Flyfishing the Sierra Blog
Saturday, 12 June 2010
Murphy Group
Topic: Spring Openers

I belong to a group of Flyfishermen known as the Murphy Group. It's a group that has been around for about 40 years. Murphy, the originator of the group, died many years ago and is buried on Bald Mountain overlooking the old Alpers Owens River Ranch. We always get together on the Tuesday after the Saturday opener and fish together until the following Sunday. It's always understood by the Alpers that we would return at this date, so we never had need to make reservations or submit a deposit. Most of the group can't wait, so they end up fishing the 3-4 days prior to Tuesday by tent camping along some of the local streams. However, on Tuesday, at 2:00pm, we could move our gear into Cabin 7 on Alpers Ranch.



This was an old log cabin situated right on the Owens River. The cabin had no heat, except for a wood stove, no phone, no cable, and no internet. It did have a wonderful gas burner stove in the kitchen that Tim's dad bought from a defunct restaurant in Bishop. We could sleep about nine people with beds along the walls of the great room. There were few rules for the group: No women, poker every night, and mandatory attendance. If you couldn't make it one year, you are out of the group! Needless to say, everyone always showed up. Fishing was always excellent on the ranch. The Owens River had large numbers of Rainbows that would come upriver from Crowley Lake to spawn. There would also be the resident Rainbows and Browns that inhabited the cut banks. Sometime around 2002, Crowley Lake was taking Lahonton Cutthroat plants about 12". By 2006, these Lahontans were getting to 18-20" and coming upriver to the ranch during the spawn. A dam that was constructed on the river, at a time when you could do such as thing. A hydroelectric generator was installed to generate electricity for the ranch as it did not have any from an outside source. Fortunately, the dam was only about 7 feet high and had a ledge about halfway up that fish would reach. It might take about 10 attempts but by the tenth leap the trout would reach that ledge and then make another leap for the upper pool. Once, they got to the upper pool, it was an easy swim up to Big Springs and beyond. Big Springs is considered the headwaters of the Owens River but there is a small amount of water that connects to Deadman Creek above it. At Big Springs, there could be as many as 50 large trout congregating within the waters for the spawn. They were so intent on mating, you could take underwater pics of them without any spooking. If you went further upstream into Deadman Creek, you could find many more spawners that did not have the fishing pressure of the areas downstream. It was trout heaven. Currently, there is a discussion going on within Mammoth and Inyo County to procure much of the water of Deadman Creek to alleviate water needs due to their recent expansion. This might compromise the water that is available to make this fish migration from Big Springs  into Deadman Creek, many additional miles of a prime spawning stream.

Posted by stevenojai at 4:54 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 26 June 2010 1:26 AM EDT

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