|Going into February, it’s been a rare “no storm” winter for the high country. After a 58-day dry spell, the first measurable snowfall blanketed the area Jan.21, then back to dry conditions.
Weather has been a double-edged sword. The country needs the moisture and the ski industry has taken a hit, but on the other hand conditions have been great for anglers focusing on the year round High Country waters.
Wind has been minimal and daytime temperatures have been hitting the mid 60s for Owens Valley locations with the low 50s for higher elevations. Long-range forecasts call for the conditions to continue — an ideal time for taking a break from the “freeway” trout-fishing scene.
On the year round trout scene, there’s more than 35-miles of Owens River from north of Bishop to south of Big Pine. Farther south it’s a little early, but bass are beginning to wake up in the rewatered Owens River from Big Pine to south of Lone Pine. Pleasant Valley Reservoir, a short distance north of Bishop, is a favored location for the float tubing clan or just soaking bait from shore on a warm sunny day.
Word from the Hot Creek hatchery is Owens Valley stocking will continue through the late winter and spring months. The schedule alternates between the river and reservoir—one week the river, next the reservoir. Look for rainbows running ¾-pound and better. The only hang up would be weather conditions limiting access.
Inland Aquaculture heavyweight Alpers rainbows, funded by Inyo County, will be back on the menu beginning around Feb. 6, Pleasant Valley Reservoir will be the target. The Owens River is on line for an Alpers stocking around Feb. 20 with the schedule alternating between locations into the spring months.
Not all Owens River and Pleasant Valley Reservoir trout are “truck trout.” Both locations support a thriving population of wild brown trout. With the colder winter water temperatures, the browns are a bit on the tempremental side, but they are making an occasional showing taking a liking to a properly presented nightcrawler.
For the fly angler, the special regulation stretches of the Owens River below Pleasant Valley Reservoir presents a year-round challenge. Existing conditions, water flows and warm temperatures continue to spice up the catching. Local guides cite a catching window from late morning until early afternoon.
For those into a little cardiovascular workout, the Owens River Gorge, upstream from Pleasant Valley Reservoir is “loaded” with wild browns and rainbows. For this small water, it’s a scenario of quantity, not size, with most of the catches in the 10- to 12-inch range. Access location is the powerhouse turnoff located on Hwy. 395 at the base of Sherwin Grade.
If you’re looking for change of pace, consider a guided Owens River float trip. Local guides work the river, offering access to more secluded locations, which are consistently productive.
If you’re into a little colder temperatures, it’s been many a year since vehicle access to Mono County’s Upper Owens River, Hot Creek and East Walker River has been high and dry. Reports have been positive at all locations with the bite turning on late morning after the surface water warms following chilly mornings. These are special regulation waters, catch and release, barbless hook lure or fly.
Down the road: March 17 marks the 45th annual Bishop area Blake Jones Derby which draws 1,000 anglers, the biggest single event of the year. DFG Inland Aquaculture will be stocking rainbows by the tonnage shortly before the event. Several thousand dollars in merchandise and cash will be up for grabs for winning catches. It’s a blind bogey format, so you need not be good, just lucky. It’s fun and loaded with prizes, thus, the big crowd. Two weekends before that (first Saturday in March each year) is the Southern Sierra’ Early Trout Opener and Diaz Lake derby.
For reliable information contact; Culver’s Sporting Goods, (760) 872-8361, Mac’s Sporting Goods, (760) 872-9201, Eastern Sierra Guide Service, (760) 937-2310, firstname.lastname@example.org, Brock’s Fly Fishing Specialist, (760) 872-3581, www.brocksflyfish.com; Sierra Trout Magnet Fly Shop, (760) 873-0010, www.sierratroutmagnet.com.
For drift boat information contact; Eastern Sierra Guide Service (760) 937-2310, www. email@example.com; Sierra Drifters (760) 935-4250, www.sierradrifters.com; Brock’s Flyfishing Specialists (760) 932-7362, www.brocksflyfish.com; The Troutfitter (760) 924-3676, www.thetroutfitter.com; Sierra Magnet Fly Shop (760) 873-0010, www.sierratroutmagnet.com.
For updated weather information; www.mammothweather.com, National Weather Service, www.wrh.noaa.gov/rev.