the fish

The following six distintive fish can be found in the LA River.

2.Black bullhead
3.Largemouth Bass
4.Green Sunfish
5.Mosquito fish


The name “carp” is a catch-all that refers to a number of fresh-water species that occur in warm water and are native to the Old World. In the U.S., several species have invaded a number of lowland reservoirs, lakes and rivers, and thrive where native fish habitat have been disturbed. Carp are identified by large scales, often with dark borders, and by their small mouths, which angle downward, ideal for scraping vegetation off the bottom of the river. A prized game fish in parts of Europe and Asia, carp form the basis of many stews and soups in different cultures throughout the world. The osprey, a fish-eating hawk, is frequently seen carrying large carp out of the river.

Fishing restrictions: none



Black bullhead
A small catfish, this species is native to the eastern U.S. Like the carp, the black bullhead has found its way into many of California’s waterways. Bullhead, while often abundant in warm pools, are generally not considered to be a sport fish. They are most often caught by accident, or by kids at fishing lakes. A typical catfish, the bullhead is  blackish and essentially scale-less. Its long, whisker-like "barbels" around its mouth serve as sensory organs. While the barbels are harmless,  catfish  have sharp spines in their fins which, handled improperly, can leave a painful cut. Catfish seek shade during the day,  and prefer to eat at night. Their meat is soft and has a good flavor.

Fishing restrictions: Five in possession, with a 12-inch minimum length.



Largemouth Bass
Prized as a game fish, this bass is native to the eastern U.S. and has been widely stocked throughout the Americas. It thrives in warm water, which makes the pools in the river and the reservoirs of Southern California an ideal habitat. Bass have an even, ’generic’-looking shape  with rounded fins. This species  often has a dark, smudgy line running lengthwise down  its sides. Largemouth bass are greatly outnumbered in the LA River by other fish species, such as carp and tilapia.

Fishing restrictions: Five in possession, with 12-inch minimum length.



Green Sunfish
A diverse group of greenish, bass-like fish, sunfish are native to river systems in the Midwest and the eastern U.S. A recent fish survey found this species in the Glendale Narrows. They are small (usually well under a foot long), saucer-shaped fish with tiny mouths, and are frequently caught by kids as they're learning to fish. Most southern California reservoirs and rivers are filled with a variety of species.

Fishing restrictions: 25 in possession. (Combined with any other sunfish.)



Mosquito fish
Mosquitofish are by far the most numerous fish in the region, stocked by the thousands each year by County Vector Control offices to combat mosquito-borne illness. They appear as small minnows, about an inch or two long, and often school in huge groups in shallow water. Though other minnow species might be found in the river, particularly other species used as baitfish by anglers, it's a safe bet that any minnow in the L.A. River is a mosquitofish. Too small to be taken as game fish,  they are nonetheless an important - and novel - food source for a fish-eating birds  such as like herons, egrets, and kingfishers, as well as for crayfish, and other animals.




Like carp, tilapia are a warm-water fish, globally prized as a food source, particularly in Asia. Tilapia, native to Africa, are the classic commercially-grown fish, cultivated in fish farms, and shipped to markets worldwide. Comprised of hundreds of species, the fish found in our area are essentially a domestic creation. They resemble deep-bodied bass, with large fins set back on the body. Tilapia are extraordinarily tough animals, able to withstand salinity many times higher than the ocean, water temperatures well north of 80 degrees, and are known for an ability to adapt quickly and reproduce rapidly.

Fishing restrictions: None.