Will stocking delay help Sierra rainbow trout?

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Will stocking delay help rainbow trout?

April 4, 2001

By DAVE STREGE, The Orange County Register

Exploring the Eastern Sierra for a sneak preview of the trout opener just over three weeks away:

Crowley stocked later than usual: Last season, the kamloops strain of rainbow trout was missing from the action at Crowley Lake, raising concern about the practice of stocking the sub-catchables in August.

Typically, the DFG stocks a half million undersized trout in August when the minimum size limit of 18 inches takes effect at the lake. The small fish have more than eight months to feed and grow to the catchable size of a pound or more.

This season, however, the DFG kept the sub-catchables at the hatchery for an extra month before stocking them in September.

The idea is that the water temperature would be lower and the dissolved oxygen level higher, putting less stress on the fish.

"In the past we've had several occasions where we've had fish losses," DFG biologist Curtis Milliron said. "Last year, we had a very poor showing for the kamloops rainbows. ... We wanted to make sure not to have a repeat of that."

Crowley fish count: The trout planted last September included 65,232 sub-catchable and 22,950 fingerling brown trout; 164,350 sub-catchable Eagle Lake trout; 25,000 sub-catchable and 35,125 fingerling cutthroat trout; 183,970 sub-catchable Coleman rainbows; and 92,243 sub-catchable kamloop rainbows.

Crowley Fish Camp fire: The lake concessionaire had a tough winter. A storage building burned down Jan. 31 when an electrical short in a drop light sparked a fire.

The $1 million in losses included all 115 boat motors, anchors, oars, seat cushions, ropes, tackle and other equipment. The rental boats were OK. They were outside.

Crowley Fish Camp has new 15-, 25- and 30-horse, four-stroke motors, anchors, cushions, oars - all ready for the April 27 opener.

"If it (the fire) would've happened a week later, I don't think we would've made it," concessionaire owner John Frederickson said. "And the new docks are coming in on Monday. We had the double whammy."

Five days before the fire, 80 mph winds shifted the ice on the lake, tearing up 2,000 feet of docks.

After this season, the docks will be removed from the water for the winter like they did 10 years ago.

Hot bite expected: The midge flies are out and the trout are feeding on the surface at Crowley and June Lake, Frederickson reported.

"We've had 70-degree days up here," he said. "When you see midge flies out this early in the year, geez - we're several weeks early."

The DFG told Frederickson the water temperature at Crowley is higher than normal.

"If things don't change, it's probably going to be a very good opener," he said.

Ice-free lakes: Like Crowley, the June Loop lakes have been open for weeks. Same thing at Twin Lakes Bridgeport and Convict Lake.

Nothing definitive, but the word is that the Virginia lakes will have ice fishing as usual. That could change.

Kirman, the hike-in lake popular for its brook trout, is believed to be free of ice.

In the Bishop Creek area, South Lake was still frozen this week, but ice fishing is an uncertainty for the opener. Same at Sabrina. Best to check ahead.

Bridgeport low but loaded: The lake level is low and marina space is questionable at Bridgeport Reservoir Recreation Area, formerly Falling Rock Marina.

"Brand-new docks are sitting high and dry waiting for water," said Mike Booher, one of the four new partners in the concession.

The marina has new boats and motors, too.

Booher said the DFG planted 30,000 catchable German browns along with the usual allotment of rainbows from DFG and Alpers.

A regular angler at the lake, Booher anticipates a very good opener.

"It was pretty slow last year," he said. "I'm figuring the carryover fish should be great."
 

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