BY ERNIE COWAN
BRIDGEPORT—Despite a brutal winter that was even worse here than most places in the Eastern Sierra, Bridgeport area waters put on a great show and produced some fantastic fish for opening day anglers.
One of those smiling big was Isiah Loy from Sylmar who landed a beefy 6.6-pound rainbow on opening day while fishing from The Point at Lower Twin Lake.
Bridgeport Reservoir was one of the few places in the Eastern Sierra free of ice and the popular nearby Twin Lakes had lots of open water ready for Fishmas.
Bridgeport Reservoir was packed with boats on opening day, but Judy Bauer at Bridgeport Marina said it was generally slow for the boat anglers.
Water levels were still low at Bridgeport Reservoir and that prevented boat launching from the Marina as well as access to some traditional hot spots such as Rainbow Point. But the area near the dam known as the Bathtub was free of snow, allowing boats to be launched from there.
The best action at the Reservoir was from shore, where a number of 3- to 5-pound fish were caught, including a few tagged rainbows that were checked in at Ken’s Sporting Goods. There were also some Sacramento perch in the mix, and that’s unusual early in the season in colder water.
Bauer said in addition to the very low lake level, the water is currently muddy, but that should clear up soon as water levels rise.
“I think we will see clear water and the level rise enough so we can use the marina for boats in the next two weeks,” Bauer said.
Campgrounds are also open at the Marina and they were full on opening weekend.
Jim Reid at Ken’s Sporting Goods said that anglers who were catching fish used a range of baits with the most successful being Rapalas, nightcrawlers and PowerBait.
He echoed Bauer’s comments about shore anglers doing better than the boat anglers.
Like most openers, there were those who did well and those who got skunked, but overall, you could call Bridgeport area waters the Fishmas Glory Hole for 2023.
For the long haul, expect a great season at the reservoir with plenty of both DFW stockers and Bridgeport Fish Enhancement Foundation trophy rainbows, excellent water levels and cooler waters.
Both Upper and Lower Twin Lakes saw lots of action on opening weekend. In fact, WON doesn’t have enough room to run photos of all the beautiful fish that were caught there.
Conditions were iffy only a few days before the opener, but a warming weather trend cleared lots of ice, providing anglers with open water for shore fishing and plenty of room for boaters.
“There was lots of great action from shore. Most people had their limits early,” said Misti Sullivan at Twin Lakes Resort on Lower Twin.
While there was still too much ice to effectively troll, she said a few hardcore trout hunters with larger boats were trolling the ledges.
A few small browns were caught, but the legendary, double-digit trophy browns stayed hidden opening weekend. As waters clear of ice, but stay chilly, the Brown Baggers will likely be out in force, hoping for that new state brown trout record that many suspect lurk in one or both of the Twin Lakes.
One of the biggest fish WON found from the Bridgeport area was a 5-pound, 14-ounce rainbow caught at Upper Twin Lake by an angler only identified as Shawn. He was working a Gulp! Worm when the hungry rainbow took the bait.
Despite limited open water, the fish at Upper Twin were apparently just as anxious as the anglers, and the result was dozens for 3- to 5-pound fish being caught, in addition to the pan-sized stockers.
While there were some nice trout caught on lures, PowerBait seemed to be the best bet on the first day of the season.
Look for the fishing to pick up in Robinson Creek once flows begin to pick up as snow melt continues.
Bridgeport area waters are well stocked with both DFW rainbows and trophy fish through the Bridgeport Fish Enhance Foundation and the Twin Lakes Trout Stocking Program.
High flows will mean creeks will be scoured and that’s healthy. Add continued stocking of trophy rainbows, and more water over the summer, and anglers should expect this to be one of the better trout fishing seasons overall in years.
The East Walker is a legendary trout water, but this year the high flows essentially blew it out for opening weekend.
“There were a few anglers who braved the high water yesterday, and a couple of them were even able to hook up and land a fish or two,” Reid said about opening day. “But it was very difficult with the high flow, so they searched out some wider, calmer water to try and had limited success.”
The largest fish reported from the East Walker was an 18-inch rainbow taken with a streamer.
“This type of flow is definitely not for everyone. If you do venture down there, be extremely careful wading as it will be very dangerous,” Reid warned.
The West Walker produced few reports from opening weekend anglers.
Reid said flows are extremely high and muddy.
“These conditions will likely last more than a month,” Reid said.
Virginia Lakes is traditionally an opening weekend hot spot, often offering ice fishing. Sadly, the snow load prevented the roads being cleared in time for Fishmas and WON has had no reports from anglers who may have hiked or taken snowmobiles into the area to fish.
Additionally, ice thickness may have exceeded 10 feet or more, which would have made augering extremely difficult.
While there was no access for the opener, this means Memorial Day visitors can expect spring-like conditions and an active bite. Both Big and Little Virginia Lakes hold some monster trout that typically bite early in the season.