Eastern Sierra

Eastern Sierra: Looking a lot like summer for trout hunters

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Jul 03, 2019

MAMMOTH LAKES — It’s hard to find anyone who can remember it taking this long, but the gates are open, and anglers can now drive into the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

On top of that good news is even better news in that stocking trucks arrived, and anglers should expect fishing fireworks over the July 4th holiday weekend.

Rick Flamson at Rick’s Sports Center said 2,500 pounds of trophy trout were planted in Twin, Mary, George and Mamie lakes and they didn’t waste time before biting.

crowleylakesmilesCROWLEY LAKE SMILES — Cody and Connor Campbell from Oxnard have a lot to smile about with this double of beautiful browns caught at Crowley Lake while they were tossing San Juan Worms with Sierra Drifters Guide Service.

Biggest so far was a 4-pound, 12-ounce rainbow taken from Lake Mary by Scott Asgood from Newberry Park who was dunking a pink Mice Tail. Flamson said the bite has been best really early in the morning and after the sun leaves the water in the afternoon.

At press time there are also plans announced to open the road into Red’s Meadow, but only to shuttle traffic. Flamson said no private vehicles will be allowed and campgrounds are still closed. Services including the café should be available at Red’s Meadow Pack Station.

“It’s a mess down there and it will take time to get things open,” Flamson said. At higher elevation there is still as much as 10 feet of snow on the ground.

“We had more snow in 2017, but what killed us this year was an additional 34 inches of snow in May,” Flamson said.

For now, high creek flows are still an issue in many areas.

Andre Nersesian at the Country Kitchen in Big Pine said Big Pine Creek is still raging and generally unfishable, but Glacier Pond has been producing steady action.

“Baker Creek kicked out many limits of chunky rainbows this week,” Nersesian said.

BIG BRIDGEPORT BROWN — This was Garrett Mercier’s first-time fishing ever and he connected with this 6-pound, 8-ounce brown at Bridgeport Reservoir with a nightcrawler.

The Owens River around Big Pine is high and murky, but a few big rainbows have been caught despite the challenging conditions.

“The river section below Tinemaha Reservoir is fishing well on rainbows and browns, with early morning the key here because daytime temps get into the 90’s now,” Nersesian said.

Things are looking up in Bishop Creek Basin with all water now open, lakes filling fast and rental boats out on South Lake and Lake Sabrina. And the fish are biting.

Patti Apted at Sabrina Landing reported water has hit the launch ramp. Both docks are on the water and both pontoons on the Lake.

DFW and trophy fish were stocked last week and Joseph Rosado used a tube jig to haul in a 3-pound, 12-ounce rainbow.

“Mice Tails made the list of what’s working at the lake this week along with the norm of |red and gold Thomas Buoyant, Kastmasters, salmon eggs, nightcrawlers and PowerBait,” Apted said.

Flows are high in forks of Bishop Creek, but waters have been stocked and are holding some larger trout.

South Lake also received trophy rainbows to 5 pounds-plus and the lake has risen to the launch ramp, allowing private boats on the water.

makingthecuttMAKING THE CUTT — June Lake has been a cutthroat honey hole this season, and Robert Villareal from Eagle Rock continued the streak with this 4-pound, 5-ounce cutt.

Jared Smith at South Lake Landing said fishing has been wide open, but the inlets continue to be good for limits.

High country routes to wild lakes still have some snow to navigate, and there is ice on lakes above 10,000 feet, but things are beginning to thaw out.

Rock Creek Lake received two plantings last week, including a load of DFW trout and Desert Springs trophy rainbows.

Steve Miller at Rock Creek Lake Resort said lures have been working better than bait because the fish seem to be holding closer to the surface.

“We haven’t seen anything big yet; mostly to about 2 pounds,” Miller said.

Backcountry trails are now open to Long Lake and the small basin lakes are good for wild rainbows, browns and brookies. This early in the season, just about any lure or fly works.

Convict Lake received 400 pounds of 3- to 5-pound Kamloops trout last week and the bigger ones have been hitting inflated nightcrawlers, garlic Pinched Crawlers and Tasmanian Devil lures.

Browns have also gotten active at Convict Lake, biting at a depth of 35 to 40 feet. The Inlet, South Shore and Hang­man’s Tree have been excellent for shore fishing.

doublethefun1aDOUBLE THE FUN — Annie Jordan from Oceanside made the trek to the inlet at Convict Lake and came home with these two beauties with a total weight of 6 pounds, 8 ounces. She was using salmon eggs and chartreuse PowerBait.

Fishing at Crowley Lake has turned around after a recent daphnia bloom. Now the midges and damsel flies are hatching and that has excited the bite.

Sierra Drifters guide Doug Rodricks said there is a lot of surface action throughout the lake with a mix of smaller browns and rainbows. Larger fish have started migrating into McGee Bay and the North Arm.

Guides are predicting larger trout will be moving into shallow water to target damselflies any day now.

June Lake waters continue to be an excellent fishing destination, offering four lakes and stream fishing and a bite that includes rainbow, browns, cutthroat and Kamloops.

June Lake continued its stream of hefty cutts this week, producing a 4-pound, 5-ounce beauty for Robert Villareal from Eagle Rock.

Jeremy Ross at Ernie’s Tackle and Ski said waters in the loop are still a bit cold at 58 degrees, but anglers should see action pick up as temperatures warm.

To help with that, Ernie’s has donated 100 pounds of 3- to 5-pound trophy rainbows at June, Gull, Silver and Grant lakes and Rush Creek. Fish were purchased with money dropped into donation jars at the tackle shop.

“We put the trophies in this week in time for the holiday weekend,” Ross said.

guidesdayoff1aGUIDE’S DAY OFF — Ray Robles from Bridgeport is a fishing guide and also the president of the Bridgeport Fish Enhancement Foundation. He finally connected with one of the fish that BFEF stocks. He boated this hefty, 6-pound, 11-ounce rainbow at Bridgeport Reservoir trolling a Thomas Buoyant with guide Ken Hoffman.

Gull Lake has some algae issues last week, but that didn’t seem to slow down Sophie Lukens from Benicia who was able to reel in a 4-pound rainbow.

Silver Lake has been good to both boat and shore anglers, producing good limits that include fish to 4 pounds.

Ross said Rush Creek continues to run extremely high and, “for safety we are urging people not to wade in the water.” There are some nice fish in the pools, however.

Grant Lake is full and spilling over, with both shore fishing and trolling a good bet. The best action has been late in the day after the sun leaves the water.

Guide Dan Lengning said Grant has also been producing the Grant Lake Slam, consisting of rainbow, brown and Kamloops.

There is news from Lee Vining. Some good, and some not so good. Tioga Pass is now open into Yosemite from Lee Vining, but at press time only on a limited and escorted basis.

Additionally, the road to Saddlebag Lake is not open, but it’s likely there will be no services there this summer. Anglers can fish the lake, however there is still ice. Once the ice clears, operators hope to have the water taxi going on a limited basis.

Ellery and Tioga lakes are now accessible, but anglers have not reported anything of note yet.

Lee Vining Creek is well stocked and although running high, anglers have been pulling some nice fish from the pools.

Lundy Lake is now full and spilling and this has allowed the water to clear. Fishing has been reported as good, with trout to 4 pounds being caught.

Yes, it’s taken this long, but there is now no ice on any of the lakes in Virginia Lakes Basin. Trout to 5 pounds have been caught, and as DFW and trophy trout are planted, look for weights go up. The high-altitude lakes here hold some monster fish.

Bridgeport area waters continue to be off the hook. It’s hard to keep track of the 4- to 6-pound fish being caught.

Both upper and lower Twin Lakes are coming alive, with lures working better than bait for now. That can change daily, however, so check with the landings before casting out.

Bridgeport Reservoir continues to be epic, and even Ray Robles has a fish to brag about.

Why is that important?

Robles is a Bridgeport guide and president of the Bridgeport Fish Enhancement Foundation. He spends most of his time helping others or reporting on the bigs landed by visitors.

This week he took a fishing day with guide Ken Hoffman and boated a beautiful 6-pound, 11-ounce rainbow that was a BFEF tagged fish.

hookedforlifeHOOKED FOR LIFE — Sophie Lukens from Benicia is only 4, but is starting out early with this 4-pound rainbow she caught at Gull Lake.

silverlakerainbowSILVER LAKE RAINBOW — Gaven Holzman from Simi Valley is all smiles as he shows off this nice 3-pound, 1-ounce rainbow he landed while fishing from shore at Silver Lake.

LOWER TWIN LOAD — Wyatt Harpain from Sacramento shows off a 4-pound rainbow he landed at Lower Twin Lake in Bridgeport using a red/gold Thomas Buoyant.

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