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Eastern Sierra trout waters clearing of ice

Special to Western Outdoor News
Published: Jun 15, 2017

The streams and rivers are raging! Conditions in the Mammoth Lakes Basin are improving and the road into the lakes has been plowed, but not yet opened; Twin Lakes is free of ice and has been stocked, while there is still some ice on Mamie and Mary and full ice at George

BISHOP— Unseasonably warm temperatures and a little help from churning winds have finally cleared Sierra lakes covered in ice, opening most waters to eager trout hunters.

Of course, a late spring snowstorm did slow things down a bit for anglers last weekend, but fortunately it was just a final shot at winter, hopefully.

South Lake is the highest elevation lake in the Bishop Basin and the warm conditions finally cleared the lake.

“Wow, summer has arrived in the high country with temperatures at our elevation at 9,200 feet soaring into the mid 70's this week,” said Jared Smith at Parchers Resort and South Lake Landing.

A little wind came along as well and South Lake went from ice-covered to ice-free in 48 hours.

Smith said the water level is climbing at least a couple feet per day and he is getting boats ready to go when there is enough water to put the docks in.

The fishing at South Lake has been great since the lake thawed with lots of holdover rainbows hungry as can be.

Needless to say, the sudden thaw has not helped stream anglers, as high flows have made conditions in the South Fork of Bishop Creek challenging at best.

“Even some of the small feeder streams are at a very impressive level,” Smith said.

Intake II below Lake Sabrina has been ice-free for a few months now, and well stocked. Reports are that float tube and shore anglers are doing very well.

The road to North Lake is open, but undergoing maintenance, so it can range from challenging to impossible to navigate depending on conditions.

Good reports from Intake 2 from shore anglers as well as float tubers.

Rick Apted at Lake Sabrina Landing said bait fishing there has been the best choice, with nightcrawlers and PowerBait a good bet.

The inlets continue to be hot spots, with Apted suggesting anglers hit Dingleberry, Little George and the George inlets.

Trolling has also been producing with Kastmasters or red/gold Thomas Buoyants.

Apted said a drifted nightcrawler around the rock piles or through the channels has been getting results.

Carolyn Middleton, who was visiting from Virginia, caught the biggest fish of the week. She hauled in a 3-pound rainbow using a nightcrawler.

Despite generally good weather until last weekend’s storm that brought snow and wind, the fish has been a bit slow. Some of that might be attributed to the cold water rapidly flowing into the lakes along with lots of debris and food.

Jim King at Rock Creek Lake Resort said the lake if finally free of ice and the road is open to the launch ramp and is scheduled to opened to the campground by this weekend.

Rock Creek Lake also received the first load of fish this season, and King said the fishing has “not been red hot, but steady with fish to 14 inches.”

Panther Martin lures, worms and Trout Teasers are working best, King said.

Conditions in the Mammoth Lakes Basin are improving and the road into the lakes has been plowed, but not yet opened.

Eric Holland at Rick’s Sports Center said Twin Lakes is free of ice and has been stocked, while there is still some ice on Mamie and Mary and full ice at George.

Holland said creeks in Mammoth are not fishable now because of extreme runoff.

Spring runoff how started to raise water levels at Crowley Lake, and that has created a fluctuating condition with some days of great fishing, followed by slow periods.

Don Meier with CPR Guide Service said some of the best areas fro trolling have been McGee Bay Alligator Point and just outside of the harbor.

“Today the fishing in McGee was off the hook out in the 30-foot water putting lures down 24 feet,” Meier reported on June 9.

Guide Kent Rianda from The Troutfitter called fly-fishing a mixed bag, primarily because of the high water volume flowing into the lake.

“Temperatures are pretty consistent, so the fish are spread out with no big concentrations,” Rianda said.

Water in the North Arm is tea colored, while the south end of the lake is starting to get some green from algae. A bright spot, however, is that the spawning cutthroat are starting to move back into the lake, so anglers can expect to start seeing those on the hook.

Anglers last weekend were dodging snowflakes in the June Lake Loop, and high winds made lake conditions challenging.

Generally the week was a bit slow, with Silver Lake the exception. Andrew Jones at Silver Lake Resort said good numbers of 4- to 7-pound fish were being caught. The largest was a hefty, 7-pound, 4-ounce rainbow hauled in by Mathew Lim from Torrance, who was offering a Pinch Crawler from a boat. Kevin Walters from Oceanside also checked in with a 5-pound, 15-ounce rainbow he caught from shore with Trout Nuggets, and Alan Hamada from Gardena used a Thomas Buoyant to attract a 5-pound, 4-ounce rainbow.

Trolling has been good at Grant Lake, which is now full and spilling over. The action at June Lake has been steady, but the bigs have been elusive. The lake was stocked last week.

Garlic baits have been working well at both Gull and June Lakes. Sergio Garnica at Gull Lake said fishing has generally been good, but mostly for DFW stocked rainbows. Trolling has been good with red/gold Thomas Buoyants or Tasmanian Devils.

The Tioga Highway into Yosemite remains closed, with not scheduled date of opening. Lee Vining Canyon is open and the creek is stocked, but flowing extremely fast.

Virginia Lakes are thawing, with Little Virginia clearing of ice. Big Virginia still has ice, but warmer weather is predicted and the lakes should open in the next week or so.

Bridgeport waters have also slowed a bit this week. Derrick Miles at Upper Twin Lake said the rainbow bite has dropped off because of the cold water flowing into the lake, but he kokanee are biting for anglers trolling down to 60 feet.

“We are seeing a few limits, but not many right now.” Miles said.

Lower Twin Lake is about the same, with no trophy fish reported in the past week.

Jim Reid at Ken’s Sporting Goods in Bridgeport said the high winds last week kept many anglers off the Bridgeport Reservoir. The lake is now rising at six to eight inches a day and that has made boat launching easier.

“Rainbow Point is still a good place to fish with bait and when the wind lays down the trolling is still a good way to go,” Reid said.

Trollers are using Rapala, Speedy Shiners, Tazmanian Devils and nightcrawlers. Bait anglers are going with Pinched Crawlers, nightcrawlers, Mice Tails and PowerBait.

There are some issues that Sierra anglers should worry about. Torrential spring runoff has now created some extremely dangerous conditions as creek banks are being undercut and could collapse. There were reports last week of dogs being swept away in high waters.

Now that owners have been able to access some areas buried in snow, the full effects of this winter are being discovered.

The popular and historic Tioga Pass Resort on the road into Yosemite from Lee Vining apparently suffered significant damage from heavy winter snow, perhaps beyond repair. Owners have cancelled all reservations for this season.

CONVICT HEAVY WEIGHT — The bigger fish are starting to show up at Convict Lake, like this beefy, 7-pound, 4-ounce rainbow caught by Kyle Mechelin from Newbury Park who was trolling a Thomas Buoyant on lead core line at two colors.

CATCHING THE CUTTS — Brian Kroells, who spends his summer at June Lake, fished Lundy Lake last week and landed this nice cutthroat from the south shore using a white Minijig.

GRANT LAND BROWN — Michael Ponce from Alhambra offered a gold Kastmaster while fishing from shore at Grant Lake to interest this 3-pound, 14-ounce brown trout. Grant Lake is now full and spilling over.

LOWER TWIN LAKE inlet in Bridgeportwas the right place for Joaquin Rodriguez from Orange County who was tossing a glow white Mice Tail on a #18 treble hook to catch 19 fish, including this hefty 5-pouind rainbow.

SILVER LAKE SEVEN — The bigs at Silver Lake showed up in good numbers last week, including this 7-pound, 4-ounce rainbow reeled in by Mathew Lim from Torrance, who was dunking a Pinched Crawler from a boat.

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