Biologists tentatively ID mystery L.A. River bass


Our mystery bass. (Roland Trevino)

Our mystery bass. (Roland Trevino)

Another view of the mystery bass. (Roland Trevino)

Another view of the mystery bass. (Roland Trevino)

One of the best parts of fishing our river is you never know what you’re going to pull out of it. In the old days, this comment would elicit some snark about a “really brown trout,” haha. But today, we discuss what in the heck are these crazy bass that Roland Trevino pulled from one section?

Take a look at his pics and see how white the sides are.

Rosi Dagit, Senior Conservation Biologist and Certified Arborist for the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, agreed that they were “strange-looking bass” because “the white-side blotches are quite noticeable” in the pics we showed her.

She enlisted the help of Camm Swift, emeritus PhD from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

“These appear to be very faded out largemouth bass, but it would be good to see both dorsal fins elevated. Maybe they came from fairly turbid water,or were held in a white bucket for a time and lost lots of color?” he wrote in an email to Dagit.  “There is a slight possibility they are white bass or white perch, Morone chrysops or M. americanus, but they have much larger anal fin spines than largemouth bass and do not appear to be present in these fish.

“Both of these species are from the eastern United States (as are largemouth bass for that matter!) and the white bass is known from a few places in central California but unlikely in L. A.   Thus, without some other convincing evidence I would call them largemouth bass.”

Swift also offered some advice on how to help the experts positively ID a mystery fish.
“If it’s hard to keep the fish, a good photograph from the side with the fins spread is useful to get close, anyhow.  Putting them in a water-filled Ziploc or one of those small plexiglass boxes like fish photographers use can suffice.  Usually the fish will expand its fins when swimming or resting in  one of those.”
For my part, I’m still not so sure. If anyone catches another white mystery bass, let’s get a better shot and see what the biologists say.
See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick Mends: Press gets behind first L.A. River derby


Roland Trevino Sr. cuts a fine profile  at the first Off Tha' Hook fishing derby on the L.A. River on a hot Sept. 6. (L.A. Riverguide)

Roland Trevino Sr. cuts a fine profile at the first Off Tha’ Hook fishing derby on the L.A. River on a hot Sept. 6. (L.A. Riverguide)

If you were at the event over the weekend, you know there were lots of press folks there, both MSM and bloggers. This quote from sensible billionaire Warren Buffett pretty much sums up my feelings:

“The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is. For to a degree, people read the press to inform themselves — and the better the teacher, the better the student body.”

So, here’s a listicle of articles. I couldn’t get the piece that ran on ABC Channel 7 Saturday night. If you missed the event, these will get you up to speed:

Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times. This is also the best headline: “For fly fisherman at inaugural L.A. River derby, it’s carpe diem.” Wish I’d written that!

Alysia Gray Painter, NBC4, Southern California.

Issac Simpson, L.A. Weekly.

Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News. And check out the excellent photos from staffer John McCoy. Sure beat my IPhone snaps!

L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

Alicia Banks, Glendale News-Press.

Carman Tse, LAist.

Brenda Rees, photos by Martha Benedict, SoCalWild.

Brenda Rees, The EastsiderLA

See you on the river, Jim Burns

First L.A River fishing derby produces carp, bass, smiles


Matus Solobic, one of today's Off Tha' Hook winners, with a sweet hog. (Jim Burns)

Matus Solobic, one of today’s Off Tha’ Hook winners, with a sweet hog. (Jim Burns)

Well, the first Off Tha’ Hook fishing derby is in the books, and, man, participants got into some fish. In the true sprint of a derby, the number of fish caught, not length or weight, determined the winners. (Drumroll, please)

Fly-fisher Matus Solobic nailed three fish, a meaty carp and two largemouth bass. Next, fly-fisher Andy Wilcox caught three bass, two at seven inches. Finally, from the kids’ derby, Jayson Zwalen, nabbed two bass.

The bucket brigade (me included) hauled much of what got caught to biologist Rosie Dagit, who weighed and measured the fish, before releasing them back to the river.

Biologist Rosie Dagit confirms that I'll' guy is, in fact, a largemouth bass. (Jim Burns)

Biologist Rosie Dagit confirms that lil’ guy is, in fact, a largemouth bass. (Jim Burns)

But the real winner was the river, as well as the people who want to fish it. To see 25 anglers going for it on this hot and humid morning was, frankly, something I never thought I’d see. So much community, good times, real fun.

I finally got to meet in person many anglers I’d only known through this blog. And I made a lot of new friends as well.

And Friends of the Los Angeles River Lewis MacAdams said the organization will host it again next year.

See you in the river, Jim Burns

Whoa, Nellie: Catching 10-pound carp puts a smile on local youngster’s face


Seeing is believing, but catching is better for Ansel Trevino. (Roland Trevino)

Seeing is believing, but catching is better for Ansel Trevino. (Roland Trevino)

By Ansel Trevino
Guest Contributor
Age 12

It was just starting to get dark. Me, my dad, and my dad’s friend had decided to go fishing together, while my grandpa walked the dogs. After a long day of catching nothing, my luck changed. I knew then that this was going to be a big catch. I felt the weight of the fish as I started to crank the reel.

Luckily, my dad’s friend brought a net to get the fish out of the water and put it into the bag to weigh.

The fish barely fit in the bag, and had its tail hanging out.

We weighed it and the fish weighed roughly 10 pounds. We then measured the fish, at a length of 25 inches. It was now time to let the beautiful fish go. I saw the sun reflect off the fish scales as it touched the water. It rested there for a short while, waving its tail back and forth, and eventually, its silhouette disappeared.

Summer heat brings out L.A. River bass and tilapia


Lends new meaning to the phrase, "Up against the wall." (Roland Trevino)

Lends new meaning to the phrase, “Up against the wall.” (Roland Trevino)

As the first-ever Off Tha’ Hook derby approaches, bass and tilapia are very catchable, while carp are a no-show. At least that’s what we’ve found over a couple of mornings of fishing these past two weeks. Believe me, the water is downright hot by midday, wet wading feeling at times like we were back home in our bathtubs.

Last week, LARFF guest contributor Roland Trevino brought his son, so this time I got to bring mine. Their age difference is only a matter of two decades.

These little bass have been around and very catchable on our last two outings. (Roland Trevino)

These little bass have been around and very catchable on our last two outings. (Roland Trevino)

Will hooked up on a couple of small bass, which had green sides instead of the whiter version we’d caught last week. Bass are now fairly abundant in the Glendale Narrows stretch, which is a far cry from the lonely one caught in the Friends of the River fish study in the later 2000s. It’s a great story and one maybe a commenter can help us to untangle. How are they getting into the water? And what’s with the white body color we’ve seen?

Little fish, big fun. (Roland Trevino)

Little fish, big fun. (Roland Trevino)

Also, yesterday, we spotted hundreds and hundreds of tilapia fry by the banks. I hooked up on what I believe was an adult tilapia but got hung up in the rocks.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Countdown to Off Tha’ Hook: Tomorrow is Saturday, Sept. 6!


 

Who will be the lucky winners? (FOLAR)

Who will be the lucky winners? (FOLAR)

Hot as blazes in L.A. today and tomorrow is the first fishing derby on the Los Angeles River. So, if you haven’t registered yet, click this link and get in! There are only 25 spots for anglers, and 25 spots for youngsters. Anglers cost $35; kids are free. You don’t even need a fishing license! The reason Friends of the L.A. River picked this day is because it is one of only two days during the year that the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife doesn’t require one.

If you’re an angler, bring your own gear, and I’d bring a rod for both small and big fish. I haven’t spotted carp recently, but there have been plenty of what we’ll call smallmouth bass, tilapia and green sunfish. Also, you can wade, so bring your waders, and maybe a wading pole for more support on those slippery rocks. Fishing will be from 9 a.m.-10 a.m., with volunteers helping you get your catch to a biologist to measure and catalog before being returned alive to the river.

Water at its deepest, I’d guesstimate at 4 feet.

Now, if you’re bringing your children, remember they get in free, but you’ll need to sign a guardian waiver, which is on the registration page. The big-hearted folks at the Los Angeles Rod and Reel Club have donated all of the rods and reels, so basically all you have to do to get your children some water time is register and show up at 10 a.m. Remember, anglers from the derby will be on hand to teach the kids. I know, it’s a pretty sweet deal.

There will be a food truck on hand to satisfy our appetites.

What kind of fish might you catch on our river? My photos are missing a few species, but here we go:

Nothing like catching your first fish on a fly --  a baby bass, no less. (Mark Gangi)

Nothing like catching your first fish on a fly — a baby bass, no less. (Mark Gangi)

Keith Mosier nabs his first L.A. River carp. Oh, yeah! (Ken Lindsay)

Keith Mosier nabs his first L.A. River carp. Oh, yeah! (Ken Lindsay)

Green sunfish are one of the pllars of the L.R. River ecosystem, and fun to catch as well. (B. Roderick Spilman)

Green sunfish are one of the pllars of the L.R. River ecosystem, and fun to catch as well. (B. Roderick Spilman)

Seeing is believing: Catching a Largemouth Bass can make your whole day. (photos by Roland Trevino)

Seeing is believing: Catching a Largemouth Bass can make your whole day. (photos by Roland Trevino)

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Generational fishing teaches everyone a lesson, no doubt


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: 

Father and son get in some water time together. (Jim Burns)

Father and son get in some water time together. (Jim Burns)

– 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.”

Bets are on that this is a smallmouth bass. You in? (Roland Trevino)

Bets are on that this is a smallmouth bass. You in? (Roland Trevino)

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.

See you on the river, Jim Burns