Nov. 15 marked the close of the general Eastern Sierra trout season, but increasing numbers of anglers aren’t hanging up the rods until next April. The year round open waters in the Bishop area along with three Mono County waters to the north have seen increasing popularity for late fall and winter trout anglers.
From north of Bishop to Big Pine there’s more than 35 miles of Owens River water holding a population of wild browns and stocked rainbows. Pleasant Valley Reservoir, north of Bishop, is a favored location for shore and float tube anglers. The Owens River gorge, above the reservoir is a favored location for the “physically fit” trouter, with pan-size wild browns and rainbows on the menu.
The bread and butter fish for winter Bishop area bait and lure anglers is stocked rainbows. Look for the DFG fish to average around the 3/4-pound range. Spicing up the catching is periodic plants of heavyweight brood stock running in the 3-pound plus range.
“We’ll be planting around every other week beginning in December,” said Vern Carr, Hot Creek hatchery manager. Stocking will be in Pleasant Valley and the Owens River from Bishop to Big Pine. The first load of brood stock will probably go out late December or early January.”
The Bishop Chamber of Commerce-funded Alpers “superstocker” program will swing into high gear around mid-January. These rainbows will be running in the 1- to 2-pound range.
Anglers in the know working the truck trout scene concentrate their efforts focusing on several river access locations. The Hwy, 6 , East Line Street and Warm Springs Road bridge crossings are favored locations.
Farther south, In the Big Pine area, the crossing on State Route
182 (Westgard Pass Road)and Steward Lane are productive spots. This is a DFG stocking location, but off the agenda for Alpers plants.
For the fly angler, the wild trout section of the Owens River directly below Pleasant Valley Reservoir offers close to 3 miles of prime water. This is catch-and-release barbless hook zero possession with wild brown trout the major attraction.
Nymph fishing with indicators has been the top cold weather producer. However, during the warmer days with a terrestrial hatch, topwater action isn’t unusual. Fly anglers in the know work the late morning and early afternoon hours after the on hand/knees sneak fishing scene, a little leg work hitting the brushy stream side areas away from planting locations can produce wild brown trout action.
Bouncing nightcrawlers or crickets off the bottom is a good producer. My favored location is working the area from Five Bridges down to Hwy. 6.
On the Pleasant Valley Reservoir scene, soaking bait from the boat ramp area upstream to the inlet is a consistent productive location. This location requires a walk of a little over a mile on the level closed access road from the dam parking area. Bicycles are a favored mode of transportation.
For change of pace, consider a guided float trip on the Owens River. The outings put you on waters not accessible to shore anglers.
For anglers looking for a little more challenge and don’t mind colder weather, three waters at the higher elevations remain open year round-- the upper Owens River, Hot Creek and East Walker River.
Every winter these waters produce trophy class catches of browns and rainbows. Favored mainly by fly anglers, here’s a small clan of local anglers who consistently score throwing small Rapalas.
Special regulations govern the locations -- barbless fly or lure for the East Walker and Owens, fly fishing only on Hot Creek, and zero possession and catch and release on all waters.
For up to date conditions contact Culver’s Sporting Goods (760) 872-8361, Mac’s Sporting Goods (760) 872 9201, Brock’s Flyfishing Specialists (760) 872-3581, www.brocksflyfish.com, Sierra Outfitters (760) 872-3830, www.owensvalleyflyshop.com. For Mono County waters The Troutfitter (760) 924-3676.
For float trips The Troutfitter, Brocks Flyfishing Specialists,Sierra Outfitters along With Sierra Drifters (760) 935-4250, www.sierradrifters.com provide the service.