Category: Equipment

Batter up: Carp clubbing takes river to new low

Here’s a winter’s tale that should prove cautionary and more.

We decided not to visually bust this guy for carp clubbing. He's the one who got away -- for now.

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!”

He then went on to tell us that he and a friend “caught” three white plastic bucketfuls of carp in an hour, and lugged them to a nearby Korean buyer who paid cash. He said that the next day — Sunday — he went by  the buyer’s church and there was a big fish grill, making everyone happy.

“I don’t have a lot to do besides hanging out and drinking beer. Imagine, me in that water with my pants rolled up,” he said with a grin. “Nope, you don’t need that. You need a baseball bat.”

We all nodded like it was the funniest thing we’d ever heard, but by the time I got home, I wasn’t laughing anymore.

I called a marine biologist with the California Deptartment of Fish and Game to get her perspective.

“There’s nothing legal about anything you just told me,” Carrie Wilson said.

She went on to detail the wrongdoing:

“First off, taking with a baseball bat is not a legal take,” she said. “And a carp is still a California fish. That means you have to abide by fishing regulations.”

Those regs include owning a fishing license (you can buy one online this year), as well as having a commercial fish seller’s license.

Then there was the matter of the baseball bat. According to Wilson, a bow and arrow is a legal method of fishing in some areas of California, and spearing might also be allowed, she wasn’t sure. But whacking fish with a baseball bat? Positively ghetto in the worst sense.

Finally, even though the FoLAR’s 2008 Los Angeles River Fish found low levels of toxicity in fish analyzed for the report, serving up a heaping plateful of river carp is insidious. Think of your guests, man!

So if you see anyone yelling, “batter up,” and then swinging for the fences, call the Griffith Park Rangers.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick mends

I’m writing this while listening to Clay Dyer, a professional bass fisherman, who doesn’t have any limbs. Never heard of this guy, but found his video when I was researching C.A.S.T. for Kids. Turns out that this truly amazing fisherman is also the group’s spokesman. It’s based in Renton, Wash.

Children get a taste of the reel life through the Dan Hernandez Youth Foundation. (Photo courtesy Dan Hernandez Youth Foundation)

Closer to home, check out  the Daniel Hernandez Youth Foundation. Another professional fisherman, Hernandez started  “Meet Me at the Lake” to help under-served children get their first fishing experience.

Question: When are flyfishers going to start doing something like this  on our river? If you’ve been following these posts, you’ll remember I met a couple of kids a few weeks ago, and we all had fun fishing for carp.

At least we know that the equipment is there. Bob Milne explains the ins and outs of the Redington Crosswater Youth Outfit in an informative post.

See you on the river, Jim Burns


Ah, blessed Friday!

I started out the day by buying a new pair of Orvis River Guard wading boots, because I tossed my two pairs of oldies with the felt soles. I’m already regretting that decision. Sure, Trout Unlimited and the country of New Zealand want you to ditch your felt. And, yes, every time I’d see the sign from the DFG on Hot Creek, and read about freezing my boots (which, BTW I didn’t do …. who does?) to kill the nasties, well, you get the drift. But, hey, maybe they would have been good for gardening, or scaring young children at Halloween. So today, there I was with a mismatched pair of Red Ball leg waders that would look great on an athletic pole dancer, but not so terrific on yours truly and new boots with “Vibram EcoTraX” soles. Nobody noticed, not even the ladies who were getting hay at the local hay shop next to Victory park (Another item from L.A. you wouldn’t expect).

Nothing like catching that first fish on a new reel. Next purchase: a bigger net.

At Orvis, I met manager Dave Shaffer, who suggested trying the river below the Victory Boulevard bridge. I did. I was skunked. Not his fault. I managed to miss the two fish I did sight, and when this happens, it’s both humbling and frustrating, not in equal measures.

Think I took the long way around to my actual thought for this post — fishing before work. Granted today I didn’t have to clock in, so maybe that had something to do with getting skunked. No matter. Several Fridays ago, when guide and buddy David Wratchford took this photo of moi, we talked about the general awesomeness of fishing before work. Once years ago, I was in Medford, Ore., en route to the Rouge River to kayak. A high school teacher and I got to talking, and he told me what a thrill it was to hook up before going to earn a living.

At the time, I couldn’t stand the guy, not because of his tone, his demeanor, his haircut, or anything else about him. My contempt was situational. In other words, he lived in a place where fishing before work was possible. I didn’t.

Where did I live at the time? L.A.

Was there a river running through it during the Pleistocene? Yes, thank you very much.

Did I know about it? Huh? Know about what? Don’t let this happen to you, kids.

This Galvin 8 Wt. still makes me a little nervous. But the mojo it puts on carp is truly phenomenal.

So, as David and I walked back to our separate rides at the Red Car pocket park next to the Hyperion Bridge, the rubescent glow of a new morning illumined our smiles.

True, I was smiling because I’d caught the first fish on my new Galvin Rush Arbor reel, fitted with Sharkskin, the zingy, singing line. For him, well, I don’t know David well, but I get the feeling every time he’s on the river — any river — the thrill is like getting to fish before going to work. Except this time, that’s exactly what he was doing.

“Ahhh, don’t get me muddy,” he said to his second carp of the morning as its mighty tail paid him back for interrupting a leisurely breakfast.

You gotta love it when you can fish in your work clothes. But that’s where he’s got us, civilians. You can see him most days at Fisherman’s Spot in Van Nuys.

See you on the river, Jim Burns