Eastern Sierra

Eastern Sierra Report: Here comes the lunkers

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Sep 29, 2016

Fall brings big trout to Sierra anglers, with a 10-6 rainbow the biggest reported; but overall limit-style action is also on the rise


DOUBLE-DIGIT RAINBOW — Mary Robinson from Murrieta is all smiles after hauling in this 10-pound, 6-ounce rainbow at Upper Twin Lake in Bridgeport with the help of her husband, Joshua, who jumped into the water with a net to make sure they didn’t lose this beauty. She was using imitation salmon eggs.

BRIDGEPORT — Maybe the big fish were just shy with all the Sierra summer crowds, but with the arrival of fall and wide-open waters, monster trout are showing up just about everywhere.

Trophy browns are still in hiding, but the submarine rainbows are showing up as temperatures cool and aspens take on autumn colors.

The biggest trout of week we could find was a beefy 10-pound, 6-ounce rainbow landed by Mary Robinson from Murrieta, who was dunking an imitation salmon egg at Upper Twin Lake in Bridgeport.

Like any good fishing husband, Joshua Robinson had rigged Mary’s rod first and was getting his ready when hers started to twitch slightly.

“It wasn't in the water two minutes. She wanted to grab the pole immediately and rip back on it but I told her to wait,” Joshua Robinson said.

At that point the rod bent almost in half. A big fish was on and so was the battle.

Joshua worried that she was going to lose the fish on the 6-pound line they were using.

“I stood up on a rock to see what we were fighting and that's when I saw it. The biggest trout I've ever seen,” he said.

LAKE MARY SUBMARINE — Another huge rainbow showed up this week at Lake Mary in the Mammoth Basin, Dean Woodring from Orange, was using a nightcrawler near the marina when this 9-pound beauty took the hook.

He grabbed a net and jumped into the water, “because there was no way we wee going to lose that fish,” Joshua said. “When I got it in the net both the head and the tail were sticking out. That's when the yelling began.”

They wanted to release it, but it had swallowed the hook, so they gave it to a family of eight to eat.

They plan to return to the exact same spot on the shore of Upper Twin Lake this week. I wonder why?

With landing at higher elevations closing, this is the time of the year when the trophy trout hunters show up and when they are sometimes rewarded with monster trophies. The biggest prize sought is that brown trout submarine that would break the 26-pound, 8-ouce state record currently residing at Upper Twin Lake.

Bob Pitcher at Mono Village on Upper Twin said the brown are yet to show up with any size.

“We are seeing lots of limits with 3- to 4-pound rainbows, but the browns are not showing up yet,” Pitcher said.

Robert Hayes at Twin Lakes Resort on Lower Twin Lake said fish are “biting like crazy, but they are all rainbows.”

“We had three rods out and caught 40 rainbows in five hours,” he said. “It was non-stop.”

The arrival of fall weather, with mornings dropping to 24 degrees, is cooling lake waters. That should trigger the brown bite soon, but the veteran brown hunters have told Hayes that they are still two weeks away.

Virginia Lakes often produced some monster late season trout, but this week only checked in with fish to 3 pounds. The lakes continue to be stocked every other week.

Anglers who don’t mind a little cold and who are prepared for harsh weather should consider heading up to the Tioga area for some good late season fishing.

OWENS RIVER PRIZE — The Owens River near Bishop has turned on, producing some beautiful fish like this one taken by Mikey Montero from Santa Cruz who was fishing with Sierra Drifters Guide Dog Rodricks. Montero was tossing Spruce-A-Bu and Loeberg streamers with a moderate sinking tip line.

Wayne Beaver at Beaver’s Sporting Goods in Lee Vining said anglers are reporting good limits of 3- to 4-pound rainbows from Saddlebag and Ellery Lakes. Services at Saddlebag have closed for the season, but the lake is still open to fishing until Nov. 15, or earlier if snows arrive.

Lee Vining Creek is also fishing extremely well, Beaver said, for stocked DFW rainbows. Lundy Lake, like Saddlebag, has no available services now, but the lake is still open to fishing.

Fishing pressure in the June Lake Loop has been very light, with summer crowds now gone. Fishing has been good, but the few anglers on the water are returning with limits that mostly include rainbows and cutthroats to 3 pounds.

Silver Lake did kick out one monster fish; a 7-pound, 6-ounce rainbow taken by Brett Camarata from Laguna Hills who was dunking a nightcrawler from a float tube at Silver Lake.

Jeremy Ross at Ernie’s Tackle Shop said a few smaller browns to 3 pounds have been caught at Grant Lake, and morning temperatures to 30 degrees could stimulate that bite.

Gull Lake has seen very light pressure, with anglers reporting limits with a little patience, but nothing over 3 pounds showing up.

At June Lake, trolling a red dot frog Thomas Buoyant has been good for rainbows and cutts to 2 pounds.

Fishing in the Mammoth Lakes basin has been productive, with Lake Mary again producing the largest fish of the week. Dean Woodring from Orange, was using a nightcrawler near the marina when he hooked into a 9-pound rainbow.

Alex Fillmore at Rick’s Sportscenter in Mammoth said the cold weather has excited the fish, and anglers are reporting lots of limits that include 3- to 4-pound trout. He said bait has been less effective, with red/gold Thomas Buoyant and small Rapala lures working best.

Guide Kent Rianda from the Troutfitter in Mammoth said the fishing at Crowley Lake has been outstanding.

“The north arm continues fishing just about as good as it gets. There are very few fish anywhere else,” he said.

SILVER LAKE GOLD — The Bigs are on the bite and this 7-pound, 6-ounce rainbow came up for Brett Camarata from Laguna Hills who was offering a nightcrawler from a float tube at Silver Lake.

Anglers in the north end are hooking into rainbows, brown and cutthroats to 24 inches, along with some smaller “new arrivals” in the 13- to 14-inch range.

“Throw in a few Perch and Tui Chub and the full-five Grand Slam, Rainbow, Brown Cutthroat, Perch and Tui Chub have been managed by several in the last week,” Rianda said.

Aspens around Convict Lake are starting to turn color, but the big fish are still hiding. Most stringers reported this week had nothing larger than 3 pounds.

Services at Rock Creek Lake will be closing Oct. 10, but until then, anglers are doing pretty well in both the creek and the lake. Glen McElfresh at Rock Creek Lake Resort said the action has been steady for trout to 3 pounds. Salmon eggs in the creek are still a good bet.

Cooler fall weather has allowed anglers to more comfortably fish the Owens River east of Bishop and the fish are responding. Guide Tom Loe said some larger brood fish were planted and they are on the prowl. This is good news as the winter season is just around the corner and the Owens remains open to trout fishing after the Nov. 15 closing of the general season.

Cooler fall weather has also stimulated the bite in the Bishop Creek Basin.

George Kirby from Bishop was using a secret lure by the rockslide at Lake Sabrina when he hooked into a beautiful 4-pound, 8-ounce brown.

Rick Apted at Sabrina Landing said browns often come alive this time of the year at Sabrina. The lake brown trout record stands at 15 pounds, 12 ounces. It was and was caught on Monday after opening weekend through the ice in 1982.

Apted said Sabrina occasionally kick out a double digit brown.

The kitchen is now closed at Lake Sabrina, but the store and landing remain open until mid-October if weather allows.

Boats have been removed from South Lake, but Jared Smith said anglers are still catching some nice fish at the inlets and in deeper water at the dam. Traditionally fall triggers a good bite of larger brown at South Lake.

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