“Fishmas” returns to Eastern Sierras on April 29

BISHOP — Two of California’s least-populated counties will be bustling with anglers during the final weekend of April as the 2017 fishing season kicks off in the Eastern Sierras.

Anglers from Southern California and other corners of the state will descend upon Bishop, Bridgeport, Independence, June Lake, Lone Pine and the rest of Inyo and Mono counties to celebrate the start of this year’s trout season.

The Eastern Sierra opener kicks off April 29, the final Saturday of the month and official start of the fishing season. This year’s Eastern Sierra fishing season is expected to continue through Nov. 15.

“This is when most waters in Mono County are open to anglers to fish for as many as 5 trout to catch-and-keep per day,” a calendar post on Mono County’s official website stated. “Popular waters where these rules apply include Crowley Lake, Convict Lake, the Mammoth Lakes Basin, June Lake Loop waters and the Bridgeport Reservoir. From Nov. 16 through the last Friday in April all waters in Mono County … are closed to fishing.”

Local fishing regulations might vary from lake to lake. Be sure to check for waters with special restrictions. Regulations are available online at wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations; anglers can also call 760-872-1171 for more information.

Several lakes are already promoting the 2017 opener.

A blog post on junelakeaccommodations.com called the annual trout opener “one of the most anticipated dates” of the year.

“Opening day for the general trout season is one of the most anticipated dates on the calendar for the Eastern Sierra. A date with a rich history and long traditions for many,” the blog post stated. “The last Saturday in April sees June Lake lodging and campsites fill up early each year. Our little sleepy Village suddenly wakes up! You never know what the weather might be, but ‘marginal’ weather is what creates the best memories for traditionalists!”

Convict Lake is offering $1,300 in cash prizes, awarded to anglers who catch any one of 23 tagged fish, during opening day weekend. Lake officials announced the angler who catches the largest fish will have his or her name etched onto a Fred Hall Show Trophy. The Convict Lake derby begins at sunrise April 30 and continues until 3 p.m. on May 1. Prizes will be distributed at the Convict Lake General Store right after the derby ends.

The recent rains and snows, according to officials, won’t slow down this year’s opener at Crowley Lake.

“We are getting a few questions and concerns regarding whether or not we will be opening as scheduled,” a member of the Crowley Lake stated online in a blog. “Yes, we are planning to open as usual! We have a little less than 8 weeks [until the] opener and we have started to prepare.”

Crowley Lake staff is hopeful the weather will warm up in time to melt the snow and ice away.

“The lake still has a pretty thick ice layer but we are starting to see it crack,” Crowley Lake staff said.” Once the cracks form, wind and warmth will start breaking it up. It’s ok to keep your fingers crossed though. We have some work ahead of us!

“Of course with weather comes uncertainty and lots of variables so we will do our best to keep you updated,” Crowley Lake staff continued.

Last year’s fishing opener met with mixed fishing and weather conditions. Sierradrifters.com, a website keeping anglers up-to-date of fishing conditions in the Sierras, identified action as good at some lakes but fair to slow at others. Crowley Lake, Upper Owens River and McGee Creek were the top performing lakes at the outset, while Bridgeport Reservoir was kicked off with fair to good conditions.

Road conditions in Inyo and Mono counties are available online. The website monolake.org lists several roads as closed, including Tioga Road (Highway 120) and June Lake Loop (Highway 158). Please visit monolake.org/today/roads for up-to-date information.

Also visit inyocounty.us and the sierraweb.com for road condition information in Inyo County.

Fishing licenses are required for anglers aged 16 and older. Annual, one-day or two-day fishing licenses are available for purchase through the Department of Fish and Wildlife or by calling 760-934-2664. Several locations in the Mammoth Lakes area, for example, are also expected to have fishing licenses available for purchase.

An annual resident sport fishing license is $47.01, while one-day licenses (for residents or non-residents) is $15.12.

A two-day license (valid only on consecutive days) for residents and non-residents is $23.50.

Non-resident annual licenses are $126.36.

(CDFW photo)

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