Fly Fishing the L.A. River

Described as "the original source of life for the City of Los Angeles," the L.A. River flows 50+ miles from the San Fernando Valley through Downtown L.A. and south to Long Beach and the Pacific Ocean. 

Matus Sobolic has been fly fishing the L.A. River for five years. A resident of Altadena, Sobolic works for Stone Distribution and is a fishing ambassador for Redington.


"The L.A. River has been my home away from home for years now," says Sobolic. "A place I can escape to, and even though it's in the heart of the City, it's surprisingly calm and peaceful. It is by far the closest place to get into the largest fish in the Los Angeles area."

The Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority opens up two stretches on the L.A. River every Memorial Day. Located in the Elysian Valley and in the Sepulveda Basin, each stretch of water is approximately 2.5 miles long. Fishing licenses from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are required.

Sobolic prefers the area known as the Red Car River Park just below the Glendale-Hyperion bridge.

According to Sobolic, "mornings and evenings are by far the best, however, the middle of the day lighting provides the best opportunity to see fish."


"The main species that we target down at the river are carp. They're incredibly spooky and highly keyed in on what's going on around them. They will see or hear you coming more times then you see them and since we're sight fishing, it's a lot more like hunting than fishing. You first have to walk around sometimes for hours until you come across one fish, and then you try and catch that fish. There's no sitting or waiting involved."


Sobolic strictly fly fishes the L.A. River and uses artificial flies that he hand ties to mimic the forage. What seems to work best for him is either a rust or brown buggy nymph or crayfish pattern.


"The biggest piece of advice I could give someone is to move slow, these are wild fish; not the kind you feed bread to from the dock," says Sobolic.


Sobolic's Setup:

Rod - Redington Vice or crux 9ft 6wt 
Reel - Redington Behemoth
Line - Rio in touch Gold 6wt Floating
Leader - 2-0x

Property of Discover Los Angeles
L.A. River Bike Path | Photo courtesy of Joséphine Runneboom, Discover Los Angeles Flickr Pool

Get Involved with the L.A. River Revitalization

The L.A. River Revitalization Master Plan is focused on a 32-mile stretch of the river from Canoga Park to Downtown L.A. Highlights include the 42-acre Taylor Yard "G2" Project in Cypress Park; "Bending the Wheel Back Into the City," a three-part sculptural artwork; the 12.5-mile LARiverWay bike path in the Valley; Albion Riverside Park in Lincoln Heights; and the Sixth Street Viaduct, aka "The Ribbon of Light." Learn more:


Founded in 1986, the nonprofit Friends of the L.A. River (FOLAR) works to ensure a publicly accessible and ecologically sustainable river through community engagement, education, advocacy, and thought leadership. Learn more: