Eastern Sierra

Eastern Sierra: Weather hit and miss last week

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: May 23, 2019

MAMMOTH LAKES — Spring is still struggling for a foothold in the Eastern Sierra, but despite more snow storms last week, hopes are still high that lakes at higher elevations will be open by Memorial Day Weekend.

“This week the weather is feeling more like March than May. Rain and snow in the high country has come back for another round of atmospheric river action,” said Kent Rianda at The Trout Fitter in Mammoth Lakes.

mothersdaybrownMOTHER’S DAY BROWN — Frank Moore from La Mirada took his wife fishing on Mother’s Day and Michelle landed this impressive brown trout at Crowley Lake using inflated nightcrawlers and barbless hooks. This was her first brown in addition to several others. All were released.

He said roads down into Red’s Meadow and the San Joaquin River and into the Mammoth Lakes Basin are still not plowed.

The current plan is to have roads into the basin open, but there is no current estimate as to when the road down into Red’s will be plowed.

The best action around Mammoth Lakes has been at Crowley Lake.

“Some big rainbows and browns are showing up there,” Rianda said.

The guides at KJ Flashers are reporting water temperatures are rising at Crowley and some of the best action for trolling is between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

“I have noticed the best bite occurs when the midge hatch is high, when fish feeding is more active. You still need to move around to find the best location as it changes every day,” said Fred Johnson.

The best fishing continues to be in McGee Bay, Sandy and Alligator points and in the harbor down to Beaver Cove.

Tasmanian devils in Bleeding Frog, Bloody Ripper, Orange Perch, and Pink Frog patterns in all sizes trolled at no more than 4 mph is a good bet. Needlefish and Rapala are also getting takes.

NO BAD DAY — Despite up and down weather this week in the Eastern Sierra, Brian Olney spent the day on Crowley Lake with Sierra Drifters and brought several nice rainbows to the boat.

Convict Lake got snow during the week, but it did not seem to slow the bite, with lots of fish in the 3-pound range being caught.

In particular, trolling to nine colors with green or shad Needlefish produced lots of limits. Orange pinch crawlers and the 1/16th Black Roostertails have gotten many bites as well. Salmon eggs and baby nightcrawlers are working in Convict Creek.

Rock Creek Lake continues to have lots of ice, but there is open water and it should not take much warm weather or wind to clear the lake. Jim King at Rock Creek Lake Resort still plans to be open with full services by Memorial Day.

The higher elevation lakes in Bishop Basin are still not anywhere near prime. Low water and ice are still factors at South Lake and Lake Sabrina.

Patti Apted at Lake Sabrina said ice is vanishing quickly, with the man-made part of the lake totally free of ice.

“We have open water behind the island in the first natural lake and there is open water in the back natural lake by the George Inlet,” Apted said. Cooler temperatures have also slowed the runoff and the rise of the lake level.

BACK FOR MORE — Don Whisnand from Long Beach is a regular at Bridgeport Reservoir and is back again this year to load his boat with fish like this. Don was fishing with Ken Hoffman’s Guide Service and had 14 in the boat using trolled worms.

“We are hoping that will change and we’ll have boats on the lake by Memorial Day,” she said.

Sabrina anglers might consider hiking back behind what is normally the island to hit the open water.

The road to South Lake is now open, but water levels are very low and there is still lots of ice.

Flows in the South Fork of Bishop Creek are high, but the deeper pockets are holding fish. Water is cold, so the fish may not be active yet. Intake II is ice free and stocked with trout.

Andre Nersesian at the Country Kitchen in Big Pine reports that the water in the Owens River continues to run high, but anglers are catching fish with short leaders and heavy weights with a nightcrawler. The best bite has been below Tinemaha Reservoir.

He also reports a good bass bite in the backwaters and ponds between Big Pine and Independence as well as a decent bass and carp bite off the dam at Tinemaha.

Big Pine, Baker, Tinemaha and Taboose Creeks have all been stocked and anglers are catching some chunky rainbows and smaller browns with traditional baits.

The June Lake Loop continues to offer anglers plenty of variety. The biggest fish WON could find last week was a 7-pound rainbow that Brian Ecker from Los Angeles caught while trolling a Thomas Buoyant about 30 feet down at June Lake. He was on his last day of a two-week fishing trip and also scored a 4-pound cutthroat.

TWO-WEEK TROUT — On his last day of a two-week fishing trip, Brian Ecker from Los Angeles finally connected with this monster rainbow weighing in at 7 pounds, along with a 4-pound cutthroat. He was trolling a green and yellow with red spots Thomas Buoyant about 30 feet down at June Lake.

Gull Lake was on and off during the week with a few anglers reporting trout to 4 pounds.

On and off snow, cold winds and rain kept anglers bundled up at Silver Lake, but Tim Brown from Alhambra did manage to attract a 5-pound, 5-ounce rainbow while dunking a Pinch Crawler from a boat. Tom Snyder from Sparks, Nev., was fishing from shore at Silver Lake with Power Eggs and attracted a 4-pound, 9-ounce rainbow.

Flows are still high in Rush Creek and some big trout are hanging out in the deeper pools, but there were no reports this week of anything sizable.

Grant Lake continues to be an excellent place to fish in the evenings. Guide Dan Lengning reports that several clients had 20-fish days while pulling floating Rapala late in the day.

Fishing in the Lee Vining area remains limited until Tioga Pass opens, allowing access to Saddlebag, Hillary and Tioga Lakes. For now, anglers have been doing well in Lee Vining Creek what has been stocked with trophy trout by the Lee Vining Chamber of Commerce.

Gerry Cornett had a good day on the creek, pulling in a 6-pound, 4-ounce rainbow that took a pink Power Egg.

ONE OF 20 — Greg Wightman from Acton had a 20-plus fish day catching browns, rainbows and Kamloops while tossing a floating Rapala at Grant Lake while fishing late in the day with Dan Lengning of Dan’s Guide Service.

Services at Lundy Lake have yet to open, but water levels are rising, and the lake is free of ice.

Carolyn Webb at Virginia Lakes Resort has not put out a report, but the few anglers fishing there say there is still lots of ice and most of the fish biting are on the smaller size. Look for that to change once the ice is gone and waters warm a bit.

Bridgeport waters are another area offering plenty of variety and excellent fishing.

Bridgeport Reservoir is well stocked with trophy tagged rainbows put in by the Bridgeport Fish Enhancement Foundation and they have been surprisingly active.

Jim Reid at Ken’s Sporting Goods said weather has produced some up and down days, but trolling with nightcrawlers, Thomas Buoyants, Needlefish and Rapala has been connecting with lots of 5-pound-plus fish.

Bait anglers seem to be doing well at Rainbow Point, Buckeye Bay and the East Walker River channel in front of the Marina.

There have been some good reports from the Twin Lakes, but most in the 2- to 3-pound range.

Shore anglers casting bait and inflated nightcrawlers were connecting, and a few fish were reported by anglers trolling Rapala and Speedy Shiners at about five or six colors.

BIG PINE BASS — Sierra anglers don’t have to limit their fishing to trout as John Lara proves with this 3-pound bass he landed in the Owens River in Big Pine.

silverlakenuggetSILVER LAKE NUGGET — Waters at Silver Lake are getting warmer and that has warmed the action for guys like Tim Brown from Alhambra who brought this 5-pound, 5-ounce rainbow to his boat by offering a Pinch Crawler.

HIGH COUNTRY HOPE — At last it’s beginning to look more like spring than winter and Rock Creek Lake is showing hopeful signs that it could be ready for trout fishing by Memorial Day weekend.

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