Sierra Trout Report by Jim Matthews

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TROUT OPENER AND MORE -- Jim Matthews-ons 01may02

Outdoor News Service

    The Eastern Sierra trout opener has become increasingly less
crowded. Once upon a time, over 20,000 anglers would crowd onto just Crowley
Lake alone for the opener weekend, and in the early 1980s I heard
estimates that there were 150,000 anglers scattered throughout the Eastern
Sierra from Bridgeport to Lone Pine for this annual pilgrimage.

    There was probably more hyperbole to that estimate than fact, but
the crowds have thinned down, according to everyone who attended this
year and also were veterans of the openers in the 1970s and 80s. Crowley
was busy, but fishable. The June Lake loop was crowded but not
uncomfortable. There were places where you could even find a stretch of water
all to yourself.

    The fishing? It was generally pretty decent, but not great. That
was mostly because of spitting rain and snow in places and lots of cold
wind just about everywhere.

    BROWNS GALORE: Jim Reid, owner of Ken's Sporting Goods in
Bridgeport, was a little amazed about all of the quality brown trout that were
caught in that region this year. There were none of the 15 to 20
pounders that once made the Twin Lakes at Bridgeport famous, but a lot of
three- to six-pounders were weighed in at Ken's.

    "We probably weighed in more brown trout than rainbow trout. I
can't ever remember it being like that before," said Reid.

    The best brown trout was a 7-pound, 6-ouncer caught by Ruben Black
of Woodland trolling a new Tail Dancer Rapala with a rainbow trout
paint job caught from Lower Twin. The best trout from Bridgeport Reservoir
was caught by 15-year-old Brian Johnson of Goleta. The 6 3/4-pound
brown made him "so happy he couldn't contain himself," said Reid.

    The browns are particularly noteworthy because the Department of
Fish and Game either doesn't stock these fish or they are planted only
as fingerlings and subcatchables. That means they grew to those sizes on
their own, eating wild aquatic insects, sculpin, and maybe even a few
planted rainbows.

    JUNE LAKE LOOP BIGGIE: The best trout taken in the June Lake Loop
was an 8-pound rainbow taken from Gull Lake. It was one of the big
brookstock rainbows the DFG plants each fall that survive the winter under
the ice. It was caught by Wayne Wallace.

    CITATION TALLY: The DFG sent 20 wardens into the field for this
year's opener in the Sierra. According to Lt. Art Lawrence, with the DFG
in Bishop, they contacted 4,181 anglers over the weekend and wrote only
62 citations -- three of them for possession of marijuana. The biggest
number of offenses at 32 was for the use of bait or barbed hooks on
special regulation waters. There were only 12 anglers who were cited for
overlimits, but then Lawrence -- who patrolled the Bridgeport Region --
said the fishing was generally pretty tough except for the Virginia
Lakes, where ice fishermen really scored.

    PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T GO: No one at Santa Ana River Lakes would tell
you this Orange County water is more scenic than Crowley Lake, although
it might have been no more crowded. What the people who stayed home
will tell you is that the fishing at this urban water was better than the
Sierra. There were 58 rainbow trout over 10 pounds caught this past
weekend Santa Ana, including perhaps the most incredible five-trout limit
ever record. Carlos Ortiz of Buena Park had a stringer that weighed
95-pounds, three-ounces, and it included trout at 21-12, 21-0, 20-5, 19-5,
and 12-13. Every one of those fish was bigger than the biggest trout
landed in the Sierra for the opener.
 
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