Category: Carp


By , September 11, 2009 7:00 am

Urban Exploring A week ago the L.A. basin sat under a thick, brown layer of smoke and ash due to the massive and deadly Station and Morris fires burning wildly out of control just to the north of Los Angeles and, in fact threatening some of the foothill communities. Maps posted on the website,, (one of the best sites for quick, factual fire info. for the western U.S.) showed ugly, ragged fire lines encompassing some of the most rugged and heavily vegetated terrain in SoCal. At the time of this posting, those same maps show that the fires have eaten through an area larger than the city of Chicago…and they are still burning.

A week ago I stood on the lawn of the Griffith Park Observatory along with my buddy, Sean, and we watched through telescopes as the fire exploded entire trees in its ravenous march down the hillsides of not so distant canyons.

But that was last week.

Yesterday, Sean and I stood on the banks of the L.A. River, just a couple of miles from the observatory, beneath a startling clear blue sky with a fresh cooling breeze in our faces.

And while all of California is in a severe drought, down in the River the water flowed fast and strong and clear.

We had made the drive back up from the O.C. to “La Reever” because in my quest to learn more about the fires I thought I might have stumbled upon a new fishing spot via Google aerial maps.

Sure enough, tucked away in a highly industrialized neighborhood of sheet metal fabricators, welding shops and dubious import companies and nestled between freeway bridges, railroad trestles and high tension power line towers there is a little slice of paradise – at least by L.A. urban standards. And the best part of it was that no one was there. Not a soul.

There we were, in the middle of roughly 11 million people and we actually had a sizeable stretch of moving water all to ourselves.

We backed Sean’s tan Toyota about a quarter-mile down a service road (every successful guy from the “barrio” learns to drive with equal facility backwards and forwards – it’s a useful skill for avoiding stray bullets) where it blended in nicely with the decomposed granite roadway and the tall bushes trying to hold on ‘til the winter rains.

We geared up and walked another couple of hundred yards to a breach in the chainlink and barbed wire and began our decent down the steep concrete banks. I did a quick scan of the local graffiti to see if I could detect any active “dissing” going on which would raise the keep-looking-over-your-shoulder factor, but found none. In fact, we did not even find any piles of empty beer bottles or food wrappers or any signs that anybody had been down there in the recent past.

As we moved down the embankment, I started to get excited because I could see dozens of fat, torpedo shapes resting in a large pool at the bottom end of some riffles. Sean had forgotten his polarized glasses and could not see the fish so he just looked at me and nodded politely – the way one nods at the finger-pointing, rambling conspiracy theorist stationed on the steps outside the main Post Office.

I began muttering about needing light colored sinking flies and desperately tried to remember if I had any white Wooly Buggers left in my fly box. Sean was already rigging up a Wooly Bugger with a salmon egg imitation as a dropper rig and, again, just nodded politely in my direction.

We positioned ourselves at opposite ends of the pool and began working toward the middle. I cast carefully in front of the shadowy shapes beneath the surface. There was very little conversation, no drama, no people and it just felt great being out on the water, casting with my favorite rod and enjoying the peace and quiet murmuring of the River. Anyone, I repeat, anyone who tells you that Carp are not worth the water they swim in has not fished for them in earnest.

The next several hours were spent casting and crawling and kneeling amongst the bushes and pleading and grumbling along the banks of this section of water in an effort to entice these fish to strike. Time and time again I watched two-foot long Carp follow my flies only to turn away abruptly and inexplicably.

When I finally did get a strike, the fish immediately dove into the rocks and broke me off before I could turn its head around. Based on the unhappy groans coming from over Sean’s way, I surmised that he was having similar woes.

After thoroughly working about a quarter-mile of the River we decided to head over to Atwater Village and fish below the Hyperion Bridge – a well-known and commonly fished location. We were disappointed that we hadn’t landed any fish but we were thrilled with the number and wariness of the fish we had stumbled upon in this new location.

As we crested the hill on the path leading to the Hyperion Bridge section of the River, our first image was that of a lone fisherman sitting in the middle of the flats in a folding lawn chair. He was using two rods and even from a couple of hundred yards away, we could tell that he probably had them both rigged with 40-pound test or more. By the time we got to the bottom of the embankment, he was busy landing a foot-long fish.

Tortilla Man

There was a backpack on the shore and after Lawn-chair-guy had let his catch go he waded over to the backpack, sizing us up as we drew near to it. He took a cigarette from out of the front pocket and lit up as Sean asked him how he was doing. He smiled and said it had been a very good day. Sean asked him what he was using for bait and the guy replied, “tortilla”.

We looked at each other, wished him well and then somewhat frantically started digging around in our respective fly boxes as we walked toward a favored pool. Despite a plethora of flies for practically every location we fish, neither of us had any approximation of a tortilla. After some hard thinking, I considered snipping off a corner of my boxer shorts and using some tippet to tie it onto a #10 hook but then, aside from the obvious logistical problem of dropping ‘trow in the middle of the River, I remembered that it was Sunday and I had on the plaid ones anyway.

So, we fished until near dark but did not have the success of our lawn chair friend. The ride home was a mixture of contentment over our new-found location and amazement that we had been out-fished by tortillas. I could tell, though, from the animated way Sean was speaking that a fire had been started in him and we would probably be using a very interesting pattern the next time we hit the flats at Glendale Narrows.

New LA River Spot


By , September 4, 2009 6:00 am

Much has been written about Benson, The Famed British Carp that was reportedly about 35 years old at the time of its passing.

 Benson The Famed Brittish Carp

Sadly, I now understand the sense of loss over this national treasure.

This morning upon awakening, I did my usual routine of stumbling out of bed, heading straight to the coffee maker and then over to the 40 gallon tank where our veil-tailed goldfish (dubbed “Goldie” in a rather uncharacteristically mundane naming ceremony by my wife) resided, only to find her floating on her side, doing a slow motion pirouette in the current from the filters.

Dumbfounded and not fully awake, I stared at her for a full minute before the caffeine kicked in and I came to the realization that her gills were indeed still and she was indeed…gone.

I was baffled since only six hours prior she had swam along the front glass of the aquarium while I carried on a late night bill paying session at the dining room table.

In any event, I stood there for quite a while watching my long time pet drift aimlessly over the tops of the aquatic plants.

Now, I know goldfish and death are a frequent pairing in the scheme of things and I consider myself not overly sentimental, but “Goldie” had given a solid decade to soothing the jangled nerves and settling the twisting stomach by doing nothing more than gliding silently, serenely and slowly along the length of her tank while all sorts of drama unfolded around her.

She was a subtle reminder that a good home, a good meal and a nice long swim go a long way toward putting things in perspective.

Rest in peace, Goldie, rest in peace.


By , September 2, 2009 7:00 am

Dave Gollihugh one of our followers from day one has just caught his first ever LA River Carp. I love when someone emails me saying that they used the info on the site to get down in a ditch and snag one of their first Roughfish. Let’s see what Dave had to say about the experience.

“This is my first LA River carp and boy was it fun. Made my 6wt Z-Axis feel like a 3wt.”


Dave's First LA River Carp


If any of you guys out there have a fishing story that needs to be told and maybe a photo or two to go with it. Let us know, and we would be more than happy to post it on the site!


By , April 30, 2009 3:45 am

I had a chance to get in alittle Urban Carp Fishing down at the LA RIVER with my buddy Dan “The Fishing Guru”. It was absolutely the most frustrating time that I have ever had fly fishing. We had missed the perfect warm weather Fly Fishing conditions by a day, the water was as stained as I have ever seen it, and I could not land a fish. I hooked up with about 4 nice sized Carp, and could not get one single fish into a net. Two broke me off on rock piles, one rapped me around a tree, and one actually spit my fly out on a head shake (which if you have been carp fishing before you know does not ever happen). So I will definitely be heading back up there soon to get my revenge on these Carp. The highlight of this fishing experience had to be the fact that I learned to do the Fly Fisherman’s dance of irritation and frustration!!!
Could Not Land A Single FishLa River Looking Dead


By , November 16, 2008 4:29 am

What A River!

Okay I’m officially a fan of the LA River. I was up in the LA area and had about two hours this morning to revisit the LA River. I used the same 5/6 weight rod and reel, and about a 5-6 foot 6 pound test leader. I started in the pool right below Hyperion Bridge and with the fist 30 minutes I had 4 carp from 2-5 pounds. Once I got tired of the hole I started moving south down the river and passed a couple of bait fisherman using tortillas, and according to them they had each caught about 5 fish a piece. I caught 2 more scattered fish, and saw a couple of fish swimming around that must have been pushing 10 pounds. All 6 carp that I caught were caught on either a glow bug or glow bug egg imitation. Again I urge you if you have not tried fly fishing the LA River try it out. Carp are the Bone fish of fresh water they are strong, hard fighting to the end, and If you get a 10 pound plus fish it could end up spooling you. I’ve never hooked a trout in Southern California that could boast that.

Carp ZillaLovin It


By , November 10, 2008 4:00 am

I was so stoked my first Carp on the fly!!!I have heard stories from a couple of fly fishermen about catching Carp in the LA River. Well, I had a chance this Sunday to check it out for myself. My friend Dan and I got out of church on Sunday and hopped on the 5 freeway up to Hyperion Bridge and parked on a small side street to start our LA River experience. Dan had grown up in this area and used to play in the LA River as a kid and was super excited to try and fly fish it for the first time. We greeted two fly Fishermen on the way in and they had both caught about 5 or 6 Carp a piece. I got out my 5-6 weight rod and reel w/ 5 weight floating line and 6 pound leader, and tied on a chartreuse glow bug imitation. I fished one of the holes for about 5 minutes with no luck, then bam the hit of the century and my fly was gone. So I tied another fly (same glow bug) on and went for it again same fish another hit and another lost fly. I didn’t know whether to be excited or upset, but I shook it off and tied on a similar glow bug imitation and no less than a minute later I had my first Carp on the line. I ended up landing the fish it was about 2-3 pounds not a monster but fun, and I caught another that was about 3-4 pounds. So the moral of the story, GO FISH THE LA RIVER. I had a blast and it just proves that you can fish anywhere the fish are. Please remember to be respectful of the resource when out fishing pick up your trash and line, and make Southern California a nicer place to fish.

My First LA River Carp
Gettin' Bigger

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