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EAST SIERRA TROUT SEASON COMES DOWN TO WIRE.

Byline: Brett Pauly Angling

Most creeks, rivers and lakes in the Eastern Sierra will be closed to trout fishing for the season on Halloween. But don't be too fearful: There are several productive options for fishing all through the winter.

First things first, however. While the general season remains open, some hot spots - from south to north - to consider within the next 10 days:

Crowley Lake: The scorching late-summer fly-fishing bite at angling's granddaddy of the Eastern Sierra has continued well into fall.

Dan Farris at Brock's Flyfishing Specialist in Bishop has heard of the trend. ``Real good,'' he said. ``And that can be r-e-e-l good, too.'' Drop a size No. 20 midge larval-pattern fly - either suspended under a strike indicator with a fly rod or below a bubble float with a spinning outfit - in McGee Bay or at the lake's northern neck, Farris said, and watch as rainbows from 12 to 16 inches or longer take the bait.

Overnight temperatures at Crowley might reach freezing, but daytime highs are ``balmy,'' in the 55- to 60-degree range.

George Lake: Despite the shorter days and cooler nights, the Mammoth Lakes Basin remains a fruitful producer, with George Lake spitting out more large fish than its brethren, according to Gary Hooper at Rick's Sports Center in Mammoth Lakes.

Trout Teaser tube gigs and night crawlers on bubble floats are doing the most damage, he said, raising some Alpers trout to 6 pounds that were planted during the summer. Fly-anglers might want to try brown and black woolly buggers.

Gull Lake: A 9-pound rainbow was taken Oct. 8 from shore on an inflated night crawler. Less than a week earlier, an 8-pound, 14-ounce bruiser 'bow was boated on a Trout Teaser that was cast and retrieved.

But the majority of Gull's bigger trout - often 4 to 5 pounds or more - have been trolled up early in the a.m. or late in the afternoon with streamer flies and hardware such as a frog- or bikini-pattern Needlefish or a bronze Triple Teaser.

Trolling isn't your thing?

``If you want to throw lures, do it in the afternoon when the fish are more active,'' advised Joe Moran of Ernie's Tackle and Ski Shop in June Lake. ``And bait-fishing is best during the day, when they're cruising and less active'' - and not apt to chase anything that's not absolutely tasty and presented in close proximity.

All of the other usual suspects in the June Lake Loop are providing fair numbers of trout, with June Lake itself especially notable for those trolling night crawlers with a flasher or lead-core line to specimens holding in deeper waters.

East Walker River: With Bridgeport Reservoir so-so and the Twin Lakes downright frigid to anglers, the best bet in the Bridgeport region is the East Walker, which has a bounty of late-season prizes for fly-anglers casting nymphs and streamer patterns.

The river, serving as the outlet to Bridgeport Reservoir, is flowing at a very fishable 90 cubic feet per second. (At the height of the season, the river can run at 700 CFS, or about 400 CFS over the comfort level for fly-fishing.)

``The fish are in obvious spots. You can wade the whole river. They are not real spooky or leader-shy because the water has a tea-colored stain to it and most fish are deep holding in pockets,'' said Jerry Abbott at Ken's Sporting Goods in Bridgeport.

Open all year

Of course, there all portions of the Eastern Sierra open for angling year-round.

The Owens Gorge, Pleasant Valley Reservoir and Lower Owens River outside of Bishop are exempt from seasonal restrictions.

Some pundits believe Pleasant Valley will produce a state-record brown trout - surpassing the 26-1/2-pound standard - now that float-tubing has been allowed and deeper waters can be targeted.

Three sites in Inyo County - Tinemaha Reservoir south of Big Pine; Diaz Lake, 2-1/2 miles south of Lone Pine, and Haiwee Reservoir, another 20 miles to the south - can be tackled throughout the entire calendar.

Tinemaha yields some large channel catfish in the spring. Diaz and Haiwee have been planted liberally with brood stock - trout often to gigantic proportions that have passed on their genetic heritage to at least two sets of offspring and have earned freedom as a reward for their services. The lake record at Diaz is a 14-pound rainbow, and seldom-pressured Haiwee is home to rainbows and browns, as well as smallmouth and largemouth bass, that dine on steady diets of crayfish.

Those who don't mind traveling farther north and doling out $12 for a single-day out-of-state license can consider hitting the Nevada side of the East Walker River out of Bridgeport. While catch and release is the law and only artificial lures of flies with single, barbless hooks are permitted, serious fly-anglers know the disco midge and other larval patterns can be deadly on the resident browns and rainbows.

WHO TO CALL

Want to squeeze in one last trout trip this year? For conditions and hot spots at major roadside lakes, call ahead to Eastern Sierra marinas:

Crowley Lake: (760) 935-4301.

Convict Lake: (800) 992-2260, (760) 934-3800.

June Lake Marina: (760) 648-7726

Big Rock Landing (June Lake): (760) 648-7717, (800) 769-9831

Gull Lake: (760) 648-7539.

Grant Lake: (760) 648-7964.

Silver Lake: (760) 648-7525.

Bridgeport Reservoir: (760) 932-7001, (760) 932-7735

Upper Twin Lake: (760) 932-7071.

Lower Twin Lake: (760) 932-7751, (800) 407-6153.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 21, 1999
Words:904
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