Photos by Mathew Scott


LA River Fishing

It’s a common practice for fishers or anglers to keep their best fishing spots a secret, as part of the appeal of recreational fishing is researching and discovering your own spot and keeping that good spot hidden. For newcomers, this practice might be daunting, but when Karen Barnett was first learning to fish, she didn’t run into this problem, because her backyard happened to be one of the best fishing spots in the entire city: the LA River. 

“I have caught some bluegill, some largemouth bass, catfish, and of course carp. Along with the fish, there’s also crawdads and clams.” 

Not many Angelenos are aware that the river is teeming with life; fish, birds, coyotes, frogs, turtles, and other critters can all be found in this ecosystem. This lack of awareness makes sense when considering the usual images that come to mind of the LA River: a concrete channel or sewage system. 

Changing this perspective is difficult, but Karen is optimistic, given the tireless work that the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council has undertaken in the past years to push for river revitalization projects that benefit the community-at-large, namely the Atwater Village East Bank Riverway Project.

“There’s just so much life down there, and it’s something that people just drive by, and we need to look at our infrastructure. That’s what’s so exciting about the Army Corps’s Engineering with Nature*, to look back at what we did in the last century and not do that today, and how can we solve problems without damaging at the same time.” 

For Karen, one of these solutions is increasing pedestrian access and encouraging recreation activity along the LA River. Doing so provides an opportunity for Angelenos to develop a connection to this precious green space and natural resource. 

“[River access] will unburden some of our mountainous regions and our state and national parks, too, because people will have [green spaces] and be able to visit it in their backyard.”

The beauty of the LA River is one secret worth telling; next time you find yourself nearby, go out and explore its banks. 

*Engineering With Nature (EWN) is an initiative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to accelerate more sustainable delivery of economic, social, and environmental benefits associated with water resources infrastructure. EWN intentionally aligns natural and engineering processes to efficiently and sustainably deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits through collaborative processes.
Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Karen Barnett has been a resident of Atwater Village since 2002. Since moving into this community, she has been very active with the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council serving on the Board and on its River Committee. As someone who lives next to the river, she has worked with elected officials, government agencies, nonprofits and others to inform the community and seek changes in projects or events that could negatively impact Atwater’s quality of life. Karen’s leadership has been instrumental in obtaining the National Park Service Grant, which is funding a study about the feasibility of a continuous path the length of Atwater’s east-bank on the L.A. River. During her free time, you can find her fly fishing along the banks of the river.