Wistful images of lazing away the summer at the old fishing pond lurk in the hearts of many otherwise sophisticated urbanites. Don't despair. While Southern California may not be Minnesota, would-be Isaac Waltons will find many lakes and fishing ponds tucked away in city and county parks. Most of these are regularly stocked with trout, bass, catfish, bluegill, crappie and carp by the state fish and game department. Call (213) 435-2200 for up-to-date information on trout plantings in local lakes and streams.
Most lakes permit fishing from sunup to sundown. Elaborate gear is not essential: Anglers may bait their hooks with worms, cheese balls or bread, but because each lake has its own hours and regulations, it's wise to check first.
Children 15 and under do not need a state fishing license, but anyone 16 or over must obtain one. They may be purchased at most sporting-goods stores. The one-year license, renewable January 1, costs $18.50 for lakes and streams. If you also want to fish in the ocean, you must purchase an ocean-enhancement stamp for an additional $1.
Most parks have picnic facilities and playgrounds near the water. Nearly all the lakes attract waterfowl, so bring a bag of bread crumbs to feed the hungry birds and help you while away the hours if the fish aren't biting.
County and city recreation spokespersons recommend these 10 fishing holes. Many more lakes and ponds may be found in parks throughout the Southland. Call your city or county parks and recreation department for more information.
Baldwin Hills State Park, 4100 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. No phone at the park but for information call (213) 586-6543.
Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department runs this new park located near the site of the 1963 Baldwin Hills dam disaster. Because the young trees are still saplings you can see nearby oil wells, but the stream-fed lake nestled in the grassy hills provides an oasis from the hustle of the city below. On a clear day you can glimpse the skyscrapers of Wilshire Boulevard in the distance. Fishermen angling from the lake's edge will catch perch and carp. The park is particularly well patrolled.
Harbor Regional Park, 15810 S. Vermont Ave., Harbor City, (213) 548-7515.
The sizable lake in this South Bay park is home to a number of waterfowl who live in a bird sanctuary at the southern end of the lagoon. Large elms and palms dot the grassy slopes, and tules and rushes grow at the northern end of the lake. Fed by water from a nearby storm drain, the lake is stocked with catfish. No live bait is allowed.
Santa Fe Dam, 15501 E. Arrow Highway, Irwindale, (818) 334-0713.
You can fish for trout, bass, catfish and bluegill from the shores or piers of this 70-acre man-made lake in an 835-acre park, a joint venture of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles County and the city of Irwindale. The pier is built to accommodate the handicapped. Paddle boats and rowboats can be rented, but if you choose to operate your own canoe, sailboat, rowboat or electrically powered motorboat, you must pay a $3 launching fee. Gas-propelled motorboats are not allowed. Swimmers can bathe and bask on a sandy beach. Parking fees are $2 for cars, pickup trucks and RVs under 20 feet long, $4 for RVs over 20 feet and $8 per bus.
Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, 120 Via Verde Park Road, San Dimas, (714) 599-8411.
The jewel of this 2,200-acre regional park is a 250-acre lake that features water skiing and boating in addition to fishing for trout, carp, bluegill, catfish, crappie and bass. Lake swimming is permitted in a lifeguard-supervised area, and small motorboats and aquacycles can be rented. When you tire of all this exercise, you can relax in one of several hot tubs that overlook the lake and offer a view toward Pasadena.
Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, Whittier (south of California 60, east side of Rosemead Boulevard), (818) 444-9305.
During the cooler months anglers can fish for trout here in Legg Lake, but in the summer you will be more likely to catch crappie, bass, bluegill and catfish. Be sure to bring along bread crumbs for the ducks, geese and California coots or mud hens that make the lake their home. Children will enjoy a visit to the nearby nature center and 100-acre wildlife preserve. You can also rent paddle boats and rowboats or launch model boats in the special area reserved for miniature craft.
Castaic Lake Recreation Area, 32132 Ridge Route Road, Castaic (off Interstate 5 at Lake Hughes Road), (805) 257-4050.
The two mountain lakes, part of the aqueduct system, cover 2,680 acres and boast 39 miles of shoreline. The lakes are regularly stocked with largemouth bass, trout and crappie. Fisherfolk angle from the shore or from boats. Fishing is permitted from 5:30 a.m.-8 p.m. on the upper or main lake and 24 hours on the lagoon or lower lake, where you can also swim.
Carbon Canyon Regional Park, 4442 Carbon Canyon Road, Brea, (714) 996-5252.