Second ‘Off Tha Hook’ delivers fish, next generation


WINNING is what Matus Solobic of Altadena represents with the beautiful common carp. (Jim Burns)

WINNING: Matus Sobolic, of Altadena, represents with this beautiful common carp. (Jim Burns)

Fisherfolk are known for their sometimes tall tales, and even though the MSM were nowhere to be found, today’s second annual ‘Off Tha Hook’ in North Atwater Park produced plenty of gripping stories for the 200 or so participants. Some treated  new friends as if they were old buddies, sharing tales of rare fiberglass rods and 19th Century reels; others literally sampled tasty culinary capers at the Patagonia Pasadena booth — anyone for buffalo jerky?

WINNER Issaih Salgago, 15, of Palmdale (left) hangs with event organizer Bill Bowling. (Jim Burns)

WINNER Issaih Salgado, 15, of Palmdale (left) hangs with event organizer, Bill Bowling. (Jim Burns)

And although the River Rover — organizer Friends of the Los Angeles River’s mobile classroom — was also a no show because of a broken axle, kids  made up watery tales as they peered into tiny cups full of stonefly and mayfly nymphs, as well as icky leeches.

It was that cool.

— Matus Sobolic, of Altadena, proved that he is the guy to beat when it comes to carp, hauling in one common, around 4 pounds, and three small bass to win the grand prize. Sobolic won last year’s competition and also won the wading division at the Lake Henshaw Carp Throwdown earlier this summer. He lost two on the fly as they jumped wildly out of the water. The last So. Cal. double winner was David Wratchford, who won 2012-2013 at the Carp Throwdown, also in the wading division.

— Meanwhile, Issaih Salgado, 15, of Palmdale, won the kids’ division with a couple of small largemouth bass snatched spincasting on a silicone wiggly. His mom said she wasn’t surprised because he spends lots of time chasing fish at Fin & Feather, the well-know Antelope Valley private club.

— And Ben, who got away before I could ask him his age and last name, won rarest species for his fry tipalia, awarded by biologist Sabrina Drill.

TROUT UNLIMITED'S Bob Blankenship meets the official greeter. (Jim Burns).

TROUT UNLIMITED’S Bob Blankenship meets the official greeter. (Jim Burns).

The three shared a haul valued around $900 in donations from Patagonia Pasadena and the Pasadena Casting Club.

But the best story laid in watching 60-plus kids show up with family and friends to cast, many for the first time. They stood in line, then, in turn, hit the water, some dozen at a time, to try their luck, learn more about our urban river, and get tips from the experienced anglers who donated their time as well as experience.

As I watched, my mind traveled to a time in the near future when those now teenagers will continue the stewardship they learned today. For all of us who love the river, there is no better story than that.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

KIDS AND PARENTS alike are 'all in' for the children's fish. (Jim Burns)

KIDS AND PARENTS alike are ‘all in’ for the family fish. (Jim Burns)

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