Sierra waters full, ready for prime time
Southern Inyo opener first this Saturday, then Blake Jones Derby on the 11th; Note that due to high flows; Millpond Recreation water just off Highway 395 north of Bishop is now being stocked and is the central derby location with Pleasant Valley and Lower Owens deemed unsafe
Early March is wake-up time for high country trout anglers with the opening of the Southern Sierra trout season and two derbies on the agenda. The snow at upper elevations and runoff are at high levels.
A quick look by this reporter overthrew weekend shows Bridgeport Reservoir full to the brim, Grant is four-fifths full, Crowley Lake is at capacity, as is Pleasant Valley Reservoir where the lake actually comes up to the road. As would be expected, the Lower Owens is seeing heavy flows as water is being released. The snow levels are so significant, and the water content of the snowpack so high, skiing into July is expected on Mammoth.
There is the question of many upper elevation lakes being frozen opening weekend in April. Mammoth and Virginia Lakes for sure. June Loop, Convict and Crowley are question marks. It depends on what kind of spring weather we get. Warmer weather and winds are the elixir for frozen lakes.We will be keeping tabs on that for you readers for the next two months.
As for fishing, the snow and water levels are not going to effect this Saturday, March 4 which is the annual kick off for the Southern Sierra trout season, with the small streams from Independence Creek south on the west side of Hwy. 395 set for scheduled Department of Fish and Wildlife stockings. They are flowing, but not dangerously.
These are small waters with successful stream anglers practicing “sneak fishing” and bagging a lion’s share of the small rainbows. The larger, slow-moving waters of Sand Traps located on Lone Pine and George’s creeks are favored locations for folding chair shore anglers along with being ideal locations for young anglers.
With the opening, these waters will now be on a regular DFW planting schedule. Catchable size rainbows running up to 1 pound will be stocked shortly before the opener. In addition, the waters hold a population of smaller wild brown trout that make an occasional showing.
The same day the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its annual derby headquartered at Diaz Lake. Located a short distance south of Lone Pine, the water has seen increased popularity for both boat and shore anglers and has become a popular location for campers favoring improved tent and RV sites.
Catches from Diaz Lake and nearby streams will have a chance at a host of prizes including fishing tackle, camping gear and lodging at local facilities. Several categories, blind bogey, heaviest catches for adults and young anglers, will be good for a host of prizes including fishing tackle, camping gear and lodging.
For information, contact the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, (760) 870-4444, www.lonepinechamber.org.
The next week, March 11, marks the 50th anniversary of Bishop’s hugely successful Blake Jones Derby hosted by the Bishop Chamber of Commerce. The event has seen anglers grow from a few hundred in the early days to close 1,000 in recent years.
This year will see several changes for derby anglers and it concerns high water levels in the Sierra. Because of what has been termed “very hazardous “ high-water conditions, the permit to focus the derby on the reservoir has been cancelled.
Thus, Millpond Recreation area, 6 miles north of Bishop will be the target for the majority of derby anglers and registration. Weigh in and awarding of prizes will be at the Tri- County Fairgrounds, just north of downtown Bishop. A free shuttle will be available at the fairgrounds to the recreation area.
Waters at the Millpond site will be stocked with several thousand pounds of heavyweight Desert Springs rainbows. Catches from the reservoir or Owens River will qualify for the derby. It is not likely Pleasant Valley will be planted and die to high levels, anglers will be discouraged from fishing it, and the Lower Owens. the two traditional derby locations.
The derby grand prize is based on at “Blind Bogey” weight announced following derby closing time. Last year saw an 11-ounce catch make the grade. In addition, prizes are awarded for heaviest catch. Last year a 6-pound, 6-ounce rainbow came out on top. Additional prizes go out to several divisions both for adult and young anglers.
For updated information, check the Bishop Chamber of Commerce booth at the Fred Hall show. Details also will be available at by contacting the chamber at www.bishopvisitor.com, (888) 395-3952.
“This has been a challenging situation, thanks to the cooperation and support from LADWP, Department of Fish and Wildlife. and Inyo County we will have successful and productive event,” said Bishop Chamber of Commerce Director Tawni Thompson.