By ROBERTO FONSECA
ATWATER VILLAGE — Fishing along the L.A. River is not ideal. Traffic on the 5 and 2 freeways roar nearby. Homeless encampments dot the channel. The cleanliness of the water and the safety of eating fish that swim in it is a concern. Despite these drawbacks, summer weekends find families, groups of friends and seasoned anglers at the river’s edge, and some say their numbers have been growing.
“It’s a chill way to spend a Sunday,” says Alex Ocampo, a 20 year-old Atwater Village resident who uses tortillas as bait. “I don’t have to travel too far and the fish … are pretty easy to catch. It’s a fun past time.”
Fishing in the river is free and legal from May 29 – September 17 in The L.A. River Recreation Zones in Elysian Valley and a section of the San Fernando Valley.
What kind of fish swim in the L.A. River?
A 2008 study conducted by The Friends of the L.A. River in the Glendale Narrows, that section of the river that stretches from Glendale on the north to Elysian Valley on the south, found everything from mosquito fish and tilapia to carp and largemouth bass.
“I can catch carp, bluegill and bass,” said Renee, a fly fisherman who did not want to provide his last name. “ I like the quietness and it’s very close by to me. It works out for me. I never eat the fish, however. I just catch and release. That seems to be what many people do.”
Bambi Black, who accompanied Renee on the river, enjoys see others fishing along the channel.
“It’s cool seeing the families here,” Black said. “ There have been a lot of people fishing here lately.”
Ocampo enjoys fishing — as well as some beer drinking– near the Acresite Street entrance of the river because it’s walking distance from his home. Ocampo even enjoys the freeway noise despite what others say. It makes him feel at home.
About those tortillas
“I like using tortillas as my bait,” said O’Campo, who prefers to fish around 6 pm when the heat dies down. “The fish eat them up like crazy.” But you won’t find Ocampo eating his L.A. River catch. “It’ probably not the safest to eat.”
While many expressed concerns about eating the fish, the 2008 Friends of Los Angeles River found that fish in the river were healthier and lower in mercury than that of fish found in the ocean.
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Roberto Fonseca is a senior journalism major at Chico State University. Fonseca grew up in Atwater Village and attended Atwater Elementary, Irving Middle, Marshall and Sotomayor High schools before graduating in 2014.
A message from Eastside Events sponsor Metro
Go Metro to Nisei Week 2017 in Little Tokyo
Enjoyed by thousands every summer, Nisei Week in Little Tokyo is one the nation’s longest running cultural festivals of its kind. From August 19 to 27, participate in free Japanese cultural events, activities for all ages, and live music and dancing.
The most convenient way to get to the 77th Annual Nisei Week festivities is to take the Metro Gold Line and get off at the Little Tokyo/Arts District Station. Learn more at golittletokyo.com.