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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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

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Calendar Item: Off Tha’ Hook fishing throwback returns Saturday, Sept. 3

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August is my least favorite month in L.A.: It’s hot under that super-heated cloudless sky; there are wildfires burning, scaring us all and further fouling our air; and I’ve finished bing-watching “Scarier Things” on Netflix.

Even without Netflix, things begin to pick up for me with USC’s first game (and now the Rams, yippee), going back to teach journalism and getting to participate in our own home-grown L.A. River fishing event, Friends of the Los Angeles River’s Off Tha’ Hook.

Each year, this festival geared around what our river is — and what it could be — grows, from its first “Hey, Martha” moment in 2014 (as in, “Hey, Martha, can you believe what they’re doing down there …), to this year, the first at the notable Bow Tie location. The water is deeper here than North Atwater Park, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the adult division anglers catch.  Sign up for $35 here and read more about the contest. (This is a price reduction from last year; also, if you help out with the kids’ fish, you’ll receive a $10 discount)

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

Much as I enjoy watching the fishers catch, and then being part of the “bucket brigade” that brings the fish to biologists to weigh and measure, the best part — the part that sustains me throughout the year — is the kids’ fish. For many youngsters, it’s their first introduction to our favorite sport, and this year the Los Angeles Rod and Reel Club will once again be on hand with kid-friendly rods and their expertise. And, it’s free.

So for all of you hiding out inside, binge-watching Netflix, please join us early next month. It’s one of two days you don’t need a fishing license to legally fish. I think you’ll really enjoy it. Like I said, it’s one of the fall treats I look forward to every year.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

 

 

Quick Mends: Press gets behind first L.A. River derby

Roland Trevino Sr. cuts a fine profile  at the first Off Tha' Hook fishing derby on the L.A. River on a hot Sept. 6. (L.A. Riverguide)

Roland Trevino Sr. cuts a fine profile at the first Off Tha’ Hook fishing derby on the L.A. River on a hot Sept. 6. (L.A. Riverguide)

If you were at the event over the weekend, you know there were lots of press folks there, both MSM and bloggers. This quote from sensible billionaire Warren Buffett pretty much sums up my feelings:

“The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is. For to a degree, people read the press to inform themselves — and the better the teacher, the better the student body.”

So, here’s a listicle of articles. I couldn’t get the piece that ran on ABC Channel 7 Saturday night. If you missed the event, these will get you up to speed:

Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times. This is also the best headline: “For fly fisherman at inaugural L.A. River derby, it’s carpe diem.” Wish I’d written that!

Alysia Gray Painter, NBC4, Southern California.

Issac Simpson, L.A. Weekly.

Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News. And check out the excellent photos from staffer John McCoy. Sure beat my IPhone snaps!

Caroline Craven, Girl with MS.

L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

Alicia Banks, Glendale News-Press.

Carman Tse, LAist.

Brenda Rees, photos by Martha Benedict, SoCalWild.

Brenda Rees, The EastsiderLA

See you on the river, Jim Burns

First L.A River fishing derby produces carp, bass, smiles

Matus Solobic, one of today's Off Tha' Hook winners, with a sweet hog. (Jim Burns)

Matus Solobic, one of today’s Off Tha’ Hook winners, with a sweet hog. (Jim Burns)

Well, the first Off Tha’ Hook fishing derby is in the books, and, man, participants got into some fish. In the true sprint of a derby, the number of fish caught, not length or weight, determined the winners. (Drumroll, please)

Fly-fisher Matus Solobic nailed three fish, a meaty carp and two largemouth bass. Next, fly-fisher Andy Wilcox caught three bass, two at seven inches. Finally, from the kids’ derby, Jayson Zwalen, nabbed two bass.

The bucket brigade (me included) hauled much of what got caught to biologist Rosie Dagit, who weighed and measured the fish, before releasing them back to the river.

Biologist Rosie Dagit confirms that I'll' guy is, in fact, a largemouth bass. (Jim Burns)

Biologist Rosie Dagit confirms that lil’ guy is, in fact, a largemouth bass. (Jim Burns)

But the real winner was the river, as well as the people who want to fish it. To see 25 anglers going for it on this hot and humid morning was, frankly, something I never thought I’d see. So much community, good times, real fun.

I finally got to meet in person many anglers I’d only known through this blog. And I made a lot of new friends as well.

And Friends of the Los Angeles River Lewis MacAdams said the organization will host it again next year.

See you in the river, Jim Burns

Summer heat brings out L.A. River bass and tilapia

Lends new meaning to the phrase, "Up against the wall." (Roland Trevino)

Lends new meaning to the phrase, “Up against the wall.” (Roland Trevino)

As the first-ever Off Tha’ Hook derby approaches, bass and tilapia are very catchable, while carp are a no-show. At least that’s what we’ve found over a couple of mornings of fishing these past two weeks. Believe me, the water is downright hot by midday, wet wading feeling at times like we were back home in our bathtubs.

Last week, LARFF guest contributor Roland Trevino brought his son, so this time I got to bring mine. Their age difference is only a matter of two decades.

These little bass have been around and very catchable on our last two outings. (Roland Trevino)

These little bass have been around and very catchable on our last two outings. (Roland Trevino)

Will hooked up on a couple of small bass, which had green sides instead of the whiter version we’d caught last week. Bass are now fairly abundant in the Glendale Narrows stretch, which is a far cry from the lonely one caught in the Friends of the River fish study in the later 2000s. It’s a great story and one maybe a commenter can help us to untangle. How are they getting into the water? And what’s with the white body color we’ve seen?

Little fish, big fun. (Roland Trevino)

Little fish, big fun. (Roland Trevino)

Also, yesterday, we spotted hundreds and hundreds of tilapia fry by the banks. I hooked up on what I believe was an adult tilapia but got hung up in the rocks.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Countdown to Off Tha’ Hook: Tomorrow is Saturday, Sept. 6!

 

Who will be the lucky winners? (FOLAR)

Who will be the lucky winners? (FOLAR)

Hot as blazes in L.A. today and tomorrow is the first fishing derby on the Los Angeles River. So, if you haven’t registered yet, click this link and get in! There are only 25 spots for anglers, and 25 spots for youngsters. Anglers cost $35; kids are free. You don’t even need a fishing license! The reason Friends of the L.A. River picked this day is because it is one of only two days during the year that the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife doesn’t require one.

If you’re an angler, bring your own gear, and I’d bring a rod for both small and big fish. I haven’t spotted carp recently, but there have been plenty of what we’ll call smallmouth bass, tilapia and green sunfish. Also, you can wade, so bring your waders, and maybe a wading pole for more support on those slippery rocks. Fishing will be from 9 a.m.-10 a.m., with volunteers helping you get your catch to a biologist to measure and catalog before being returned alive to the river.

Water at its deepest, I’d guesstimate at 4 feet.

Now, if you’re bringing your children, remember they get in free, but you’ll need to sign a guardian waiver, which is on the registration page. The big-hearted folks at the Los Angeles Rod and Reel Club have donated all of the rods and reels, so basically all you have to do to get your children some water time is register and show up at 10 a.m. Remember, anglers from the derby will be on hand to teach the kids. I know, it’s a pretty sweet deal.

There will be a food truck on hand to satisfy our appetites.

What kind of fish might you catch on our river? My photos are missing a few species, but here we go:

Nothing like catching your first fish on a fly --  a baby bass, no less. (Mark Gangi)

Nothing like catching your first fish on a fly — a baby bass, no less. (Mark Gangi)

Keith Mosier nabs his first L.A. River carp. Oh, yeah! (Ken Lindsay)

Keith Mosier nabs his first L.A. River carp. Oh, yeah! (Ken Lindsay)

Green sunfish are one of the pllars of the L.R. River ecosystem, and fun to catch as well. (B. Roderick Spilman)

Green sunfish are one of the pllars of the L.R. River ecosystem, and fun to catch as well. (B. Roderick Spilman)

Seeing is believing: Catching a Largemouth Bass can make your whole day. (photos by Roland Trevino)

Seeing is believing: Catching a Largemouth Bass can make your whole day. (photos by Roland Trevino)

See you on the river, Jim Burns