They Angle for a Line on Fishing

The average bass or trout has a brain the size of a pea, so how smart can it be?

Seasoned anglers say it takes persistence, moxie and just plain know-how to outsmart the wily fish.

Weekends, thousands of men and women in Southern California go bassin’ and troutin’ armed with the latest fishing tackle, colorful lures, “power bait” and electronic fish finders to catch their finny foes. But many come back empty-handed and disappointed.

In an effort to avert that disappointment, classes, workshops and fishing shows are offered throughout the Southland. This weekend, for instance, freshwater and saltwater fishing will be tackled at Fred Hall’s Western Fishing Tackle and Boat Show in Long Beach.


The show offers a school for beginning fishermen, with casting demonstrations and seminars. Manufacturers will exhibit the latest in rods, reels, lures, lines, fishing togs and boats, and there will be free trout fishing for children. The show today is 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Sunday it is 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Long Beach Convention Center. Admission: $6; 12 and younger free.

Ron Kovach, a licensed fishing guide, photographer and author, offers courses in fishing.

“A lot of people go fishing,” he says, “but few catch fish here on a regular basis.”

The adage that 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish rings true for Kovach, who says: “The recreational angler in this state has to be very shrewd and has to develop a lot of moxie . . . and secret tactics to fool the fish on a routine basis.”


Many Courses Offered

Kovach, a corporate vice president for Big 5 Sporting Goods and author of “Bass Fishing in California” and “Trout Fishing in California,” will conduct a bass fishing class at Golden West College in Huntington Beach on Tuesday and Thursday, a trout fishing course at Cerritos College in Norwalk on March 14 and 21, and classes on trout fishing in April at Golden West and at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. He also plans to hold a bassin’ workshop next Saturday at the Countryside Inn in Costa Mesa.

Kovach teaches students what bait to use, how to use the dazzling array of available fishing tackle and artificial lures, and other special tricks.

Kovach says the trick to catching bass locally is to throw out the approach developed by bassers in the Southern states. The bass there inhabit large lakes--swimming in shallow, cloudy water. As a result, fishermen use 12- to 17-pound test lines and bass bite easily.

In Southern California, the lakes are usually deep granite basins with clearer water, and the fish are “wary and very spooky,” Kovach says.

Tips for Local Fishing

He advises students to use fine, almost invisible 4- to 5-pound test line (to avoid getting hung up on tree stumps or bull rushes) and very small, soft plastic lures to fool the fish.

He also advocates catch-and-release bass fishing for the students and clients he takes on guided trips. Most of the lakes in Southern California are regularly stocked with trout, but bass are in short supply. Releasing fish after they are caught perpetuates the sport without depleting the bass supply, he says.


Ross Merigold, a member of the Pasadena Casting Club, who guides trout anglers on the Madison River near Yellowstone in Montana (a catch-and-release area), says, “The best part of fishing is the learning portion.”

Merigold, a past president of the Pasadena club, says clubs provide an opportunity to associate with experienced anglers.

Clubs Set Classes

Next Saturday and on March 18 and 25, the Pasadena Casting Club will host a fly-casting class for neophytes who would like to learn more about troutin’ in moving water. Classes are $10 each, $25 for three classes at the clubhouse on Arroyo Drive in Pasadena. Information: (818) 794-6973 or (818) 799-4373.

Also next Saturday, March 18 and 25, the Sierra Pacific Flyfishers will offer a free course in fly casting and fly fishing at Reseda Park, 18411 Reseda Blvd., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration and orientation are today, 9 to 11 a.m., at Reseda Park. The class will include demonstrations, films and hands-on instruction. Information: (818) 785-7306.

On April 8 and 9, the Southwest Council, Federation of Fly Fishers, will hold its annual conclave at the Amfac Hotel, 8601 Lincoln Ave., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The public event will feature expert anglers offering tips as well as displays and booths. Reservations are not necessary. Cost is $15 per family; $12 for single admission.

When freshwater fishing, remember to purchase a fishing license at a sporting goods store or drugstore. The fee is $19.25 for the basic license, plus $1 for a saltwater fishing stamp and an additional $3.50 to fish for striped bass.

Favorite Fishing Spots


When you are ready to go fishing, consider some of the following spots favored by many Southern California anglers:

Several lakes with bass and stocked trout are within a one- or two-hour drive of Los Angeles, including Irvine Lake in Orange on Santiago Canyon Road; Lake Skinner, north of Rancho California and Temecula; Castaic Lake, north of Valencia, east of Interstate 5; Lake Casitas, 12 miles north of Ventura; Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino National Forest; Lake Piru, north of Simi Valley; the Santa Ana River Lakes--Trout Lake, Catfish Lake and Chris’ Pond--north of the Riverside Freeway in Anaheim; Silverwood Lake, north of San Bernardino and east of California 138, and Pyramid Reservoir in the Los Padres National Forest near the Los Angeles-Ventura county line. Anaheim Lake, which is stocked with trout, is north of the Riverside Freeway in Anaheim.

If you prefer to catch trout in moving water, you might want to try the West Fork of the San Gabriel River in the San Gabriel Mountains north of Azusa (stocked and wild trout); Little Rock Creek, above Little Rock Reservoir in Antelope Valley; Piru Creek, which follows from Pyramid Lake to Lake Piru; Sespe Creek in Ventura County, north of Ojai; Bear Creek in San Bernardino County, near Arrowhead and Big Bear; Cucamonga Creek in San Bernardino County northeast of Upland.

Be sure to look for California Department of Fish and Game signs in these wilderness areas, because some are posted as “catch and release” as a conservation measure and require use of artificial lures.

Another fishing activity taking place this weekend is the Blake Jones Trout Derby at Pleasant Valley Reservoir, off U.S. 395, about 7 miles north of Bishop. The derby runs from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.