Martin Strelneck – HIGH COUNTRY

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Catch up

Next year’s trout
You can always tell when the season is winding down when good numbers of landing and resort operators call it quits for the season and begin “winterizing” their operations. And, its when  DFG and local trout farmers begin priming waters with fish for the 2012 season.


On the put and grow stocking scene, Crowley Lake has been on the DFG agenda for the past month with more fish on the menu, as long as the weather cooperates, into November.


“They’ve already stocked right around 250,000 Coleman rainbows, running around six to the pound,” said Lane Garrett, Crowley Lake Fish Camp operator. “Last Week they planted 4,000 pounds of rainbows, two to the pound. They still have browns, cutthroats and Eagle Lake rainbows earmarked for the lake.”


“I’ve been told they’re holding 150,000 to 180,000 pounds of rainbows for stocking shortly before the opening of next season. These fish will all be in the catchable range. We’re not looking at any shortage of fish for next season.”


To the north, the Bridgeport Fish Enhancement operation has been in high gear stocking area waters with browns and rainbows.


“We’ve already stocked Bridgeport Reservoir with 5,000 browns and have another 5,000 ready to go” said Jimmy Little who oversees the private rearing operation at the Settlement Resort. “This summer we stocked rainbows in area waters and have more ready to go. Our goal for next year is 120,000 fish for local waters, the same as this year.”


The foundation received a financial shot in the arm this fall. Thanks to the Fishin” Mission Foundation early September fundraiser, more than $5,000 were added to the foundation’s coffers. In addition, Mono County approved a grant for $8,000 earmarked for upgrading the operation. However, most funding for the operation still depends on private contributions.


On another subject, this season with the long heavy runoff has produced some surprising catches from small not well-publicized streams. Tiny Walker Creek, just south of Lee Vining was good for a 3-pound brown for Lee Vining angler Daniel Flores along with a fair number in the 1-pound range.


tiny walker

TINY WALKER CREEK surprised Lee Vining angler Daniel Flores who had been happy catching 10-inch wild browns from the tiny stream. His brown that went for a Thomas Buoyant came right around 3 pounds.


Vancover, Washington anglers Vince Ceppaglia fished the south fork of Lee Vining Creek below Tioga Lake, primarily a small brook trout water, and scored a brown estimated at 5 pounds before it was released.


Over the years, 48 of them in Lee Vining, I’ve seen the same profile in heavy runoff years when over-the-bank flows on small streams seem to relocate the trout population. Right now, these waters are in ideal condition and would be a good time to take a shot at wild fish that have never seen a hatchery raceway.


On the “good bet” list would be Walker and Parker creeks south of Lee Vining, Lee Vining Creek from Hwy 395 downstream to Mono Lake and Lower Rush Creek from Hwy 395 to Mono Lake. These waters all hold thriving, mostly in the 8- to 15-inch range populations of wild brown trout — and the potential for a surprise catch.


There’s been one consistent remark from landing and resort operators, DFG did an outstanding job at stocking local waters this summer, a far cry from what we’ve seen in the past few seasons.


One spinoff on the down side  to this season’s stocking is that maybe there’s been too many fish. My observations, and those of more than one landing operator is that there’s been a lot of dead trout observed on lake bottoms.


There’s two culprits: culling stringers when quick limits on small fish come too easily, and ignorance regarding proper techniques for catch and release. It’s a great concept when properly executed, but ramming a plastic tube down the fishes throat to remove the hook followed by a 20-foot toss back into the lake doesn’t make for a happy trout.


Enough of the bandwagon. It’s been an exceptional fall weather-wise and it looks good for the next couple of weeks. Long-range forecasts are calling for a heavy winter.
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