With the exception of a handful of waters governed by special regulations, season end is two weeks down the road, and it’s been a positive year for the high country.
Early season concerns focusing on shut down of the Alpers trophy trout program and impacts from a three-year drought didn’t develop into major issues with the year closing on a positive note.
Stepping in to fill the Alpers void, Mono County, Town of Mammoth Lakes and a handful of private resort operators finalized agreements with Desert Springs Trout Farm, based in Merrill Oregon, to stock local waters with heavyweight rainbows. End result? Close to 40,000 pounds of heavyweight rainbows, in addition to DFW plants, were on the menu for this year’s anglers.
Going into the final days, DFW stocking for catchable rainbows has ended for the year. Oct. 30 marks the final day for Desert Springs stocking with Mammoth Lakes basin waters, Mary, Mamie and George along with Convict Lake on the agenda.
“We have signed agreements for next year’s stocking,” said Ethan Negus at Desert Springs Trout Farm. “We’re looking at the same numbers of fish, running to 5 pounds and larger. The program worked very well this year and we hope to continue down the road. We will begin stocking April 20 for next season.”
Bottom line this season there was no shortage of heavyweight rainbows, all you had to do was check the WON weekly Sierra report. The photos tell the tale.
Looking at local waters, if you like a little more elbow room, angler numbers are down, but there’s still fish for the catching. Check out the inlet and outlet areas for fall spawning brown and rainbows. And if you’re into light tackle action, a short hike to off the road brook trout waters are good for non stop action.
And then there’s the clan of anglers looking for a wall hanging trophy brown trout. Motivated by spawning hormones, trophy class brown trout begin staging near stream inlets and outlets at a good number of lakes—and they are heavyweights ! Last season saw Pomona angler Paul Gonzales, during the final days of the season, nail down one of the heaviest catches in several decades with a 20-pound, 8-ounce catch from Rush Creek, a short distance below Silver Lake.
Last week, Long Beach angler Timothy Korgie kicked off the brown trout action with a 10-pound, 9-ounce brown taken from Lower Twin Lake. My picks for trophy producing locations this year would be Upper or Lower Twin Lakes along with Grant and Silver lakes.
An annual rite of fall is priming Crowley Lake for next season. Last week saw the 80,000 pounds of Coleman rainbows hit the water with Eagle Lake rainbows and cutthroats next in line.
On the down side fall weather is taking on all the appearances of a continued drought. Late this summer water levels at all lakes was at lower levels and many stream locations were reduced to trickles. Hopes were that a predicted El Nino pattern would impact the high country with heavy snow. Earlier in the year, weather service predictions were for a strong moisture-generating El Nino. Bad news is most recent predictions have downgraded from strong to weak.
For the winter Sierra angler, the year round open Owens Valley, Lower Owens River and Pleasant Valley Reservoir target. Word from DFW is the locations will continue to be on the stocking agenda on an alternating schedule.To the north, fly fishing will be focusing on the Upper Owens River, Hot Creek along with the East and West Walker rivers. Check the special winter regulations for these waters.
If you’re planning a end of the season trip to the high country, check ahead for resort or campground status. Many locations have closed until next spring.
Over the past 17 years I’ve become a sounding board for anglers, both visitors and locals, expressing complaints focusing on the fishing scene, sometimes justified, sometimes just whining. My only comment is when it comes to this past season, it’s been a quiet year. Must be the big fish.