Purple mountain lupin with peaks in background


Mountain lakes mean fish, and lots of them.  Starting in mid April with the ‘fishing opener’ the fly rods and spinner rods get the dust swept off of them and get to see the sun again.  Of course, being true to it’s nature, we almost always have a snow storm on opening day so be prepared for 70 degree weather one day and snow the next. 

The first place to visit for any angler coming to the Eastern Sierra is the Hot Creek Fish Hatchery. With approximately 6 months of winter, one would not suppose that Mammoth Lakes would be an ideal place to raise fish. Hot Creek makes it so.  Hot Creek Geological Site is marvel to behold. With active magma 3 miles below the surface, you’ll see boiling water bubbling up through the creekbed, fumaroles and an occasional geyser eruption.  While this part of the creek is too hot to touch, the hatchery was built to gather water from up stream natural hot springs into a series of ponds and tanks so that they can maintain an average 60-68 degree water temperature before being released back into the creek. Perfect for raising fish, they grow Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Lahontan Cutthroat and Eagle Lake Trout before stocking the local lakes and streams in early April. 

A few musts before we go into places to experience.  Besides 2 free days (usually one in July and one in Sept) when you don’t need a fishing license, anyone 16 and older must have a license.  You can purchase either a 1,2 or 10 day license or an annual one if you’re determined to catch that big one.  You know, the one that you’ve been telling stories about all these years.  There are also rules and regulations such as daily bag and possession limitations depending on where you want to fish.  You can get these details here https://www.monocounty.org/things-to-do/fishing/fishing-rules-regulations/ 

So, now where should you go.  Between Bishop and June Lake alone there are an abundance of options.  You can hire a fishing guide if you choose or figure out what bait, lures and flies are working for others and what bodies of water anglers are having the best luck at by looking at one of the many fishing reports that are maintained.  Here is one… https://www.visitmammoth.com/eastern-sierra-fishing-report/ Some of my favorite locations just for the sheer beauty of the surrounding are Convict Lake, Mammoth Lakes Basin and the Upper Owens River.  Convict lake is just south of Mammoth lakes by about 7 minutes but is a amazing lake at the base of the stunningly colored Mount Morrison.  You can walk around the lake on a fantastic trail, rent a boat at their marina or bring your own.  Easily a place to spend the entire day.  The Mammoth Lakes Basin consists of 4 large lakes with 3 at the end of a fairly easy hike. This is going to be your most populated area consisting of multiple campgrounds, forest service cabins and marinas in abundance.  If you don’t mind walking along the shoreline a little you could probably find some spots of solitude or maybe rent a boat or kayak to get away from the crowds. If you are into fly fishing, the Upper Owens River is sure to be your jam.  Located off of Benton Crossing road just south of the airport, the river meanders through the sagebrush desert with the White Mountains on your East and the Eastern Sierra to your West.  Probably one of the most beautiful spots to experience.  After a full day walking the stream, stop by one of the natural hot springs in the area before heading home.  It’ll be a fantastic finish to one of your best days.

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