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Eastern Sierra

Eastern Sierra Report: Fingers crossed, summer has arrived

Warm weather also means high creek flows

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Jun 12, 2019

BISHOP — Summer seems to have arrived in the Eastern Sierra at last, with ice disappearing from higher elevation lakes and access to most areas improving.

Plowing of roads into Mammoth Basin is underway, but the road is still closed, and there is still lots of ice on the upper elevation Virginia Lakes, but there are signs things are breaking up.

Fishing has also improved with the availability of more open water, but the one down side is that the quickly melting, record level snowpack has started to create runoff that is blowing out some streams.

EAST WALKER MONSTER — Here’s another monster brown from the East Walker, this one caught by George Choe from Eldorado Hills while he was fishing with Doug Dolan with Sierra Drifters Guide Service.

According to Ray Robles at Ken’s Sporting Goods in Bridgeport, temperatures there last week bumped into the 80’s.

“We knew when it got that warm that runoff would be a problem,” Robles said.

Right now, flows on the East Walker River are at over 700 cfs and on the West Walker they are over 2,200 cfs.

“The rivers are blown out and just not fishable at those levels,” Robles said.

Bishop Creek and Rush Creek in June Lake are experiencing the same conditions, but Krisdina Karady at Parchers Resort said the pools are fishable on South Fork of Bishop Creek.

The good news from Bishop Basin is that ice is starting to vanish, and the lakes are fishing.

Jared Smith at South Lake Landing said there is open water and anglers have reported catching up to 16 fish in a day. Stocking trucks have yet to make it to South Lake.

At Lake Sabrina, water levels behind the dam are quickly rising and Patti Apted said they have a few boats out, with more to come.

The two natural lakes at the back of Sabrina Basin are open and holding lots of fish that should soon begin migrating into the man-made portion of the lake as waters rise.

The road to North Lake is open and the lake is free of ice. Still some snow around the banks make access difficult in some areas, but if warmer conditions prevail the snow should be gone quickly.

doubledigitrainbowDOUBLE DIGIT RAINBOW — The season’s first double-digit rainbow showed up at Gull Lake, where David Lozano used a traditional nightcrawler and bobber rig to attract the 10-pound rainbow at the back end of the lake by the reeds.

As far as big fish go, some of the best catching in the Sierra is in waters around Bridgeport.

Frankly, so many 3- to 8-pound fish have come from those waters that WON doesn’t have room to run all the pictures.

Before being blown out, the East Walker River was as hot place to catch some monster browns, and Bridgeport Reservoir continues to kick out boat loads of big fish.

One of the biggest of the week was an 8-pound tagged Bridgeport Fish Enhancement Foundation rainbow that John Hays from Cobb attracted to his line while trolling a worm on Bridgeport Reservoir.

Even the Twins out of Bridgeport were in the hot action, with good numbers of 3- to 6-pound trout showing up.

One of those braggin’ rainbows was a 5-pound, 8-ounce beauty hauled in at Lower Twin Lake by Bob Imes from Incline Village, Nev. The 85-year-old was trolling a Woolly Bugger when the action began.

Trout up to 7 pounds have been caught at Upper Twin Lake in the past few weeks, just in time for the upcoming July 4 trout derby that runs from June 28.

Both of the Twins have been good for shore or boat fishing, with a variety of traditional baits and lures working.

Lundy Lake continues to be on the slow side, likely because of heavy runoff that has stained the water but is bringing the lake level up quickly. Once runoff slows, this could be one of the better hot spots.

IT’S A CHUNK — John Hays from Cobb was trolling a worm at Bridgeport Reservoir when he hooked this beefy, 8-pound BFEF tagged rainbow. The Reservoir has been on fire for 3- to 5-pound fish.

Road plowing continues slowly on Tioga Pass, with the road open as far at the eastern entrance of Yosemite above Lee Vining. Access to Saddlebag is still blocked by snow, and Tioga and Ellery Lakes only have small areas of open water.

The best fishing around Lee Vining continues to be Lee Vining Creek where rainbows to 6 pounds have been caught. Flows are coming up as temperatures warm, but if you are willing to walk and dip the pools, you may be slammed by a trophy trout.

Waters in June Lake Loop have joined the big-fish scoreboard with Gull Lake kicking out the first double-digit trout last week.

David Lozano used a traditional nightcrawler and bobber rig to attract the 10-pound rainbow at the back end of the lake by the reeds. His whoops and hollers might have been a clue that he was on to something big.

June Lake kicked out a 7-pound rainbow to Brian Ecker from LaCañada who was trolling a red dot frog pattern Thomas Buoyant. Some nice cutthroats are also still common in the mix at June Lake.

Grant Lake is rising quickly and the bite for browns continues late in the day, with 18- to 20-inch fish being caught.

Trout hunting around Mammoth Lakes remains concentrated at Convict Lake and Crowley Lakes until roads into Mammoth Lakes Basin open. At press time there is no estimate for an opening date into the basin or down into Red’s Meadow.

Fortunately, both Crowley and Convict Lakes are red hot.

Guides Fred Johnson and Ryan Kitts at KJ Flashers said the fish at Crowley have become more aggressive as water temperatures begin to rise.

EARLY SEASON BROWN — The big browns are on the chew on the East Walker River out of Bridgeport Reservoir and Alex Ramirez from Truckee used a 6-weight Sage Igniter with RIO Grand floating line to nail this spectacular fish.

“The trick still remains to move locations until you mark fish and start getting bites and then work that water using different depths as the day progresses. The perch started early this year, so the trout are moving shallow near the beds to get the hatchlings,” they said.

Early morning has been good for top water action at Crowley and overall the best fishing continues along the U.S. 395 side of McGee Bay, Sandy and Alligator Points, in front of the landing down to Beaver Cove and Chalk Bluffs.

The best lures for trolling at Crowley have been Tasmanian Devil in bleeding frog, bloody ripper, orange perch and pink frog patterns. Needlefish and Rapala have also been getting results.

The folks at Convict Lake are reporting mornings as the best time for catching right now.

Afternoon storms slowed things a bit, but as the weather patterns becomes more like summer, things could change.

Hottest areas at Convict Lake continue to be at the inlet and along the South Shore. Kim Craft had a good day fishing on the south shore, tugging in this 4-pound, 12-ounce rainbow that inhaled a Lip Ripper.

Rock Creek Lake has now escaped the claws of winter with water that is clear of ice. There is still some snow around the lake making access difficult in some places, but overall, it’s fish on!

Glenn McElfresh said the lake campground has been opened and the lake is scheduled to be stocked this week. Holdovers rainbows and brook trout are being caught.

lowertwintrophyLOWER TWIN TROPHY — He may be 85, but Bob Imes from Incline Village, Nev., is still “slaying it” at Lower Twin Lake with this 5-pound, 8-ounce rainbow he took while trolling a Woolly Bugger last week.

southshorekeeperSOUTH SHORE KEEPER — Kim Craft had a good day fishing on the south shore at Convict Lake, tugging in this 4-pound, 12-ounce rainbow that inhaled a Lip Ripper.

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