By John Tegmeyer
It wasn’t until recently that I once more began fishing in earnest. My uncle taught me and my sister to fish when I was 11. From then through high school graduation I was on the water as often as possible.
Once I began college though, I didn’t have time for it and that trend continued when I moved to LA. After researching various fishing holes around the city my curiosity piqued in regards to the LA River.
I grabbed my pole and some corn and have been enjoying fighting the carp ever since. The day this picture was taken started as most of my other fishing days. I packed a bag with corn, drinking water and of course mine and my daughter’s fishing poles. After getting our hair rigs set up and cast out I explained to her about knowing when a fish was biting.
It wasn’t long after that when her rod started twitching. I set the hook for her (she’s 3) and immediately something felt wrong. After a few confusing moments the problem was obvious–a coot had become tangled in her line.
Without anything to cover the poor bird with I had to improvise by using my t-shirt. Once I could see properly, the coot had only tangled her foot in the leader and wasn’t hooked at all. Her safe release was met by applause from onlookers who had gathered.
No sooner had I released the coot than the unmistakable scream of a reel filled the air. This was a good fish and with an audience there, I felt the pressure to land it. After seven-eight minutes, I pulled out this beautiful mirror carp. I had never caught one prior to this and I was quite excited. After taking a few photos I let the fish go. I hope to catch more just like this one.
Last week, a local fly fisher sent me a crazy hero shot, saying “One of the fish I caught today looks like a Mirror Carp. Your thoughts?”
Anxiously, I paged down to view the snap and promptly dropped my coffee cup. Ryan Anglin not only had a beautiful 5-pounder, but also a type I’d never seen on the river. I enlisted the help of our resident biologists, Rosi Dagit, Sabrina Drill and Camm Swift. Here are their comments:
— Pretty clearly a Mirror or perhaps more precisely, Leather Carp, mostly lacking scales. Mirror Carp refers to those with more enlarged, irregular scales that have a shiny appearance, and this fish is more of what is often called Leather Carp with a thick leathery skin. — Camm
— In several fishing trips on the L.A. with either Camm, Jonathan Baskin, or both, I have observed a wide variety of scale patterns on carp — both what I would call “leather” and “mirror” — though I actually had not heard this terminology! I believe they are all C. carpio,but am interested in Camm’s answer. Can goldfish also vary this much in scale pattern? — Sabrina
— Wow, it is hard to tell exactly, but definitely has that kind of look … Did he keep it? I wonder if there is a photo with the dorsal fin extended? — Rosi
She goes on to ask that when folks catch something really unusual they keep and freeze, and let her know (via LARFF) so the experts can actually figure all this out. Also, don’t forget you can join the iNaturalist project and post.
Now, there’s a side benefit to catching these kinds of crazy fish: you can name them just like the Brits. Consider this headline: “Anglers mourn Benson, lord of the lakes.” Benson was a 25-year-old Common Carp who weighed a mere 64 pounds and was worth around $40,000. Her companion, Hedges, died in 1998. Meanwhile, the largest Mirror Carp, who as far as I know is still living, outweighs Benson by 3 pounds and goes by the handle, Two Tone.
So, let’s vote on a name for Ryan’s catch!
See you on the river, Jim Burns