WESTERN OUTDOOR NEWS ON-THE-SPOT
JARED PARCHER, owner of Parcher’s Resort (and golden retriever “Cabela”) fights a brook trout at lower Marie Louise Lake, with the Sierra crest in the background. The little lake was full of brookies, and less than 2 miles from the trailhead at South Lake. WON PHOTO BY BILL KARR
BISHOP — Bishop Creek canyon was beautiful! Water flows were normal, the aspen and willows were fully-clad in their summer green coats and the number of anglers was minimal — pretty strange with all the wild and planted trout in the streams and lakes around and above Bishop, but I loved it.
This was one of my first trips to the Eastern Sierra, other than opening day, for a couple of years, and I had forgotten how much warmer and beautiful it is with all the wild flowers and spring growth this time of year.
I arrived at Parcher’s Resort on the South Fork Bishop Creek in the afternoon, and was greeted by owner Jared Smith, who gave me the key to Cabin 24, a nice 1-bedroom cabin with kitchenette, carpeted floor, heater and all the amenities. The sound of the rushing creek was a great backdrop, and it was only steps away from the cabin.
Our plans were to fish South Lake, and to take a jaunt up one of the trails to a backcountry lake for some fishing, and we made plans for the hike in the morning. I was anxious to test the North and South forks of Bishop Creek, so I drove to a few of my favorite spots and found trout aplenty. Surprisingly, there were a lot of browns in the streams, too — more than I usually see earlier in the year.
FISHING SOUTH LAKE is made a lot easier by renting one of the boats or a patio boat that gives access to the inlets at the back part of the lake, and the slides on the west side that aren’t accessible by foot. The boat rentals are handled by Parcher’s Resort. WON PHOTO BY BILL KARR
Lake Sabrina was way up from earlier in the year, as was South Lake, and the gate to North Lake was open, something I hadn’t ever seen on the opener. Intake II was beautiful, and there were trout jumping all over, but the big surprise was how few anglers there were! Way different from the opener when it’s hard to find a place to park.
I cooked a nice dinner in the kitchen at the cabin and slept soundly with the sound of the creek filling the cabin.
The next morning I was up at 5 and fishing the stream, and after a few catch-and-release trout, I met up with Jared at 7, and we were off to the upper parking lot at South Lake for our hike. The trail was the Bishop Pass trailhead, jumping off point for hikes to nearly 20 backcountry lakes in the Bishop Pass Basin, including the Dusy Basin in Kings Canyon National Park, as well as an access point to meet up with The Muir Trail for the popular South Lake to North Lake Loop trip.
Living at only 2,000 feet, I was certainly not acclimated for the hike of 1,400 vertical feet from 9,600 to 11,000, our destination, and I needed quite a few rest stops during the 2-mile hike, but we finally made it to the lower of the two Marie Louise lakes, named after Marie Louise Parcher, wife of W.C. Parcher, who established Parcher’s Camp in 1921.
What a beautiful gem of a lake, with a granite cliff dropping off straight into the lake, and the crest of the Sierra in the background. We quickly set up for fishing, and I began casting a fly and bubble, while Jared set up with a 2.5-inch orange and pink trout worm, switching off to grasshopper minijigs. We caught over a dozen brookies in an hour, most of them 6 to 8 inches, but there were a few 10 inchers in there, and the males were blazing with color! I kept a few for dinner, and we let the rest go.
The hike back down was easy, of course, even for me, and I had a chance to enjoy the surrounding beauty. Soon, South Lake was in sight and we were back at the truck for the short drive back to Parchers.
In addition to all the cabins and RV campsites at Parchers, they offer a “Hiker’s Cabin” set up with 2 sets of bunks, a small kitchen and a bathroom/shower, for those who want to get acclimated before beginning a backcountry adventure. And I strongly suggest that anyone heading for the backcountry take advantage of that — it will make your experience a lot more enjoyable!
Parchers has a nice restaurant serving breakfast, and a store with what you’ll need for fishing and camping. Rainbow Pack Outfitters is adjacent to Parchers, accessed through their grounds, for those who would rather ride a horse than hike to the backcountry. Parchers offers 6 different styles of cabin on property perfect for couples, families, fishin’ buddies or hikers looking to acclimate.
For those who want to stay closer to the resort, anglers will find plenty of trout and some lunker Alpers rainbows in South Fork Bishop Creek, and South Lake itself is filled with all kinds of trout, including brookies, browns and rainbows, with an occasional golden hybrid that washes down from the Treasure Lakes Basin. Alpers trophy rainbows are periodically throughout the season for the trophy hunters out there, and the South Lake record brown trout is 17 pounds, 1 ounce, so there are some lunkers in there!
If you’re ready for that fishing, hiking or sightseeing vacation, booking a cabin or RV spot at Parcher’s Resort can’t be beat! Call them at (760) 873-4177 or go to parchersresort.net/. They’re located off South Lake Road up Bishop Canyon.
THE WEIR POND on South Fork Bishop Creek is one of the many excellent fishing spots within walking distance of Parcher’s Resort up South Bishop Canyon. WON PHOTO BY BILL KARR
THE DINING ROOM at Parcher’s Resort offers hot breakfasts for those who don’t want to cook in their own cabins, and the attached store has whatever an angler or camper might need. WON PHOTO BY BILL KARR
WESTERN OUTDOOR NEWS’ NorCal editor Bill Karr stayed at Parcher’s Resort above Bishop last week and got into some great fishing by hiking to Marie Louise lakes with Parcher’s owner, Jared Smith. WON PHOTO BY BILL KARR