I received my screening copy of “Rivers Of A Lost Coast” today and let me tell you that the minute this DVD went into the player I was hooked. This is one of the best documentary films that I have ever seen, hands down. The film’s producers Justin Coupe and Palmer Taylor really did a great work through this film.
This movie has everything that you could ask for; a great commentator in Tom Skerritt from the movie “A River Runs Through It.”, personal interviews, and amazing footage from the golden age of West Coast Steelhead and Salmon Fly Fishing. I have to admit that it left me wishing that I had been born in another era.
Through this film you will get an insiders view of how California’s Coastal Fisheries have battled everything from flooding and drought to logging and over fishing. Showing California’s proud Steelhead Heritage, and our sport’s epic version of Muhammed Ali (Ted Lindner) vs. Joe Fraiser (Bill Shaadt).
As a California native this film struck a little too close to home, and had me thinking about all of the things that I should be doing to help restore this once great Salmon and Steelhead Fishery. Now is the time for us to do something, because soon it will be too late.
If you only see one film this year, go to Rivers Of A Lost Coast , find a theater screening near you, and GO SEE THIS MOVIE!
Had a chance to get in a couple of hour of brown-lining yesterday and headed up to the Whittier Narrows portion of the San Gabriel River with my fishin’ buddy, Sean. I’ve been feeling a little bit of “river envy” since returning from Ohio last week and thought that some time on moving water might dispel some of that feeling.
Not that I got to fish in Ohio — we were there on family business and it would have been bad form for me to sneak off during the in-laws Golden Anniversary celebration to dabble in the local streams.
Don’t get me wrong. My wife’s family is great and I really like being around them. But I am already slightly behind the eight ball, being the “California Boy” from the land of “Holly-Weird” and while they are very understanding folks, they are categorically non-fishing and can’t fully appreciate why I might derive pleasure from traipsing around the streams and creeks nestled in the bottom lands between corn and soybean fields to catch fish that I have no intention of eating.
Anyway, after a week of driving around western Ohio and observing the multitude of waterways, including the awe-inspiring Ohio River, I was really “jonesing” for some fishing.
So yesterday, Sean and I hit the S.G. Narrows after church and a pleasant lunch of Thai food with our beautiful brides.
When we got to our usual parking area, first thing I noticed was the rhythms of Mariachi music and the smells of BBQ drifting over the river from some festival in nearby Legg Lake park – not in and of themselves unpleasant things to accompany the urban fishing experience.
Unfortunately, the next thing I noticed was the incredible amount of trash strewn along the riverbank and floating in the quiet eddies and pockets between the aquatic weed beds. Now, I’m no Polyanna when it comes to urban fishing – I expect encounters with guys in aluminum foil hats and gang-bangers tagging the undersides of bridges and psychotic Rottweilers and homeless encampments encircled by empty soda can perimeter alarms and half-submerged shopping carts…but this…this was overwhelming.
The worst part about it was that the majority of the trash could be identified as fishing related. There were plastic tubs that had held bait and old packages for hooks and tackle and lures. Wads of tangled monofilament lay on the ground and fast food wrappers were everywhere.
I can regrettably report that, based on observation of the trash seen yesterday, most of the people fishing the Narrows purchase their supplies from one particular sporting goods store and that coffee and double cheeseburgers are their food and drink of choice.
The problem of trash is always present in brownlining. These are urban waters receiving street run-off and debris blown in to them as they pass through heavily populated areas. I get that!
But yesterday was just…sad.
Last week, there was a news story published about huge mats of trash floating out in the middle of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. One of these mats is roughly the size of Texas –yeah, Texas!
Please consider making a trash bag part of your regular fishing gear if you call yourself an urban fisher.
Oh, and just a reminder: if you ain’t fishin’ with yo’ Mama, you best be pickin’ up after yourself!
I was up in Fullerton the other day and wanted to do alittle fishing so I stopped into Craig Regional Park to see if I could get a couple of bites. Doesn’t look like the lake has changed much since the last time I was there. Started off trying for a Carp, got a couple of bites but I was too anxious and popped the fly out both times on the set. I fished for about an hour or so and pulled in about 50 Green Sunfish on a hopper dropper system. The greenies must be taking over, I didn’t even see one Bluegill or Bass. Green Sunfish are know to choke out other species, they are more hardy breaders then Bluegill and eat alot of Bass fry. Usually the Green Sunfish in Southern California Lakes tend to be stunted, but these were some of the biggest Greenies that I have caught. All in all I was just glad to get some time in on the water!
Go to most any park in the greater L.A. area on any given Sunday and you will immediately step into a multi-cultural festival of sights, sounds and smells. It is almost like being at the airport, only folks are usually much happier.
Travel guides claim that over 90 languages are commonly spoken in the L.A. basin and it is a simple matter of turning to the left or the right when deciding if it’s going to be Thai, Korean, Chinese, Mexican, Peruvian, Indian or African food for dinner.
Naturally, this multi-culturalism presents an interesting set of interactions when you show up at an urban park to do a little fishing. If you don’t bring a good attitude, an ear for accents and some give-away hooks and leader material, you are more than likely going to end up pestered and frustrated…throw a fly rod into your equipment mix and you are pretty much guaranteed to have an audience of sweaty kids surrounding you wanting to know what you are doing.
Ironically, many of these kids can tell you how to rig a trot line, set a fish trap, build a weir, snag fish and even use dynamite safely to catch fish. Yet they have no clue what a fly rod is or how one is used.
A while back, I was fishing Legg Lake in the Montebello area when a small herd of kids surrounded me and began the usual rapid-fire list of questions.
After a few minutes, I noticed one of the quieter kids off to the side, imitating my casting style with a tree branch.
I called him over and asked him if he wanted to try a real fly rod. He shook his head affirmative so, much to the delight of his pack-mates, I gave him some simple instructions and let him cast a couple of times.
The smile on his face indicated a new rank in his status amongst his peers. I reached into my pocket and gave him an old, battered wet fly and about ten feet of leader material. I then showed him how to rig it to the end of his old tree branch so that he effectively had a Japanese style fly rod.
I pointed the herd toward a spot I knew from previous visits usually held Bluegill and settled back for what I thought would be a peaceful rest of the afternoon.
About a half hour later the same kid came wondering back my way, clutching his branch as if it were a new Sage 3-wt. and asked me how I was doing.
At the moment I was working on roll casts and not really actively pursuing prey. I replied that I had not caught anything lately.
He looked at my with that look that only another angler can understand and knowingly replied, “You must be doing it wrong then.”
I love Big Bear Lake. It fascinates me and frustrates me all at once – just like my wife. It is one of the most beautiful local lakes I know and it is also one of the most elusive lakes I have ever fished.
Big Bear has some twenty miles of accessible shoreline, shallow flats, deeper water, rocky coves and quiet back bays. Trout, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Catfish, Crappie, Sunfish & Carp are all found there.
Unfortunately, Big Bear is not known as a great place to fly fish, which is too bad. Virtually every piece of literature you read about fishing there recommends using floating bait or an inflated worm fished off a sliding sinker or trolling with lead core line –possibly two of the most boring ways to fish, in my mind.
Don’t get me wrong…If you were fishing to eat or as a cover for consuming massive quantities of beer while sitting in a fold-up chair… well, then I suppose those methods would be fine – I’m not judging here, I’m just saying…
Anyway, I had a chance to sneak off to BB recently with my bride and I had it fixed in my mind that I was going to pursue Carp…on a fly rod.
Now, right about now, some of the purists out there are getting a shrinking feeling in their nether regions and likely just spat out their coffee in an involuntary spasm of disgust.
So be it. I like catching Carp and I like catching them on flies. Not that I actually get to catch them on flies that often but I love the pursuit nonetheless.
So, we get up to BB and decide to take out the kayaks into Grout Bay. Grout Bay is generally protected from the wind, is shallow and quiet and makes for a great place to paddle around and have lunch while quietly bobbing amongst the floating patches of water plants.
While our little float was primarily an opportunity for some quality time with my spouse, it was also a chance to do a little reconnaissance since Grout Bay is a well-known hang out for Carp.
Sure enough, they were there and they were active. In fact, a courting/mating pair literally ran into the bottom of my kayak as they romped around in spawning oblivion. Viva l’amour!
I took mental notes, plotted a strategy and waited.
Around 6:00 pm, I drove back to Grout Bay, stripped down to swim trunks and t-shirt, a neck lanyard with just the bare essentials, my 9-wt. with sinking tip line and a few carefully chosen flies.
Grout Bay is named for the sandy soil that was just the right consistency to be used as mortar during construction of the Big Bear Dam. Sure, it has accumulated a nice thick layer of black ooze on it over the years but, I gotta’ tell ya’, there is something totally cool about sloshing through the warm water with the aquatic plants brushing gently against your legs and feeling the coarse sand and silky ooze squish up between your toes while sight fishing for massive, feeding Carp.
During the next hour and a half I cast repeatedly to some two-dozen fish but none would take my offerings. They didn’t spook – except the one I actually hit on the head with a leech imitation (note to self: keep working on the targeting skills)– but they wouldn’t be fooled either.
Yet, with the glassy water reflecting the setting sun, the soft calls of the various birds and the absolute peacefulness of the entire surroundings it didn’t seem to matter all that much.
Downey Wilderness Park Lake is one of those odd little places that really epitomize what SoCal urban Flyfishing is all about.
It is a pair of roughly dumbbell shaped, blue-tinted ponds that sit in the middle of a narrow stretch of park nestled between the 605 Freeway, the San Gabriel River and Florence Ave.
In fact the entrance to the park is the same road that dumps you onto the southbound 605 if you are not paying attention.
Despite its name, there ain’t no wilderness about it. It is about as “wild” as the Jungle Boat ride at Disneyland, unless your definition of wild includes overweight, thieving squirrels with cholesterol issues and geese with a distinct preference for churros over stale bread.
Even the portion of the San Gabriel River the runs next to it is nothing more than a giant culvert with a tiny trickle of water running down the middle of its concrete belly for most of the year. Our Kelvin fishing friend from Scotland would seriously hurt himself from laughing if he saw how we define urban river.
Yet, the park is a welcome spot of green in a great location for a quick opportunity to wet a line for a half an hour or so between appointments or on the way home from work. As a bonus, the high-powered aerators in the ponds create pleasant, albeit somewhat industrial looking, fountains of water which help to drown out noise and make talking somewhat difficult and pointless.
All in all, Downey Wilderness Park is one of those places to keep tucked away in the back of the mind when there is not enough time to go anywhere else but the need to cast a few flies is so overwhelming that you are bordering on homicidal. You might call it a “Mayday Lake” as in “Help. My head is going to pop off the end of my neck if I don’t do some fishing soon!”
Anyway, the time issue is what drove Sean and I there last Saturday. We only had about two hours to spare, including drive time, and Downey was the closest body of water to where we needed to be later in the morning.
We parked on the street and walked into the park to avoid the $2.00 parking fee. Now, you might think that we are unusually cheap — which we are, but we also have gotten the system down so that we use the walk time to get our rods assembled and rigged. By the time we walk up to the water’s edge, we’re ready to go. I prefer to think of it as skill building rather than penny-pinching.
Anyway, Sean has this sweet, little rig that he uses when we hit these pocket lakes. He ties on a stimulator with a small nymph trailing about eight inches behind it – a basic, textbook rig. No big deal, right? Well, it has proven deadly on numerous occasions and has become a go-to first strike set-up on these tiny pocket waters.
Within two casts we were pulling in small sunfish, mostly taken on the nymph. If you know anything about panfish, where there is one there are many. So we worked the school for quite a while. I could literally feel my shoulders relax and a smile come back to my face as we hauled in the little guys on almost every cast.
We followed the school around the edge of the pond for a while until the heat of the day drove them down into the deeper water. After that, things slowed down dramatically. We switched over to small Krystal buggers and though we had a couple of half-hearted hits, nothing much happened.
Still, the flyrod had worked its magic and the rest of the day seemed to go just a little bit better. Sometimes it’s not where you go, just that you went.
The Dog Days is a term that refers to the hottest days of the Summer months. The Romans believed that during the Dog Days men were more inclined to go insane, dogs were more likely to bite and wine was more likely to go sour, among other various and sundry unpleasantries. A more technical definition defines the Dogs Days as the period between early July and early September corresponding roughly to when Sirius, the Dog Star, rises just before or at the same time as sunrise.
However you look at it, the Dog Days have always been associated with heat, sweat, and insanity.
So, now that we have that little detail cleared up, you will understand what I’m talking about when I say that Sean and I got to experience our own little taste of the Dog Days this past weekend as we headed out to Cerritos Regional County Park for what we thought would be a couple of hours of Urban fly lining.
As it turned out, we picked one of the hottest days of the year, so far, to walk around a nearly shadeless lake while battling a stiff, hot, westerly breeze only to come up completely skunked…as in zip, zero, nada. If you don’t think that is enough to drive either of us to the point of insanity, you just haven’t been following this site long enough.
Anyway, It’s not as though the location was bad—especially compared to some of the places we usually fish. I never once felt the urge to check for my back up weapon. Cerritos Regional Park is a nice, tidy, well designed family park in the middle of a nice, tidy suburb just a few miles southeast of downtown L.A.. It has plenty of sturdy, clean picnic tables and open spaces where families can barbeque and kids can play pick up games of football and tag and the like while the grownups lounge on fold-up chairs under insta-shelter canopies. The grass is mostly green and well maintained and everything just… looks good…”All Ozzie and Harriet”, as we used to say in the ‘hood.
But as anyone who has fished for more than a week will attest, looks ain’t everything. Turns out we just could not catch a break.
We tried wooly buggers, nymphs, dry/nymph combos, poppers, mild profanity and outright bribery but nothing worked.
I once read somewhere that the Romans would sacrifice a small, brown dog at the start of the Dog Days in a futile attempt to ward of the maladies associated with the season. There was a middle-aged couple strolling the perimeter of the lake with a tan Chihuahua but they simply wouldn’t part with the little mutant.
We called it an early day and took our wives for pizza instead.