ATWATER VILLAGE — Big mouth bass and one large carp were the main fish caught at the first-ever Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) “Off tha’ Hook” fishing derby held at North Atwater Park on Saturday morning
The catch and release event took place on a “free” fishing day (aka no license needed and therefore open to all) designated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
After a brief pep talk by FoLAR officials (including co-founder Lewis MacAdams), about 25 veteran anglers headed early onto the banks of the river; some brave souls walked straight into the water for a more immersive experience. The friendly competition was more about the act of fishing in the L.A. River than winning trophies or fame, with casters waiting for the catch amidst the lush river surroundings and the hills of Griffith Park in the distance. After the veterans finished up their contest, the derby was open to kids, many who were learning the pole-dangling art from either a parent or an experienced caster.
The event also doubled as a scientific sampling; all fish caught at the derby were cataloged by Rosi Dagit, environmental scientist who says that the data complied on Saturday will augment the larger L.A. fish survey done in 2008. “This is the best citizen scientist program,” said Dagit, noting that often she’s the one wading in rivers and streams catching critters. “I have it easy today!”
Anglers who were lucky enough to hook a fish brought their catches in a large orange bucket to Dagit. After weighing and measuring the fish (some also had a scale removed to later date them), Dagit had the slippery subjects hoisted back into the fast-moving water.
Brenda Rees is a writer and resident of Eagle Rock.
* Correction: A previous version of this story said that the event took place on a “free” fishing day designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. That’s wrong. The agency is the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.