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Eastern Sierra

Eastern Sierra enters prime trout season

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Jun 13, 2018

MAMMOTH LAKES — The ice is gone, roads, marinas and resorts are all up and running, and best off all, Eastern Sierra trout are biting. Winter has finally released its icy grip and even backcountry lakes are producing wild trout for anglers who enjoy the short hikes away from the armchair crowds at drive-to lakes.

The one exception to a road opening is the steep switchback down into Red’s Meadow from Mammoth Lakes. Rick Flamson at Rick’s Sports Center said a late March storm washed out a section of the road between Starkweather and Sotcher Lake and the Forest Service is working to make repairs. At press time, there was not an opening date for the road.

bringingithomeBRINGING IT HOME — Daniel King from Irvine worked from shore with a Mice Tail at Lower Twin Lake in Bridgeport to hook this 4-pound, 2-ounce rainbow. This was one of several 4- to 5-pound rainbows showing up this week.

Heavy summer crowds are still a week away but anglers on the water now are reporting good limits along with good numbers of 4- to 5-pound trout. As temperatures climb, the really big fish seem to be going deeper and are becoming a bit more elusive. Flamson said he has at least a half-dozen photos on his wall of 3- to 6-pound trout from lakes Mary, Mamie and Twin. The best offerings currently are garlic Pinched Crawlers, minijigs and Sierra Slammers, Flamson said.

One of the biggest fish of the week from the Mammoth Basin was a 6-pound, 8-ounce rainbow taken with Power Eggs by Mike Gardner from San Dimas. Another 5-8 rainbow came from Twin Lakes near the waterfall by an unidentified angler who was using Trout Teasers. The biggest trout of the week from Mammoth was a 7-pound, 8-ounce rainbow from Lake Mary, taken by Steve Mills from Newport Beach — no report on what he was using.

Convict Lake keeps anglers guessing, and that makes it a fun place to fish. One week it’s the inlet, and the next week the trout seem to be biting all over. This week’s big fish was a 5-pound, 5-ounce rainbow hooked by Kevin Endo, who was working from the south shore with PowerBait.

When the wind was not blowing, Crowley Lake continued to be very generous to trout hunters. According to guides Ryan Kitts and Fred Johnson with KJ Flashers, trolling has been good in the North Arm from Alligator Point to Layton Soring in 15 to 30 feet of water.

“The best producing trolling lures remain to be the green Tasmanians and Bloody Rippers at 3 mph with the best spoons being Thomas Buoyant in the frog pattern and brown trout. Some other lures working good are the frog-pattern Super Dupers and Rapala in black and white and Brown trout patterns,” KJ said. Fish are on the move, so anglers are advised to keep moving until you connect.

catchandreleaseCATCH AND RELEASE — Bridgeport Reservoir continues to kick out big fish, including this 6-plus-pound brown that Don Whisnand from Long Beach proudly showed off before releasing it. The beautiful hook-jaw was taken while trolling.

The perch bite at Crowley is still hot, with watermelon or pumpkin-colored jigs tipped with a white Crappie Nibble working well in 4 to 20 feet of water on a very slow troll.

Bait fishing at Crowley was fair last week with Sandy Point and Hilton Bay some of the better spots. Inflated nightcrawlers is the best bet, worked 16 to 20 inches off the bottom.

Rock Creek Lake has come alive. The lake received a special load of trophy rainbows last week, and apparently, they were hungry. It didn’t take Victor Santos from Fallbrook long to connect, and he hauled in a limit that weighed nearly 15 pounds, topped by a 5-pound, 8-ounce rainbow. His magic was provided by a Thomas Buoyant spoon.

Rock Creek Canyon is now coming into prime time, with the creek below the lake stocked and producing good numbers of pan-sized rainbows with salmon eggs and PowerBait. Access to backcountry lakes is also good from the trail head at the end of the road, with wild rainbows, browns and brookies feeding aggressively on small flies and lures.

Bishop Creek Basin is wide open now, with lake water levels excellent for this time of the year. Boat docks are in and rentals available at South Lake and Lake Sabrina.

Jared Smith at South Lake said lots of limits are being caught by both shore and boat anglers and included in those limits are some 3- to 4-pound holdover rainbows.

The inlets at the back end of the lake are always productive early in the season, with the secret being to anchor just outside of the tongue water and cast into the entering stream water. You will catch lots of fish, and even some trophies now and then with this technique.

cuttsarebitingCUTTS ARE BITING — The cutthroat bite has not slowed down at June Lake, and Steve Simpson from Redlands shows off this 4-pound beauty he landed while trolling.

Waters in the June Loop were productive everywhere last week, and even the higher spring flows on Rush Creek did not slow down the bite. June Lake continues to kick out some beefy cutthroat, including a 4-pound beauty taken by Steve Simpson from Redlands, who was trolling.

Guide Dan Lengning at Grant Lake seems to be able to scratch out brown trout, no matter what the conditions. There were no bigs reported but Dan did manage to boat several browns during the week despite a few miserable days of cold and wind.

Andrew Jones at Silver Lake Resort said fishing has been picking up and as the weather continues to warm, trout should become more active and feed on a more regular basis.

He said fishing as Silver Lake has been steady with good numbers of 2- to 4-pound fish showing up daily. “Anglers have been seeing some great action using a good old fashioned nightcrawler both at the top of the water and down deep, as well as all types of Berkley baits with garlic in it,” Jones said.

Gull Lake continues to see good fishing along the shoreline off the park and in the far back bay area. Plenty of limits are being caught with some 4- to 5-pound trout mixed in.

Virginia Lakes has thawed out enough now and fish are starting to bite. Carolyn Webb at Virginia Lakes Resort said that overall, the action has been good with Mice Tails.

“You can pump up the action by trying different combinations of worms, salmon eggs, Mice Tails, or whatever, like marshmallows,” Webb said. The stock truck arrived on Thursday from Black Rock hatchery and stocked Big and Little Virginia Lakes and Trumbull Lake. Red lake is still breaking up and Blue and Cooney lakes are ice-free, one of the Frog Lakes is now ice free and the other two are starting to feel the heat, Webb said.

Bridgeport waters also continue to be happening places. Both of the Twins are producing good numbers of 4- to 6-pound trout, and Bridgeport Reservoir is hot for both trout and perch. Don Whisnand from Long Beach hauled in a 6-pound-plus brown while trolling at Bridgeport Reservoir and released it after a quick picture.

Jim Reid at Ken’s Sporting Goods said as waters warm, look for fish to congregate near the inlets at Bridgeport Reservoir. Reid said bait anglers have been doing well by anchoring off of Rainbow Point, and trolling has been good in Buckeye Bay with Speedy Shiners, Thomas Buoyants and nightcrawler combos.

ROCK CREEK LOAD — Rock Creek Lake had a special load of trophy rainbows and Victor Santos from Fallbrook struck gold with these three beauties that totaled nearly 15 pounds and were topped by a 5-pound, 8-ounce rainbow. He was throwing a Thomas Buoyant.

sevenpoundsmilesteveSEVEN-POUND SMILE — Steve Mills from Newport Beach should be smiling with this 7-pound, 8-ounce rainbow that he pulled in at Lake Mary. There was no information on what he was using.

southlakebigSOUTH LAKE BIG — Conditions at South Lake in the Bishop Basin are exceptional for this early in the season and Tai Yoo used a red/natural Mice Tail to entice this 4-pound rainbow while fishing from shore.

THE SEASON BEGINS — It took a while for everything to thaw out at Virginia Lakes but conditions are excellent now, and Codey Brown, 9, from Fontana landed this beautiful 1-pound, 8-ounce brook trout at Little Virginia to kick off his season.

tippingthescalesTIPPING THE SCALES — This 5-pound, 5-ounce rainbow swallowed PowerBait offered by Kevin Endo at Convict Lake. The lake has been wide open for larger fish and this one was feeding on the south shore.

WHAT A RUSH — Don Pinaire from Kernville found the honey hole on Rush Creek. He didn’t say what he was using, but the biggest fish weighed in at 4 pounds, 5 ounces.

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