Letter to the Editor: When river etiquette falls apart
I ran across your great site a few months ago — I just started fly fishing this summer on the river and really love it. Some very “trouty” spots make for great practice too.
Today I ran into a guy while fishing the area between Los Feliz bridge and Glendale Ave on the Atwater side that completely spoiled my peaceful and otherwise very enjoyable outing. I always see him feeding the birds from a large black bucket. Maybe you’ve seen or met him.
As I passed him in the evening on my way out and gave him a friendly “hello” he decided to start to yell at me for fishing on the river, using all sorts of obscenities, telling me to stick my poles you know where, calling me everything he could think of — in short, a very nasty and bitter person who does NOT like people fishing.
I think his issue is that he finds lots of line and sinkers polluting the river, and I can understand his frustration. But he doesn’t even know me so to speak so rudely to me is way out of line. I had to restrain myself from stooping to his level, but this guy was literally yelling at the top of his lungs — so angry it was crazy. I tried to be reasonable but he wasn’t having it. I’m mentioning this in case others run into him or have encountered him.
But also, he began by telling me I was going to get a citation and that it is illegal to fish the river except between Fletcher and Figueroa and then only between certain dates. I’m not aware of that law. Do you know if that’s true? He seemed very upset when I told him it wasn’t true, and that furthermore I have a California state license. If you have any official information or person I can check with I would appreciate your input. I couldn’t find anything online — but also I assume there would be very conspicuous “no fishing” signs if that were the case.
PS – I think feeding the wildlife may be what’s illegal…
Thanks for your letter. The gentleman — or not — sounds very much like Tony Taylor, a.k.a. “the birdman.” I have never had such a terrible encounter, and count myself lucky from your description above.
For years, it was illegal to be in the bottom of the river (and still is), whether for fly fishing, kayaking, walking your dog, whatever. And Taylor was known to have had the Griffith Park rangers on speed dial. Now, it is legal to fish and kayak from Fletcher down below Marsh Park through the summer. But the truth is, nobody is going to be giving out any citations because of the change in the political environment. With the 2012 passage of SB1201, the river became a different place:
CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS TITLE 14
- 251.1. Harassment of Animals.
Except as otherwise authorized in these regulations or in the Fish & Game Code, no person shall harass, herd or drive any game or nongame bird or mammal or furbearing mammal. For the purposes of this section, harass is defined as an intentional act which disrupts an animal’s normal behavior patterns, which includes, but is not limited to, breeding, feeding or sheltering. This section does not apply to a landowner or tenant who drives or herds birds or mammals for the purpose of preventing damage to private or public property, including aquaculture and agriculture crops.
Perhaps, reminding Taylor of the above would get him to calm down.
Meanwhile, FOLAR is very keen on creating an education policy about fishing trash — addressing discarded weights and lines, which I completely support. Watch for more news on this front very soon.
See you on the river, Jim Burns