This has been a whirlwind heck of a winter season

Views from Convict Lake today! (3/23/23) 🤩 The thaw has started near the marina with a small ice free section.
Photo Credit: Mono County Tourism - California's Eastern Sierra

by Doug Busey

Hello fellow anglers. This has been a whirlwind heck of a winter season. I have tried to get up to do some ice fishing, but I did not want to shovel eight feet of snow to find the lake to drill a hole in. I love fishing, but I am not that energetic to do so. The rivers have been blown out, and are too dangerous to even approach due to excessive water and the threat of landslides. Landslides have closed the Wilson Canyon area between Yerington and Wellington NV. Highway 89  has had closures just south of Markleeville CA. Now on top of all of that, highway 88 has had periodical closes due to avalanche controls. I have a feeling that the California opener is going to be a little late this year in the sierras. Most lakes and rivers will still be frozen, or have too much water flow. But on the brighter side, we will have plenty of water in our sierra to keep our lakes full and rivers flowing through until next fall. I spoke with fellow angler Scott Champion down in the June lake loop to get his perspective on their opening day scenario. He told me, the two year round fishing locations up here at our elevation are big time snowed in. Hot Creek requires an arduous snowshoe hike in and Benton Crossing Road that takes you to the Upper Owens is closed for who knows how long. If and when that opens there will still be a heck of a lot of snow to deal with probably until June.

Down Bishop way, at a lower elevation, the recent heavy rains have forced closures of access roads to the fishable waters, i.e. Lower Owens Wild Trout Section, creeks flowing through the foothills, the Owens and canals in and around Bishop. On top of that the rains have also muddied those locations up. With what could be a record run-off year conditions could remain poor for a while to come.

Opener outlook: The opening of the general fishing season is April 29th, “only” six weeks from this coming Saturday. So, with pure speculation, and not painting too bleak of a picture focusing on the June Lake Loop this is what we may see. With the snow that’s on the ground and the ice on the lakes now it could be a challenge to kick off the season depending on the weather and temps until then. Accessing the shorelines could be difficult and there may still be some ice to contend with. I’d say Gull Lake is the most questionable. In 2019, the last big snow year, the lake didn’t become ice-free until the week of Opener and the snowfall was less, coming earlier in the year. Silver Lake would be the next of most concern followed by June and Grant which are larger and more open to wind that helps break up the ice. We’re at about 7500’ here so anywhere else in the region that’s higher would be less likely to be fishable. If you’re planning that annual Opener Pilgrimage what can you do?  Well, start by hoping for a mild April! In about three weeks (when the picture may be a bit clearer) check in with the local tackle shops and marinas for current conditions for the June Lake loop area.

BRIDGEPORT RESERVOIR: I spoke with Chase from the Bridgeport Marina last week.  The lake is coming up nicely and with a good mild April. The marina will be ready for opening day. Fishing should be good with all of the holdovers from the last few years.

SILVER LAKE HIGHWAY 88 AREA:  The lake still has a ton of snow around it. I talked with a couple ambitious anglers that parked on the south side of the spillway and trudged out to do some ice fishing. They did get through the 3 foot thick ice. But said the fishing was very slow. The main parking and boat ramp area was not plowed at that time.

CAPLES LAKE:  Anglers have not been able to get out on the lake due to the amount of snow on it.

RED LAKE: The area behind the dam was plowed partially, but had an eight foot wall of snow between the parking area and the lake. No ice fishing reports.

INDIAN CREEK RESERVOIR: The paved road was plowed with one lane up to one half mile of the airport. The dirt road off of Diamond Valley was extremely muddy and only cleared a mile into the top of the peak. No fishing reports. I would recommend waiting a few weeks for the roads to clear out.

SPARKS MARINA:  The lake was planted last week with 5000 lbs of tiger and sheep creek strain trout.

TOPAZ LAKE: The water level has been fluctuating up and down a foot or so. The ramp is open to launch. The shore is clear for people to drive down to. Be careful where you venture down to, there are still a lot of slick muddy trails. NDOW planted the lake this week with over 3000 tiger trout. Trollers have been using flashers and a half crawler. Rapalas have also been productive. Look and seek out those schools. If you are not catching on the west side, head to the north end. Change up your depth and speed. I fished with Tom Blotter  a few weeks ago and we caught a dozen fish each, ranging 12 inches to 3 lbs.  Very important to keep changing your colors and presentation.

I wish I had better news to report. But I only report the facts and try to keep you updated, and especially safe. Good luck on your next fishing adventure. If you get a picture of your catch, send it to [email protected]. Hope to see you on the waters soon. 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.

Carson Now Reports
for Thursday, January 26th, 2023
: Alpine County Fishing Report
Silver Lake: Silver Lake Snow Update
Caples Lake: Caples has 5-10 feet of snow on top of it
Red Lake: Red Lake Snow Update
Indian Creek Reservoir: Indian Creek Reservoir Road Report
Topaz Lake: Topaz has risen about 5 to 8 feet