|Going into the 2013 season, all signs point to another banner year for Eastern Sierra trout anglers with more on the upside than the downside.
On the upside, conditions should be ideal going into the summer months. Unlike many past years, early season anglers won't be battling soggy conditions and lingering snow and ice.
This winter began with near record early snowfall in December — and that was it. January, February and March saw a major reversal ending up in the record book as the driest recorded for that period. Going into April the snowpack averaged around 50 percent of normal and was declining.
Early access will be the norm for many locations that are often times "frozen in" until early to mid June. High-elevation passes, Tioga, Sonora and Monitor are projected to be open by Memorial Day if not earlier. Going into April it was hard to locate any lake at 8,000-feet and lower that was holding any ice.
The majority of Forest Service campgrounds will be open and dry. The first week in April saw the docks in the water at Crowley Lake Fish Camp.
Western Outdoor News Coverage: As always, weekly coverage of the Sierra by WON will continue after the huge blowout coverage by several staffers opening day weekend.
On the downside, there will be a short early season ice fishing scenario with conditions questionable at the high-elevation waters. Lake levels are predicted to hold at good levels, similar to last year, until late summer, with a marked decline late in the summer.
There will be no shortage of trout. Early season, because of the warmer water temperatures, will see active feeding.
I took an evening drive by Grant Lake from my home in Lee Vining last week. The shoreline along the road was alive with fish feeding on an onset hatch. It looked like July instead of March.
Information from the Department of Fish and Wildlife is all accessible waters will be stocked before the opener. Projections are numbers will be equal to or a little higher than last year.
Inland Aquaculture's Alpers trout operation is in high gear after experiencing ideal winter trout growing conditions. Look for the heavyweights being stocked funded by Mono County's and The Town of Mammoth Lakes Fishing Enhancement Programs along plants destined for Inyo County waters adjacent to county campgrounds.
In addition, privately funded Alpers rainbow are earmarked for several lakes in Mono County and some waters in the high country above Bishop.
Crowley Lake anglers will again be required to have their boats certified Quagga Mussel free. Pre-opening day inspections will be in operation at the Von's grocery parking lot a short distance north of Bishop and at the Crowley Lake Fish Camp.