Eastern Sierra

Eastern Sierra: Bigger browns making late Sierra showing

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Nov 06, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — There’s only a week left in the general Eastern Sierra trout season, and a few bigger browns have finally started to show up. The big question now is if that double-digit trophy shows up someplace before the lights go out on Nov. 15?

While most landings have closed for the season, anglers still have access to most waters if storms have not dumped snow or brought freezing temperatures.

eightpoundbrownEIGHT-POUND BROWN — As the season winds down, the excitement of a big brown being caught picks up with this 8-pound beauty caught and released by Michael Nollan from La Quinta at Lower Twin Lake in Bridgeport.

Roads into Bishop Creek Basin, Rock Creek Canyon, Mammoth Lakes, June Lake Loop, Lundy Lake, Virginia Lakes and Bridgeport area waters are still open at press time. The arrival of winter storms could close road access at any time, however, so anglers should check before heading out.

The biggest brown caught last week showed up at Lower Twin Lake in Bridgeport, where angler Michael Nollan from La Quinta hauled in and quickly released an 8-pound brown while trolling. Unfortunately, there was no information on what he was using to attract the big, 26-inch brown. Anglers will be holding their breath for the next week with hopes that something big, even a new state record brown, might come up from the depths at Upper or Lower Twin Lake.

There were more beefy browns.

Bob Gollihugh from Monrovia has been trout fishing for more than 60 years but connected with his biggest fish last week on the Owens River above Pleasant Valley Reservoir. With only two-pound line, he landed a 5-pound, 9-ounce brown with an unknown lure.

Grant Lake in the June Loop has produced a steady stream nice browns this fall, and last week that bite continued, according to guide Dan Lengning. Using a large streamer, Peggy Thusing from Long Beach landed four respectable browns at the back end of the lake.

“It’s starting to slow down a little bit because of the spawn, but they are still biting on Rapalas late and big streamers early,” Lengning said. The final week of the season should see brown trout trophy hunters concentrating around the back end of Grant Lake, Rush Creek at the inlet from Silver Lake and the outlet at Grant and at the Twins in Bridgeport. Traditionally, these are the honey holes that produce some of the biggest browns of the year as the season comes to a close.

convictlakemonsterCONVICT LAKE MONSTER — Scott Pfuhl from Bishop was working the north shore by the Hangman’s Tree at Convict Lake with a pink Mice Tail when this submarine took the bait and it was game on. The monster rainbow weighed in at 8 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 25 inches.

While not a brown, a monster rainbow was caught at Convict Lake by Scott Pfuhl from Bishop, who was tossing a pink Mice Tail from the north shore. He connected with an 8-pound, 8-ounce football that measured in at 25 inches.

Convict Lake Anglers also have one more week to compete for $6,000 in prizes at the annual Ambush at the Lake Trout Derby.

Anyone who fishes the waters around Bridgeport knows Jim Reid at Ken’s Sporting Goods. This week the story was about Ken’s brother, Bill from Pollock Pines, who checked in with a 24-inch BFEF tagged rainbow he pulled from Little Virginia Lake while working a Woolly Bugger from a float tube. You can just tell from the pictures how nippy it must have been.

Of particular interest now in this last week of the season are the waters that will remain open for winter fishing. Typically, those waters are thin about now because runoff from winter snowpacks is just about done – but not this year.

Eastern Sierra creeks are flowing at ideal levels and that means he Owens River, Deadman’s Creek, Hot Creek and the East and West Walker Rivers should provide winter anglers with an exciting early winter bite. Pleasant Valley Reservoir is also in great condition for winter anglers.

Sierra Drifters Guide Service owner Doug Rodricks reports that the big rainbows are moving in from Crowley.

“They are not present everywhere in the river, but certain locations are holding. Go small and stealthy to fool some of these pre-spawn fish. The water is very clear here during this time, so spotting and stalking or making your presence unknown is important,” Rodricks said.

GOOD BROWN BITE — Peggy Thusing from Long Beach had a late season outing with guide Dan Lengning on Grant Lake and pulled in four nice browns using a large streamer. Rapalas and streamers are still working, but the spawn is slowing things down a bit.

Andre Nersesian at the Country Kitchen in Big Pine also reports that flows on the Owens around Big Pine are settling down.

“We have been seeing more fish caught every week. It’s only a matter of time until the bite opens up,” Nersesian said. Sierra Slammers, Thomas Buoyants, gold Panther Martins and the ever-trusted nightcrawler with a ¼-ounce sinker and 14 inches of leader have all accounted for nice fish on the Lower Owens around Big Pine.

Temperatures are warmer in the Owens Valley, and that means there is also some good warm-water fishing that should continue into the winter. Nersesian reports that Tinemaha Reservoir has been great for some nice bass and monster carp up to 30 pounds. The catfish bite has not been red hot, but a few are biting just before dark.

“The river section directly below the lake (Tinemaha) has been great on a good mix of rainbow and brown trout with the occasional bass. I had several good reports come from down there and most people caught a nice brown or two to go with their limit. Some of these browns were pushing 4 pounds,” Nersesian said.

If you are getting out before the Nov. 15 season closure, don’t overlook Big Pine and Baker Creeks.

Flows are ideal and both waters are holding some larger rainbows in the pocket waters.

MY BROTHER BILL — Jim Reid from Ken’s Sporting Goods in Bridgeport sent us this picture of his brother Bill Reid from Pollock Pines, who hauled in this beautiful, 24-inch tagged BFEF rainbow while tossing a Woolly Bugger from a tube at Little Virginia Lake.

pleasantvalleybrownbobPLEASANT VALLEY BROWN — Bob Gollihugh from Monrovia had a good day on the Owens River above Pleasant Valley Reservoir, connecting with this 5-pound, 10-ounce brown on two-pound line. His biggest in 60 years of fishing.

wholelottafishWHOLE LOTTA FISH — Big rainbows have started moving into the Upper Owens from Crowley Lake, and Dave Ingram scored this beauty while fishing with Sierra Drifters guide Hans Grotewold.

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