The DWP needs to do more on the lower Owens

The Lower Owens River Project is all explained on these nifty signs, but that doesn’t help your cast through the tules. (Jim Burns)

Stoked by a warm-water fishing article that recently appeared in Cal Fly Fisher mag, my son and I stopped in Lone Pine over the weekend to check out the lower Owens. After all, I’d fished the ponds behind Bishop for bass and panfish, and this piece sang the praises of throwing a bass bug into the river’s hot summer waters.

After a two-minute ride from town we found, yes, more water flowed; the weather was unseasonably hot as blazes; and we did spot a good-sized bass near a bank.

But now for that all-important cast … bonk. Only the croak of an insistent bull frog kept us smiling.

The looming LORP problem for the fly fisherman remains terrible access. If you’re a tule, you’re really a happy camper surrounded by lots of your tule friends, but if you’re struggling through them, fly rod in hand, feet in the muck leading to where you might find the river’s edge, it’s just not so good. Casting? No way. The only casts we got in were right next to the road.

Last summer, reporter Louis Sagahun from the Los Angeles Times penned:

“The largest river restoration ever attempted in the West — intended to support a cornucopia of wildlife and outdoor activities — has left a 62-mile stretch of the Lower Owens so overrun with cattails, cane and bulrushes that it may take decades to bring them under control.”

Kind of gives a new meaning to “out in the tules,” doesn’t it? (Jim Burns)

He was writing about the Lower Owens River Project, LORP for short, that began about six years ago when L.A. Department of Water and Power began putting more water into the river that it had diverted to Los Angeles Aqueduct since 1913.

It’s a shame to have the restoration project in full swing, as evidenced by the nifty explanatory signage about the project and a new, shiny access gate, and not be able to fish. Anybody got a lawn mover?

I’d skip this one until there’s a solution, possibly like the disabled fishing platform on the ponds outside Bishop.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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