FoLAR seeks anglers for Long Beach fish study


WILDFLOWERS: Become a citizen scientist and help FoLAR document what's in the Los Angeles River. (William Preston Bowling)

WILDFLOWERS: Become a citizen scientist and help FoLAR document what’s in the Los Angeles River. (William Preston Bowling)

Hello Anglers,

We need You, to help Us, Catch Fish in the Long Beach Portion of the Los Angeles River.

Got your attention?

OK, now, here are the details.

Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) in partnership with the Aquarium of the Pacific will host Phase 3 of a scientific fish study with help from the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains. We need Citizen Scientists, in this case, volunteer anglers to help us catch what is in the soft bottom section of the Los Angeles River at Long Beach.

This is a rare chance for you to fish in an area that one does not normally access, contact WPB@FoLAR.org to hold a spot. Fishing will start at 2pm until dusk on Saturday, January 3rd, 2015.

The fishing is limited to adults as this area of the L.A. River is difficult to access, yet, on the shore The Los Angeles River Rover – FoLAR’s Mobile Museum & Education Center – will be open from noon until dusk on Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 for everyone to enjoy. Click on the link below to see what the River Rover has to offer…

http://folar.org/education/river-rover/

The FoLAR study of fish began in 2006 and after collection and identification of hundreds of fish in the Elysian Valley portion of the L.A. River, the 2008 fish study was born. To our surprise, we discovered eight different species of fish, that were pretty healthy, low in mercury as well as low in Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) compared to ocean fish studies. The fish that were discovered/identified in the study were Carp, Tilapia, Fathead Minnow, Black Bullhead, Amazon Sailfin Catfish, Green Sunfish and one Largemouth Bass. You can view or download this study from the below link…

http://folar.org/wp-content/uploads/studies/fish-study-2008.pdf

The 2008 FoLAR Fish Study was just one section of the L.A. River, what lives in the waters of the Sepulveda Basin, the tributaries or Long Beach are unknown, until now. In May and October of 2014, FoLAR went back on a fish hunt, deciding that Long Beach would be a great start of a new scientific fish study. As with the Elysian Valley study, it could take up to 2 years to collect accurate and representative data.

ALL IN: Are you ready to discover fishing in a restricted area of the river in Long Beach? 9William Preston Bowling)

ALL IN: Are you ready to discover fishing in a restricted area of the river in Long Beach? (William Preston Bowling)

As a volunteer angler, you agree to be a Citizen Scientist while experiencing the thrill of fishing in an area that is not normally fished. After you hold your spot with WPB@FoLAR.org you will be directed to the location via a follow up e-mail. FoLAR will not provide equipment, you will have to bring your own. The choice of equipment will be up to each angler, either come with rod and reel and bait, or even go the lengths of bringing waders or other equipment you are familiar with. Once you catch a fish, you will then put it in a provided bucket of water and bring it to one of the three biologists from the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, Rosi Dagit, Sabrina Drill or Lizzy Montgomery. They will weigh, measure and photograph the species. Dr. Richard Gossett from Cal State Long Beach will be on hand to test the toxicity of the fish as he did in the 2008 study of the Elysian Valley fish.

If you cannot make it, we will have plenty of other fishing opportunities on the Los Angeles River throughout 2015, including the second annual FoLAR Catch & Release Fish Derby, “Off tha’ Hook”…

http://www.laweekly.com/informer/2014/09/10/you-can-fly-fish-the-la-river-and-its-pretty-damn-cool

If you fish on the Los Angeles River you can help us establish what species reside within these waters by downloading an app or using the web through iNaturalist.

iNaturalist is a place where you can record what you see in nature, meet other nature lovers and learn about the natural world. Lizzy Montgomery from the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains developed a Fish of the L.A. River page where you can upload a photo of the fish you catch and where you caught them. This will help us understand better the biodiversity with the Los Angeles River watershed. iNaturalist can also be fun for any parts of Los Angeles by uploading Birds, Lizards and Insects as well. Join iNaturalist today by clicking on the link below…

http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/fish-of-the-la-river-peces-del-rio-de-los-angeles

We hope to see you at Saturday afternoon January 3rd.

Steelhead restoration takes center stage at Frog Spot event


It was a thrill to get to present my favorite subject at the festive Frog Spot on Sunday. (William Preston Bowling)

It was a thrill to be one of the presenters at the festive Frog Spot on Sunday. (William Preston Bowling)

Oh, the tall tales fisherfolk tell. As a matter of fact, they say that if you weren’t born with the ability to stretch the truth just a wee bit, spending time on the water will surely school you in that all-too-human trait.

But, at the Frog Spot, sharing and learning more about fishing the L.A. River Sunday, not a tall tale emerged from the gathered fishing fanatics, just a bounty of hard-won knowledge about our river. The weather was perfect; the setting, urban-divine, as bicyclists zoomed along the bike lane, possibly fired up by CicLAvia, while AMTRAK whistled its station arrival not far away.

– William Preston Bowling, who organized the first Off Tha’ Hook fishing derby in September, served as MC, but he also filled in the crowd of a dozen or so participants on Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) line recovery efforts. Your line has a life of around 5,000 years, so please think twice before tossing that next bird’s nest into the water. Grove Pashley, of LA River Kayak Safari, reminded us of two blue herons separately caught up in bird’s nests of line in the last couple of years. I know one died, but I’m not sure of the other’s fate.

Bowling said that soon there will be line disposal tubes at high-traffic areas along the river. FoLAR will recycle the line by sending it to Berkley, a company that actually re-purposes used line, turning it into new.

– Robert Blankenship from Trout Unlimited turned his darkroom PowerPoint into a daytime handout, and regaled us with tales of Southern California Steelhead recovery efforts. His presentation was made all the more sweet by a guest appearance from Tom Tomlinson, who wrote “Against the Currents: The Unlikely Story of the Southern California Steelhead” this year, published by the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. If you haven’t read this important book yet, pick it up.

Blankenship showed us how Santa Barbara has re-designed its flood control channels to include holding water for steelhead returning from the ocean. The story of the steelhead here in our truly unwelcoming climes is one of courage, fortitude and grit. There’s actually a self-guided tour that links steelhead art and brew pubs, which sounded like the best of both worlds to many of us. Look for more from TU under the local leadership of Blankenship, a strong advocate for our river.

– Next, Lizzy Montgomery from the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains told us about the INaturalist app, and how to use it. Take a look here for more info. I’m not sure that as a fishing community we’re using this as much as we could/should. The research that comes from fishers out there on the water can greatly aid biologists who can’t use their standard procedures for species and fish counts. As she said, ” I can’t imagine we would use SCUBA gear on this river.” Agreed.

– Ban Luu, who has plied the river since 2007 using traditional tackle, told us he had no idea there were fish in it when he first cast out: He was testing a new rod and reel to get ready for an ocean trip! With each cast, he heard splashing, thudding, all the auditory telltale signs of big fish. “I was hooked,” he said, no pun intended. And Luu is the right guy to get hooked, taking time to keep a detailed fishing journal, perfecting his light tackle gear after much research and trial and error. Also, he has perfected his own masa blend with garlic, after rejecting both bread and tortilla baits, both well regarded by locals.

And … ready for this, Luu said he’s caught over 2,000 fish since 2007! After listening to his presentation, I am sure this isn’t a fish tale.

As for yours truly, I discussed the usual suspects we catch on our river, as well as fly rods and flies that give you the best chance of hooking up. I, too, used old-school photographs from this blog that included fish and the commentators who sent them in to illustrate my talk.Simply put, without the LARFF community, I would have had much less to discuss. Thank you for your support and friendship over the last four years!

Finally, Bowling reminded us that we are all invited to participate in the return to the lower section of the river, Saturday, Jan. 3, from 2 p.m. until dusk. Get in touch with him (wpb@folar.org) to reserve your spot (free), and help to document what fish are in that lower section on WIllow Street.

Who knows, steelhead may yet be waiting for discovery, akin to those spotted on the San Gabriel River. Blankenship shared a wonderful picture from a few years back of a large steelhead hanging out by a discarded TV in a West L.A. flood control channel. It was a renewed call to “bring ‘em home,” as FoLAR co-founder Lewis MacAdams would say.

See you on the river. — Jim Burns

Free fly-fishing tips from LARFF, Trout Unlimited on Sunday


output_4O66c4Free lecture: Fishing on the Los Angeles River
Sunday, Dec. 7, noon-2 p.m.

Yes, there are fish in the Los Angeles River!

Enjoy a free talk at The Frog Spot with three fishing experts. Jim Burns of LA River Fly Fishing will describe the fish swimming in the river today, where they are and how to catch them. Robert Blankenship of Trout Unlimited will discuss efforts to bring back the native Southern California Steelhead. Elysian Valley fisherman and FOLAR docent Ban Luu will offer tips and techniques for fishing in the Glendale Narrows. FOLAR’s own William Preston Bowling will also share information about its scientific fish studies as well as a new citizen science opportunity.

The Frog Spot
2825 Benedict Street LA 90039
Sent from my iPad

What the heck is a pacu and what was it doing in the LA River?


EXOTIC: This pacu, usually hanging out in the Amazon, got hooked on the L.A. River. (James Czasonis)

EXOTIC: This pacu, usually hanging out in the Amazon, got hooked on the L.A. River. (James Czasonis)

LARFF gets a fair number of fish and beauty shots coming across the electronic transom, but this one definitely takes the cake. Know what it is?

A pacu.

What’s a pacu?

As the fly fisher who hooked it said via email, “I caught that exotic fish and posted it on my Facebook, and a lot of friends told me it was a pacu, not native to here, and it matched photos from the Internet.”

James Czasonis went on to write that it looked like a big pirahna, but the teeth were more flat. Although the teeth aren’t visible in these shots, the host of “River Monsters,” Jeremy Wade, explains here that the flat teeth are used for crushing seeds, unlike a pirahna’s that are sharper and used for tearing apart flesh. Both are native to the Amazon River in South America.

Pacus have been found in Papua New Guinea, and much closer to home in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and now in Los Angeles.

How’d that happen?

A relative of the well-known -- and feared -- pirahna, the pacu has flatter teeth. (James Czasonis)

A relative of the well-known — and feared — pirahna, the pacu has flatter teeth. (James Czasonis)

Apparently, some unaware aquarium owners believe these fish will only grow “so big” because of the glass confines of their watery cages. But, that logic turns out to be a myth and when the pacu overstays its welcome, it gets dumped into local waterways.

And, yes, it is illegal to dump nonnative exotic fish.

Authorities in Ohio aren’t overly concerned about a pacu takeover because the fish dies out once the weather gets cold.

As for the potential threat here in warmer climes, Czasonis said this was the only one he’d seen or caught, and “I still didn’t want to hold it up and let it back into the river.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick mends: Devil’s Gate Dam final Environmental Impact Report hits L.A. supes Wednesday


Wild trout, such as this one, still swim the waters of the San Gabriel Mountains. (Jim Burns)

Wild trout, such as this one, still swim the waters of the San Gabriel Mountains. (Jim Burns)

UPDATE: Despite strong opposition from neighbors and recreational enthusiasts, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a five-year project Wednesday to remove debris from a basin above Devil’s Gate Dam in Pasadena. — Los Angeles Times

Generations of fly fishers have relished the area above the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, which before the massive 2009 Station Fire and subsequent flood the following year, enjoyed a reputation as an enjoyable fishery. This reputation, for now at least, has certainly faded. On top of back-to-back environmental disasters, we’re in this ongoing drought. But remember, these skinny waters still contain native trout, and this region was once one of the coveted destinations for returning spawning Southern California Steelhead.

The area is important to protect, even though, for some mysterious reason, it was left out of the final draft of the San Gabriel Mountains national monument. That will be the topic of another blog post.

So today’s question: Do we need a human-made disaster on top of all of this?

Take a look at this PDF from the Arroyo Seco Foundation, the environmental voice of our conscience for this area. Anyone with a brain would want the “Pasadena Alternative” — unanimously approved by the Pasadena City Council — instead of the much more invasive one proposed by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. As the Pasadena Star-News put it:

The City Council this week unanimously approved a set of recommendations for the county’s sediment removal plan in Devil’s Gate Dam, in its ongoing fight to prevent the treasured Hahamongna recreation area from turning into a giant ditch.

For example, the original county plan counted 400-plus trucks per work day, for five years, to haul away sediment, while the Pasadena plan calls for a quarter of that amount, an estimated 120. The county’s plan for habitat impact — a euphemism for “no more fishing” — measures more than 120 acres, while the Pasadena plan calls for 40 acres, including a 10-acre “conservation pool.”  From what I read here, the county has somewhat backed off on its original proposal, but not nearly to the degree concerned homeowners want.

The final Environmental Impact Report comes before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, as the flood control district seeks approval for its chosen alternative. According to this story La Canada city officials are scrambling to get their objections heard before it’s too late.

See you on the river, Jim Burns