Fishing near LA? That’s what friends asked when we suggested we take our boys angling one afternoon. Yes indeed, there’s fish in them there hills. In Agoura, just an hour from the city, in two trout-stocked ponds on little compound known as Troutdale. The best thing about Troutdale is that kids are just about guaranteed to catch a fish.
Hook, Line and Corn
The second best thing about Troutdale is that you don’t need any gear, and you don’t need any fishing experience. For a fee of $7 per person, you get a bamboo fishing pole tacked with fishing line, a pinch weigh and a hook; a couple ounces of corn kernel bait; and a bucket. You cast your line into the water, and with a bit of time and patience, you should get some nibbles and hopefully a fish, or two, or more.
Don’t worry, if you are squeamish once you snag a fish, Troutdale’s helping hands assist in getting your fish off your line and into your bucket. The fish are all big enough to keep – and in fact there is a strict “no catch-and-release” policy. You pay for each fish you catch based on size, from $6 for a 10-inch trout, to $11 for 15 inches and larger. Cleaning is an additional buck and a half per fish. The current record catch is 37 trout in a day, and the biggest fish a 28-inch whopper that must have been the storied “one that got away” for years.
Fish Early and Often
Weekends are busiest at Troutdale, where an average 110 to 220 visitors come to fish per day, though on a chilly winter morning our fishing party was among only a handful of other fisherfolk. Every two weeks the two 25’ by 20’ ponds, festooned with two floating fountains for atmosphere and aeration, are replenished with up to 1,500 fish from a farm in Napa Valley, so the fishing is always bountiful.
Generations of families have come to Troutdale for more than 67 years to fish and enjoy the rustic grounds, decorated with life-size woodcarvings of bears and forest creatures, log benches and picnic tables. For private parties, there’s also a thatch-style dining area with tables. Everything is kept simple at Troutdale, down to the main office, consisting of a simple shack, where a limited selection of fishing rods, nightcrawler worm bait and refreshments and are for sale.
Most visitors come from the local area -- Ventura, Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, though some drive from distances as far away as San Diego to fish at Troutdale. The majority of visitors are families with children, though all ages of kids, teens and men and women frequent Troutdale, such as one elderly grandfather who has been a regular for more than 60 years.
Fisherman Aram Shirikchyan acquired the site seven years ago and now operates Troutdale with his family. He fishes at Troutdale with his own children and delights in seeing other families enjoy the sport together. His biggest challenge: stocking the pond just right so that visitors can stretch out their day of fishing and not catch a day’s worth of fish in five minutes.
What to bring: You don’t need any special equipment, unless you want to bring it, but some other considerations include a seat cushion (and you thought that sit-upon you made in Brownies would never come in handy!), hand-sani and paper towels for fishy hands, and warm clothes if you are visiting during winter months, or even during summer time. The fish bite most when the sun starts to go down, so layer up. If you are having your fish cleaned, they are handed to you in a sealed plastic bag with ice, so a cooler may be helpful but is not necessary. Outside food for picnicking is allowed; just obey the signs to keep the area clean and don’t throw anything into the water.
How to get there: Basically you have two choices from Los Angeles: 10 W to 405 N to US 101 N to Kanan Road exit; or the PCH scenic route to Malibu Canyon Road to Las Virgenes Road to Mulholland Hwy. We tried both routes to and from Troutdale navigated by our GPS in the sporty Mazda CX-5. The SUV handled the curves wonderfully, but my son did not. So add Children’s Dramamine or Psi Bands to the list above if your kids are prone to motion sickness.
How to cook ‘em: Trout are easy to cook. Wrap each fish in foil with lemon and butter, and season with salt and pepper. Broil or grill them for about 7-10 minutes on each side. Eat with care as trout has many small bones.
Troutdale is located at 2468 Troutdale Drive, Agoura, CA 91301. Tel. 818-889-9993. For more information, go to www.allyoucanfish.com.