We’ve been counting down to the statewide general trout opener with a different feature to set up the scene. Well, today’s the day. Merry Fishmas! That’s the jargon they use in the Eastern Sierra, where several popular lakes and creeks will officially open for the busy spring/summer season for troutheads. We caught up with Jeff Simpson, economic development director for Mono County, for a preview of this fishing season in the high country:
Chris Cocoles What is the expectation for the trout opener this year?
Jeff Simpson Water levels will be the highest they’ve been in over four years, and with the addition of our increased stocking efforts, this year’s Mono County fishing opener on April 30 will be better than ever.
CC You never know about the weather at that time of year, as it could be snowing or sunny and warm. But will that really affect the trout bite one way or the other, besides the possibility of wind?
JS I’ve been fishing the Mono County opener on Bridgeport Reservoir my entire life. I’ve fished in a blizzard; I’ve fished in a tank top on a 70-degree day. The weather is definitely unpredictable, but I’ve always walked away having caught fish. It’s really the only thing that is predictable on opening day.
CC This winter’s rain and snow has been a big boost for the entire state. How healthy are the fisheries in Mono County now and has the drought had a big impact on them?
JS We’ve already seen a real boost in water levels from the weather patterns this winter, as most of the storms have directly hit Mono County. Jeffrey Wenger from Bridgeport Reservoir RV Park and Marina has already reported water being back at his marina as of (late February). You can expect all of your favorite lakes and marinas to be at normal levels for the opener, although depending on late winter/early spring storms, a couple of the reservoirs may still be lower than predrought levels. We will be posting live updates of water levels for all front-country fishing destinations on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/
CC What are some of your favorite fishing spots in Mono County?
JS Too many for me to list, but Crowley Lake, Owens River, Convict Lake, the June Lake Loop, Lundy Lake, the West Walker River, Bridgeport Reservoir and Twin Lakes, just to name a few.
CC Give us a couple of sleeper lakes or creeks that might not be known but can be productive for anglers who find them.
JS I always turn to one of my favorite hike-in locations: Kirman Lake off Sonora Pass. You will have to park your car and walk the dirt road to the lake, but it has some of the biggest brook trout anywhere in California.
CC Are there any new fly patterns that might be good producers this spring and summer?
JS It’s hard to say at this point, but you can’t go wrong with a Simi Seal leech pattern in any of the front-country lakes.
CC Your area is known for so many great fishing derbies. Can you share some details on these events?
JS All derbies are listed on our website at MonoCounty.org/events, but here are few classics:
April 30-June 16: Round-up at the Lake, Convict Lake Resort;
April 30: Monster Fish Contest, June Lake Loop;
July 1-31: How Big Is Big Fishing Derby, West Walker River;
August 13: Crowley Lake Stillwater Classic Fly Fishing Tournament. CS
Editor’s note: For more information on Mono County, check out mono.ca.gov or call (866) 745-9719.