CROWLEY REGULATIONS LOOSENED.
The fishing regulations governing the Crowley Lake system have mutated again this year, spawning a whole new creature.
With only one exception, every tributary to Crowley Lake has new regulations for opening day. That's the bad news.
The good news is that the Department of Fish and Game has - in the case of the most heavily fished water - liberalized the regulations to allow for greater harvest of the trout by anglers.
The most dramatic change is in the fishing regulations for the Upper Owens River, from Crowley Lake past Big Springs to Highway 395.
This year, the river from Benton Crossing downstream to Crowley Lake will be open to all forms of fishing, with no gear restrictions and a five-trout limit.
Upstream from Benton Crossing, the river will have a new maximum size limit of 16 inches, with only two fish allowed in the angler's bag. Artificial lures with barbless hooks are still required on this stretch.
Last year, the Owens River was restricted to artificial lures, and anglers could keep only two fish over 18 inches the entire season. The intent of the regulations was to protect spring-spawning rainbows and fall-spawning brown trout from angler harvest and to increase the number of larger river fish in the system throughout the year.
The small Crowley tributaries are open to fishing for the first and last months of the fishing season (opening Saturday through May 24, and again from Oct. 1 to 31), under a two-fish, 18-inch minimum size, barbless-artificials-only rule. They have regular district regulations the rest of the year (five-fish, no gear restrictions).
The tributaries under this rule are: Convict Creek, from the University of California study area just upstream from Highway 395 all the way down to Crowley; on McGee Creek, downstream from Highway 395 to the lake; and on Hilton and Whiskey creeks downstream from Old Highway 395 to Crowley.
Last year, Hilton and Whiskey had these special regulations only from new Highway 395 downstream, but the DFG extended the special regulations upstream on these creeks for this year to give the spawners in these smaller creeks greater protection.
Also this year, the DFG opened Crooked Creek upstream from the gauging station just above Highway 395 to catch-and-release fishing only with barbless hooks for the entire year. In the past, Crooked Creek was closed until Memorial Day weekend and then open under general fishing regulations until Sept. 30, when it closed again. The Rock Creek Diversion Channel, which enters Crooked Creek just below the gauging station, is closed to all fishing.
Crowley itself will be open to fishing from opening day through July 31 with a five-trout limit and no gear restrictions. From Aug. 1 to Oct. 31, it will be restricted to artificials-only and have a two-fish, 18-inch minimum size limit.
The special regulations, along with habitat improvement projects on Convict and McGee, have increased the percentage of wild fish caught in Crowley fairly significantly, according to Curtis Milliron, DFG fishery biologist in Bishop.
Of the holdover-sized fish - those 16 to 18 inches and larger coveted by Crowley anglers - about 25 percent have been naturally spawned in Crowley tributaries and survived a couple of seasons in the lake.
That is a fairly substantial number when you consider that Crowley is typically planted with 400,000 4- to 6-inch trout (called subcatchables) each fall. Most of those fish turn into 12-inch trout by opening day the following spring. This past year, Crowley was planted with its usual allotment of subcatchables - and about 700,000 tiny fingerlings, many of which likely fell prey to birds or other fish.
The regulations are complex, but the aggressive stocking and management regime at Crowley and its tributaries has made this water system one of the finest trout fisheries in the entire West.
Photo: (1-2-3-4--color) Crowley Lake, above, is free ofice and at a healthy level for Saturday's Eastern Sierra trout season opener. Below right, the East Walker River's fishing regulations are posted. Below, Randy Solorio, an employee of Mono Village Boat House and Marina at Upper Twin Lake, near Bridgeport, updates registration tags on the facility's rental boats. Below left, Convict Lake Marina employees Jason Moeller, left, and Dennis Commack prepare a boat for the big day.
Brett Pauly / Daily News
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Apr 25, 1996|
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