Flyfishing the Sierra Blog
Thursday, 12 May 2011
June Lake 2011
Topic: Spring Openers

Spring Opener in the Eastern Sierra is the last Saturday of April. This is the "general" opening day that has many exceptions. For instance, the Owens River and Hot Creek is open year-round. Inyo County opens their creeks about a month earlier stocking trout within creeks such as Big Pine Creek, Taboose Creek, Lone Pine Creek, and Diaz Lake. Locals like to fish the "Sand Traps where the creeks are intercepted by the L.A. Aquaduct that flows to the City of Los Angeles.

The opener was a cold, windy day. Snow levels were down to 8000 feet elevation. The upper elevation lakes such as Virginia Lake, Rock Creek Lake, and Sabrina Lake still had 2 feet of ice on their surface. Crowley Lake and Bridgeport Resevoir were open but the lake operators were draining the lakes in anticipation of the Spring run-off. This scattered the resident trout and fishing these areas was slow. A temperate condition occurred prior to "opener' for about a 2 week period and stimulated the resident rainbows of many lakes to migrate into the tributaries for spawning. 

The "opener" is also a time when Fly Fishermen, Bait Fishermen, and Spinner Fishermen all have an equal chance at the same water. Often, it's like mixing Democrats. Libertarians, and Republicans. It can get ugly! Fortunately, there's plenty of water to get away and do your thing without being "offensive".

DFG (Dept of Fish and Game) have designated many tributary areas for "No Fishing" and this gives the trout an opportunity to get away also. Some of these areas are a great scene to see large rainbows, up to 11 lbs, doing their spawning within the gravel beds. This also gives us a good indication of what the trout are doing and where they might be. Large Browns will also follow the Rainbow trout upstream in hopes to feed on dislodged eggs and prey on some smaller rainbows.



We started our "opener" a day after, arriving on Sunday. It was windy and cool but the weather outlook was for milder days and much less wind. We had days in the mid-70's allowing us to wear shorts and T-shirts. Our destination was a lodge within June Lake. This gave us a resonable access to the East Walker River, Robinson Creek, Rush Creek, Lee Vining Creek, Convict Creek, McGee Creek, Upper Owens River and Hot Creek.

Rush Creek was a 5 minute drive and had some of the best fishing we've had in years. Large Rainbows migrated up from Grant Lake, followed by large Browns. Fishing pressure was marginal and we could spend the day catching trout on streamers, nymphs, and dries. 

 We fished a couple of days around the confluence of McGee Creek and Convict Creek above Crowley Lake. A lot more fishermen were there, as well as guides with clients. With more fishing pressure, proper fishing "etiquette" becomes quite important. Remember, that this is an important area for the Rainbows to do their spawn. Keep out of the gravel beds. Fish the undercut banks and deep pools. Give your fellow fishermen some space and do not disturb the water that they are working towards.

Posted by stevenojai at 12:13 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 12 May 2011 1:08 AM EDT
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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