,

So the Fish and Game Commission hearing this Wed will be to accept the petition but the actual hearing to make the listing is not until 16-17 Feb.

However, there is some coordinated opposition that we might want to counter by attending the zoom meeting and providing public comment in support of accepting the petition to move it forward. Zoom link info below. Letters/emails submitted now will not necessarily get to the commissioners before the hearing but will be shared after, so not a super rush but still worth doing.

As is detailed in the DFW memo supporting the petition, populations are declining throughout southern CA, these genetically distinct fish are more temperature tolerant and exhibit so many different life history strategies that they are critical to the gene pool and most likely to be able to adapt to climate shifts. This means that southern CA fish could be the ones to keep steelhead going up the coast into the future.
I know you all care about this as much as I do! Do whatever you can to get the word to the Fish and Game Commission! Feel free to spread the word!

thanks, Rosi
Rosi Dagit

Senior Conservation Biologist

RCD of the Santa Monica Mountains

540 S.Topanga Canyon Blvd.

Topanga, CA 90290

Meeting of the California Fish and Game Commission Dec. 15, 9 a.m. Instructions for Participating in the Webinar and Teleconference

The California Fish and Game Commission is conducting this meeting by webinar and teleconference to avoid a public gathering and to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, consistent with California Government Code Section 11133. The full meeting agenda is attached. The following provides guidance for how to participate in the meeting with different options based on the technology available to you, and whether you intend to give public comment.

  1. Southern California steelhead
    Receive the Department’s 90-day evaluation report on the petition to list southern
    California steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) as endangered under CESA.
    (Pursuant to Section 2073.5, Fish and Game Code)

Meeting Viewing Only (no public comment)
Watch the Live Stream Webcast
As always, the meeting will be live-streamed (also referred to as a live webcast) with full audio and video. If you simply want to observe the live stream of the meeting but do not wish to comment on any item, we strongly encourage you to view the webcast available at<>.

How to Join the Meeting (if you plan to provide public comment)
Please note: When you join the meeting using any of the following options, you will be muted automatically. Your video will not be displayed when you join the meeting.

Option 1: Zoom with Computer Audio
We highly encourage you to join the meeting on your computer via the link below and use your computer audio to participate. You can participate by launching Zoom in your Internet browser or downloading the Zoom app on your computer.
Join Zoom (using your web browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox) Enter the meeting ID: 829 2427 1355
Meeting URL:
Join Zoom (using the downloaded app on your computer)
You will be prompted to enter your email and name, then click “Join Webinar.”
Webinar URL:

Option 2: Zoom via Mobile App
Join using the Zoom app on your mobile device (phone or tablet). After you download the app, open the app, select the “Join” icon, enter the meeting ID number and your display name. Then enter your meeting password. Meeting ID: 829 2427 1355
Click here for more details about using Zoom on mobile devices.

Option 3: Teleconference Only
If you are not able to join using your computer or mobile device, please join via phone.
Phone number: +1 (669) 900-6833 or +1 (408) 638-0968         Meeting ID: 829 2427 1355

Option 4: Zoom with Phone Audio (This is not a preferred option for joining as there is the potential to create feedback)
If you plan to join via computer and use your telephone for audio, join the Zoom meeting on your computer first, using the links in Option 1.
For audio, use the “Call Me At” feature and enter your phone number to have Zoom call you.

Viewing Presentations
If you join via Zoom on your computer or mobile device app (Options 1, 2, and 4) the presentations will be displayed. If you join via teleconference only (Option 3), you can view a PDF of the presentations in the meeting binder.

Technical Assistance
For help in joining Zoom meetings, click
If you need additional technical assistance, please contact 805-801-3576 or<>.
Making Public Comment
If you join via Zoom on your computer or mobile phone app (Options 1, 2, and 4) use the “raise hand” feature to indicate that you would like to make a public comment. If you join via teleconference only (Option 3), press “*9” to virtually raise your hand to indicate you would like to make a public comment; if you press *9 again, you will lower your hand. Please see the meeting agenda for full instructions regarding making public

Please note: When the moderator unmutes you to make public comment, you may need to unmute yourself as well. If you join via Zoom, you may be asked to join as panelists when it is your turn to speak.

Crisis on Montana’s Madison River highlights how far humans will go to rescue fish

Courtesy The Slide Inn

Editor’s Note: I wanted to run this because it shows what extraordinary lengths people will go to in trying to protect fish. This story is from the famous Galloup’s Slide Inn on Montana’s Madison River.

By now many of you are aware of the events that transpired over the last several days, but we will give you a short summary just in case you missed it. In the early morning hours of Nov.30, flows out of Hebgen Dam dropped from 640 cfs to under 200 cfs in a matter of a few minutes. This gave the fish populations inhabiting the stretch between the Dam and Earthquake Lake very little time to search out deeper water, and many became stranded in channels and small puddles among the larger rocks.

We did not become aware of the situation until it was brought up by one of our customers around 9 a.m. and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks was contacted immediately in order to get in touch with NorthWestern Energy. Other Fly Shops and friends were contacted shortly thereafter in order to get the word out, and we headed upstream to investigate. What we found was heart breaking, as there were trout, whitefish and sculpin trapped in small areas throughout that entire system. There were a handful of fish that had died as well, but the biggest area of concern were the large spawning areas that were now completely out of the water.

We continued to pick up as many fish as we could, and got them back into the main river. By now word was getting around and we would soon have people from West Yellowstone and Ennis coming to help relocate these stranded fish. By 1 p.m. Montana FWP, Northwestern Energy and more volunteers were on the scene. NorthWestern Energy would later announce that the drop in water was due to a damaged gate component, and that repair crews would be working through the night until they were able to raise the gates up. Later that afternoon they were able to increase the flows to 248 cfs by releasing water over the emergency spillway, but all we could do was watch the USGS gauge above the West Fork continue to drop. At around 4 p.m. MT FWP stopped by the shop to bring us up to speed, and to tell us we were now in recovery mode — Meaning that they needed volunteers to walk the banks starting the morning of Dec. 1 to help relocate any stranded fish.
It was a long night for many of us, as we hoped that the water would stay high enough to cover the primary spawning areas between the Slide Area and Ennis Lake. There was a very real possibility that many of these areas would be exposed to cold air and suffer a similar fate to the areas between the lakes. We woke in the morning and got out to the river. The areas between Lyon’s Bridge and Ennis were far better than expected, and while it was obviously extremely shallow, there was still plenty of water running from bank to bank.

It became apparent to most of the volunteers that day that the areas that needed the most attention were upstream from Lyon’s Bridge. Many people split into teams and walked the banks up and downstream from the major access sites such as Raynold’s Bridge, Three Dollar, Pine Butte and the West Fork.
Courtesy The Slide Inn

Our crew went downstream from Three Dollar to Pine Butte on both sides of the river, and we were actually pleasantly surprised at the conditions. About 95% of the prime spawning areas were still underwater, and there were very few stranded fish in the channels. There were a lot of sculpin that needed a hand to get back into the main river, but we did not encounter any dead fish. The two areas that were hit the hardest in this stretch were two channels located approximately one mile above Pine Butte as you can see in the pictures below.

The Channels from the West Fork up to Eagles Nest on the other side of the river also faced similar conditions but we did not encounter many stranded trout there. The channels from the Slide Inn down to Raynold’s Bridge did have stranded fish and thanks to all of the people out there yesterday, many of them were returned to the main channel. Unfortunately we did lose a lot eggs in this stretch, as most of the channels were dry and there were a lot of sculpin that needed to be rescued from underneath dry rocks.

Courtesy The Slide Inn
As the sun started to dip behind the horizon, we all headed back to our trucks after a long day on the river. The amount of people who showed up to help was absolutely incredible. Not only did the locals show up in force but we had folks from every corner of the state willing to lend a hand … it was just incredible to see.

Once we got to the shop, we heard that NorthWestern Energy had a new gate component en route from Anaconda and that the flow could be restored shortly if the installation was successful. I know a lot of us were still nervous, as the water levels continued to drop ever so slightly at the Kirby gauge above the West Fork. If the river dropped below 300 cfs a lot of the spawning gravel in the Three Dollar Bridge area would be exposed, so we really needed the dam to return to normal flows as soon as possible.

As fate would have it, we all woke up early to check on the progress and when the numbers 640 appeared on the Hebgen gauge, there was a giant sigh of relief. Water levels had also stayed above 300 cfs at the Kirby gauge throughout the night and we did not have a hard frost. Upon further investigation, NorthWestern Energy had repaired the dam just before midnight and water levels were already starting to come up around Raynold’s Bridge by 8 a.m.
In summary, a very large percentage of our spawning beds are safe and sound from Quake Lake all the way down to Ennis Lake. The areas that suffered the highest mortality of fish, eggs, and bug life were Between the Lakes, The Slide Area down to Raynold’s Bridge, and a few channels between the West Fork and Eagle’s Nest. It will take a few years to see what kind of impact the last 48 hours has had on this fishery, but at least we can all breath a little easier today.

Lastly, thank you to EVERYONE for their help. You have no idea how much it meant to see all of you lining the banks and helping out the Upper Madison when it needed it the most.

— The Slide Inn