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Old 03-21-2014, 06:54 PM
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Default SoCal Watershed

You know the section of the creek that we all hike past? The one where one can barely make out out the water because the game trail swings above it (apparently even the animals avoid that stretch), but from the sound, you know it's there? It's the section nestled behind the maze of willow trees and the gauntlet of stinging nettles that line the bank. Huge granite boulders that look like they made their way down violently from up the mountain side eons ago protect the area from intruders. No sane person would attempt to traverse through this mess, especially without being certain on what lies on the other side.

I'm not that sane.

After finally breaking through the shrubbery unscathed, except for the welt on my shin, and then having to promptly deal with the colony of ants crawling all over my pack, my glasses, my hat, and everything else that was attached to me, my attention was drawn downstream, where in the clear water, sat half a dozen 12" fish, tailing in the current. It was one of those moments where you wanted to turn around and hope there were other witnesses, but it was just me and the ants. And I'm sure they're used to this sight.

Their dorsal fins would protrude out of the water as they darted from the comfort of the pocket into the shallows to pick off unsuspecting morsels. I had seen fish this size in this creek before, but most were positioned in areas that no angler would ever attempt to cast into. But, these fish made the mistake of laying in an area where a small window allowed for a presentation. I knew I only could get in one cast, which is why I was still propped on my knees, flipping almonds in my mouth, envisioning the perfect roll cast that would get my dry dropper into that tiny spot. I could've made a cast at them the moment I stumbled out of the overgrown vegetation onto the stream bed, but decided to get my heart rate down, because attempting any cast at that time would have resulted in my adrenaline making sure my leader wrapped up in the branches behind or above my target, spooking the entire pool in the process.

But, it was one of those days were every cast landed where it was supposed to.

And the fish cooperated.

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Last edited by darkshadow; 03-25-2014 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:22 PM
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Default Re: SoCal Watershed

I live for exactly what you just described! I love getting off the beaten path. Great job!
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:02 AM
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Default Re: SoCal Watershed

Awesome trip report and photos, it doesn't get much better than that, congrats!

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Old 03-24-2014, 08:32 AM
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Default Re: SoCal Watershed

Awesome!
Love it when overcoming a little "terrain adversity" pays off like that.
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:15 AM
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Default Re: SoCal Watershed

Darkshadow, a great report, and inspiring writing.
I started flyfishing last fall. Iím from Pasadena, and wanted to focus on local waters. I joined the local casting club - - great people, but they seem more focused on the occasional trip to the Sierra and Montana. Many say that our local waters are flowing too low and are overstressed, and the fish are too small. Some seem to think of local fishing as almost a novelty.
However, in the last month Iíve caught several 6Ē trout (and seen a 12Ē trout get away from me!), and it was all within an hourís hike of local trailheads. Like you, I use a 3wt 7í-6Ē with a basic Parachute Adams and the occasional Zebra nymph. I see others having similar success (especially with Tenkara rods!).
I like the Sierras, particularly the Owens, but I donít understand why people wait a month to take a weekend trip thatís 4-5 hours drive away, when beautiful and challenging fishing is available on local small waters on any given Saturday.
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Old 03-25-2014, 11:11 AM
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Default Re: SoCal Watershed

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Originally Posted by yikes View Post
Darkshadow, a great report, and inspiring writing.
I started flyfishing last fall. Iím from Pasadena, and wanted to focus on local waters. I joined the local casting club - - great people, but they seem more focused on the occasional trip to the Sierra and Montana. Many say that our local waters are flowing too low and are overstressed, and the fish are too small. Some seem to think of local fishing as almost a novelty.
However, in the last month Iíve caught several 6Ē trout (and seen a 12Ē trout get away from me!), and it was all within an hourís hike of local trailheads. Like you, I use a 3wt 7í-6Ē with a basic Parachute Adams and the occasional Zebra nymph. I see others having similar success (especially with Tenkara rods!).
I like the Sierras, particularly the Owens, but I donít understand why people wait a month to take a weekend trip thatís 4-5 hours drive away, when beautiful and challenging fishing is available on local small waters on any given Saturday.
yikes,

I experience the same thing. Every person "in the know" seems to not really know much. I can walk in to my local fly shop (take your pick of the whopping two we have in LA) and they'll re-iterate that our local mountains are not worth the drive to, and will point people towards the Sierras.

Now, they may just not really know what's happening locally since they don't fish it often enough, OR, they are keeping these places on the down low, which I totally understand. Having a limited number of watersheds makes it tough, especially with these drought conditions. The particular area I fish seems to retain more water than most, but I know it's about to start getting thin and the fish will become ever more skittish than they are now.

I landed my best fish outta these streams last weekend. A whopping 13.5"! My buddy has the pictures in his camera, and I'm anxious to see what it looks like.
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Old 03-25-2014, 01:21 PM
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Default Re: SoCal Watershed

I also understand keeping secret spots secret. However, the places I have been fishing locally, such as the San Gabriel river, are no big secret. For some of the older fishermen, I think their issues are:
1. They don't feel like hiking or biking the extra distance, or have mobility issues that prevent rock scrambling.
2. They hear about the drought and see almost no flow at the lower elevations, and assume the upper elevations must also be devoid of water.
3. They remember back to earlier days when there were a lot more fish, and they seemed to get discouraged.
4. They see the trash and prospectors and crowds of party people near the trailhead, and don't realize that most of that mess drops away within the first mile.

You ask at one fly shop, and they'll say "there must've been a fish kill on the West Fork, because no one is catching anything". You ask at another shop, and the guy will say "I've never failed to catch a fish on the West Fork. The lower the water, the fewer places they can hide."

I don't blame you for not mentioning the location of your awesome adventure. But please do post the photos, and the day that you caught them, so that people can get excited about our local resources now. A year ago there was a gov't survey of who uses the San Gabriel river, and fishermen were less than 2% of the users. I am trying to advocate in our club and our politicians for greater interest in / protection of our local watersheds.
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Old 05-03-2014, 05:40 PM
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Default Re: SoCal Watershed

Darkshadow, your original post inspired me to try a variety of different local places in hopes of uncovering your secret spot. Worst case, I get to enjoy a bunch of hikes.
Today I went to the Arroyo, downstream from Switzer, then up into Bear Canyon. Not much water flow, but I was hoping for some pools. I thought for a moment that your rarely-visited pools might be the ones at the top of the falls, but I decided against trying when I saw the sign stating the number of fatalities from attempting to hike those pools.
Bear Canyon is beautiful. Very narrow, and there are a LOT of downed trees, presumably from the big storm a couple of months ago. If any fish survived that storm, they will now have plenty of tree cover from predators. I'll have to go back when I have more time.
Oh, and on the way out, Switzer Falls had claimed another victim. USFS staff were hustling down the trail with a backboard, and the rescue chopper was hovering in.
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Old 05-06-2014, 12:50 PM
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Default Re: SoCal Watershed

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Originally Posted by yikes View Post
Darkshadow, your original post inspired me to try a variety of different local places in hopes of uncovering your secret spot. Worst case, I get to enjoy a bunch of hikes.
Today I went to the Arroyo, downstream from Switzer, then up into Bear Canyon. Not much water flow, but I was hoping for some pools. I thought for a moment that your rarely-visited pools might be the ones at the top of the falls, but I decided against trying when I saw the sign stating the number of fatalities from attempting to hike those pools.
Bear Canyon is beautiful. Very narrow, and there are a LOT of downed trees, presumably from the big storm a couple of months ago. If any fish survived that storm, they will now have plenty of tree cover from predators. I'll have to go back when I have more time.
Oh, and on the way out, Switzer Falls had claimed another victim. USFS staff were hustling down the trail with a backboard, and the rescue chopper was hovering in.
yikes,

I need to check out this area, as it's the closest watershed to DTLA. I've heard of the area containing some wild remnants but I have yet to actually hike down there myself.

I just passed by the area on my way back from the Sierras this Saturday and it looks very disheartening with the lack of moving water, which is probably due to the absence of snow in the Angeles NF.
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Old 05-07-2014, 10:33 PM
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Default Re: SoCal Watershed

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Originally Posted by darkshadow View Post
yikes,

I need to check out this area, as it's the closest watershed to DTLA. I've heard of the area containing some wild remnants but I have yet to actually hike down there myself.

I just passed by the area on my way back from the Sierras this Saturday and it looks very disheartening with the lack of moving water, which is probably due to the absence of snow in the Angeles NF.
It's very beautiful. As you can see from the photos, there are pools even though the flow is low. However, the pools appear devoid of fish.
Click the image to open in full size.
Bear Canyon has many downed trees and limbs over the stream; bring a machete! The previous storm must've been ferocious. The water there is equally low, but I have to think all those trees have provided good protection for any fish still surviving.
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