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Eastern Sierra

Eastern Sierra: Trout hunters get serious

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Sep 10, 2019

JUNE LAKE — Once Labor Day is over trout fishing in the Eastern Sierra gets serious.

It’s like the perfect storm. Weather is ideal, temperatures are cooling, creek flows are dropping, lakes and streams are chock full of big fish that are starting the fall feeding frenzy, and many prime waters have few if any anglers.


This is when the real trout hunters hit the water. These are the anglers who are serious about hooking up with a double-digit brown or that trophy rainbow.


hestheboss
HE’S THE BOSS — Jared Smith might be the boss at Parchers Resort and South Lake Landing, but he does manage to get on the water once in a while. He caught and released this 7-pound beauty while working a Sierra Slammer off the rockslide on the far side of the lake.

Backcountry trails are still clear of snow, and the wild browns, rainbows and brookies will attack just about anything you toss.


It just doesn’t get much better.


After talking with Sierra trout veterans, the annual WON Fall Forecast was upbeat about late season fishing, and we still feel the same way, especially after some of the fish that were caught last week.


June Lake has been the happy place for beefy cutthroat all season long, and that continued last week with June Lake local Ralph Obenberger boating a 9-pound, 8-ounce cutthroat while trolling an Arctic Fox trolling fly at almost nine colors.


“That’s incredible. I didn’t even know there were cutts in June Lake that size,” said Jeremy Ross at Ernie’s Tackle and Ski.


With lighter crowds, Gull Lake is also producing fish, but the secret to success there is a longer leader to get your bait up out of the weeds.


Andrew Jones at Silver Lake Resort called fishing a bit slow last week, but he still checked in several 3- to 4-pound rainbows caught on just about everything and from shore and boats.


He is predicting that things will pick up, however, because cooler nights have dropped water temperatures to 61 degrees and that trend should continue.


lakemaryload
LAKE MARY LOAD — Judith Palma from Downey is all smiles after landing this 4-pound, 1-ounce rainbow at lake Mary that measured 20 inches. She was dunking PowerBait.

Silver Lake and Rush Creek continue to be stocked regularly with DFW rainbows and larger trophy trout were scheduled for stocking this week.


Flows remain strong in Rush Creek and that could be good for the fall migration of big brown up from Grant Lake to spawn.


Anglers are asked to avoid walking in Rush Creek as much as possible to avoid destroying brown trout redds. Browns that are caught should be carefully released to preserve this prime fishery.


Mammoth Lakes Basin also seems to be turning on as fall looms just a few weeks away. Some nice fish are being checked at both lakes Mary and George.


Lake Mary kicked out a 7-pound rainbow that swallowed a Mice Tail last week along with several 4- and 5-pound rainbows.


Siblings Matthew and Kate Suyetsugu from Culver City had an awesome day at Lake Mary, boating six monster rainbows over 4 pounds, topped by a 5-pound, 5-ounce beauty. They were tossing nightcrawlers and Mice Tails.


The bigger fish to 4 pound being caught at Lake George seemed to be partial to red/gold Thomas Buoyants, but anglers are reporting the bite there was on and off.


The magic number at Convict Lake last week was 4 pounds, with lots of fish check in weighing up to 4 pounds, 12 ounces.


Sam Lu and Andrew Ryan from Atherton had a pretty good day with a couple of 3-pound, 12-ounce rainbows and a 4-pound, 12-ounce rainbow taken with Tasmanian Devil and Needlefish while trolling seven colors along the south shore at Convict Lake. That’s not a bad day of fishing.


junelakemonster
JUNE LAKE MONSTER — June Lake has been the happy place for beefy cutthroat all season long, and that continued last week with June Lake local Ralph Obenberger boating a 9-pound, 8-ounce cutthroat while trolling an Arctic Fox trolling fly at almost nine colors.

Convict Lake Marina also reports a good bite in the creek with salmon eggs, nightcrawlers and crickets.


Crowley Lake might be in the fall no-bait season, but that doesn’t mean fish are not being caught.


Sierra Drifters owner Doug Rodricks reports that the north channel and McGee Creek and bay have been good, with some fish also biting at Sandy Point.


“When the wind stirs the water in the afternoons, the fish move in and feed on the flats and in the channels,” Rodricks said.


Midges, perch fry, and callibaetis imitations have been getting the job done. Some bigger fish have been chasing fry throughout the lake, so changing it up to slow stripping can get you into some big ones, Rodricks suggests.


Rock Creek Canyon is a fishing paradise right now. Flows in Rock Creek are down to ideal levels and natural baits like salmon eggs and crickets are working along with terrestrial flies like ants and mosquitos.


Rock Creek Lake has been stocked all season with some bigger trophy rainbows and Mike Aplanalp from Los Alamitos connected with a 4-pound rainbow after losing a bigger one. He was tossing a gold Thomas Buoyant.


Anglers willing to enjoy a beautiful hike will find some eager wild rainbows, browns and brookies in Long Valley beyond road’s end in Rock Creek Canyon.


Bishop Creek Canyon is also prime right now, and Jared Smith at Parchers Resort said there is already a hint of fall color in the aspen groves.


Smith did get out on South Lake the other day and caught and released a 7-pound rainbow while tossing a Sierra Slammer off the rockslide on the far side of the lake. The inlets at the back of the lake are also good for limits of smaller rainbows with an occasional trophy mixed in.


convictlaketripleCONVICT LAKE TRIPLE — Sam Lu and Andrew Ryan from Atherton had a pretty good day with a couple of 3-pound, 12-ounce rainbows and a 4-pound, 12-ounce rainbow taken with Tasmanian Devil and Needlefish while trolling seven colors along the south shore at Convict Lake.

Lake Sabrina has lots of fish, but it was the anglers with patience and perseverance bringing in the fish last week.


Patti Apted at Sabrina Landing said nightcrawlers, Mice Tails and Thomas Buoyants are a good bet with Jack’s Bay, the inlets at the back of the lake or near the spillway some of the better catching spots. The lake was stocked last week and is scheduled for trophy rainbows this week.


Big Pine area fishing has also picked up with lower creek flows and slightly cooler temperatures.


Andre Nersesian at County Kitchen said Big Pine Creek has dropped to fishable levels and anglers are pulling out lots of fish with salmon eggs and small Panther Martins.


“Baker creek has been excellent as well with Mice Tails and Sierra Slammers with fish to over 3 pounds,” he said.


Flows in the Owens River around Big Pine remain on the high side with spotty fishing.


Bridgeport area waters have been good all season, but are also starting to show signs of even better catching as fall weather starts to move in.


Jim Reid at Ken’s Sporting Goods said Bridgeport Reservoir has been hot for big perch in addition to rainbows to 5 pounds.


“Trolling is still good with Thomas Buoyants, nightcrawlers, Needlefish and Rapala, while bait fishing has been good in the channels off of Rainbow Point and out in the middle of the lake between Rainbow and the Marina,” Reid said.


Shore fishing has been slow, but Reid expects that to change as water temperatures drop.


fivepoundsmile
FIVE-POUND SMILE — The high-altitude Virginia Lakes continue to produce bigger fish, including this 5-pound, 1-ounce rainbow caught at Little Virginia Lake by Steve Yakura from Mesa, Ariz., who was offering a Mice Tail.

Both of the Twin Lakes in Bridgeport have been producing 3- to 4-pound rainbows for both bait anglers and trolling. So far, the big browns did not make a showing last week, but as waters cool that could happen at any time.


Best baits have been PowerBait, Pinched Crawlers and Mice Tails. Best lures at the Twins have been Rapala, Thomas Buoyant and Kastmasters.


The Sierra winter snowpack kept the prime waters of the East Walker River gushing all summer, but Reid at Ken’s reports that flows are dropping.


The high water should also be good news for winter fishing on the East Walker as flows should be at ideal levels when the winter season kicks off on Nov. 16.


Virginia Lakes continues to be a dependable place for bigger rainbows. Tubes or Kayaks are a great way to get to some of the best spots, and anglers are checking in with trout to 5 pounds.


Minijigs, Thomas Buoyants and Kastmasters are a good lure choice at both Little and Big Virginia lakes. Traditional baits have also been working.


Waters around Lee Vining, including Lundy Lake and Lee Vining Creek, have been fishing well. Lundy is clear and well stocked.


Lee Vining Creek is holding plenty of big fish, even producing a 5-pound rainbow last week for Mark Spehar from Idyllwild, who was dunking a nightcrawler.


harddayswork
HARD DAY’S WORK — Brother and sister Matthew and Kate Suyetsugu from Culver City had a pretty good day at Lake Mary, hauling in six rainbows over 4 pounds. The largest weighed in at 5 pounds, 5 ounces. Their success was with Mice Tails and nightcrawlers.


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