Let’s celebrate catch and release fishing on the LA River

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CATCH AND RELEASE fishing helps sustain a healthy fish population. (Courtesy Freddie Wiedmann)

By Freddie Wiedmann

Guest Contributor

I am a fellow carp enthusiast, living in L.A. I love reading your blog, especially how you suggest treatment of the fish (barbless hooks, catch and release, etc.).

I haven’t met a single person in the U.S. who is an advocate of caring for the fish like this. I am from Germany and we are all used to very good fishing practices in handling fish — in fact, it’s the law. So thank you for spreading the good word.

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LANDING MONSTER GOLD at Lake Balboa in 2014. (Courtesy Freddie Wiedmann)

In Germany, everyone who wants to fish must acquire a fishing license that involves three-to-four months of classes with a practical and theoretical test. You need to learn everything about every living organism in the water, frogs, algae, etc., and that includes human treatment of the fish. If you are caught fishing without a landing net, you pay a fine.

 

 

 

William McCann says:

Thank you for another great post. I went to England some years back and marveled at the care and reverence shown to Carp fishing. As we have magazines devoted to Bass fishing, they have almost as much about Carp. From the few Carp that I have caught I have learned that they are twice the gamefish that a Largemouth Bass is. It is wonderful to see a resource like the LA River and the fish that live there treated with the respect that they deserve. I live in the Bay Area and remember when the Bay and it”s wetland system were treated with the same scorn that a lot of folks have given the LA River. To move ahead and fix some of the short sighted actions of the past we all have to work at keeping our eyes fresh for the hidden beauty that is always there. We have some creeks up this way that are in need of the kind of creative thinking that is going on in LA, and you are inspiring to get involved. Keep up the great work. Thanks again.

 

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Editorial: Why are fish missing from new San Gabriel National Monument Plan?

 

Beautiful color on this trout, which was released, unharmed, back to the water. (Jim Burns)

Beautiful color on this trout, which was released, unharmed, back to the water. (Jim Burns)

By John Tobin

Guest Contributor

 

Less than an hour’s drive from here, up in those dry and dusty San Gabriel Mountains, are three rare and precious wild trout streams, the West, North and East forks of the San Gabriel River.

Under arbors of alder, sycamore and oak, they run clear and cold all year long, despite drought, and harbor wild rainbow trout. Some of the rainbows are direct descendants of steelhead trout, which went to and from the sea for eons before the dams were built.

The streams are also home to some threatened and endangered creatures, including the Santa Ana speckled dace, that exists only in the Los Angeles basin. These flows are always under pressure, and not just from the lack of water. They frequently suffer from overuse by crowds of visitors, some of whom trash them and others who damage them with illegal gold mining and with what the forest service calls “recreational dam building.”

The forest service has long been hard pressed to protect them: not enough money, and not enough staff.

The many people who know and love these streams were naturally excited when President Obama designated the National Monument in the fall of 2014, anticipating that plans and resources would be developed to better protect these waters. And so the fishers, the hikers and the mountain bikers, together with professional fishery experts, weighed in during the requisite public comment period to tell the forest service what they thought should be done for these streams in the new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Plan.

At the end of that process, the forest service produced a summary of the comments and an outline of the issues and concerns they determined should be the focus of the plan. Sadly, the outline for their management plan does not include any focus on these streams.

Consequently, in accordance with the forest service’s planning policies, all of the stream-specific comments and recommendations that were submitted by the public were ignored. They will not have an influence on the management plan for the national monument.

If this concerns you, let the forest service know:

Contact Justin Seastrand, Environmental Coordinator, Angeles National Forest, at jseastrand@fs.fed.us, or Superintendent Jeffrey Vail, at JVail@fs.fed.us.

Don’t have to wait for the next public comment period later this winter or spring, when part of the environmental assessment will be published. It may be too late by then.

John Tobin is the conservation chair for the Pasadena Casting Club.

Orvis Fly Fishing, the ultimate fly-fishing app

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 9.57.14 AMBy Jeff Williams

Guest Contributor

Anyone who’s ever gone fly fishing has undoubtedly heard of Orvis, and the brand has become known for its range of gear and equipment for the outdoorsman. Be it fly-fishing, hunting or travelling, Orvis seems to have thought about everything there is to keep in mind, and with our growing reliance to our smartphones, they’ve also released a great app for fly fishers.

Over the past few years, the mobile app market has skyrocketed to unprecedented heights, much of its growth is due to the fact that mobile internet is among the fastest growing trends on the Internet landscape today, as more and more people use their phones to access information. Through dedicated apps, there’s no need to do Google searches for information you need, and for the outdoorsman, an app that puts all the information on knot-tying, fishing spots and fishing reports in one place is indispensible.

Orvis’s Fly Fishing App puts all of this information together, and more. It’s great for both beginners and advanced fisherman alike, as not only does it have hours and hours of instructional videos for the budding fisherman, but it also has fishing reports for over 300 of the top fly fishing destinations in North America, Central America, South America and the UK, with real-time updates sent directly to your device. This means that even the experienced fly fishers can use the app to explore spots they haven’t fished in yet. What’s more, renowned fly fishing author Tom Rosenbauer uploads podcasts to the app for all users to listen to, sharing tips and tricks for fly fishing as well.

“This is some real forward-thinking from ORVIS,” says Fly Fish America, “and one of the most useful and practical fishing apps we’ve used.”

While the app is free to download, certain content must be bought, but any in-app purchase will get you a $10 Orvis gift card.

Haskell Creek reveals wonders as well as mysteries

Cormorant (All images courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)

Cormorant (All images courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)

By Charles Hood

Guest Contributor

With staff from the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, I was at the Sepulveda Wildlife Reserve the day after the recent “fishing for science” derby. We were not trying to avoid the fishermen — quite the opposite — just a scheduling thing, that we got there a day too late.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Looking for fish in Haskell Creek is a pleasure and yet a unique frustration. We know more about the ecology of wolverines in Alaska than we do about the interactions of the fish in the L.A. River and its feeder streams.

For me, an English major turned birder, I still struggle even with basic identification issues. The little minnowy ones I call Gambusia or mosquitofish, but that’s only because that’s what everybody else says. Do we really know?

Tilapia

Tilapia

And I have eaten carp and tilapia, but am not sure I could tell all the different forms and color phases apart.

Yet as one looks into Haskell Creek upstream from the dam, other questions arise. How long do the fish here live? What is there “pecking order” or resource partition, species to species? What eats them? There is one Belted Kingfisher present here — why not more? (It may be a bit too closed in, in terms of tree canopy, or there may not be enough unrestricted perches. That’s just my wild guess. They may drive one another away: a dominant bird may lay claim to the best part of the creek and see any trespassers off straight away.)

Turtles too come into it. The main lake has a lot of Red-eared Sliders; what’s their role in taking (or not taking) fish from Haskell Creek? In the main lake we saw something that was new to me. A dead coot was floating in the lake while turtles investigated it on each side. Were they trying to scavenge the carcass, but perhaps blocked by the dense feathers?

Red-eared Slider

Red-eared Slider

As the results from the fish survey on the 19th are tallied, we can make one small step toward answering these questions. It will be a long journey, one in which everyday observations from scientists and non-scientists alike have equal parts.

If any blog readers want to share thoughts or observations, do please pass them on: Charles Hood, chood@avc.edu. The museum is working on a book that will be an overview of urban nature, and if you would like to share a perspective or experience, please email me.

Midges

Midges

Spring signals tentative rebirth of So. Cal’s beloved West Fork

By Steve Kuchenski
Guest Contributor

YES! Trout are back, albeit in smaller numbers, on the West Fork. (Steve Kuchenski)

YES! Trout are back, albeit in smaller numbers, on the West Fork. (Steve Kuchenski)

So, I decided to ride my bike up near the base of Cogswell Dam yesterday, just to scout out conditions. As you can see from this YouTube link, the West Fork is as challenging as it is beautiful!

The late morning started out with hazy sun, and by the time I started fishing at 10:30, it was cloudy and cool. I didn’t see any major hatch, though at some places there were plenty of black gnats that were fascinated with my sunglasses. The water upstream seemed slightly cloudy, and the riverbed is still dark (and slippery!)from last fall’s leaf liter, so it is nearly impossible to see the dark shadows of fish amid all the protective structure.

At one pool, I saw no signs of feeding or other activity. I tried various drys and midges without any response,

BUGGY spring comes to the West Fork. (Steve Kuchenski)

BUGGY spring comes to the West Fork. (Steve Kuchenski)

but I’ve been told that when nothing else seems to be happening, try a woolly bugger. This approach was immediately rewarded with four-five flashes, each probably between 5-to-8 inches long. I don’t have any significant experience stripping WBs, so it took me awhile to get the hang of it, but eventually this 6-inch rainbow totally gulped the WB.

I stopped at several other pools, riffles and plunges along the way. I saw one fish flip out of the water, but never landed

WITH proper care, this little guy will grow up to make us all proud. (Steve Kuchenski)

WITH proper care, this little guy will grow up to make us all proud. (Steve Kuchenski)

anything after that, despite drifting multiple flies and midges. There were stoneflies, ants and other terrestrials out in force, but the fish remained hunkered down, and I don’t know if it was due to the low pressure of the impending storm, or the lack of a hatch, or just my own technique.

You have to bring your best game to the West Fork. I think it’s good that we’ll each spend a concentrated effort on individual segments of the river: It will give us a chance to see what works best for any given riffle or pool.

And, in any case, it will be a beautiful day.

Summerlike heat throws LA River carp back into spawn

QUACK: Hope our friends from Canada brought sunscreen.

QUACK: Hope our friends from Canada brought sunscreen. (Jack Kelly)

By Greg Madrigal

Guest Contributor

I wanted to let everyone know what I saw yesterday, what I have seen going on in the Long Beach area where the FoLAR event happened Saturday.  I got one nice carp and my two buddies were skunked. I also caught a female turtle, chased by two males in an attempt to mate. We have a real red slider colony there.

I  also spotted mallards and Canadian geese nesting with eggs on the water, I caught a quick glimpse of an African-clawed frog zipping to the surface for air and back down into the algae. And I also saw what I believe could have been a mirror carp, and I definitely spotted a koi in reddish orange and black mottled.

We were surrounded by a cacophony of birds, including black-necked stilts, Canadian geese, mallards, seagulls, gray blue herons, red-winged blackbirds, and coots.

SLIDERS aren't just for stealing bases.

SLIDERS aren’t just for stealing bases. (Jack Kelly)

On a sad note, we have noticed on more than one occasion, snaggers throwing out treble hooks and trying to snag carp.  Yesterday, I noticed one poor carp who looked like he was nailed twice on the back by one of these large treble hooks.  He had two very large and deep gashes across its back.  Heads up to anybody heading there to anonymously call DFG’s CAL-Tip hotline (888-334-2258), if you see these guys.

Editor’s Note: Nick Blixt emailed: “I hit the river today (as did a lot of people), and wow are those fish in spawning mode. I still saw quite a few hook-ups, but people had to target the few non-mating stragglers that weren’t running up and down the currents. Al Q. and I observed one guy chucking rocks at a group of them—luckily karma took hold, and he fell in waist deep a few minutes later.”

The spawn seems to be in full swing with carp completely oblivious to our presence and boiling in packs of five- to-15 fish.

Good news for next year!

CARP-I-LI-CIOUS: Greg Madrigal grips and grins in Long Beach.

CARP-I-LI-CIOUS: Greg Madrigal grips and grins in Long Beach. (Jack Kelly)