It’s become impossible anymore for me to tune out persistent sound of my natal stream or the steady rhythms of the ocean in the mornings or evenings.
The last year has been the busiest of my life with family and personal obligations and I haven’t had much of an opportunity to fish.
While searching for something hidden deep in my garage last week, I came across my 8 foot fly rod, my grandfather’s fly wallet and a pack of tippets that I wouldn’t trust to hold a goldfish. Finding my treasured rod and flys that I know were tied expressly for the San Gabriel River was all the
permission I needed to trudge up the East Fork of the San Gabriel River (which I consider my home stream) and get a line wet.
If I were a “meat” fisherman, and had to rely on the East Fork to put trout in the skillet, I’d be very thin.
I don’t fish this stream for dinner; I wet a line here because it’s a spiritual experience that courses deeply through my family. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t hiked up the East Fork of Azusa Canyon and not watched the upper reaches or this river for silver flashes darting in and out of shaded water on sunny evenings.
Two of my favorite places on the East Fork are downstream from the Bridge to Nowhere in a section of the River that spreads under the face of Swan Rock. I zipped out a tiny nymph on a new 6X tippet and hooked up a tiny aerial rainbow. Releasing the dwarf trout, I sent my fly down through a
rill and had a second hook up within five minutes. The second fish was a a hefty ten-incher that put on a great tail dancing display.
The remarkable thing about upper East Fork trout is that most of what you catch can be“wild” trout.” I grew up with stories of trout, salmon and steelhead fishing on the East Fork. The salmon
stopped running when the two dams in the San Gabriel Canyon were built in the 1930’s But every so often you catch or see a vivid crimson striped rainbow up here that hints wild steelhead genes are trapped in this stream. It’s been at least two years since I’ve seen a genetic suspect, but the image of the 18-incher I caught way up near Iron Fork keeps me interested in the East Fork fishery.
My second most productive spot on these waters is about three miles upstream from the trail
head. Look for the remains of a stone cabin just to the east of the stream and fish the pools there. I caught and released three more dinks there and headed back down to my parked car in the
trail head lot.
I may not have caught enough for a family meal, but the East Fork welcomed this Azusa Huck Fin boy with a pleasant fishing experience and a wonderful hike back in time.
A wilderness pass is required in the Angeles National Forest and a valid California fishing license is a must.
Wild trout 30miles from downtown Los Angeles? You bet and I guarantee you’ll enjoy the hike.—Jim
Forbes on 6/23/2023