Eastern Sierra Fishing Reports

Eastern Sierra: Weather slams Sierra High Country

But bigs continue to bite

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Oct 02, 2019

LEE VINING — We had to check the date on the Caltrans bulletin advising that Tioga Pass would be closed because of snow. Snow closures this early just didn’t seem right.

But it was true, an early fall storm swept through the Sierra late last week bringing up to six inches of snow to some areas and temporarily closing Highway 120.

Early snowstorms melt off quickly this time of the year, but it does send a signal to wildlife, and that includes trout, that they better keep feeding before winter ice arrives.

everythingisbitingEVERYTHING IS BITING — Bob Moon and Jon Gates from Las Vegas, Nev., show off a brown and cutthroat the caught at Crowley Lake last week while fishing with guide Jim Elias from

Another reminder for late season anglers is to be prepared for just about any kind of weather. Storms can blow in quickly, turning mild weather into winter conditions.

The experienced Sierra trout angler knows this is prime time in the high country. The minor weather challenges are not match for the animated fall bite and the chance to connect with that double-digit trout.

Jared Smith at Parchers Resort and South Lake Landing in Bishop Basin has pictures to prove that things are picking up.

Before storms hit last week, Taryn Naefke from Long Beach worked the very back of South Lake and landed a 6-pound, 6-ounce rainbow with nightcrawlers, and Andy Lowe from Rowland Hills Estates boated a 4-pound, 3-ounce in the same spot.

“Overall the bite was a bit slower, but lots of quality fish were in the mix,” Smith said.

That hit parade should continue after the lake received another load of Oregon trophy rainbows late last week.

Smith said they are extending their season until Oct. 19 because of excellent conditions.

If you prefer stream fishing, Smith said the South Fork of Bishop Creek is “pretty much perfect right now.” Anglers are reporting a good bite with salmon eggs and nightcrawlers.

Patti Apted at Lake Sabrina called last week a “wild one” as weather changes brought in snow and winds, along with a power outage.

convictlakewelcomeCONVICT LAKE WELCOME — John Lane from Monrovia fished Convict Lake for the first time and landed this 5-pound rainbow on the south shore while offering PowerBait.

That didn’t seem to change the bite, which has been good. Several of those 2- to 4-pound trophy rainbows have been showing up to Mice Tails, Thomas Buoyants, nightcrawlers, garlic Pinched Crawlers and Tasmanian Devils.

Tony Ledgard and his son Matthew, 5, checked in with a 3-pound, 12-ounce rainbow they took with a fly.

While the lake will remain open to fishing, services at Sabrina Landing will close for the season on Oct. 6.

While the spectacular fall colors of aspens are a big draw in Rock Creek Canyon, the fishing has also been good. Salmon eggs and natural fly imitations are a good bet in Rock Creek, and Tasmanian Devil and Thomas Buoyants are a good choice along with PowerBait and nightcrawlers in Rock Creek Lake.

Backcountry lakes out of Rock Creek are still on fire, but anglers should check on weather conditions and be prepared for snow before heading out.

Convict Lake has really turned on. Just ask John Lane from Monrovia who fished there for the first time and landed this 5-pound rainbow on the south shore while offering PowerBait.

Anthony Hernandez from Corona and Kai Ishisaka from Monterey Park also had a day at Convict they won’t soon forget. Using Gordito Custom Baits at the inlet and on the south shore, they checked in with six rainbows ranging from 2 pounds, 12 ounces to 4 pounds, 8 ounces.

The annual Ambush at the Lake Derby continues at Convict Lake through Nov. 15. All you have to do to enter is catch one 14-inch fish and you will be in the drawing for $6,000 in prizes. Entry fee is $15.

crowleylakecuttyCROWLEY LAKE CUTTY — Tim Carnahan from Sky Valley shows off a beautiful 22-inch cutthroat he caught at Crowley Lake with a Sierra Slammer Mini Swim in about 15 feet of water in the North Arm.

Sierra Drifters Guide Doug Rodricks called fishing at Convict Lake last week, “off the hook.”

“The best days of the season are upon us, with huge numbers of trout packed into the creek channels and mud flats to feed on anything and everything they can,” Rodricks said.

Streamer fishing is also going strong as trout have plenty of different sized perch to feed on.

“We are seeing consistent steady action all day long, from morning until dark,” Rodricks said.

Services at Crowley Lake Fish Camp will close for the season on Oct. 31.

If you plan to fish Mammoth Lakes, and you should, bundle up. The weather has been a yo-yo, but a little cold and wind is no match for the good bite in Mary, George and Gregory lakes.

The lakes continue to receive trophy rainbows, with 800 pounds of 2- to 6-pound fish stocked last week at Lake Mary.

Despite the challenges of weather, Emily Galloway from Tucson, Ariz., caught 4-pound rainbow trout with a garlic pinched crawler.

The fishing window is also opening up now in Mammoth Lakes waters, instead of just mornings and evenings being the best. Anglers should also work the inlets and the drop-offs.

Guides at The Trout Fitter in Mammoth Lakes report that the San Joaquin River in Red’s Meadow is very low now but fishing well. Typical of fall, the trout are not picky and just about any dry fly with a little sparkle is a winner. Cooler weather has also moved the best bite to midday.

doublethefuntarynDOUBLE THE FUN — Taryn Naefke from Long Beach and Andy Lowe from Rowland Hills Estates show off a beautiful pair of rainbows the caught at the back end of South Lake with nightcrawlers. Taryn’s heavyweight went 6 pounds, 6 ounces, and Andy’s was 4 pounds, 3 ounces.

June Lake Loop is busy, but most of the traffic is for the spectacular fall color now nearing its peak. Anglers have ideal conditions as loop lakes and flows in Rush Creek are ideal for fishing.

June Lake action is picking up as the thermometer drops. Both rainbows and bigger cutthroat are entering the action, and the release of some trophy pen-raised trout will no doubt keep the fall action alive here.

Trolled Needlefish, Rapala and Tasmanian Devils have been a good choice, but Thomas Buoyants and gold Kastmasters have also been producing some nice fish at June Lake.

Gull Lake has been good for limits, but nothing over 3 pounds was reported last week. The larger rainbows that are biting have taken trolled Rapalas and that’s a good sign that the fish are moving into shallower water.

Silver Lake Resort will close for the season on Oct. 14, but until then, the fishing keeps improving.

“In-between the wind the fishing has been getting better and better as the water temps continue to cool down and the pressure on the lake from anglers gets a little slower,” said Andres Jones.

The lake received an additional 400 pounds of trout averaging 2 pounds last week. Jones said worms continue to be the most consistent bait, with Pinch Crawlers and PowerBait close behind.

Rush Creek is kicking out some larger rainbows now that flows are more conducive to fishing. Salmon eggs and worms are the best bet. So far, the big, spawning browns have not started their run in Rush Creek.

threebythreeTHREE BY THREE — Convict Lake was very good to Anthony Hernandez from Corona and Kai Ishisaka from Monterey Park, who used Gordito Custom Baits at the inlet and on the south shore to land this haul of six rainbows topped by a 4-pound, 8-ounce football. Smallest of the bunch weighed in at 2 pounds, 12 ounces.

Grant is always a windy place, so fall weather can be challenging. Between gusts, however, anglers are still reporting a good bite for brown trout to 22 inches late in the evenings. Rapala are the best bet, but Needlefish are also getting looks.

Virginia Lakes have been up and down with the weather, but there have been some good reports from tube anglers working close to shore.

Carolyn Webb at Virginia Lakes Resort reports that nightcrawlers are number one right now, with Mice Tails, crickets and hoppers after that.

For lures the best have been small red/gold Thomas Buoyants, gold or orange/silver Kastmasters, Vibrax, Super Dupers, Rooster tails, and Mepps. Additional trophy trout were stocked last week.

Wind at Bridgeport Reservoir made fishing a challenge last week. Jim Reid at Ken’s Sporting Goods reports that perch are still biting on the troll, along with rainbows and a few browns.

He thinks the action will pick up even more as waters chill more in the weeks ahead.

“As the algae and weeds start to go away the fishing should get better and better out there,” Reid said.

Mixed reports are coming from Twin Lakes, but so far the fall brown trout bite has yet to appear. Early and late still seem to be a successful pattern at both lakes, with trolled Rapalas or by casting lures or bait from boat or shore.

Biggest fish of the week was a 5-pound, 6-ouncer rainbow from Upper Twin Lake, caught by Phil Braun from Huntington Beach.

A CUTT ABOVE — Diego McLean shows off a bruiser cutthroat he caught at Crowley Lake while fishing with Sierra Drifters guide Hans Grotewold. Conditions are prime right now at Crowley.

RUSH CREEK RAINBOW — This nice rainbow is one of two bigs that Kevin David from Fullerton pulled from Rush Creek using salmon eggs. This one tipped the scales at 2 pounds, 14 ounces.

uppertwinfootballUPPER TWIN FOOTBALL — It looks like he was fly fishing, but we don’t know what Phil Braun from Huntington Beach was using to bag these two beautiful rainbows at Upper Twin Lake in Bridgeport. The big one weighed in a 5 pounds, 6 ounces.

•   •   •   •   •

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Advertise with Western Outdoor News