Easter Sierra

Eastern Sierra: Trout waters opening fast

Summer has arrived in the High Country

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Jun 26, 2019

MAMMOTH LAKES — It seemed to take forever but at last, it’s game on for trout anglers in the Eastern Sierra. At press time, roads into Mammoth Lakes Basin were scheduled to be opened, Highway 120 through Yosemite was set to open and lake levels in Bishop Basin were rising quickly enough for rental boats to be out and stocking trucks to arrive.

What was a winter to remember, may soon be replaced by an unforgettable summer trout season, with good numbers of holdover trout and trophy stocking providing some monster fish for Sierra anglers to chase. Leo Aguabo at Rick’s Sports Center is Mammoth Lakes said Lake Mary was also stocked with both DFW and trophy rainbows last week, and anglers who made the trek to both Mary and Mamie lakes were coming out with trout from 3 to 6 pounds.

walkerriverbigWALKER RIVER BIG — Nick Deaver hit the fast-flowing East Walker River with guide Andrew Sears of Walker River Outfitters and connected with this huge brown.

“I expect to see a lot of big fish coming out of there as soon as the road opens,” he said. So far there have been no estimates as to when the road down into Red’s Meadow and the San Joaquin River might be open. Aguabo said it could be as late as Aug. 1.

There’s also good news from Bishop Basin where the snow melt is quickly bringing up water levels at South Lake and Lake Sabrina and also allowing stocking trucks to arrive. Jared Smith at South Lake Landing said fishing has been good for both larger rainbows and stocked DFW fish.

WON editor Mike Stevens hiked to Boiler Cove where he reported, “we just killed them.” They were fishing off of the snowpack that was melting off and running into the lake. Patti Apted at Lake Sabrina said the rising water has also allowed them to get boats out and fish stocked and that has boosted the bite.

“Lots of brook trout being caught and I am not sure why, but they are some good eating fish,” Apted said. The inlets at the back of the lake are still good bets, but anglers drifting the narrow channel and working red and gold Thomas Buoyants, Kastmasters, nightcrawlers and PowerBait are doing well. Apted warned that creeks are ripping, so use caution when near the flowing water.

High flows also continue to blow out conditions on Big Pine Creek, according to Andre Nersesian at the Country Kitchen in Big Pine. He wanted to remind anglers about the July 6 Big Pine Trout Derby offering a $600 blind bogey and prizes for largest fish, stringer and tagged fish in both junior and adult categories.

northshoretrophyNORTH SHORE TROPHY — The inlet at Convict has been fishing very well, but Shane McGowan took top honors at Convict Lake this week with this hefty 5-pound, 4-ounce rainbow that inhaled a Mice Tail on the north shore.

Anglers can register at the Country Kitchen. Adults are $10 and children 12 and under are free.

Summer has arrived at Rock Creek Lake, along with good fishing. DFW rainbows have been hungry but some larger rainbows have been biting, including a 4-pound, 12-ounce rainbow pulled in by Gary Smith. Flows in Rock Creek are high, but anglers fishing the slower runs and pools should be able to connect with fish recently planted. There is still ice at some of the hike-in lakes in Long Valley, but enough open water for eager wild trout to bite.

Trolling at 30 to 40 feet at Convict Lake has been connecting with some larger rainbows. “The color of the lure hasn’t been as important as the depth,” said Brian Balarsky at Convict Lake Marina. Nightcrawlers and garlic Pinched Crawlers have also been a good choice. He advised boaters to be cautious about debris washed down because of high runoff right now.

“The water flows are extremely fast in the creek and the rocks and shore are slippery, so use caution there as well,” he said. The inlet and South Shore were the hot spots last week.

Kent Rianda at The Trout Fitter is Mammoth Lakes said things are improving at Crowley Lake, but fly-fishing has been tough because of wind and runoff. “Hilton, McGee and the bays in the south end have been showing more fish, but the doldrums of the runoff are upon us. Fishing is sporadic and scattered,” Rianda said.

Bait anglers at Crowley have been doing well with gold/silver and blue/silver Kastmasters and red/gold and silver Thomas Buoyant jigs, according to Shon E Guide Service. KJ Flashers reports trolling is also picking up.

“With the water temperatures starting to rise, the bite seems to be getting more aggressive with the larger 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,” they said. Tasmanian Devils, Needlefish and Rapalas are the best choices for trolling.

NO JUNE GLOOM — Patrick Rinaldi from Cedar Pines needs a little help showing off this load of trout he caught at June Lake. The biggest tipped the scales at 6 pounds.

June Lake continues to produce some huge cutthroat to 6 pounds, along with some decent rainbows. Trolling has been the best bet, but some larger cutts have even been attracted to PowerBait.

Gull Lake didn’t log any monster trout last week, but anglers fishing deeper water were reporting a steady bite for stocked rainbows. Andrew Jones at Silver Lake Resort reported lots of fish caught last week, but nothing bigger than 3 pounds. Traditional baits and lures seemed to work best for both shore and boat anglers. Warm temperatures have also brought lots of runoff.

“With the sun and warm has come lots of water that is pouring out of the high country and dumping into all the lakes and tributaries, which is very nice to see,” Jones said.

Both Silver Lake and Rush Creek were stocked last week, and anglers working the slower runs and pools on the creek have been getting limits of pan-sized rainbows. Grant Lake is also full to the brim and now spilling over. Anglers fishing late in the day are connecting with some 16- to 20-inch browns and guide Dan Lengning has been putting his clients on to some larger Kamloops fish, along with rainbows.

There is good news and bad news for anglers wanting to get into Yosemite from Lee Vining. Highway 120 over Tioga Pass is now open on a limited basis until further notice, but parking and day-use will not be allowed and there will be no visitor services. The road will open daily from 10 to 11 a.m., and 3 to 4 p.m. There is access to Ellery and Tioga Lakes, and fishing has been slow because of cold water. The road to Saddlebag Lake has yet to be cleared. Flows in Lee Vining Creek are swift, but the creek is well stocked with trophy rainbows holding in slower runs and deeper pools. Lundy Lake is rising fast, but runoff has stained the water. Fishing is up and down, but the lake has been stocked with some larger fish.

Virginia Lakes basin is now free of ice and the stocking trucks have arrived with 2- to 4-pound rainbows from the Bridgeport Fish Enhancement Foundation along with DFW stockers. Carolyn Webb at Virginia Lakes Resort said a Christmas Tree, consisting of a salmon egg with added worm has been getting bites, along with inflated nightcrawlers and Pinched Crawlers. Red/god Thomas Buoyants and gold Kastmasters along with swimbaits and various jigs are good lure choices. Last week’s bite was topped by a 5-pound, 3-ounce rainbow, along with several other 3- to 4-pound rainbows. Little Virginia has been the most productive water.

Bridgeport waters continue to be one of the Eastern Sierra epicenters for trout fishing. Both Upper and Lower Twin Lakes have been steady for trout to 5 pounds and Bridgeport Reservoir the epic bite continues with trophy rainbows to 6 pounds. 

perchedatcrowleyPERCHED AT CROWLEY — Eleven-year-old Noah Steenstra was working a jig at Crowley Lake when he tied into this nice Sacramento perch.

RICK VEGA TROLLED Tasmanian Devils on leadcore from his pontoon in 30 feet of water at Convict Lake and turned up these two nice rainbows.

BACK FOR MORE — Dan Whisnand from Long Beach is a summer regular at Bridgeport Reservoir and frequently shows up with fish like this 6-pound, 1-ounce rainbow he landed while trolling a worm.

doublethefunDOUBLE THE FUN — Don Allen made the trip from South Dakota and was rewarded with these two beauties he caught while dangling worms at Lower Twin Lake. The biggest was 5 pounds, 8 ounces and the smaller one weighed in at 2 pounds, 15 ounces.

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