Right now, the world needs a small miracle

What are the chances against catching a little Rainbow Trout in Southern California? After this quick pic, he was back in the water, healthy and vigorous. (Credit: Jim Burns)

What are the obstacles against catching/releasing a native Rainbow in our local waters? Let’s list the Big Three:

Ongoing drought since 2001, which tree rings show is the driest 21-year period since at least 800 A.D. when Vikings sailed and Mayans built temples. (San Jose Mercury News)

Frequent forest fires, including 2020’s Bobcat Fire, which devastated the West Fork of the San Gabriel River. Local fly-fishing club members report there are no fish in a stream beloved by us all. I would add the footnote, “for now.”

Beginning in the 1930s, channelization to prevent flooding, dams and development block rainbows from returning to the Pacific Ocean and, conversely, steelhead from returning from the ocean to the San Gabriel Mountains to spawn.

Yet today, there he was, in a flow of cool, clear, crisp water. Small and full of fight, he glimmered like a slim beacon of hope.

In a world of seemingly unrelenting bad news — disease, gun violence, war and now economically crippling inflation — this is why I continue to trek in our local mountains and continue to cast a line into the seemingly impossible. In our waters, there are still possibilities, there is still hope. Remind yourself next time you are on the water that the mere act of continuing what for many of us is a retreating normal, miraculous life remains.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

4 thoughts on “Right now, the world needs a small miracle”

  1. “For now”. I spent two days walking the West Fork, and was struck by the desolate nature of the river that seems devoid of aquatic life. Sediment everywhere, not to mention trash from visitors which I carried out, and turning over rocks showed no bugs to speak of. It’s depressing, yet in other local waters I have found fish where people stopped fishing for some time now or are discouraged that you have to work so hard to get to them. They are there! Now the waters are warming so I am resting the local waters. I hope you are right about “For now” for the West Fork.

    1. Derek, thanks for your thoughtful comments. Good to hear about about the local fish return. Arroyo Saco Foundation is sponsoring its “Trout Scout” program again this year, if you are interested. I agree about resting the waters as well. Tight lines to you, Jim

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