Tag: L.A. River

Quick-thinking fisherman performs emergency rescue, lands mirror carp

John Tegmeyer and his daughter got more than they bargained for when they caught this beautiful mirror carp. (John Tegmeyer)
John Tegmeyer and his daughter got more than they bargained for when they caught this beautiful mirror carp. (John Tegmeyer)
By John Tegmeyer
Guest Contributor

It wasn’t until recently that I once more began fishing in earnest. My uncle taught me and my sister to fish when I was 11. From then through high school graduation I was on the water as often as possible.

Once I began college though, I didn’t have time for it and that trend continued when I moved to LA. After researching various fishing holes around the city my curiosity piqued in regards to the LA River.

I grabbed my pole and some corn and have been enjoying fighting the carp ever since. The day this picture was taken started as most of my other fishing days. I packed a bag with corn, drinking water and of course mine and my daughter’s fishing poles. After getting our hair rigs set up and cast out I explained to her about knowing when a fish was biting.

It wasn’t long after that when her rod started twitching. I set the hook for her (she’s 3) and immediately something felt wrong. After a few confusing moments the problem was obvious–a coot had become tangled in her line.

Without anything to cover the poor bird with I had to improvise by using my t-shirt. Once I could see properly, the coot had only tangled her foot in the leader and wasn’t hooked at all. Her safe release was met by applause from onlookers who had gathered.

No sooner had I released the coot than the unmistakable scream of a reel filled the air. This was a good fish and with an audience there, I felt the pressure to land it. After seven-eight minutes, I pulled out this beautiful mirror carp. I had never caught one prior to this and I was quite excited. After taking a few photos I let the fish go. I hope to catch more just like this one.

News Flash! Rare Leather Carp needs a name

Mirror, mirror on the wall What name should this carp we call? (Ryan Anglin)
Mirror, mirror on the wall
What name should this carp we call? (Ryan Anglin)

Last week, a local fly fisher sent me a crazy hero shot, saying “One of the fish I caught today looks like a Mirror Carp. Your thoughts?”

Anxiously, I paged down to view the snap and promptly dropped my coffee cup. Ryan Anglin not only had a beautiful 5-pounder, but also a type I’d never seen on the river. I enlisted the help of our resident biologists, Rosi Dagit, Sabrina Drill and Camm Swift. Here are their comments:

— Pretty clearly a Mirror or perhaps more precisely, Leather Carp, mostly lacking scales.  Mirror Carp refers to those with more enlarged, irregular scales that have a shiny appearance, and this fish is more of what is often called Leather Carp with a thick leathery skin.  — Camm

— In several fishing trips on the L.A. with either Camm, Jonathan Baskin, or both,  I have observed a wide variety of scale patterns on carp — both what I would call “leather” and “mirror”  — though I actually had not heard this terminology! I believe they are all C. carpio,but am interested in Camm’s answer. Can goldfish also vary this much in scale pattern? — Sabrina

— Wow, it is hard to tell exactly, but definitely has that kind of look …  Did he keep it? I wonder if there is a photo with the dorsal fin extended? — Rosi

She goes on to ask that when folks catch something really unusual they keep and freeze, and let her know (via LARFF) so the experts can actually figure all this out. Also, don’t forget you can join the iNaturalist project and post.

Now, there’s a side benefit to catching these kinds of crazy fish: you can name them just like the Brits. Consider this headline: “Anglers mourn Benson, lord of the lakes.” Benson was a 25-year-old Common Carp who weighed a mere 64 pounds and was worth around $40,000. Her companion, Hedges, died in 1998. Meanwhile, the largest Mirror Carp, who as far as I know is still living, outweighs Benson by 3 pounds and goes by the handle, Two Tone.

So, let’s vote on a name for Ryan’s catch!


See you on the river, Jim Burns

Contest: bag an L.A. River deuce, win a fab LARFF tee shirt

So here’s how my day went:

Actually, I got a rolling start last night by donating a couple of old reels to the Southwestern Council FFF charity effort at Orvis in Pasadena. That got me 20 percent off a new Battenkill III, which is a reel about as minimalist as they come. In other words, the palm of your hand and fingers supply most of the drag to slow a running fish down.

In other words, it burns so good.

A.M. off to the L.A River with my 5 wt., armed with a fine new line, new leader and, of course, the new reel. Throw in, hook up within five minutes (rare) and — bam — knot fails after three sharp tugs. Blame the new 5x leader, curse the gods, curse the river weeds, curse anything but the fish. From the size of the pull, think the better of a 5x leader and get on down to a 2x. Toss in, wait a bit — bam — same result, including failed knot.

Burn! Slowing down this carp old school gave me a hot palm. (Jim Burns)
Burn! Slowing down this carp old school gave me a hot palm. (Jim Burns)
And then this largemouth bass grabbed the same fly, a work-a-day glo-bug. (Jim Burns)
And then this largemouth bass grabbed the same fly, a work-a-day glo-bug. (Jim Burns)

Curse Orvis, maker of the slippery leader, curse limited knot skills, curse Lou Ferrigno, for no reason. Look up at monochrome sky and ask “why?”

Sit on rip rap. Retie. Walk upstream, toss in, hook up — bam — fish on. Big fish on. Mental notes intrude on sweaty, running experience … Play him on the reel. Slow down the narrow spool with palm, getting hot, ouch. Turn head, tire him out, another run, fingers, ya oh, man that smarts, more mental notes. What’s with the mental notes? Blame golf psychology book, “Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect” that is current read.

Walk back, walk back slowly. Runs again, remember that knot fail! Ease it up, running, slow him down.

In close now. Gold shine, liquid undulating gold. We see eye to eye. Back up, back up, and … he’s ashore.

Heart pumping, mental note, take the IPic. Fumble in pocket. Curse the white-hot September light, so bright I can’t really image the picture. A Mexican guy on a bike on the bike path, says “Take a picture,” as both a question and a statement. I think to myself, “but I am taking a picture,” and then realize maybe he wants to scale down the rip rap and take a snap of me and this California gold rush.

Elation. Snap. Fish back in water. Heart beats hard; left hand hurts; praise Orvis, praise my limited knot-tying ability, praise the very moment, alive, so very alive.

I right myself, put back in, same fly, and quickly get a different kind of tug, bass tug. Oh, yes, this is so easy, haha, nothing two-to it, and will it ever happen to me again? Snag an L.A. river deuce, same day, same fly.


Let 'em know you fly fish the L.A. River.
Let ’em know you fly fish the L.A. River.

In honor of this twofer, I propose an unofficial contest: if you hook up, two different species, same day, same fly, send me the story and pics, I’ll send you an lariverflyfishing tee shirt. Only got three left from the derby, all extra large.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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

L.A. Conservation Corps inaugurates second year of L.A. River kayaking

MORNING LIGHT: Yes, that’s the way the L.A. River looks around 8 a.m. in summer. (Jim Burns)

At 7 a.m. on a Friday in the Valley, most early-bird go-getters think about what they’ll do after work. First though, they’ll chug, chug, chug down surface streets to a freeway; then hear the buzz, buzz, buzz as the digital world insistently wonders why not take those eyes off the freeway and get a load of this. A mug of very hot coffee, a few harsh words for other drivers and in due time, they’ll be in their parking spots at the office. That’s life in the Friday fast lane.

But as our group of truant workers donned hard hats, snapped on life jackets and sat our butts just right in kayak bottoms, the workaday world couldn’t have been farther away.

“Usually I’d be at my desk, answering emails and drinking coffee,” one of our group of seven said.


During the two hours we spend on the river, our three corpsmen kept us in line. They taught us not to be afraid of the water (tested and safe, thank you very much); they helped us not to slip and fall during each of three unexpected portages; they rescued at least a few of us from errant willow-branch overhangs and ill-placed sandbars. And they made us feel at home for those two glorious hours as we paddled along, hearing “river right” to spot a white heron just reaching flight, or a mallard honking the right of way over our elongated, colorful crafts.

The real magic happened once our group of seven couldn’t see/hear the freeway. All became country quiet.

“People think it’s somewhere in Louisiana,” said one of our guides, “because of the plastic bags.”

PADDLE UP: The L.A. Conservation Corps guides a group through still waters and overhanging willows. (Jim Burns

True, there was some trash, but as another floater commented, not nearly what we expected.

Hey, there’s a certain thrill to kayaking around a drowned shopping cart. And an authenticity to this very-urban river that’s just beginning to heal from years of our neglect.

Bottom line: Go and experience this yourself. It’s worth the $50.

Prediction: Five-year contract in hand, the Corps going to make this tour an L.A. “must do.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns



Earth Quotes: honeyhoney’s ‘L.A. River’

Get to know the river, up close and personal, like this shot under the Sixth Street Bridge. (Courtesy FOLAR)

Over the weekend, the group honeyhoney played “L.A. River”  at the Coachella music festival. You can listen to it on ITunes, part of the Billy Jack album, or here.

The lyrics are as melodic as the song, itself. Like the boat part (Kayaker-activist George Wolfe inspired?); don’t like the body part, but sometimes I’ve had the same sensation on its waters …




Went down to the banks of the LA river
Had to hop a chain link fence
Concrete walls on the LA river
Water lapping up on the cement

Oh, but I love my new home
Listen to the big city sound
Watching that LA river roll down
By the trains past Chinatown

Dip my fingers in the warm black water
Raw red skin on my knees
Sail my boat down the LA river
Thought I saw a body in the weeds

Oh, but I love my new home
Listen to the big city sound
Watching that LA river roll down
By the trains past Chinatown

Oh, but I love my new home
Listen to the big city sound
Watching that LA river roll down
By the trains past Chinatown

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick Mends: New York Times gives a thumbs up to catching carp on the fly

How many guys carry their own scale? Jim Graves does!

The title says it all: The newspaper America either loves or hates, depending on political affiliation, has sanctioned catching carp with a fly rod. Best quote is that it’s like soccer: No. 1 sport in the world, yet, just catching on in America. Take a look at the piece, written by Chris Santella.

Lots of action on our own river, Friday. We spotted at least 30 fish.

See you on the river, Jim Burns