Dozens of youth and adults converged along a stretch of the Los Angeles River for the inaugural “Off Tha Hook” fly fishing event Saturday morning.
The derby, hosted by Friends of the Los Angeles River, sought out experienced and novice anglers to try their luck where the river flowed past North Atwater Park. The event fell on one of three “free days” when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife waives fishing license requirements.
Adults competed for prizes and all youth were awarded ribbons. The event garnered a handful of sponsors including the Los Angeles Rod and Reel Club, which has taken urban youth fishing in the Pacific Ocean during the last several decades.
“We want to promote good stewardship along the river,” said William Bowling, special projects manager for Friends of the L.A. River. “We want to bring awareness that there is fishing in the L.A. River. Today is one of those days.”
Adults lined the steeped pavement reaching into the river for the first part of the competition. By competition’s end, six fish were caught, one weighing six pounds. Roland Trevino’s cast came up short when his line plopped into the water. The 67-year-old Altadena resident came to the event with his son, of the same name, and grandson, Ansel.
“I haven’t caught anything, just a lot of sun,” Trevino said with a smile. “But events like today are terrific. You blot out the freeway, and it’s very serene and peaceful.”
Many adults were accustomed to the technique of sending a casting line into the middle of the river. Event volunteers were on standby, lending a hand to youngsters as parents watched on.
“Make sure nobody’s around when you cast this,” said Alisa Klein to her 7-year-old daughter Sienna Greenlaw. Both took a quick glance behind them. After a flick of their wrists, the line wiggled in the air before resting in the brown-colored river.
Sienna has been wanting to try fishing for a few months after seeing it on the river last year. Saturday was a different experience for the Atwater Village family who normally visit the river for bird watching.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in the 15 years I’ve lived here,” said Dennis Greenlaw, Sienna’s father. “It’s nice to see all of these fishing poles out, and that the river is now safe enough to do these activities.”
Sienna sat on an orange bucket as her fishing line snaked in the water. Dennis Greenlaw looked at his daughter and thought back to his childhood.
“I used to fish as a kid,” he said. For him, seeing a former hobby picked up by his daughter was “nice.”