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.