TU receives $20K for ‘Vamos a Pescar’ program

Off Tha' Hook

ONE OF 2015’S WINNERS Issaih Salgado, then-15, of Palmdale (left) hangs with event organizer Bill Bowling. (Jim Burns)

And now for some gloom-free news: For all of you who have sorely missed FoLAR’s “Off Tha Hook” fishing throwback on the LA River, rejoice:

Trout Unlimited’s South Coast Chapter, based in OC, has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide instruction, equipment, and support for local families to participate in a series of fishing outings on the Los Angeles River this year, according to the TU website.

The funding for this grant comes from the George H. W. Bush Vamos a Pescar Education Fund administered by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. The Vamos a Pescar initiative is focused on engaging Hispanic families in fishing, boating, and conservation activities.

As a consultant on “Off Tha Hook,”  I’m super excited kids will once again have a structured way to engage our river and catch the passion we all love. My favorite memories of the three fishing throwback years were of kids — kids rushing down the rip-rap to get to the water; kids learning how to knot a hook on a line; kids wondering where in the heck all the fish went; and — blam — kids hooking up on possibly the first fish of their young lives.


TROUT UNLIMITED’S Bob Blankenship meets the official greeter during the last “Off Tha Hook” in 2016. (Jim Burns).

As TU chapter president Robert Blankenship, who was instrumental in “Off Tha Hook”  along with FoLAR co-founder Lewis MacAdams and former all-star-staffer William Preston Bowling, said in that same post:

“In an increasingly wired world, fishing encourages Americans young and old to discover and connect with the nature around us, even in highly urbanized settings such as the greater Los Angeles area. This grant funding will allow us to introduce dozens of kids and adults to the wonders of fishing who may never have had such opportunity.”

Events begin in May, including one on a no-fishing-license-required day, July 7. Read the post for more information.

See you on the river, Jim Burns


Sierra Nets hosts Casting for Recovery/Project Healing Waters raffle


Scott Boller says:
December 15, 2016 at 10:12 pm Edit

I’d like to participate but didn’t find the link.

Scott Boller


Jim Burns says:
December 16, 2016 at 8:22 am Edit
Hey, Scott, just click on the photograph and it will take you to the raffle site. — Jim

Third annual Off Tha’ Hook is ‘bass in action’


MARY JANE GARCIA gets little help from her brother as she poses with her trophy and bling. (Jim Burns)

On a cloudy Saturday, the third annual Off Tha’ Hook fishing throwback got off to a solid start as 20 adult anglers descended the riprap to the river. What happened to the additional 17 fishers who signed up is anyone’s guess, but some speculated that the change of location, from North Atwater Park to the Bowtie Parcel could have contributed.


WINNER KEN MORRIS contemplates which  Trout Unlimited flies he received as gifts for joining the organization will match river aquatics. (Jim Burns)

Whatever the reason, action started early when Chris Manno of Los Feliz hooked a beautiful largemouth bass with his spinning rod and lure. He looked to have it going on into the home stretch until Ken Morris, also of Los Feliz, also hooked a bass, which, when inspected by the biologist Rosi Dagit, turned out to be 2 centimeters longer as well as heftier in the midsection. Morris also landed another bass and two green sunfish.

If we were horse racing, it would have been a win “by a nose.”


A BASS gets measured before being returned to the river. (Jim Burns)

This was a first, in that carp have won the grand prize the last two years.

Meanwhile, the kids event really took off this year, perhaps doubling in size from 2015. A hundred children and teenagers had to go through four checkpoints with their parents before getting a rod and heading down to the water.

In the kids’ division, Mary Jane Garcia, 9, of Koreatown, caught not one, but two small carp.

When asked what her spinning rod bait was, her father gave a knowing look. After all, he’d nearly landed a carp earlier in the adult division.

“Tortillas,” he said, “just plain tortillas.”

Yes, the tried and true LA River carp elixir.

Meanwhile, Elijah Rodriguez, 16, of Los Angeles also won in the kids division for a beautiful, large tilapia.


IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY to get in some casting practice, especially in matching blue T-shirts. (Jim Burns)

Also, this year, besides being at a new site, three fly fishing clubs supported the tournament, Pasadena Casting Club, Downey Fly Fishers and the Southwestern Council, which is actually composed of more than 20 area fly fishing clubs. PCC again donated a box of flies; and Downey was busy tying flies for the kids to use on the river. Patagonia donated more than $700 in gear, and Harley Davidson also contributed prizes this year as well.

Trout Unlimited provided lots of fly casting instruction, in which the object was to get the unhooked fly to set off a mouse trap. TU’s Bob Blankenship and Drew Irby are men of infinite patience, setting and resetting the traps, as well as untangling more than a fair share of birds’ nests.

Finally, Ken Jarrett, of Morro Bay, netted a minuscule Mississippi Silver Sides, winning the “rarest species” award.

“That’s the first time we’ve found one of those in the LA River,” Dagit said.

Below is video proof that there’s really nothing like catching your first fish. This video, taken by Bradley Martin, shows his son Wyatt hooking a fish for the first time.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Calendar Item: Tenth Annual Frogtown Artwalk slated for Saturday, Aug. 13

image1 This year, Frogtown Artwalk, 4 p.m.-10 p.m., is dedicated to the vision of Lewis MacAdams of the Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR), now in its 30th year of protecting and restoring the natural and historic heritage of the LA River. At the Artwalk hub, the Frogspot, an award ceremony at 6 p.m. will honor MacAdams for his work; CD13 councilman Mitch O’Farrell will also be thanked for his involvement in the Artwalk. See you on the river, Jim Burns