Eastern Sierra

Eastern Sierra begins to thaw

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: May 15, 2019

Fishing has been up and down

BRIDGEPORT — It’s a slow process, but the Eastern High Sierra continues to thaw out despite another winter storm late last week that dumped another foot of snow at higher elevations.

Fishing for the most part was up and down, with anglers having better luck for bigger trout as they moved north.

At Upper Twin Lake out of Bridgeport, it looks like the big fish of the week was a 7-pound rainbow caught from shore by an angler only identified as Sachi. No details on what bait or lure since it was checked in after closing time.

EAST WALKER BROWN — The East Walker River out of Bridgeport is still flowing at high levels, but that didn’t slow down Steve Thornton from Westwood, who caught and released this spectacular brown trout while being guided by Hans Grotewold from Sierra Drifters.

At nearby Lower Twin Lake a 6-pound, 8-ounce rainbow was caught by Brittany Grant from Huntington Beach who was using cheese dough from shore. To fill out her stringer, she also hauled in a couple of 3-pound rainbows. Not a bad day of fishing.

Lots of 5- to 6-pound fish were being reported from Bridgeport Reservoir for both trolling and bait anglers. A beautiful brown that weighed at least that much was also caught and released by David Vergini from Los Angeles who was trolling a custom Jerry Rago lure.

Flows in the East Walker River are high at 363 cfs, but anglers who know how to fish swift water are connecting with some nice fish, including some hefty browns.

“Larger weights and larger indicators are going to be what it takes. If you can get your flies down to the bottom and get a good drift you should be able to have some success,” said Jim Reid at Ken’s Sporting Goods in Bridgeport. He said nymphing is still the number one way to go on the East Walker, with streamer fishing coming second.

The best news out of Bridgeport is that Ken’s Sporting Goods has now reopened after being shut down briefly from damage caused by a vehicle running into the building.

Reid said most of the damage was done to the gift shop side of the business, and after inspection the tackle shop was given the green light to reopen.

Hard to believe, but there was still ice fishing at Virginia Lakes last week and the latest snowstorm might slow that thaw a bit.

Nightcrawlers, Power Eggs and jigging spoons have been attracting some fish and there are plenty of holes augured in the ice for anglers who want to give ice fishing a shot. 

bringingthebrownBRINGIN’ THE BROWN — Linda Rota Gallagher from Lake Forest started out at Upper Twin and the Silver Lake and found slim pickings before connecting with this 3-pound brown measuring over 21 inches at Bridgeport Reservoir.

Lundy Lake was slow last week, and there were few reports from Lee Vining Creek, but that might have been mostly because crowds were light. Look for better action there as summer crowds pick up and trophy fish are stocked by the Lee Vining Chamber of Commerce.

Waters in the June Look were mixed during the week. Some anglers reported no fish after a couple of days of fishing, and then there were those who walked away with big smiles.

One of those was Jessalyn Anderson from Bakersfield who connected with a 4.18-pound cutthroat while trolling at six colors at Gull Lake.

Grant Lake continues to kick out some smaller browns late in the day, and those who know how to fish Rush Creek are landing some nice rainbows. Jennifer Antunez from North Hollywood used nightcrawlers on Rush to land a couple of beefy rainbows.

June and Silver lakes are hot and cold, with some anglers filling stringers with traditional baits and lures, and others going home empty-handed. Waters are still very cold, and veterans expect the bite to pick up as spring temperatures warm things up.

Mammoth Basin continues to be locked in ice, with some open water at Twin Lakes. Early season fishing there can produce some nice brook trout, and anglers willing to hike to George or Mary lakes can still ice fish. Those conditions can change quickly, with ice becoming unsafe, so check with local tackle shops before heading out.

Convict Lake was a bright spot last week, producing a 6-pound, 8-ounce rainbow for Dennis Turner from Bakersfield who was using a Sprite Lure at the inlet.

Brian Balarsky at Convict Lake Marina said Gulp garlic nightcrawlers have been a good bait choice, with one angler reporting a limit in one hour from the South Shore.

BIG GIRLS RULE — Brittney Grant from Huntington Beach is all smiles after landing this 6-pound, 8-ounce beauty from shore at Lower Twin Lake, along with a couple of 3 pounders. Her magic was cheese dough.

Crowley has turned on a bit, after a slow week before that. Craig Stringer from Modesto boated a beautiful cutthroat while fishing with Sierra Drifters and guide KJ Flashers said the best fishing has been along the U.S. 395 side of Magee Bay, Sandy and Alligator Point in the harbor down to Beaver Cove.

Best lures have been the Tasmanian devils in all sizes trolled slowly. Best patters have been Bleeding Frog, Bloody Ripper, Orange Perch and Pink Frog.

Black Dot Frog, Brown Trout, Sunset and Peach Needle Fish are also good choices for slow trolling at Crowley.

Rock Creek Lake was still covered with ice at press time, but it is starting to break up.

“Still ice covered, too rotten to get on. If the weather gets warm again, could maybe be thawed by Memorial weekend,” said Jim King at Rock Creek Lake Resort.

Bishop Basin is opening up. Intake II is free of ice and has been well stocked. Lake Sabrina still has lots of broken and unsafe ice, is very low water level with only a small patch of open water.

Last week’s storm slowed the process of getting things open for the season at Parchers Resort on the South Fork of Bishop Creek.

“The snow was over knee deep by 9 this morning and still coming. It’s hard to clean cabins with that so we took the day off,” said Jared Smith at the Parchers.

While it may slow things down, he still expects to be open in the next two weeks.

Smith said the road to South Lake has now been cleared of snow and the lake still has lots of ice. He predicts he will have boats on the lake by mid-June.

There has also been a good bass bite in the warmer waters of the Lower Owens River and at Tinemaha Reservoir.

Tommy Negrete from San Bernardino didn’t say where he caught them, but he hooked into some huge bass near Bishop using buzz baits, Fat Ika and Roboworms.

A BEAUTIFUL BROWN trout was caught from Hot Creek in the Eastern Sierra by Adam Petuskey of Santa Barbara while using a tiger midge fly on a size 20 hook with a 5-pound tippet. His fishing buddy, Sean Hastings, also of Santa Barbara took the photo.

catchandreleaseCATCH AND RELEASE — This healthy brown was caught and released by David Vergini who was trolling a custom Jerry Rago Lure last week at Bridgeport Reservoir. The hefty brown put on quite fight, including alligator rolls, jumps and deep dives to toss the hook.

RUSH CREEK RAINBOWS — Jennifer Antunez from North Hollywood hauled in these nice rainbows on Rush Creek using nightcrawlers in the swift water.

fourpoundcutFOUR-POUND CUTTHROAT — Jessalyn Anderson from Bakersfield did some serious trolling with leadcore line at six colors on Gull Lake and connected with this 4.18-pound cutthroat. Smaller cutts were biting and three to four colors.

A CUTT ABOVE — The season at Crowley Lake started slow, but things are picking up. Craig Stringer from Modesto landed this beautiful cutthroat while fishing with Sierra Drifters.

AT THE INLET — Dennis Turner from Bakersfield decided to make the little trek to the inlet on the backside of Convict Lake and was rewarded with this 6-pound, 8-ounce rainbow that took his Johnson’s Sprite lure.

EASTERN SIERRA BASS — Tommy Negrete from San Bernardino gets his money worth when fishing the Eastern Sierra. His latest trip included a nice stringer of rainbows from Pleasant Valley Reservoir and this nice bass from an undisclosed location near Bishop.

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