Sierra Trout Opener


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Mar 13, 2001
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The Sierra trout season opener is April 28. Most roadside waters below 8000 feet are ice free. The storm there right now is adding some more snow. Those of you that are going should call ahead to your favorite spot for current conditions and be ready for any kind of weather. Is anybody going? Where do you like to go? If you go be sure to give me a report when you get back.   Thanks    Fubar


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Mar 23, 2001
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I can probably help you on a majority of the waters, including ice conditions, snow, road closures and similar questions.  Right now the storms are putting down a couple of inches each time but melting within a couple of days.  The roads to South and Sabrina Lakes will be open, but I won't predict the safety of the ice due to some hellacious(sp) winds we have been having.  Crowley has been clear for 3 wks and lake like Twins and Bridgeport have been open for a lot longer than that.  Even Twin Lakes Mammoth has open water.  The average snow-pac is 70 to 80 % of normal, depending on the location.  The farther north you get the lower Percent of normal.  That means resivoirs (not lakes) such as Bridgeport, Crowley, South and Sabrina will probably start lowering by late July August....  Crowley is full right now due to work on the aquaduct below Lone Pine.  Good luck.....          hronk  


Mar 11, 2001
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EASTERN SIERRA TROUT FOLLOW -- jim matthews unplugged (outdoor commentary) 02may01

Biggest Sierra trout on opener was caught and released at Hot Creek?

Most everything that has been written about this past weekend's trout season opener has focused on the big brown trout that were caught from June Lake and Bridgeport's Lower Twin Lake. Matt French of Sacramento is roundly credited with catching the biggest trout of opening weekend -- a whopping 12-pound, 15-ounce brown from June Lake. Harvey Neill of Smith Valley, Nev., caught browns at 11-pounds, 13-ounces and 11-pounds, one-ounce from Lower Twin Lake. Both anglers were trolling big plugs when they caught their trophy fish, and there is no question these are the biggest trout to be caught on an opener in several years. But I'm here to tell you those three trout might not have been the biggest trout caught opener.

Paul Smith of Lake Arrowhead caught a brown trout from Hot Creek near Mammoth Lakes that he guessed at 10 pounds, photographed the fish, and then released it. That's the law on Hot Creek. It's a catch-and-release stream. The photos were one-hour processed and a shot was dropped off at The Trout Fly in Mammoth Lakes. Smith called a fishing chum back home to rub in that he didn't abandon his teaching job and come with them to fish for the opening week of the season. Then Smith and his partners went back fishing. They weren't due back home until Thursday some time. We tried to get a cell phone number to find out about the fish, but Smith was fishing without a cell phone. Imagine that -- someone not packing a cell phone. It's difficult to really tell the weight of a fish from a photo, but guide Steve Osterman, who works at The Trout Fly in Mammoth, didn't mince any words looking at the photo.

"It's approximately 15 pounds," said Osterman."I was told it was about 10 pounds," I said."I'm looking at the picture and it's bigger than 10 pounds, I guarantee it. It's got some girth to it. It's at least 12 to 15 pounds," said Osterman. For anglers not familiar with Hot Creek, it is a flyfishing-only stream in addition to being completely catch-and-release. Osterman said Smith was fishing with a light leader and a No. 18 pheasant tail nymph fly. A No. 18 is about the size of a single dandelion seed. The big gold and black G-9 Rapala that French used to catch his big June Lake brown is about the size of a hatchery rainbow trout. Having fly-fished a little, I know that you just about can't get leader heavier than about six-pound test through the eye of a No. 18 fly. It's likely that Smith was using something on the order of two-pound test. Hot Creek is a weed-filled mess and the big brown should have been able to break the leader handily by merely diving down under a patch of weeds and then heading downstream.I can't wait to talk to Smith later this week. There's bound to be a heck of a story here.

Crowley Update

Lake Crowley had the bulk of the fishing pressure this opener, as with most openers. Jeff Topp at Crowley Lake Fish Camp estimated there were 8,000 to 10,000 people on the lake for the weekend. According to the Department of Fish and Game's boat angler survey, most of them caught limits of trout. But Curtis Milliron, the DFG Bishop biologist who's been studying Crowley fisheries for several years, was a little perplexed about what was happening at Crowley. "We don't know what happened to the Kamloops rainbows," said Milliron.

Crowley is planted with several strains of rainbow trout each fall, including the Kamloops strain. Normally, they make up a lot of the opening day harvest on the lake. While they are smaller than some of the other strains, they are easier to catch. This year, they were almost absent, in spite of heavy plants last fall. Milliron admits that he's baffled. There are two likely scenarios. First, the fish simply aren't there. Milliron believes this is likely the case. Another strain of trout, the Colemans, were bigger than they've ever been on a trout opener. Milliron figures that the mild winter and lack of competition from the Kamloops led to the greater growth in the Colemans. That still wouldn't tell Milliron what happened to the Kamloops. The second scenario, which Milliron would like to believe, is that the mild spring allowed the Kamloops to run up Crowley's tributary streams earlier than normal, spawn right before the opener, and then drift back into the lake where they are having a little postpartum depression and simply not eating while they recuperate. Did anyone count cormorants and pelicans on Crowley last fall after the little Kamloops were planted?

Anglers aren't too worried either way. Crowley is planted with nearly a half-million trout each year and the fishing was excellent on the opener. Boat anglers landed .88 trout per hour and the average catch was 4.1 fish. The trout averaged about 1 1/4 pounds, and 1/3rd of them were greater than 15 inches long. All those numbers are higher than normal. Topp said the biggest trout from Crowley was a 7-pound, 10-ounce brown caught by Jim Early of Simi Valley trolling a Cultiva Mirror Shad in McGee Bay.

Opener Ice Fishing

Tracy Rockel at Ken's Sporting Goods in Bridgeport didn't mean to make it sound like she thought the anglers who went up to the Virginia Lakes for trout opener to fish through a couple of feet of ice were crazy, but you could hear it in her voice.
"We had a couple of guys who went up to Virginia," said Rockel. It was as if she were trying to keep from snickering. "But they had limits in an hour." Maybe they are originally from Minnesota and just miss home.

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