Barring any last-minute weather issues, the majority of high country locations will be in a full-operation mode for Saturday’s Eastern Sierra opener.
With the exception of a handful of locations, low-water conditions are not at the point of impacting the fishery.
LITTLE VIRGINIA LAKE will be off the early season ice fishing program this season, The 9,000-foot elevation water has been ice free since early April and is scheduled to be stocked shortly before opening day. WON PHOTO BY MARTIN STRELNECK
Stocking operations swung into high gear this past week. DFW targeted all accessible locations, including those off the agenda in past years because of snow and ice-related access problems.
Included this season for opening day stocking will be Little Virginia Lake, Rock Creek Lake, Mammoth Basin waters, lakes Mary, Mamie, George along with Twin Lakes and Lake Sabrina in the Bishop area. Look for catchables running in the ½-pound range and better.
On the heavyweight stocking scene, Mono County's Fishing Enhancement Program will be planting 3,200 pounds of Desert Springs rainbows hitting the 4-pound mark and up. On the program are Silver, Gull, Convict, Crowley, Upper and Lower Twin Lakes Bridgeport, Bridgeport Reservoir and the West Walker River.
Following last season’s official Nov. 15 closing, the Town of Mammoth Lakes enhancement program stocked 1,600 pounds of Desert Springs trophies in Lakes Basin waters, Lakes Mary, George and Mamie along with Twin Lakes. Adding to the opening day population, the Bridgeport Fishing Enhancement Foundation stocked 300- pounds of Desert Springs rainbows and browns spread out between Upper and Lower Twin Lakes, Bridgeport Reservoir and the West Walker River.
Two popular locations in Mono County are suffering from extremely low water conditions, Bridgeport Reservoir and Grant Lake. At the reservoir, the marina will be installing a launching site and providing rentals at a shore location just west of the dam. Last season the operation worked out well, providing the only access to the reservoir.
The picture of Grant Lake is not as bright. At press time, Doug Smith, who operates Grant Lake Marina, was doubtful that launching would be possible and because of the dropping water level, and concerned that rental boats would not be available. However, the campground at the lake will be in full operation.
To the south, Bishop-area streams along with Intake 2 are in excellent condition. Lake Sabrina Boat Landing will be up and running with a limited number of rentals, The launch ramp will be operational and cafe will be open. The lake is low but definitely fishable.
South Lake and Parchers Resort are down until around mid-May. The lake is ice free and very low, requiring a ½-mile hike to get to the water. Information is that the road to North Lake is clear and the water is ice free.
South of Bishop, Big Pine Creek is in ideal condition and will be stocked. However, some of the smaller streams will be off the stocking agenda because of low water. Check this week’s issue of WON for DFW's stocking location column.
Area road conditions are more like early July than late April. This opener will find that the Lakes Basin Road at Mammoth. usually "snowed in," will be clear for the opener and rental boats available at Barretts.
To the north, Sonora Pass and Monitor Pass are open. The Tioga Pass Road is open to the Yosemite National Park Boundary, 12 miles west of Hwy. 395, and closed in the park entrance. Tioga Lake is very low and covered with slushy ice. Ellery Lake about 1/4 ice-free and clearing fast. Work was in progress at this writing on opening the Saddlebag Lake Road, with predictions it would be clear by Saturday.
The picture is not favorable for the ice fishing clan. Little Virginia Lake has been ice-free for close to two weeks and is on the schedule for pre-opening stocking. At this writing (Sunday), Big Virginia Lake is covered with slushy ice and spots of open water, definitely not on the safe side, especially with the warm temperatures. Bottom line is, the lions share of waters around the 10,000-foot level are ice-free.
One issue is the long range weather forecast. The National Weather Service is calling for a mixture of isolated rain, snow and thunderstorms beginning early in the week with the forecast for the opener "scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms."
For updated information contact the weather service www.wrh.noaa.gov/rev, www.mammothweather.com. Campground information, Inyo National Forest, (760) 873-2408, Toiyabe National Forest, (760) 932-7070, Road information, Caltrans, (800) 427-7623.