Category: Creatures

We love you, Howard Wong

Howard Wong saved this and three other carp from a sidewalk demise during our recent storms. (LAStormwater)
Howard Wong saved this and three other carp from a sidewalk demise during our recent storms. (LAStormwater)

Here’s a typical beauty shot, seen in fly-fishing mags in shops across America. But, this isn’t catch and release. It’s a true lifesaver as L.A. environmental Compliance Inspector Howard Wong rescues this sweet carp and three others from their waterless perch atop the bank, where they were washed up during our recent powerful storms.

Without Howard, we would be four fish short in the river. Thank you!

Hope to see you on the river, Howard. — Jim Burns

Bishop Chamber asks for your input in proposed FWS critical habitat designation

The endangered Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog. (Creative Commons)
The endangered Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog. (Creative Commons)

Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau

Dear Chamber Members and Friends –

You may have heard by now that the US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to designate critical habitat for the yellow-legged frog, the Yosemite toad and the northern population segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog in California.

Inyo County areas proposed for the critical habitat designation would include Rock Creek Lake, Mt. Tom, the Bishop Creek Drainage (including South Lake), Coyote Flat, Big Pine Creek Drainage and Onion Valley.

Outdoor recreation such as fishing, camping, hiking and trail riding could certainly be affected by any such designation. Many businesses and the overall economy of the Eastern Sierra might be impacted.

We understand that the issues of species protection and critical habitat are complex, and the Bishop Area Chamber has not officially taken any position on the matter. We would however like to encourage all members, friends and concerned people to weigh-in on the matter. We truly believe that the only way to create the best public policy is to participate in the discussion!

Please follow the links below to learn more about the two proposed designations (one for critical habitat and the other as an endangered/threatened species).

Please take time to do this ASAP, as the deadline for public comment is Monday.

Click Here To Visit Inyo County Planning Department Webpage. You’ll see maps and related documents.

Click Here To Give Your Comment on the Proposed Critical Habitat Designation

Click Here To Give Your Comment on the Proposed Endangered/Threatened Species Designation

Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau | 690 North Main Street | Bishop | CA | 93514

Name this L.A. River toad (please)

GA-RUMP: So is this a Western Toad or a Western Spadefoot Toad? (Jim Burns)

I got to spend several hours on the river this morning, and all I have to show for it is this photograph of a toad. The one carp I spotted saw me first, and even though he eventually came back for another look, he decided the odds of swallowing my bread fly were next to zero. But the good news is this little guy, who was around five-to-six inches long. I saw him lazing in some slow water, surrounded by hundreds of tiny mosquito fish. This is the first toad I’ve seen down there, so my question is, Western Spadefoot Toad, Western Toad, or something completely different?

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Name this butterfly …

Please, name that butterfly! (Jim Burns)

Springtime has definitely hit the San Gabriel Mountains. Monday (the best time to fly fish to avoid the weekend rush) walking down to and around my favorite canyon, there were critters aplenty. A 4-foot-long Striped Racer slithered just in front of my booted feet, giving me a good scare; what I think was an Eastern Fox squirrel jumped onto a thick tree trunk to inspect me (He found me lacking …); and I spotted a pair of what I believe were Yellow Warblers, mistaking their coloring and size for distant Monarch butterflies appearing and disappearing in the forest canopy.

A fellow hiker cautioned me in the tree shadows: “Look,” she said, “can you believe it?” And there on the ground were a half-dozen or more of this butterfly. But, the question is, what’s it’s name? My handy Pocket Naturalist Guide (which you can get at the Audubon Center at Debs Park) lists the distinctive orange Monarch, the Painted Lady, The Cloudless Sulphur and three others, but none has those amazing horns. If you know what it is, please post the answer.

Meanwhile, for fishing our streams, stick with dries only, and tie on some stealthy 7x tippet to your light leader. Any lighter-weight rod will do, but if you’ve got a 2, 3, or 4 in your arsenal, take it. Also 9 foot is a bit much for our water, with its tight canyons and brush. Eight foot, six inches or shorter is a better choice.

Rainbows and browns were going nuts on just about everything I threw in. Keep the sizes small, 16 or better, but I’ll tell you it’s

This brown got fooled by a lot of elk hair caddis on a size 14 hook. (Jim Burns)

amazing to see a small fish latch on to a fly half its size when you toss a 10 or bigger! Ants are everywhere, so casting a parachute ant should bring good results. Unfortunately, the annoying small black flies have made a comeback, and I spotted a hatch of something tiny and gray-mosquito-colored coming off the water as well, so dark colors are a good bet.  Also, pale or light green are perennial favorite colors. And you won’t catch just minnows. There are plenty of bigger fish in our mountains. Please ALWAYS release the fish you catch in areas that won’t be stocked. These are naturals and once they’re gone, so will be our opportunity to enjoy this beautiful resource.

See you on the water, Jim Burns

Photograph captures spawning carp on the Los Angeles River

Photographer Derek Bourassa was out on the river, snapping shots last week, as the carp boil went crazy. He was nice enough to let me post this amazing shot. For those of you who go beyond shooting with an IPhone, he reports this photo was taken using a Canon EOS REBEL T2i. Check out more of his nature shots on the river at

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Enter the bread fly

A couple of weeks ago, we got on a roll trying to figure out what, exactly, carp are munching on in the L.A. River, and how we fly fishers can use that knowledge to best advantage.

First, we agreed about carp and crayfish, with McTage writing:

Crayfish, crawdaddy or mudbug, whatever you like to call them, they’re alive and well in the L.A. River.

“If there are crayfish, they are on the diet, guaranteed. Crayfish are high on their list of favorites just about everywhere.”

And so it is on our river.

Next, Sean Fenner widened the discussion, commenting that:

“They eat anything they can find. In the L.A. River, they live mostly on crayfish, tilapia and other carp eggs when they spawn, worms, other insects, and their favorite, BREAD. In my opinion, that’s why the Glo-bugs work so well. I also tie a fly that I call the Tortilla, and they seem to jump all over it. People are always down there feeding the ducks, and the left over bread makes for a great meal.”

Now, I haven’t tried fishing during duck feeding time, mainly because of the legendary Duckman, who supposedly kept the Griffith Park Rangers on speed dial, and was always ready to call them in when he saw a fisherman poaching “his” territory. This is most likely ancient history (2007), as I haven’t heard of park rangers anywhere near the area. In fact, one told me that because of budget cuts, they no longer patrolled our water. And now that there’s been a pilot kayaking program on the water, official attitudes have changed, big time.

But … back to the story. After agreeing that Glo-bugs were a potent carp fly, commenter Gregg Martin went on to write:

YOUR DAILY BREAD: The second fly, from left, is bread of duster wool, the second, fourth and fifth are loosely spun and packed, while the first and third are created with a dubbing loop. (Courtesy Gregg Martin)

” We use bread ties in a local park greatly, casting a SUNKEN fly next to the ducks and geese eight inches under an indicator blind. It’s hot when they’re on it! This sure-thing lasts only a couple of weeks, and then they seem to become jaded by our flies. Mine is a spun and packed wool duster material fly on a weighted size 4 M3366 hook, or similar, or the same material spun in a dubbing loop and brushed out. Or, white glo-bug yarn. My son uses a white or flesh colored bunny leech and does well with that, actually no matter what with that.”

Also, he wrote in an e-mail, that the bread fly tied with wool floats like a cork!  Martin found this out, to his chagrin, one day with new ties tightly spun on the Mustad 3366. They wouldn’t sink.  So now he packs a few of those, but also some that are less tightly spun, with the wool packed over a shank full of .030 lead.  His boys use a dubbing loop with wool or Glo-bug yarn over lead as well. He wrote that they often use often a std. wire TMC #4 200R.

Which brought us full circle to McTage, writing:

“Yeah, I have a park here where they feed the ducks like crazy and I have tried a time or two to take advantage of the urban bread-hatch. Not my fault if somebody else is accidentally chumming them in, right :) No luck though, I have always tried something on top, will try something wet next time.”

Me, too, after I get some time to tie this recipe up. Hopefully, the water will be still enough and the dreaded Duckman won’t lift a feather to stop me.

See you on the river, Jim Burns