A River Runs Through It

It used to be that one could see the odd cormorant when walking along certain stretches of the L.A. River. By now they are hanging out there in whole flocks; and apparently they hunt for fish, too, because this splendid specimen is drying its feathers after diving.

Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant

Then one sees anglers. This again raises the question: “Fish? In the L.A. River? Big enough for people to catch? Has it really recovered that much?”

Anglers at the L.A. River
Anglers at the L.A. River

It has indeed, as can be seen from the catch of one of these gentlemen:


Six carp, each weighing in at about 3 – 4 pound.

So yes, the revitalization of the river is progressing. But can one eat the fish? Not a question which troubles the cormorants very much, but the anglers might be a bit concerned.

Here comes the next surprise: Yes, one can.

In September 2008 FoLAR published their second report, titled The Fish Study. According to this report the L.A. River is now populated (at least in the revitalized parts) by mosquitofish, tilapia, green sunfish, fathead minnow, carp, bullhead, Amazon sailfin cafish and largemouth bass. FoLAR also tested the fish for toxicity and found that all samples were below the OEHHA advisory levels for folks eating fish three times a week. So while some might decide to go for catch-and-release, the fish caught can be eaten. FoLAR advises however that it might be safer to just eat the fillets than cooking stew or soup, as chemical can concentrate in the head and guts. (By the way, that was what the gentleman with the six carp said – he was going to put the fillets on the barbecue the same evening.)

And there you are – the river running through L.A. is gaining back life in a big way. With cormorants and men going for fish, overall it does not look too bad for the water quality.

3 thoughts on “A River Runs Through It”

  1. Carp are very bony and inedible as far as most people are concerned. However, they are great fish to catch on a fishing pole, because they put up quite a fight.

  2. I don’t really care whether carp are edible or not – just the fact that they are populating the river is amazing.

    About seven years ago the river was nearly sans fish – and now that! What a turnaround…

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