Opening Day Report

Photo Credit: Mono County Tourism - California's Eastern Sierra

by Doug Busey

Hello fellow anglers. Yes, it is that time of year for the California opening day fishing season. This year we actually will have an opening day. Last year with our excessive snow pack, we were not able to get on many rivers until mid summer due to runoff. But this year, you will have many choices to fish and recreate at. In Alpine county, you can fish the rivers in the morning and go ice fishing at Caples Lake in the afternoon. Speaking of ice fishing, we had a great time on Caples lake a couple weeks ago ice fishing with John Bartell and ABC 10. The show aired in California for a couple weeks. But for those that would like to see the show. You can go to the Bartells Backroads YouTube channel to watch the show. See how we pulled a 28" mackinaw out of 5.5' of ice and snow through an 8" hole.

Now as many know, the opening day fishing season starts on April 27th. This is when many rivers will change over to allow anglers to use bait as well as lures or flies with a daily keep limit of 5 trout.  I would also like to remind anglers that you can practice catch and release if done properly. Keep the fish wet and calm. Removing fish from water causes stress, suffocation, and possible internal injury. Provide proper support. Avoid removing fish from the support of the surrounding water any more than necessary. Support the fish in a landing net, or cradle the fish gently with one hand beneath the belly near the water surface. Treat the fish gently. Avoid squeezing tightly, which can damage internal organs and muscle tissue. Remember to never hold a fish by the gills. Use wet hands or gloves to handle fish. Wet hands or gloves will help reduce the loss of a fish’s protective mucus. Removing the Hook, Work quickly and calmly. Keep the fish in the water or hold it upside down to calm and relax the fish. This will make it easier to remove the hook. Use the right tool. Needle-nosed pliers, hemostats, and other hook removers are essential for quick and efficient hook removal. If necessary, leave the hook! If the fish is hooked deeply or the hook cannot be easily removed, then leave it. Cut your line as close to the hook as possible. Releasing Your Fish, Let the fish fully recover before releasing it. Hold the fish underwater, in an upright position or secured in the landing net. Make sure it’s ventilating before release—you should see the gills opening and closing. If the fish has difficulty regaining its strength, then face the fish into the current. The fresh oxygenated water can pass gently over the gills helping the fish “catch its breath.” Let it swim away on its own. Now if for any reason the fish cannot be revived. Take them back to your campsite and clean it for dinner.  There is no excuse for tossing a dying fish back into the river because you wanted a bigger fish or that you didn't know how to release properly. Because now you do. I also urge all anglers to check your regulation on each body of water you fish. There are areas that will continue to be catch and release or have special fishing or season regulations.  As you will see in my pre-opening day fishing report. One more thing to add and plan ahead of time. Right now we are having beautiful weather. But I have rarely seen an opening day that did not have some type of precipitation involved, either rain or snow. So make sure to bring warm clothes and maybe a canopy if you're tent camping.

CAPLES LAKE: The lake still has 4 ft of ice and snow on it, but is melting fast. John Bartell caught a nice 8 lb mackinaw jigging a 1/4 oz gold Kastmaster. The rainbow fishing was slow to nil. We tried various jigs, spoons and bait, with only a few bites. I give it until mid to end of May to be thawed out and ready to troll. The Caples Lake Resort is open for lodging and dining. For more information give them a call or stop by the resort..

WOODS LAKE: The road is still closed as of this week.

RED LAKE:  The lake is still covered in snow and ice and is thawing quickly.

BLUE LAKES: The road is open to the first gate.

BURNSIDE LAKE:  The road is still closed as of this week.

INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR: The lake level is still high, but is starting to get a little weedy in spots. The campground is closed due to wildfire. Fishing has been good to fair for anglers by the dam using powerbait or inflated nightcrawlers. BLM is almost finished with the guardrail along the dirt road.  I would recommend using the paved road if you venture in. The dirt road is a head shaker full of bumps and ruts, but passable. There has been no blue green algae detection as of this week.

TOPAZ LAKE: The lake level has fluctuated a foot or two. The fishing has still been fair from shore for anglers using powerbait or mini nightcrawlers. Trolling has been good to very good on the north and north west side with Needlefish or Rapalas. Flashers and worms have also been productive for catchable rainbows. Boaters beware of floating debris on the lake. The Douglas County campground is open with some hookups. The unimproved camping along the shore has limited space due to high waters.

WEST FORK CARSON RIVER ALPINE COUNTY:  The river has been flowing at 225 cfm and is open to catch and release with artificial lure and flies w/barbless hooks until April 27. The Alpine County F&G has planted the river with 900 lbs of 1 to 3 lb rainbows. for more information stop by the Creekside Lodge.

EAST FORK CARSON RIVER ALPINE COUNTY: The river has been flowing at 650 to 800 cfm and is open to catch and release with artificial lures or flies w/barbless hooks until April 27th.  This is where you check the special regulations, because on the 27th above Hangman's bridge. The regulations change to a 5 fish limit with bait allowed. Below the bridge is open to a limit of two fish  14 inches or larger, with artificial lures or flies only w/barbless hooks. Last fall, the Alpine F&G planted the river with 1500 lbs of 2 to 5 lb rainbows after the season changed. They have now added 500 lbs of rainbow as of this week.  The Carson River resort is open for tent camping by the river as well as cabins and full RV hookups, firewood and propane. The general store is fully stocked for the items you need, or forgot to bring. They will be taking pictures of lucky anglers for their book of fame as well as the Naw hall of fame to be pictured  here in this report. For more information call or stop by the Carson River Resort.

MARKLEEVILLE CREEK: The flows have been running good and the water clear. Open to catch and release, artificial lures or flies w/barbless hooks until April 27th. The Alpine County F&G has planted 250 lb of 1 to 3 lb rainbows this week. Be respectful of private property in the area.

SILVER CREEK ALPINE COUNTY:  The flows have been running clear but may muddy up a little with runoff. open to catch and release with artificial lures and flies w/barbless hooks until April 27th. The Alpine County F&G has planted 150 lbs of 1 to 3 lb rainbows this week.
June Lake Loop area: As of now, June and Grant Lakes (except Upper Grant above the Narrows) are ice free. Gull and Silver Lakes are iced over but expected to be clear for the Opener. The sooner the lakes clear the more active the fish will be.

PLEASE NOTE: Rush Creek is not open to fishing until the Saturday before Memorial Day! June lake loop monster trout contest: This annual Opening Day event centers mainly around Ernie’s Tackle and Ski Shop in “Downtown” June Lake with help from local businesses and individuals. Details will be posted throughout The Loop with more info available by calling Ernie’s at 760)648-7756. Basically, with no registration required, you just show up and fish any of the four Loop lakes, get your catch weighed in at a marina or Ernie’s, then attend the ceremony at the end of the day at Ernie’s. With multiple categories including kids there’s a good chance of carrying off an award and/or prize. That ceremony is a real hoot and something you don’t want to miss!

Trout Waters (available online only) for specifics as it can be a bit tricky. Here’s a few examples: Upper Owens River above Benton Crossing Bridge: Barbless flies and lures only, catch and release, open all year. Hot Creek: Barbless flies only, catch and release, open all year. Rush Creek below Grant Lake to Mono Lake: Barbless flies and lures only, catch and release, open all year. After those changes in the regs there are many creeks in the area that are open before and after the general season usually becoming barbless flies and lures only, catch and release in certain locations. Again, for example: Parker Creek below Parker lake goes to barbless flies and lures only, catch and release. Keep in mind that accessibility to any local creeks may be limited depending on how much snow is on the ground.

Here’s a few quirks to those changes in the regs: Rush Creek between Silver and Grant Lakes, Convict Creek below the UC Study Area, and McGee Creek below Highway 395 are only open from the Saturday before Memorial Day through September 30th.

BRIDGEPORT RESERVOIR: The lake level is up to the airport level, and the Bridgeport Marina is open for launching and mooring. If you do not have a boat, they have various sized boat rentals.. They offer RV camping with full hookups. They have a few canvas tents right on the lake. The BFEF ( Big Fish Enhancement Foundation) has planted 200 lbs of trophy trout and Mono County planted 500 lbs of catchable rainbow trout. For more information call or stop by the Bridgeport Marina.

UPPER TRUCKEE RIVER-TAYLOR CREEK-TROUT CREEK: All located on the south end of Lake Tahoe are not open to fishing until the Saturday before Memorial weekend. Then it is only open to catch and release with artificial lures and flies w/barbless hooks.
Monitor Pass is open. Cal/Trans is working to open Ebbetts Pass by the 27th. Check the Cal/Trans website for updates.

NDOW FISH PLANTS: West Walker river (Wilson Canyon) East Walker River (by the elbow), Mith Pond, Baily Pond, Davis Creek, Wall Canyon, Wilson Common Pond, Seeman Pond.

Good luck on your next fishing adventure. I hope to see you on the waters for opening day. If you get a picture of your catch. Send it to [email protected]. Good fishin' and tight lines

Good luck on your next fishing adventure. If you have a question. a report in our local fishing area or have a photo of your catch, send it to [email protected]. Hope to see you on the waters. Good fishin' and tight lines.

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