When the first Off Tha' Hook Fish Derby landed on the banks of the Los Angeles River a couple of years back, some locals surely took pause at the notion.
After all, fishing derbies tend to happen in more pastoral places, locations far out of the city limits, the kind of spots flush with trees and meadows and grazing woodland animals.
But our famous urban waterway is also home to nature, too, and lots of it. And biologists are eager to study what's happening beneath the river's waves, and they've partnered with Friends of the LA River and local fishing buffs to make a lively, cast-a-line day of it.
What to do, where to go and what to see
The 3rd annual Off Tha' Hook Fish Derby is again set for Labor Day Weekend, so put your tacklebox in order and clear the morning of Saturday, Sept. 3. You can register now, and while both kids and grown-ups are invited to take part, the adults have a sign-up fee of thirty five bucks.
Kids ages 6 to 17 fish for free. And a nice bonus: Experienced line-casters'll be out helping the younger participants with tips and such, to assist the aspiring anglers.
Where to meet? The California State Parks Bowtie Parcel. What to aim for? Reeling in the rarest species or the biggest. All critters are returned to the river after being weighed and measured by on-site scientists, where they'll swim on. So best have a camera handy, or some pals, to remember your big "the fish was this big" moment.
If you dig that twisting, wending, sun-glinty bit of aquatic city goodness — perhaps you've experienced the new VR film, or participated in a springtime clean-up, or kayaked down the river — think of the annual fishing derby as a new way to connect with its plentiful offerings.
We don't have to drive out of town to jump into an old-timey derby. Nature is here in LA, and the fishing on Labor Day Saturday is just fine.