State Park Reserve
The water's blue color seen here as a straight line is Ballona Creek where Frank and Jim have fished for 50+ years.

Frank Loui (oldest) and Jim Loui (youngest) are two brothers that have fished on Ballona Creek since 1949. Their observations on the natural history of fish and pollution spans approximately 56 years. They were young men when they started fishing at Ballona and now they are in their 70s. They have seen lots of changes in the fish fauna. They emphasize that they began fishing here before the yacht harbor (Marina del Rey) was built. The construction of the Marina is just one of many changes that they have observed during the last 50+ years. They were born and raised in Long Beach, California, but their parents are from China. I have had several friendly conversations for the last two years from 2004-2005. In our brief conversations, I have come to learn about the changing fishery of Ballona Creek over the last half-century. They also are very observant of the annual and seasonal changes of the fish ecology and the association with the rhythum of the tides in Ballona Creek Estuary. They arrive at 6:00 a.m daily which is when it is legal to park a car on Pacific Avenue. They usually walk about one mile up Ballona Creek toward Culver/Lincoln bridges before they put in the fishing lines. They each use two fishing poles.

On May 23, 2005, I interviewed them briefly regarding whether they had seen any Striped Mullet this season jumping in Ballona Creek. They told me that the Mullet are late this year. I have not seen any yet this month in Ballona Creek. Perhaps the steady and heavy rains in 2004-2005 have delayed their return to Ballona Creek. Striped Mullet spawn at sea, after the adults leave freshwater lagoons and creeks with the first late-fall rains. After the eggs hatch at sea, the young Mullet grow in size, and around May, the young Mullet move into freshwater habitats such as creeks, lagoons, river-mouths. They told me that the Audubon 'Cottontail' Rabbits that they see along the Ballona Creek Fence are not present now as they were last year. They surmised that the exuberance of weedy vegetation on the fence-line may have interferred with the rabbit survival.

On June 11, 2005, I interviewed them briefly at 6:10 a.m., as they walked up Ballona Creek to go fishing. We talked about a California Sea Lion that was hauled out on the edge of the bicycle path between the UCLA Boat House and Pacific Street Bridge. We discussed that it was alone and that it is likely sick from the recent red tides of the last two weeks. It had probably eaten poisoned fish. On the other hand, it still looked quite strong and healthy through my binoculars. We did not talk about fish specifically today, but I mentioned that in the future, this "south" side of Ballona Creek is going to have more access to the public with a new entry gate put in for the public. The commented about the impacts of more people fishing and using the area, and I agreed with them, about these increased impacts. Frank and Jim told me that a few days ago, they saw a Red Fox on the bicycle levee path, up near Lincoln Boulevard. I told them that it looks like a den of a Red Fox is located at the Laguna del Rey Apartment on Ballona Creek, where I had seen fox scat with fur and bones in it. They concurred that it must be a Red Fox. Jim Loui pointed out to me that he had seen a Coyote last year in Ballona. Jim also told me that he joined the Air Force in 1954, and he was fishing here about 5 years before that in about 1949.

Over the last two years, I have asked them questions and listened to them regarding various fish, but my specific interest has been to ask them about Striped Mullet "comings-and-goings." I have learned several things about the ecology and natural history of Striped Mullet from our conversations. In addition to Striped Mullet, I have conversed with them about changes in the fishery for White Sea Bass, White Croaker, and Barracuda. We have also discussed the changes in pollution and population pressure of increased numbers of fishermen on Ballona Creek.

We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. T. S. Eliot

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