Fisherfolk ready for Saturday’s Opening Day in the Sierra


This brown got fooled by a lot of elk hair caddis on a size 14 hook. (Jim Burns)

This brown got fooled by a lot of elk hair caddis on a size 14 hook. (Jim Burns)

Opening Day in the Sierra is almost upon us (April 27), and according to writer Darcy Ellis, it heralds at least a decent season. Ellis penned “Epic season taking shape,” but after reading her piece in the Inyo Register Eastern Sierra Fishing Guide, I’m not sure “epic” is exactly the word the average fisherman would use.

“All of the elements have come together in 2013 for a banner fishing season: plenty of water, even more fish and lots of angling-related action for fishermen and their families,” read the article’s lead sentence.

Ample water is based on an interview with a Dept. of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist, quoted as saying that “… we’re not anticipating low water this year.” Adequate water is one of the key criteria before the DFW will plant fish.

With the Monrovia fire still smoldering as I write this, it may surprise parched Southern Californians to hear this sort of prognostication. It also surprised the California Dept. of Water Resources.

“The snowpack is at 54 percent of normal, so it’s not looking good,” said Jennifer Lida, an information officer for the department.

The last manual survey of the year, in which DWR surveyors actually go into the mountains instead of relying on electronic sensors,  is scheduled in about two weeks on Echo Summit, near Lake Tahoe. This measurement traditionally documents the wetness of any given season. Snowpack normally provides about a third of California’s water as it melts into streams, reservoirs and aquifers. The short-term good news is that “most key storage reservoirs are above or near historic levels,” according to the department.

Given this scenario, I’d get my fishing in early. Last year in the Golden Trout Wilderness, one favorite creek had turned into runs of unconnected water by August.

Still it looks like there will be lots of trout in the middle Sierra, the L.A. mecca for fly fishing.  According to Ellis’s article, DFW plans to plant just shy of 1 million pounds of trout this season. You can check the planting schedule here.

Finally, there certainly will be family events during the summer. One that’s new is Trout Fest on June 29 at the Hot Creek Hatchery outside Mammoth. The flier promises kids going to the event that they will be able to “catch a fish, feed a fish, taste a fish, touch a fish.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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