Tell some Angelenos that you're going to kayak or wade or fish in the Los Angeles River and a raised eyebrow is the only response you'll receive.
To those eyebrow-cocking doubters we say, kindly but firmly, "oh hush now." Because they know our urban waterway is on the up-and-up and that organized paddle trips and bike rides and birding tours are busily out there, along the banks, changing the river's reputation as a concrete behemoth of no natural charm.
The annual LA River Fishing Derby is one such rep-changing event for our river. Now heading into its second year, the Off Tha' Hook happening is set for Saturday, Sept. 5, a "free" day per U.S. Fish and Wildlife. "Free" here means you don't need a license to fish, not that the event is free; there is a registration cost for experienced anglers.
But not for the line-casting kids: There's a to-do where aspiring anglers can learn the ropes and pay no money to do so.
The location? The river at North Atwater Park. The day's hosts and organizers? The people behind Friends of the Los Angeles River, or FOLAR, if you prefer a catchier handle. The chance to catch something? Definitely there; some sizable carp and large-mouth bass hit the scales at the first Off Tha' Hook in September 2014.
There are, in fact, two competitions for the day: weight and rarest species. Biologists will be on hand to take notes about the caught fish before the aquatic river residents are returned to the watery home.
The Family Fish begins at 10 a.m. on Sept. 5, so if fishing is your favorite pastime, and you support the efforts to restore the wilder world upon our city's riverway, consider the derby a delightful moment to spend with your lil' fisherpeople.
Registration is fifty bucks per adult, and, again, the kids fish for free. It's open now, to sign up, so sign up soon, if you will. This is happening on the Saturday of Labor Day, and one can only imagine that it'll continue to grow, participant-wise, as the LA River isn't the most rustic of fishing holes.
It is, in short, a pretty buzzy place to cast a line. So join in to bring some love to FOLAR's admirable efforts with the river, which continues to get more recreational all the time.
No eyebrow raising shall change that fact. Perhaps one day, down the road, no eyebrows shall be raised when the idea of the LA River as a place for play comes up in conversation.