Eastern Sierra

Sierra bite slow as storms arrive

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Oct 10, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — The frenzied bite of spring is over as the high country snuggles in for winter, but the trout being caught by late season anglers are worth bragging about.

From Bishop to Bridgeport the story is about the same.

“Took a quick trip to Convict Lake yesterday. Not much action but I did manage to catch one good sized rainbow so at least no skunk,” said Josh Madison in a social media post.

A BRIDGEPORT DOUBLE — Even big perch have gotten into the fall action in waters around Bridgeport. Jason Elder from Mission Viejo shows of the 5-pound rainbow from Robinson Creek and a beefy, 2-pound, 8-ounce perch from Bridgeport Reservoir.

Some were driven off the water by high winds, or even snow flurries at higher elevations, but for veteran trout hunters that’s what makes Eastern Sierra fishing an adventure.

There were also the bluebird days of fall when the bite didn’t matter much. It was just a delight to be on the water or along one of many Sierra trails pulling wild brookies from autumn creeks. And there is always hope that the trophy, even record, brown trout will take the bait as the fall spawn begins.

Of course, there are exceptions, and what would you expect from the big waters of Bridgeport Reservoir?

Jim Reid at Ken’s Sporting Goods in Bridgeport reports that the reservoir has been steady for 2- to 6-pound rainbows taken both by trolling and bait fishing from boats. Shore fishing has been slow.

Rapalas, Needlefish, nightcrawlers and Thomas Buoyants are working best for trolling. Inflated nightcrawlers, Pinched Crawlers, Mice Tails and PowerBait are the go-to choices for bait dunking off of Rainbow Point. Anglers are also checking in with some huge perch, and a few browns to 6 pounds are starting to show up.

Bridgeport’s Twin Lakes are always a fall focus because some of the biggest browns of the season, along with the state record were caught there.

It’s always a race between the close of the season on Nov. 15 and the start of trophy brown bite. So far, the calendar is winning, but that could change any day.

chillwindblowingCHILL WIND BLOWING, and it was only a high of 54 degrees, but this magnificent brown trout sure warmed the heart of Jessica Oritz from Sylmar who was first-time fly-fishing on Crowley Lake with Doug Rodricks of Sierra Drifters.

A few big rainbows are showing up, like the 7-pound, 8-ounce beauty caught by Ilene Malloy-Holloway from Rancho Cucamonga who was using garlic PowerBait from shore at Upper Twin to connect.

Anglers at Lower Twin Lake have been checking in with trout to 4 pounds, but the browns are still in hiding.

Weather can certainly be a factor now at the higher elevations like Virginia Lakes, but for now the bite remains steady for both shore anglers and those on the water in tubes or kayaks. Traditionally, both Big and Little Virginia are late season producers of bigger fish.

Carolyn Webb said weather at press time was 22 degrees with snow on the ground. “This may or may not be my last report,” she said. Weather will make that decision.

Services are now closed at Lundy Lake, but waters are still open to anglers. No reports this week of anything of size from there.

Fall anglers have a lot to appreciate in the June Lake Loop. Waters are well stocked there, and the variety of fishing opportunities is excellent.

Grant Lake has now closed the landing for the season, but waters are open to anglers. Despite some challenging weather last week, anglers were reporting an increase in the brown trout bite and the migration of browns into Rush Creek could begin at any time.

Jeremy Ross at Ernie’s Tackle Shop urges any anglers catching browns from the creek to handle them carefully and release them. These fish are not stocked.

LAKE GEORGE LARGE — Scott Gore from Rancho Vista is all smiles after landing this 5-pound, 8-ounce rainbow at Lake George before the storms arrived last week.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has proposed special fall regulations for Rush Creek that would set a zero-limit starting in 2019 during spawning season. Approval of these regulations could help maintain this creek as one of the better brown trout fisheries in the Sierra.

June Lake has been a hot spot for big cutthroats all season, and that trend continues. An unidentified angler last week came in with a 5-pound cutt.

Large trophy rainbows are raised in pens at June Lake and as the season winds down, there has been a weekly release of dozens of these 4- to 6-pound hawgs.

Gull Lake continues to fish well, but most for anglers working deeper areas along the rockpile across from the marina.

One of the hotter fishing lakes the past week was Silver Lake, and Andrew Jones at Silver Lake Resort credits a recent load of 800 pounds of 4-pound and bigger rainbows.

The trout have also not been picky, with just about all types of baits, lures and flies getting nibbles.

“But they are not jumping into your boat, so slow down, pay attention to how you rig, and you should be successful,” Jones said.

Marc Beck from Garden Grove had an epic outing at Silver Lake, landing 6-pound, 1-ounce and 4-pound, 8-ounce rainbows while tossing a Fire Tiger Rapala from a float tube.

Lake Mary is the only landing still open in the Mammoth Lakes Basin, but waters are open to anglers.

readytohelpREADY TO HELP — Aedan Holloway is ready to help his grandmother Ilene Malloy-Holloway from Rancho Cucamonga show off the 7-pound, 8-ounce toad she caught at Upper Twin Lake in Bridgeport using garlic PowerBait from shore.

Leo Aguado at Rick’s Sportscenter said fall conditions and cooler weather have moved some of the bigger fish up from deeper water and closer to shore.

“We haven’t seen anything over 6 pounds this week, but the bite has been good,” he said.

One of those bigs was a 5-pound, 8-ounce rainbow caught by Scott Gore from Rancho Vista, who was fishing from shore at Lake George.

Convict Lake also slowed down because of wind and weather, but a few 5-pound rainbows were caught.

Convict Lake also hosts the annual “Ambush at The Lake” Derby until the season ends on Nov. 15, offering over $6,000 in resort prizes.

Crowley Lake remains open until the end of October, but weather can be a big factor there this time of the year.

Sierra Drifters guide Doug Rodricks said forecasts call for mild weather the rest of this month, so that could mean an epic bite at Crowley.

For now, Rodricks said the best areas have been the North Arm, Layton Springs, Alligator Point, McGee Bay and Crooked Creek. Anglers have been connecting with good numbers of larger brown and cutts in addition to rainbows.

Real snow fell at Rock Creek Lake last week but predicted mild weather for the rest of this month could mean excellent fishing there as waters chill and fish come to the surface. Back country waters should also be alive with action as eager wild trout feed before the arrival of winter ice.

Snow was also a new feature last week in the Bishop Creek Basin. Services are now closed at Lake Sabrina and South Lake will soon follow. Waters are still open to anglers, as well as the forks of Bishop Creek.

SILVER LAKE DOUBLE — The bigs keep biting at Silver Lake and Marc Beck from Garden Grove worked from a float tube to connect with 4-pound, 8-ounce and 6-pound, 1-ounce rainbows that bit on a Fire Tiger Rapala.

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