Eastern Sierra

Eastern Sierra: Look for big trout to turn on as temps drop

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

JUNE LAKE — Weather now becomes as important factor as the Eastern Sierra general trout season enters its final few weeks.

Not only can storms cut off access to good trout waters, but at the same time they can accelerate the late-season bite as trout respond to the coming of winter with more aggressive feeding.

BIG, BAD, CUTT — June Lake is almost legendary for cutthroat trout, and that hasn’t changed this season. Eli Barthelemy from Covina caught this 6-pound cutthroat at 48 feet using a Tasmanian Devil Bloody Ripper.

As the bigs come to the surface to feed, when the weather and the bite are in sync, that when the trophy fish show up.

Creel checks this week already show a trend toward bigger fish and more beefy browns being caught. At the same time, that cadre of specialized trout hunters known as “Brown Baggers” are tweaking their favorite lures and techniques with high hopes.

Could this be the year of a new record brown trout?

Well, so far, the browns have not entered the game, but larger rainbows and beefy cutthroat are taking the bait.

June Lake last week produced some beautiful cutthroat, including a 6-pound bruiser caught by Eli Barthelemy from Coving who was working a Tasmanian Devil Bloody Ripper at 48 feet when the fish hit.

Rick Stack also checked in with a 5-pound, 4-ounce cutthroat he caught just across from the June Lake Marina with a Tasmanian Devil Bloody Frog.

Gull Lake continues to be good for limits, along with a few bigger trout in the mix. Deeper water in the middle of the lake has been the best place, but fish are starting to move into shallower water.

Silver Lake received another load of trophy Oregon trout last week, and despite the fact the resort will be closing on Oct. 14, anglers can still expect some excellent trout fishing as long as the weather holds out.

Andrew Jones at Silver Lake Resort said recent stocking and cooler weather has energized the bite.

bridgeportmorningBRIDGEPORT MORNING BITE — Joseph Saucedo from Rialto was out early at Bridgeport Reservoir and connected with this BFEF tagged rainbow weighing in at 6 pounds, 4 ounces. No report on what he caught it with.

Grant Lake right now is still about the hottest place for brown trout in the Eastern Sierra, producing good numbers of 18- to 22-inch fish to trolled Rapala and Needlefish late in the evenings just at dark.

No reports this week for any large browns showing up in Rush Creek. The creek has produced a few double-digit browns in the final two weeks of the season in the past few years.

Mornings are chilly, into the 20s, and storms could close access at any time, but anglers working the higher elevation lakes like Saddlebag, Tioga and Ellery are reporting some nice fish. There are no services in the area, but waters are open.

Flow levels in Lee Vining Creek are now at ideal levels and the trophy-stocking program by the local Chamber of Commerce means there are still plenty of big fish. Combine that with very few anglers splashing the water, and you have great fishing conditions.

Services at Lundy Lake have closed for the season, but the lake is nearly full, clear and well stocked. Reports of limits along with some 2- to 3-pound fish are common, although there are few anglers on the water.

Morning temperatures at Virginia Lakes are downright nippy, but the hot trout action makes it well worth it.

Carolyn Webb at Virginia Lakes Resort said nightcrawlers are the number one bait right now, followed by Mice Tails, crickets and hoppers. Angler numbers are light, but Webb said there have been good numbers of 3- to 4-pound-plus rainbows biting.

cuttskeepcomingCUTTS KEEP COMING — And here another monster cutthroat, weighing in at 5 pounds, 4 ounces and caught by Rick Stack at June Lake while trolling a Tasmanian Devil Bloody Frog.

Bridgeport waters always draw attention in the final weeks of the season, and right on cue, bigs are starting to bite.

Biggest trout of the week was a 6-pound, 4-ounce rainbow caught at Bridgeport Reservoir by Joseph Saucedo from Rialto. Unfortunately, there are no details on what he caught it with.

The reservoir also kicked out a nice, 4-pound brown for young Kai Reigle who was trolling swim bait.

Trout are biting at both Upper and Lower Twin Lakes in Bridgeport, but the breath-holding continues with hope that some monster browns will soon start to chew.

Most of the fish caught this week were in the 3- to 5-pound range with traditional baits and lures.

Resorts in the Mammoth Lakes Basin are closing down, and most of the campgrounds have closed with the exception of Twin Lakes.

Leo Aguabo at Rick’s Sport Center said one unidentified angler checked in with a 5-pound rainbow from Lake Mary taken with a dark Trout Teaser from shore.

“The fish have started moving into shallower water near shore,” Aguabo said.

Fishing in the San Joaquin River in Red’s Meadow has also been quite good. Aguabo said most of the fish are 8 to 14 inches in size, but they eagerly taking just about any dry fly.

Crowley Lake continues to be up and down.

FIVE-POUND SMILE — The weather might be cold, but Stacy Stroud, 12, from Chino is all smiles while showing off the 5-pound, 6-ounce rainbow she caught at Little Virginia Lake with a PowerWorm.

Guides at The Trout Fitter report that damsels and callibaetis are only emerging in a few places now, so most of the action has been on midges and perch fry.

The north arm is producing trout 14 to 18 inches in size and has been the most consistent area, but McGee Bay, Hilton Bay and Crooked Creek have also had spurts of activity.

The best tactic is to keep moving until you find a hot spot and work that until the action dies off.

Services at Crowley Lake will close on Oct. 31. Until then, anglers can only fish with barbless artificials with a daily limit of two trout, 18 inches or larger.

The best action at Convict Lake seems to be for trolling down to 40 feet. Thomas Buoyants, Rapalas, Sierra Slammers, Needlefish and Tasmanian Devils are the choice. Best baits have been inflated nightcrawlers and PowerBait.

Andrew Legg from Torrance checked in with a 4-pound, 4-ounce rainbow he landed on the south shore at Convict Lake with a Minijig.

Services at Rock Creek Lake will end Oct. 14, but if the weather holds, anglers can still expect to connect with some bigger trout that are moving towards the surface.

The creek below the lake continues to produce fish with the best baits being salmon eggs and worms. Natural fly patterns are also working well in the slow creek water just below the dam.

releasedtconvictRELEASED AT CONVICT — The big fish stocked all season continue to bite at Convict, like this 4-pound, 4-ounce rainbow landed by Andrew Legg from Torrance who was tossing a Minijig from the south shore.

Jared Smith at South Lake in the Bishop Creek Basin will stay open until Oct. 19 and reports trout are becoming more active as temperatures continue to drop.

“It’s quality over quantity with not huge numbers but lots and lots of quality fish. Biggest of the week went 5 pounds, 2 ounces but plenty of fish in the 3- to 4-pound range were caught and many released,” Smith said.

The inlets and points at the back end of the lake continue to be hot spots and drifting is effective.

The café has already closed for the season at Lake Sabrina and landing services will end Oct. 14.

The lake is in excellent shape and well stocked with trophy fish. The Inlet continues to be a good bet, along with drifting around the rockpiles.

The Lower Owens around Big Pine is also moving into prime time.

Andre Nersesian at the Country Kitchen in Big Pine reports creek flows in Big Pine and Baker Creeks are at ideal levels and anglers are checking in with a good mix of rainbows and browns. Salmon eggs and small Panther Martins and Sierra Slammers are getting results.

Baker Creek has produced a few chunky rainbows over 2 pounds.

Flows in the Owens River at Big Pine are settling down, with fishing getting better daily.

Nersesian said anglers who like warm water fish should not overlook Tinemaha Reservoir where some nice bass are hitting near the dam early in the morning and late evenings. The catfish bite has also been good.

silverlakebigsilverSILVER LAKE BIG — Silver Lake continues to be stocked with bigger trout, including another load last week. Mark Spangler landed this 3-pound, 7-ounce keeper from shore using nightcrawlers.

beefybridgeportBEEFY BRIDGEPORT BROWN — Kai Reigle was trolling swim bait at Bridgeport Reservoir and connected with this beautiful brown trout weighing at 4 pounds.

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