Eastern Sierra winter trout are in spring form with Opener around the corner

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LOWER OWENS REWARD— Bob Coffman from Camarillo took this quick shot and then released his catch that took a nightcrawler on the Lower Owens below Highway 6. He estimated the weight at 6 to 8 pounds.
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BY ERNIE COWAN

MAMMOTH LAKES—Snow continues to accumulate at higher elevations in the Eastern Sierra, but lower levels are clear and winter trout are biting like it’s the general season.

There may be a few more late season storms sweeping the high country, but at this point it looks like not much will stick.

And, there is lots of good news for those eager anglers waiting to enjoy another opening day Fishmas in the Sierra.

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Crowley Lake is wide open, free of ice and docks are already in place for the opening day surge.

One caution at Crowley, however.

The staff there has advised the lake is completely full.

This means there will be limited camping, parking and storage on opening weekend because most usable shoreline is underwater.

“Camping at the South Landing will only include our RV Park, Whiskey Bay, and Beaver Cove. No shoreline camping at the Marina or in Hilton Bay,” according to Crowley Lake Fish Camp media release.

Due to the limited space, the Whiskey Bay dry camp will be by reservation instead of the usual first-come basis.

Beaver Cove will have the only walk in camping, and it is recommended you do not bring rigs over 25 feet.

Reservations are now open at crowleylakefishcamp.com.

The Forest Service also plans to open several campgrounds, including Tuff Campground, French Camp, and McGee Creek, and sites can be reserved at recreation.gov.

We also got this note from guide Chris Leonard who attended a recent DFW meeting in Bishop.

“I’d like to positively report that it looks like the local Eastern Sierra fisheries branch will begin to more aggressively collect data from anglers. Data no doubt will drive stocking,” Leonard said.

DFW plans to launch “E-Creels” at Crowley Lake with anglers asked to log into a website to report daily angling activity.

“The goal is to roll this same system of data collection out throughout the Eastern Sierra and to other fisheries, hopefully as soon as 2025,” Leonard said.

Those at the meeting also learned that stocking this season at Crowley will exceed fish numbers not seen since 2020.

“I feel good about what I heard,” Leonard said.

Other big Sierra news comes from Bishop Creek Canyon where Jared Smith announced that his family is selling Parchers Resort.

“My parents are in New Hampshire and feel it’s time to retire. I will continue to operate Lake Sabrina,” he said.

Parchers is a popular mountain retreat in the South Fork of Bishop Canyon. The resort also operates South Lake Landing.

“This is such a special place, and we are really excited for whoever becomes the new owner,” Smith said. “We are not rushing the process, because we want to find the right buyer who will continue the legacy of the operation.”

The Smith family has owned the facility since 2006.

Anyone interested in Parchers Resort can request additional information at SmithSierraProperties@gmail.com.

Winter fishing in the Sierra continues to improve as things warm up and insect hatches take off.

The wild trout section of the Lower Owens continues to be a hotspot. Fly-fishers are enjoying a mid-day Mayfly hatch that lasts a couple of hours.

There are still some Crowley trophy rainbows lurking in the Upper Owens and the successful anglers are covering lots of water, focusing on deep holes and cut banks.

Road conditions are currently good and flows remain at ideal levels.

Access to Hot Creek is good and the dry fly action at the Interpretive Site has been energetic.

While there are days when the trout consistently take dry flies in the canyon section of Hot Creek, nymphing continues to be the most productive method of fly fishing the creek. Pressure has been light.

Bridgeport Reservoir is full and ice-free for the opener.

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