Preparing For A Snowy Fishmas Opener

This April 11 photo shows Crowley Lake still containing ice cover. (CDFW)

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

While the eastern Sierra trout season opener is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year, the record snowpack of 2023 will be a major factor on which lakes and streams are accessible. As of April 25, many waters including the very popular Crowley Lake still have extensive ice cover.

The 2023 opener starts Saturday, April 29 one hour before sunrise. Thousands of California and non-resident anglers are known to visit the wide open spaces of the eastern Sierra on opening day weekend to enjoy great fishing, amazing views, family tradition and camaraderie.

Fishing experiences this year are likely to be different. As of April 14, the California Department of Water Resources shows the snowpack as 208 percent of normal in the northern Sierra, 241 percent in the central Sierra and 314 percent in the southern Sierra. Only a handful of lakes are expected to be open due to wintry conditions and public safety concerns. Rivers and streams are flowing at higher rates, shore ice may be a concern and historical access points may not be accessible. Some access roads are closed, flooded or washed out. CDFW recommends anglers planning to fish in either Mono or Inyo counties call ahead to determine which recreation areas are impacted by ongoing snow conditions.

On a positive note, CDFW hatcheries have recovered from previous disease issues and are running at near capacity. A full season of bi-weekly stocking of lakes and streams is anticipated as they become accessible. Stocking schedules are available at fish planting schedule(opens in new tab).

Current fishing conditions are available by calling local visitors centers, chambers of commerce, sporting goods stores and resorts. Current road conditions for the two counties are available at Mono County roads(opens in new tab) and Inyo County roads(opens in new tab). The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power also has current access information available at LADWP Access Information(opens in new tab). CDFW reminds anglers that while ice fishing is legal, it can be very hazardous. All safety precautions should be utilized when attempting to access fish through the ice.

Every fishing season, anglers are also advised to check specific area regulations and opening dates at 2023 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations (PDF)(opens in new tab). All anglers 16 and older must possess a valid California sport fishing license to fish within state boundaries, which can be purchased at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website(opens in new tab) or through a licensed sales agent(opens in new tab).