By: Parimal M. Rohit
BISHOP — The final week of April means the beginning of trout season in the Eastern Sierras. Two of California’s least populated counties will have an influx of anglers — mostly from Southern California — visiting the region’s many lakes to reel in the biggest trout possible.
The trout season kicks offs April 25 at all Eastern Sierra lakes and river streams above the ridgeline.
Last year’s Eastern Sierra trout season opened with frosty conditions at Mammoth Lakes, where the mercury hit a low of 19.4 degrees before sunrise on April 26, 2014 (though temperatures hovered in the mid-40s during the middle of the day). It was a little warmer down in Bishop, where temperatures ranged from a seasonably average low of 39 degrees to a pleasant 66 degrees in mid-afternoon.
It is too early to predict the highs and lows for this year’s trout season opener. Still, the trout opener in the Eastern Sierra, which includes Big Pine, Bishop, Bridgeport, Independence and Lone Pine in Inyo and Mono counties, is one of the most anticipated events of the fishing season.
According to reports, fish plants are already taking place in Mono County in anticipation of the opener.
Temperatures have ranged between the 20s and 50s during the first week of April, according to the National Weather Service. If these temperatures persist, most fishing locations in the Eastern Sierras should be open by April 25.
Possible hotspots include Bishop Creek, Bridgeport Reservoir, Convict Lake, Crowley Lake, George Lake, Grant Reservoir, Green Creek, Gull Lake, June Lake, Mamie Lake, Mary Lake, North Lake, Lundy Lake, Rock Creek Lake, Twin Lakes, Virginia Lakes, Walker River and Weir Pond.
June Lake Loop’s Monster Trout Contest coincides with the April 25 season opener, with a prize offered to the angler who enters the largest catch. The top prize is $250 in “June Bucks,” which is a cash-equivalent award redeemable at any participating business in June Lake.
In addition to June Lake Loop, some popular destinations include Bishop Creek Canyon, Bridgeport Reservoir, Convict Lake, Intake II, Lake Sabrina, Pleasant Valley Reservoir and South Lake.
California’s drought, which is now in its fourth year, might become an issue at some point during the season. Dry conditions statewide could mean low water levels at Eastern Sierra lakes and streams. According to National Geographic, snowpack at a Sierra Nevada location reportedly stored less than 1 inch of water as of the first week of March.
No lakes or reservoirs have reported, however, whether lake levels will be dangerously low or if the temperature will be too warm when the season officially opens.
The state’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) provided data to show Lake Crowley’s levels were at 53 percent of its capacity (but 77 percent of its historical average level) as of March 30. At Grant Lake, DWR reported the water level there was about 33 percent of its capacity (but 57 percent of its historical average). The water level at Bridgeport Reservoir was reportedly less than 15 percent of its capacity (and less than 25 percent of historical average).
Still, several venues in the Eastern Sierras are expected to be clamoring with anglers during the final weekend of April.
Anglers who are 16 years or older must have a valid California fishing license to fish anywhere in the state. Visit dfg.ca.gov/onlinesales or a regional Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) office to purchase a freshwater fishing license.
DFW reported last year anglers were not required to visibly display the fishing license above the waist. However, anglers must keep the license with them whenever fishing.