LA River First: Fly-Fishing Derby

Anglers of every skill level can join the catch-and-release competition.

Picture, in your mind, which is the very best place to picture things, a peaceful angler casting a fly-fishing line. Are there fat bumblebees in the foreground? Maybe a forest near the river? A few skyscrapers, some jets overhead, and a freeway, too?

Those last few items don't fold into our angling daydreams as neatly as plump buzzing insects and swaying grasses, but they may soon: The Los Angeles River will soon see its very first fly-fishing derby. Name? Off Tha' Hook.

A folksy fly-fishing derby, in the heart of one of the world's bustlingest metropolises, along the bank of its most famous and too-oft-maligned waterways?

Yes. Can't get much more affirmative than "yes," either.

Call it the natural unfolding of the rise-and-rise of the river, which the EPA deemed "navigable" a few years back. The LA River now sees recreational kayaking along certain portions and a weekend hangout called the Frog Spot for cyclists. The derby, which lines up the poles on Saturday, Sept. 6, feels like the next step in making the H2O a homier, easier-to-enjoy spot.

One? It's a catch-and-release kind of deal, as derbies often are. Two? Anglers of every stripe, be they newbies or know-all-bies can jump in. And three? Participants will be lending a hand, as "catches (will be) cataloged in search for signs of steelhead trout." The steelhead once called the river home, but has not been spied in its waves since the late 1940s.

Indeed, the Friends of the LA River, and all of the waterway's supporters, put an emphasis on the health of its wildlife, and derbyists will help science and conservation by casting those lines and maybe making a catch.


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You'll make for the Glendale Narrows early on Sept. 6 -- "early" being 9 a.m. -- and you'll fish for $35 bucks (if you have a child with you, she or he fishes for free). 

Maybe minds'll even be swayed that a traditionally folksy scene can have buildings in the background. We sometimes wear fisherman's vests and flannel around LA, and whistle happy tunes; why can't we go line-to-line in a fly-fishing fun-for-all?

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