Batter up: Carp clubbing takes river to new low

Here’s a winter’s tale that should prove cautionary and more.

We decided not to visually bust this guy for carp clubbing. He's the one who got away -- for now.

My son and I went out last week for some fishing on the city’s river. As we were leaving the water, we came upon a couple of friendly gents who intimately knew the area. Both had on caps; both had on backpacks; both had good senses of humor; and one should have been arrested:

“You don’t need that rod to catch carp down here,” said the one.

How could you not ask?

“What you need? You need a baseball bat, a Louisville Slugger, that’s what you need — a bat!”

He then went on to tell us that he and a friend “caught” three white plastic bucketfuls of carp in an hour, and lugged them to a nearby Korean buyer who paid cash. He said that the next day — Sunday — he went by  the buyer’s church and there was a big fish grill, making everyone happy.

“I don’t have a lot to do besides hanging out and drinking beer. Imagine, me in that water with my pants rolled up,” he said with a grin. “Nope, you don’t need that. You need a baseball bat.”

We all nodded like it was the funniest thing we’d ever heard, but by the time I got home, I wasn’t laughing anymore.

I called a marine biologist with the California Deptartment of Fish and Game to get her perspective.

“There’s nothing legal about anything you just told me,” Carrie Wilson said.

She went on to detail the wrongdoing:

“First off, taking with a baseball bat is not a legal take,” she said. “And a carp is still a California fish. That means you have to abide by fishing regulations.”

Those regs include owning a fishing license (you can buy one online this year), as well as having a commercial fish seller’s license.

Then there was the matter of the baseball bat. According to Wilson, a bow and arrow is a legal method of fishing in some areas of California, and spearing might also be allowed, she wasn’t sure. But whacking fish with a baseball bat? Positively ghetto in the worst sense.

Finally, even though the FoLAR’s 2008 Los Angeles River Fish found low levels of toxicity in fish analyzed for the report, serving up a heaping plateful of river carp is insidious. Think of your guests, man!

So if you see anyone yelling, “batter up,” and then swinging for the fences, call the Griffith Park Rangers.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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