“This is gonna blow your mind,” Josey Peters promised, calling me down to the banks of Ballona Creek. “You’ll never be the same.”
I pushed through the bushes, eased down the slippery slope and stepped into the muck of a million pieces of trash. For as far as I could see, east and west, the banks were littered with plastic cups, fast-food containers, spray paint cans and chip wrappers.
It had rained a smidgen the day before, the first wet weather of the season, and this was what had washed downstream from the area west of downtown Los Angeles. Debris floated in the murky water, too, and a lot more, no doubt, had washed out to sea.
If you’re in this sport, there’s a lot to worry about beyond “did I forget how to fish overnight? because I’m sure I never really knew how to cast, anyway.” That sentiment, I think, is normal. But what about:
— local stuff: How to fix the San Gabes, which went from awesome to blown out in five years?
— regional stuff: Will Frogtown become private water as the rich buy up riverside properties?
— statewide stuff: come on, El Niño, where is Noah when you really need him?
— national stuff: will kids get interested in flyfishing, the magical line tug, tug, tugging its way into their hearts, or will the sport fade out with us older duffers?
After fishing with Roland Trevino and his son, Max, I can scratch the last one off my list, and get back to noodling that wind knot from my overpowered back cast.
What a day we enjoyed.
As I set up, I heard Roland counseling his son as they cast back and forth, back and forth, on the grass.
“That’s it, Max, now a little more forceful, get the line to shoot out.”
When we hit the water, it was Roland who stopped and got the three of intrigued in running fry, which we couldn’t quite identify. Even with our carp gear rigged, he stopped to tie an 18 on the line. The three of us had a blast watching Max cast and the fry chase that pattern, even though it was still too big for them. Suddenly, there were three kids on the river.
Later, on the carp search, we watched as three fish jumped out of the running water, as if a bigger fish gave chase.
“Mind if I put in?” Roland asked and just like that he’d captured and released two fish. But you could tell, his mind was on continuing to teach his son the tricks that make for solid techniques, and fun days.
“Right here, Max, stand right here,” he said, wet wading in the current. “Now, hold the line in your left hand, so you can feel it.”
Max got one tug, then another, but his timing was slightly off, so his prey stayed under water. He wasn’t discouraged.
I broke into a smile, thinking of how I’d done the same with my son, now so many years ago.
This is called “hope,” and it is beautiful to let the mind wander, thinking, once Max has caught his fair share and put on some years, maybe someday, he’ll pass along to a younger generation what he learned on the water that day.