‘Last’ Sierra trout opener draws good crowds, provides excellent fishing
By JIM MATTHEWS
What is likely to be the “last” Eastern Sierra Nevada trout season opener on Saturday has drawn anglers from all over the state who experienced good fishing in all of the popular locations, from the Bishop Creek drainage in the south and north through the Bridgeport region, virtually all of the roadside waters produced good numbers of fish.
If the Fish and Game Commission adopts the proposed regulation modifications from the Department of Fish and Game, this will be the last opener. All waters will be open to year-around fishing in the future, so closures will be based on weather and road conditions and not an arbitrary date the end of April each year.
“There have been a lot of fish caught, but not a lot of big fish,” said Rick Geiser at Ken’s Sporting Goods in Bridgeport, but he did note that “Big Virginia Lake had about five feet of ice, and there were about 50 people up there ice fishing and catching a lot of trout.”
The biggest trout reported was a 10-pound, 10-ounce brown trout caught from June Lake by Travis Pitts of Dayton, Nev. There was also a similarly-sized rainbow trout caught from the same water. Most years, the biggest brown trout are caught either from Bridgeport Reservoir or either Upper or Lower Twin Lakes in the same drainage. But as of early evening Saturday, the June Lake fish was the biggest overall trout and the biggest brown.
Tackle shops and marina throughout the region weighed in a lot of two to four-pound rainbows, many planted by the Department of Fish and Game prior and private hatcheries in the week before Saturday’s opening day.
All of the waters in the Walker River drainage, from Upper and Lower Twin Lake to Bridgeport Reservoir to the West Walker River produced a lot of nice rainbows to four pounds that were planted by the Bridgeport Fish Enhancement Foundation, funded by anglers and local businesses. Both Inyo and Mono counties have similar programs that stock private fish.
At Crowley Lake, perhaps the most popular destination on the east side of the Sierra Nevada for opening day, Department of Fish and Wildlife scientists were checking anglers catches to determine what percent of fish were from last fall’s plants of subcatchables which normally grow from four to five inches to 14 to 15 inches long by opening day. The scientists can also tell how many of the trout are from previous year’s plants and from wild production because all of the DFW’s planted trout are marked with different fin clips each year. The lake is planted with at least 400,000 trout each year, and it has browns, rainbows, and cutthroats.
Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 909-887-3444.