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HAIWEE IS FISHING GETAWAY.

Byline: Dave Strege Orange County Register

Bob Hayner gazed at his favorite fishing hole and reveled over the fact hardly anyone stops here to fish.

``What really impresses me is how quiet it is,'' he said. ``You have all the room in the world to fish. You're not elbow to elbow.

``We've been here before and never saw another fisherman, and we knew there were others fishing. You feel like you're out in the middle of nowhere.''

That's because at Haiwee Reservoir, you are in the middle of nowhere.

But Haiwee (pronounced HAY-wee) is hardly a hideaway. It is in clear view from Highway 395 between Olancha and Lone Pine, about 170 miles north of the San Fernando Valley.

Thousands of anglers headed for the Eastern Sierra pass this tantalizing body of water east of the highway and wonder whether any fish swim there.

Certainly, it looks good enough to fish, what with rocky points and dead trees providing plenty of cover along the shoreline.

Well, looks aren't deceiving. Haiwee actually is two reservoirs, each of which is about 3-1/2-miles long by one-half mile wide. It has smallmouth and largemouth bass, rainbow and German brown trout and lots of carp, too.

The reservoir opened to the public only two years ago, this after being closed - illegally - since 1950 by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

``I knew about the lake as an employee,'' Hayner said. ``I was told employees could fish it but nobody else. I was amazed by that but didn't question it.''

After leaving the DWP in 1980, Hayner, like so many other locals, would sneak into the reservoir to fish. In 1989, he learned from a Department of Fish and Game warden it should be open.

Hayner was told to look at the 1950 grant deed for the property the state sold to the DWP. He did. It noted the public has the absolute right to fish there, in accordance with the state constitution.

Neither the DFG nor Inyo County supervisors were going to risk the cost of going to court to get it open, Hayner said. So the project became his.

Hayner and another Lone Pine resident, Francis Pedneau, formed the Owens Valley Warm Water Fishing Association and, in 1990, fished Haiwee, seeking a confrontation with DWP.

Two weeks later, a reservoir caretaker confronted them.

``I said I was exercising my constitutional right, and I wasn't going to leave,'' Pedneau said.

A DFG game warden and a sheriff's deputy were called in, but no arrests were made. Both officials were members of the fishing association and knew no law was broken.

``It's always been closed, so that's the way the department operated, until someone brought it to our attention,'' DWP spokesman Chris Plakos said. ``Our attorneys said, `They're right,' so we opened it.''

Environmental impact studies were completed and Haiwee opened in April 1994. It is open year-round and can be fished by float tube or from shore. No boats are allowed, and anyone wading must wear waders.

``You only have four access points, then you have to do an awful lot of walking or biking,'' Hayner said. ``There's a lot of people who don't come because of that.''

But it can be worth the effort.

From 1990 to '93, Hayner and Pedneau caught, tagged and released more than 3,000 bass a year, mostly smallmouth.

Plastic crawdads work best. The place is crawling with crayfish.

``It's the rare occasion we don't exceed 25 or 30 bass in a day,'' Hayner said.

Last weekend, an angler from Orange County told Hayner he and a buddy had caught some 40 largemouth bass, the majority in the 1- to 3-pound range with the biggest tilting the scales at about 8 pounds. They also landed a couple of rainbows to 4 pounds and a 6-1/2-pound brown.

Haiwee, connected with the Los Angeles Aqueduct (over the past 80 years, 70 percent of the water used by Los Angeles has come through the reservoir), might sound like a can't-miss fishery, but not everybody gets fish.

``People think they can walk up and cast and they're going to get a bite, but that's not what happens,'' Hayner said. ``You have to get out here and work. It took us a while to figure it out before we got it. We even tried nightcrawlers. Even at Castaic Lake, I was out all day and got only one fish - and I was with a guide.

``But if anybody is willing to come up and devote some time and energy and try different lures, they'll find it's a very productive fishery.''

MEMO: For more information on Haiwee Reservoir or the Owens Valley Warm Water Fishing Association, call Bob Hayner at (619) 876-5402 or (619) 876-8334.

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

Photo: (1) An angler casts off from the shore of HaiweeReservoir, located about 170 miles north of Los Angeles.

(2) Trees along shore provide ideal fishing spot for float-tubing Francis Pedneau of Lone Pine.

Dave Strege / Orange County Register
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 20, 1996
Words:837
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