BRIDGEPORT — Not only are some monster trout showing up in the final days of the Eastern High Sierra general trout season, but the prospect for winter fishing is as good as it has been in years.
This is the time of the year when big browns start to bite, and traditionally the Twin Lakes in Bridgeport can produce some of the biggest fish. There was excitement at Lower Twin Lake last week when an angler who would only identify himself as Steve, from Minden, Nev. trolled a Rapala Shad Rap on leadcore line to connect with an 8-pound, 9-ounce brown. Hopes were high that this marked the start of the trophy brown bite, but his brown remained the big fish of the week.
Tim Sullivan at Twin Lakes Resort said the brown bite has picked up, but mainly for smaller fish to 4 pounds or so. “We have some high winds and snow flurries here now, but I hope to get out tomorrow if the weather is good and troll an F-18 at about nine colors,” Sullivan said. Services at Mono Village on Upper Twin Lake have closed for the season, but anglers are still out hoping for that big brown. But so far, none have shown up.
Fishing at Bridgeport Reservoir has been off the hook, with anglers reporting 20- to 30-fish days, along with some bragging-rights trout. Bridgeport local Keith Rondeau fished with guide Ken Hoffman and brought 12 rainbows to the boat quickly, along with a 5-pound, 9-ounce keeper he caught while trolling. Most landings from Bridgeport to Bishop are now closed, but anglers can still fish accessible waters until Nov. 15. Weather is always a big factor this time of the year, so plan accordingly.
Lower elevations, like Lee Vining Creek, the June Loop lakes and Convict Lake should continue to provide good fishing until closing day. Convict Lake will provide services until Nov. 15, along with the annual Ambush at the Lake Trout Derby through Nov. 15. Anglers will have a chance to win up to $6,000 in resort prizes. Twenty tagged fish worth up to $1,000 have been released. Entry fee is $15.
Services in Bishop Basin are also closed for the season, but anglers still have a chance to win $100 by catching one of the tagged fish released by the Bishop Chamber of Commerce in South Lake, Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek, Intake II and Pleasant Valley Reservoir. Anglers can bring the, “Winner Bishop Chamber of Commerce” tag to the chamber office until Nov. 15 to claim their prize.
Despite the closing of the general season on Nov. 15, there is high anticipation for the upcoming winter season that will allow trout hunters to continue fishing on the Owens River, Pleasant Valley Reservoir, the Upper Owens River, Hot Creek and the East and West Walker Rivers. Jim Reid at Ken’s Sporting Goods in Bridgeport said early winter conditions on the East Walker will be spectacular, and that’s a big change from the past few years, when the creek was at a trickle because of drought conditions.
Reid said flows now are about 100 cubic feet per second, and fishing has been good on both sides of the state line. “The streamer action seems to be the best, but there’s also some good nymphing going on,” Reid reported. Anglers have been reporting lots of nice browns and rainbows, with some going just over 20 inches. Reid suggests patterns to try include, Zuddlers, Zonkers, Double Bunnies, Sculpzilla, Semi Seal Leeches, Seal Buggers, Silver Streaks, Rainbow Warriors, Copper Johns, Zebra Midges and Pheasant Tails.
The West Walker is still fishing well in both the canyon and Pickle Meadows sections and if the weather warms, try dry/dropper rigs with hoppers or stimulators on top and a Prince Nymph or Pheasant Tail underneath.
Guide Doug Rodricks with Sierra Drifters see’s the winter season starting off great.
“We are already seeing fish in the Upper Owens River, which are moving in for the fall spawn. Large rainbows and browns are now in the river and this is one to two months earlier than past years,” he said.
One area of concern for winter, however, is Hot Creek. Rodricks said a planting earlier in the year of fertile, diploid trout was not successful and the fish did not survive. Another plant is planned by DFW, but it may take a while for the creek to return to an exciting fishery. The extra water this year should help.
Anglers should remember that winter fishing also means special regulations in many areas, so they should take time to know the rules on the waters they are fishing, and be prepared for sudden and dangerous changes in weather conditions.