West Fork S.O.S.: Comment by July 27

On a whim, I visited the West Fork very recently. The sun was hot in the mid-morning sky; a group of local teens pulled up alongside the parked mighty Prius and one asked me if I ‘biked much?” I said no, which is true, because I almost never take that rickety garage-sale contraption out of my garage, unless it’s to come here.

The rust on the chain tells the tale and could have answered the lad’s question before I ever did.

In the few hours I spent in the catch/release section, above the second bridge, two marvelous items happened: I spotted a pair of young foxes, and I caught a small trout on a size 16 hi-viz Parachute Adams after about 10 minutes casting to a shadowy hole.

Upon my return, I told my incredulous son I’d hooked up. I beamed, even as he questioned, “But, isn’t that pretty bad? Didn’t we used to hook up at least a dozen times up there.”

Yes, Will, yes, we did.

And that’s why I hope everyone who reads this will click this link and let the powers that be at the Angeles National Forest know your thoughts, for ANF is seeking public comments on a “Need to Change” analysis for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Trout Unlimited has launched a campaign to get fishers to comment before the comment period ends July 27.

Why is there a “need to change” recreational policies on the West Fork?  As the advocacy website Friends of the River explains the 44 miles of stream within the national monument are designated a “wild & scenic river.”

“The West, North and East Forks .. drain the largest watershed in the mountain range and provide thirsty downstream residents with clean drinking water. The West Fork National Scenic Bikeway Trail provides easy access to one of the few catch and release trout streams (bold added) in the region, while the upper West Fork is traversed by the Gabrieleno National Recreation Trail. The East Fork provides trail access to the Sheep Mountain Wilderness.”

As it stands, when you come upon the survey box at the beginning of the West Fork’s c/r area, it makes even the most obstinately optimistic fishers scratch their heads. I mean what kind of comment does a thinking person leave?

“Dear Ranger,

Fishing has plummeted on this wild & scenic river to levels probably never seen before. Help.


A very concerned citizen and angler”

I’m not sure if the well-intentioned West Fork San Gabriel River Conservancy is still functioning, but much of its website dates to early 2014.

Anyway, to bone up on the problems this area faces from our 4 million brethren, there’s a load of information and reporting on the Internet, which means at least some of it is actually true.

The best way to refresh your political ire is to visit, yourself, put your $5-a-day Adventure Pass on your dashboard, bring your $47.01 valid fishing license, a few flies and a 2 weight. Grease up the chain on your aging bike, ride past the swimmers to the second bridge, and angle. This area is our area, and it is in desperate need of attention. At least, that’s what I’m writing to ANF.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

New video: ‘Carp on the Fly, Los Angeles River’

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)

Take a look at this engaging new video from Ryan Anglin (real name, born to fish!)

It certainly represents the way I’ve felt many times on our river — serenity sans hip-hop soundtrack. I guess it’s easier to see the river from a bling perspective — fly in; take some shots; catch some fish; fly out; edit, complete with stereotypes — but this piece captures the peace I feel on this magical waterway.

Should come with a NSFW warning — watch it and you’ll leave your cube early to get out there.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

From today’s e-mailbag …

Thanks for all the information you’ve posted about the LA River over the years. I was finally able to make it to the LA River during my recent visit to California. My friend and I started at Marsh Park (near the 2/I-5) and did some exploring with our Tenkara rods. Wrapped up the day at Spokes Café. The LA River surpassed my expectations!


David Oh says:
June 22, 2015 at 3:05 pm Edit

Hey Jim,
Have been trying my luck near the Sepulveda Basin. No luck but any day outdoors no matter how cold, uncomfortable, or skunky beats a sedentary afternoon on the couch.

From what I can collect, there is life but on the bottom of the river. They weren’t going for any of my dries (I usually use a scud, killer bug as my go to emergency fly and even that didn’t work out too well). I ran across some environmental students that had a kayak hooked up with sonar and they let me there are schools of fish down in the river. (I was near the bridge where the river and Balboa meet). The biggest problem however is where the Glendale Narrows have plenty of spots that you can fit to get to the river, The Sepulveda Basin was very hard to find elbow room of any sorts (I have not walked the complete length but a few good miles)

Balboa lake is an awful mess on the weekend (as expected)
Could be good for micro fishing though.

I did find a section where the lake empties out into the river, and for what I can surmise as about 200 yards is a very nice looking stream. Were it not in Los Angeles, where it is, I would almost guarantee amazing fishing in these spots. You just have to ignore empty modelo 20 pack boxes sometimes though.

Let me do some more exploring and maybe I can let you in on a more educated review.

4th Carp Throwdown loves the locals

THE FOG: No, it's not a John Carpenter thriller, but it makes for a great shot! (Courtesy Al Q.)

THE FOG: No, it’s not a John Carpenter thriller, but it makes for a great shot! (Courtesy Bernard Yin.)

On Saturday, June 13, the Carp Throwdown celebrated its fourth go-around.
The night before began with some good, ol’ revelry, including rock and roll featuring CTD co-founder Conway Bowman on drums! The CTD tradition of the band always being called the Three Blind Carp was kept alive with Bernard Yin and his wife, Rebecca, on guitar and bass.
Next morning, a solid group of anglers hit Lake Henshaw in the fog, caught fish and had a great time. The legendary hopper hatch was not as elusive as in previous CTDs and many anglers earned their rankings with the help of hoppers. Certain areas were rife with the bugs and it was clear by the bird life that these hoppers are a huge part of this area’s seasonal ecosystem.

SO CAL RULES: And locals Tiffany and Dustin Sergent represent. (Courtesy Al Q.)

SO CAL RULES: And locals Tiffany and Dustin Sergent represent. (Courtesy Al Q.)

Some anglers leaned small and Zino Nakasuji even went to a size 14 stimulator.
And several catfish joined carp on the catch list. Good fun.
The results?
Well, we’re all warm and fuzzy to add that the first place boat division team was in fact a couple! Hats off to Dusty and Tiffany. They’re locals so you can blame the whole home team thing too.

Matus Sobolic took first in the wade division. He is a noteworthy So. Cal. carp fisher, who nabbed a first in last year’s Off Tha Hook on the L.A. River. Like many, he pre-fished the lake to dial it in.

A shout-out to organizers, Al Q and Conway Bowman, the Fly Stop and anyone else we neglected to mention. Not a single person didn’t bring something good to the table.

THREE BLIND CARP: Keep it real with Bernard Yin, left,  Rebecca Ramirez Yin, center, and Conway Bowman. (Courtesy Al Q.)

THREE BLIND CARP: Keep it real with Bernard Yin, left, Rebecca Ramirez Yin, center, and Conway Bowman. (Courtesy Al Q.)

Carp Throwdown 4 Results 2015
1st Place Boat Division

AYE, AYE,CAPTAIN CARP: You shoulda been there for a fine day (Courtesy Dylan Scott Moore)

AYE, AYE, CAPPIE CARP SEZ: You shoulda been there for one fine day. (Courtesy Dylan Scott Moore)

Dustin and Tiffany Sergent

6 qualifying carp

5 best — total 110 points
2nd Place Boat Division

Tod and Brian Suttle

4 qualifying carp

4 best — total 79 points
1st Place Wade Division

Matus Sobolic

5 qualifying carp

5 best — total 92 points
2nd Place Wade Division

Mike McVay

4 qualifying carp

4 best — total 73 points
Big Fish

Dustin and Tiffany Sergent

26-inch carp
Trash Fish

Dan Jazozewki

21-inch catfish
Fish count for 40 anglers (26 boat, 14 wade)

36 carp

3 catfish
Special thanks to rock ‘n’ roller Bernard Yin for helping me get this report together.

See you on the river, Jim Burns