PRESS RELEASE: Since 1968, the Blake Jones Trout Derby has been a favorite event in the Eastern Sierra.
This year’s event is slated for Saturday, March 12, 6 a.m.-3 p.m., at Pleasant Valley Reservoir and promises to be tons of fun for everyone!
Nearly $10,000 worth of cash and prizes will be awarded including float tubes, rods and reels, gift certificates and more. The derby is a blind bogey format with categories for adults and kids of all ages.
Prior to the derby all waters near Bishop will be well stocked with plenty of trout by California Department of Fish & Wildlife and Desert Springs Trout Farm.
We encourage everyone to register early to make derby day check-in quick and easy.
Click here to get printable entry form. Print, complete and mail in with registration fee. You can also pre-order your Blake Jones commemorative t-shirt.
The Blake Jones Trout Derby is organized by Bishop Chamber of Commerce and co-sponsored by Inyo Count, City of Bishop, plus many other generous prize sponsors.
For more information, contact the Bishop Chamber at (760)873-8405.
Stoked by a warm-water fishing article that recently appeared in Cal Fly Fisher mag, my son and I stopped in Lone Pine over the weekend to check out the lower Owens. After all, I’d fished the ponds behind Bishop for bass and panfish, and this piece sang the praises of throwing a bass bug into the river’s hot summer waters.
After a two-minute ride from town we found, yes, more water flowed; the weather was unseasonably hot as blazes; and we did spot a good-sized bass near a bank.
But now for that all-important cast … bonk. Only the croak of an insistent bull frog kept us smiling.
The looming LORP problem for the fly fisherman remains terrible access. If you’re a tule, you’re really a happy camper surrounded by lots of your tule friends, but if you’re struggling through them, fly rod in hand, feet in the muck leading to where you might find the river’s edge, it’s just not so good. Casting? No way. The only casts we got in were right next to the road.
Last summer, reporter Louis Sagahun from the Los Angeles Times penned:
“The largest river restoration ever attempted in the West — intended to support a cornucopia of wildlife and outdoor activities — has left a 62-mile stretch of the Lower Owens so overrun with cattails, cane and bulrushes that it may take decades to bring them under control.”
He was writing about the Lower Owens River Project, LORP for short, that began about six years ago when L.A. Department of Water and Power began putting more water into the river that it had diverted to Los Angeles Aqueduct since 1913.
It’s a shame to have the restoration project in full swing, as evidenced by the nifty explanatory signage about the project and a new, shiny access gate, and not be able to fish. Anybody got a lawn mover?
I’d skip this one until there’s a solution, possibly like the disabled fishing platform on the ponds outside Bishop.
Jumpin’, that is, everywhere except the eastern Sierra.
Who’s to blame for this atrocity?
Every summer, Bishop, Mammoth Lakes and environs are overrun with bait and fly fishermen, who want to catch as many naturals and plants as possible, from opening day in late April, until season’s end, Nov. 15. You’ll see them wade, float and paddle in the area’s lakes, rivers, streams and private waters. You’ll see them buying up as many worms, dry flies, nymphs and streamers as the sports and fly shops can carry. New expensive rods sell; flashy reels fly off the shelves; tippet and leaders; hemostats and non-felt-bottom boots. Bammo! It’s usually an injection of debit cards and cash for the summer economy.
So this year who’s to blame for fishing that can only be described by this writer as mediocre? That’s after three days on water from the C/R area of Rush Creek, to Hot Creek, to the C/R lower Owens.
Well, here’s the sad truch: It’s not actually who’s to blame, but what.
And that what is Mother Nature.
After a snowpack that was the best in years — 199 percent of normal — and a cool spring, the Tioga Pass, which connects Highway 395 to Yosemite’s eastern gate, finally opened Saturday, June 18. According to the Mammoth Times, Tuolumne Meadows still has a summer blanket of several feet of snow. Rivers are running at ridiculous levels. Maybe some visiting Hollywood producer will make a disaster movie about it in the vein of “2012.”
I mean when’s the last time a guide actually refunded your trip deposit, rather than take you out? It just happened to me.
My son and I watched the white caps on Hot Creek as the water tore through that wind-beaten canyon. You read that correctly — white caps.
So, if you’re headed up for your annual Sierra fix, better check the cfs numbers carefully. The same guide told me he didn’t expect normal flows until August. According to him, last year, which also had unusually heavy snowfall, July was the magical month.
Aside from private waters not affected by the torrent of water coming off the mountains, if you must fish (and if you’re like me, you must), try The Gorge, north of Bishop, off Highway 395. Any fly shop can give you exact directions.
Two cautions: it is hot as blazes — expect the high 90s or more — and an unfriendly plant called stinging nettle certainly will make you miserable if you brush against it. Access to the water is down a long, steep, gated road, which means you have to have something left in the tank for the 25-minute or so trudge back up. Long pants, yes; extra water, please, and sunscreen (try the new spray-on from Trader Joe’s. Good stuff.)
Even with the moderate water flows, fishing The Gorge is tough. We managed to catch several browns in several hours; the lengths were more Southern California average than the monsters you’ll find on any local fly fishing Web site. Much as I hate to write this, I probably wouldn’t do it again this season.
As the world’s most honest guide said to me as I signed for my refund, “You fellas are just here at the wrong time, hell, wrong season.”
Which is great news for thirsty Los Angeles after a string of drought years.