Trout Unlimited’s Bowtie workshops impact urban fishing

First-timer Michael, left, gets a lesson in the art of the improved clinch knot from TU volunteer Tom Blankenship, while attendee Erica looks on. (Jim Burns)

Over the last couple of weekends, the stalwarts of Trout Unlimited South Coast Chapter put on a series of beginning workshops at the Bowtie parcel, a 17-acre site near Fletcher Bridge that is as urban as it gets. In 2003, California State Parks purchased the narrow strip of land adjacent the Los Angeles River, once part of Southern Pacific Railroad’s maintenance and operations facilities called Taylor Yards. If nothing else, it’s a chance to squint your eyes and see what it could become.

And Los Angelinos certainly have embraced this urban outlier in any number of positive ways, including the LA River Campout that is so popular, the 75 campers are chosen through a lottery. This chance to cuddle up in a sleeping bag and see the stars is an initiative of California State Parks in partnership with Clockshop, the National Park Service and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

As for fishing, TU led the way last year with “Vamos a Pescar,” during which some 120 urbanites learned to fish.

This year’s stats showed 110 attendees over the two May weekends, with a third under 18, and pretty evenly split overall between female and male.

After two Saturdays filled with the joy of passing our sport along to others — and the chance to practice patience while unspooling line from inside a reel (how does that happen?), I thought of these words from “A Place in Between”:

What is a park? Is it a place to escape the surrounding city? A place to breathe and contemplate? Or is it a gather place? A place to celebrate, laugh, play and compete? Perhaps it is a place to learn and grow? A place where our shared cultural and natural histories are celebrated? Is it a place of beauty? A place of pride designed by our finest architects? Or a place apart, left alone for nature to run its course?”

THE PREZ SEZ: Chapter President Ban Luu makes a point to the crowd about river ecology. (Jim Burns)

As you squint your eyes at the Bowtie, what is magically becomes what could be. Our collective imagination will be our compass, our guide, our pole star for the future.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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