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Eastern Sierra

Eastern Sierra Report: Road to North Lake now open

Thaw continues slow but sure

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Jun 05, 2019

BISHOP — The winter that won’t end is beginning to loosen its grip with longer days and warmer temperatures starting to melt off the recent record winter snowpack. For Eastern Sierra trout hunters, this means more open water and better access to favorite fishing locations.

Fear of heavy runoff has kept Lake Sabrina South Lake drawn down to extremely low levels and ice is still a factor at these high elevation lakes, but there is hope.


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A RAINBOW SMILE — Ann Fox from Huntington Beach is all smiles after catching this beautiful rainbow tossing a Grey Midge along Green Banks at Crowley Lake while fishing with Fishmammoth.com guide Jim Elias.

Patti Apted at Lake Sabrina said runoff has begun and there is some water beginning to accumulate in the lake behind the dam. There is also open water in the two natural lakes at the back of the basin and anglers have been pulling rainbows to 2 pounds from there.


At press time, the road to North Lake has been opened as far as the first parking area, giving anglers access to the lake. Crews are still working on the road to the campground, but hopefully that will be completed soon. Jared Smith at Parchers Resort and South Lake Landing said there is still ice on the lake, and it remains extremely low. “We’re hoping to get boats out by Father’s Day weekend, but barring a sustained heat wave, it’s likely to be later,” Smith said.


Fishing conditions have been hit or miss in Bishop Creek and at Intake II, but Smith reports the usual baits and lures are working best. Winter weather continued in the Eastern Sierra right through the Memorial Day Holiday, making fishing at higher elevations a challenge. Anglers who dipped the lower elevation streams around Big Pine have benefitted from this weather pattern.


Andre Nersesian at the Country Kitchen in Big Pine said Baker and Big Pine creeks are producing quantity and quality with brooders to 4 pounds on the chew. Tinemaha and Taboose creeks are great for browns and planter rainbows on small Panther Martins. The Owens at Hwy 168 has also produced a few trout to 4 pounds but heavy-weight, short leader with a nightcrawler is a must in the high flow. Tinemaha reservoir is fishing great for warm-water species. Night fishing for catfish is starting to pick up as well.


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JUNE LAKE BIG — Paul O’Hearn from Santa Ana reports seeing several nice fish at June Lake, but he was even happier hauling in this beautiful rainbow. He didn’t say what he was using.

Nersesian also wanted to correct the date of the 3rd annual Big Pine Trout Derby. The correct date is July 6, to coincide with a free fishing day when no fishing license is required. Prizes will be awarded to adults and juniors for the largest fish, heaviest limit and tagged fish, along with a 50/50 raffle and $600 Blind Bogey. Anglers can sign up at Country Kitchen early or until noon on Derby Day. Cost is $10 for adults and free for youngsters 12 and under.


Rock Creek Canyon is also thawing out, with Rock Creek Lake free of ice. Some snow remains around the banks, but warm weather or winds could clear that any day now. Some of the best fishing has been near the boat launch ramp for brookies, but the inlet at the back end of the lake should become a hot spot now that it will be accessible to anglers.


Despite some residual winter weather last week, Convict Lake lived up to its reputation, producing a 6-pound rainbow for Larry Lopez, Jr. from Torrance, who was fishing near the Marina and left with several 2- to 5-pound trout. Included in that were some bigger Kamloops trout caught on Carolina rigs that uses a swivel with a slide weight on an 18-inch, 2- to 4-pound leader and tipped with an inflated nightcrawler. The Convict hot spots continue to be the at the inlet, near the Marina and along the south shore.


Bait fishing at Crowley Lake has picked up, according to Shon E. Guide Service, with better numbers coming from McGee and Hilton bays. Best bait continues to be nightcrawlers, Mice Tails and Power­Bait. Those who like to toss metal are connecting with Kastmasters, Thomas Buoyants and spinners in the mornings before winds come up.


Crowley is in the zone for spring flyfishing with some quality fish coming to nets along with schooled 14- to 16-inch trout at Alligator and Sandy points and Whiskey Bay. Best fly choices include Shaft Emerger, regular Shaft Fly, small Cooper Tigers, tiny Damsel Nymphs, Zebra Midge and Perch Fry.


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CAUGHT FROM SHORE — Mark Hernandez from Santa Barbara bundled up in the miserable weather but was rewarded with this 5-pound football while fishing from shore at Lower Twin Lake in Bridgeport.

It continues to be a waiting game to see when the road and lakes will open into the Mammoth Lakes Basin. Chad Casten, a guide at The Troutfitter, said it has rained to snowed off and all most of last week and roads are still closed.


“We do have a heat wave predicted for next week, so hopefully we might see the lakes open in the next two weeks,” he said. Right now, the only open water is a small section on Twin Lake at the road closure. Typically, that can produce some larger brook trout early in the season. There are no estimates as to an opening date for the road into Red’s Meadow and the San Joaquin river.


Casten said there is still 10 feet of snow at the Mammoth Main Lodge and snowplows would have to go through that to open the road. The only good news is that the late thaw has kept creek flows down and fishing in the Mammoth area has been excellent, Casten said.


Thunderstorms late last week kept some anglers off the water in the June Loop, but those who went out on June Lake once the lightning passed had an epic afternoon, connecting with rainbows and cutthroat to 4 pounds. Jeremy Ross at Ernie’s Tackle said daily storms kept fishing sporadic.


“The fish are out there and are biting, but there are no concentrations,” he said.


Bait fishing from shore at Gull Lake has been a good bet, but boats in the reeds on the far end of the lake have also been coming in with some nice rainbows.


Fishing at Silver Lake picked up late last week after 400 pounds of Desert Springs trophy rainbows arrived, along with 400 pounds of DFW hatchery fish. “The fish are out there for the taking, we just need Mother Nature to get on board and lighten up with her wind and cold weather,” said Andrew Jones at Silver Lake Resort. One of the bigger fish of the week was a 5-pound, 6-ounce rainbow taken by John Richardson from Rancho Belago with salmon peach PowerBait.


Storms slowed the action at Grant Lake, but guide Dan Lengning continues to pull out some nice browns late in the day. The road to Yosemite from Lee Vining is now open to the eastern park entrance, but both Tioga and Ellery Lake are still covered with ice and the road to Saddlebag Lake has yet to be plowed. Brad Beaver at Beaver’s Sporting Goods in Lee Vining said there is blue ice on the lakes and that means they could soon begin to open up.


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ON THE TROLL — Mono County Supervisor John Peters decided to get a little fishing time on Bridgeport Reservoir with guide Ken Hoffman and connected with this 5-pound rainbow while top-line trolling a small Rapala.

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THE MAGIC MIDGE — Jackie Mora from Los Angeles had a great day on Crowley Lake, using a midge to haul in this 3.12-pound rainbow, her biggest fish of the day.

convictlakekeeperCONVICT LAKE KEEPER — Ramon Olivas from Costa Mesa pulled in this beefy 3-pound rainbow at Convict Lake while fishing near the accessibility platform. He was offering up a nightcrawler.

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