DFG Trout Opener Info


Mar 11, 2001
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April 12, 2002


California's General Trout Season Opens April 27

Contact: Conservation Education, (916) 653 6420

SACRAMENTO — For California trout anglers the most anticipated day of the year is just around the bend. California's general trout season opens April 27th with hundreds of lakes, rivers and streams open to angling for the first time in six months.

Participating in the trout opener is a tradition for many anglers. Weather permitting, the fishing is typically phenomenal with limits coming in a short amount of time. In advance of the opener, the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) stocks lakes on the western and eastern slopes of the Sierra and in Northern California to assure great fishing for all.

Although most streams in the Sierra District open the last Saturday in April, the Eastern Sierra gets the brunt of opening day anglers. All waters (except a selected few) are closed to fishing in Inyo and Mono County for six months out of the year prompting anglers to be the first to feed these hungry fish.

This year anglers can expect to find ideal opening day conditions. At press time, lakes below 8,000 feet were completely ice free and are in great
shape for the opener.

"Anglers should look forward to increased access to higher elevation trout waters," said Curtis Milliron, Associate Fisheries Biologist for the DFG's Eastern Sierra Inland Desert Region. "However, with the warmer weather and low snowfall, ice fishing is considered to be too dangerous for this year."

Just north of Bishop, Crowley Lake is the most popular destination in the state on opening day. According to the lake's concessionaire, Crowley Lake Fish Camp, over the last decade an average of 7,000 people fish Crowley on the opener. The DFG said that as many as 50,000 trout are caught at Crowley on the opening Saturday. Fortunately for anglers, Crowley and many of the Eastern Sierra waters have been free of ice since March 1, allowing the fish to begin feeding earlier than most years and helping them grow larger by the opener.

"Because of the long period of ice free conditions - combined with the Department of Fish and Game stocking 450,000 rainbow trout into Crowley last year - we expect high catch rates and good size fish on the opener," Milliron said.

According to studies taken by the California Department of Water Resources in their California Cooperative Snow Survey, snow accumulations are between 20 and 85 percent below average as of April 9th. Most survey stations in Northern California are between 10 to 40 percent below normal, while the Central and Southern Sierra are between 25 and 60 percent below 50 year averages.

The lack of winter conditions in the Eastern Sierra has opened many waters this year that typically aren't planted prior to the opener due to snow, ice and closed roads. This season, the DFG expects to plant more waters prior to the opener than in typical years.

"We will be stocking all waters we have access to. Some years we plant more because more waters are open and some years we plant less," said Mike Haynie, DFG Hatchery Supervisor for the Eastern Sierra Region. In addition to hundreds of thousands of holdover trout left in the lakes and streams from the end of last season, the DFG expects to stock more than 94,000 trout into accessible bodies of water. The majority of the fish will weigh a little more than half a pound and be planted the week prior to the opener.

Unfortunately, most traditional season opening ice fishing waters are unsafe to ice fish this year. Local authorities urge you to use the utmost caution when ice fishing.

"We don't know of any lakes in Mono County that are safe for ice fishing, especially in the springtime," said Daniel Paranick, Director of Emergency Services for the Mono County Sheriffs Department. "We discourage the public from venturing out onto springtime ice conditions on lakes and streams. We've had several tragedies in Mono County over the years resulting from careless adventures. Hypothermia sets in almost immediately when you enter the water. The life expectancy when falling through the ice is sure death unless someone can pull you out or they can pull themselves out, which is highly unlikely."

In the North Coast Region popular wild trout waters such as the Fall River, Hat Creek, Pit River, Burney Creek, Upper Sacramento River and the McCloud River below McCloud Reservoir also open to special regulation fishing. For those who wish to take home a quick limit try Butte Creek, Mill Creek and the Upper McCloud River.

In the greater Tahoe region, the South Fork of the Yuba River and the East and West Forks of the Carson River remain top picks, while near Stockton the Stanislaus River, and Tuolumne River will be heavily planted.

A reminder that all persons age 16 and older must possess a valid California fishing license to fish within the state's borders. For 2002, a standard freshwater fishing license costs $30.45 and can be purchased on the internet at http://licenses.dfg.ca.gov/welcome.asp, at regional DFG offices or authorized dealers. Please remember to wear your license visibly above your waist.

For weekly updates on fishing planting throughout the state feel free to visit the DFG's website at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/fishplant/index.html or call:

Northern California - North Coast (530) 225 2146
Sacramento Valley - Central Sierra (916) 351 0832
Central Coast (707) 944 5581
San Joaquin Southern Sierra (559) 243 4005 (Press 2, then press 4)
South Coast Eastern Sierra Inland Deserts (562) 590 5020

While most lakes, rivers and streams have a limit of five trout per day and 10 in possession, there are many exceptions to the general rules and regulations regarding season opening and closing dates, bag limits, minimum and maximum size limits and gear restrictions. For a specific body of water consult the DFG's free 2002 California Sport Fishing Regulation booklet.
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