MAMMOTH LAKES — Going into the Memorial Day holiday the end of this month anglers can look for conditions more like July rather than late May. It’s been close to four decades since the high country has experienced this years ideal early season conditions.
Bottom line is ice fishermen have stored their augers until next year with all drive to lakes ice-free. Sierra passes (Tioga, Sonora and Monitor) have been open for more than three weeks, and with the warmer water the trout population is into the early morning, late evening feeding mode.
“The last time we had conditions like this was 1976,” said Carolyn Webb at 10,000-foot Virginia Lakes Resort. “That year on Memorial Day the road was open and all the lakes were completely clear, it was great early season fishing.”
The one high country location that won’t make the Memorial Day deadline is Saddlebag Lake Resort. According to operator Richard Ernst target opening date is the first week in June — a lot better than last season’s mid-July. The road leading to the lake will be open for vehicle travel (with care). The lake water level is extremely low.
There will be no shortage of fish for the holiday. Because of the prime conditions, DFG will be on a full stocking schedule with rainbows running ¾-pound and better. Inland Aquaculture (Alpers rainbows} will be swinging into high gear with their Mono County/Town of Mammoth Lakes funded fishing enhancement program along with private operators.
In Mono County, look for Alpers heavyweights populating 17-drive to lakes along with the West Walker River. Inyo County funded Alpers can be found in the waters of Independence, Tinnemeha and Taboose Creeks near County campground locations.
In addition Parcher's Resort has funded a load of “trophy size” fish for South Lake waters. “We’ll be stocking close to 10,000 pounds,” said Inland Aquaculture manager Raven Angeles. “They’ll be in the 1½- to 3-pound range for the county and town funded program with fish running to 8 pounds and better for the private plants.”
For anglers looking for a little added incentive, check out the area “mini derbies.” Several landings host weekly contests for the heaviest catch with cash and merchandise prizes up for the taking.
Convict Lake Resorts “Roundup at the Lake Spring Derby” runs until June 10 with $2,000 in cash prizes along with $6,000 in resort prizes up for grabs. For info contact (800) 992-2260, www.convictlake.com.
Mono County and Mammoth Lakes Tourism agencies are hosting the “50 Days Of Fishmass" event running until June 18.
In addition, this season sees the introduction of the Eastern Sierra Fishing Passport program. The program features special offers and discounts at area merchants and landings. For information contact (800) 845-7922, www.EasternSierraFishing.org.
At this point, long-range weather forecasts are calling for a continuation of above average temperatures with the possibility of a few scattered thunderstorms.
LAST YEAR THE Memorial Day holiday saw lingering deep snow and cold temperatures. This year a complete reversal has made for ideal conditions. Top photo: Tioga Pass resort second week in June, 2011. Bottom photo: same location May 12, 2012. WON PHOTOS BY MARTIN STRELNECK