Always good to bring reading material along if the fish aren’t biting.
By Chris Leonard
Politics. What a potential waste of my cognitive time and precious energy. Especially local politics, in a town like this, when I could be beating myself up at Hot Creek over what correct size mayfly to pitch.
The true politics of our small mountain community seem so geared to people who … don’t fish; so many questions spinning around about the direction of the future of our great town. How are we going to balance the budget? Attract new sources of tourism revenue? Create jobs? Knock down all the old, ugly buildings in town that look like “the same s$%t that was here in the 80s and put up new ones? Honestly, who gives an inflated nightcrawler?
Come to think of it, I’m aware of eight locals who were brave enough to put their names in the hat as candidates for Town Council, putting their egos on the line to see how much support the voting population of this town has to respectively offer. To me, running for council in Mammoth is like putting on a faux, felt deer outfit on the opener of rifle season and running around the forest. Someone is going to take a shot at you, and someone else might actually hit. Wendy learned this one the hard way, as I understand Lunch himself has her rack mounted above his fireplace.
Editor’s note: I’m not sure what the above line is supposed to mean, but I find it disturbing on multiple levels.
Yes, if that doesn’t define for you the chances of the name Chris Leonard ever being found on any ballot, I guess nothing will. So while I’ll never run for office, I was quite curious of the perception of angling among the political hopefuls. I didn’t ask them anything that most people would find important, questions such as how each candidate will get Randy Schienle and Steve Searles to finally kiss and make up, but rather the following four inquiries in regard to angling:
1. What is your favorite fishery in the Eastern Sierra and why?
2. What is your favorite bait/lure/fly in the Eastern Sierra and why?
3. If you could be any fly in the fly fishing world, which one would you be, and why?
4. Anything additional you would like to add about fishing.
The following answers should hopefully help you make an informed, well-educated decision on Judgment Day, June 8:
We’re starting with Allen “Wyld Water Tygrrr” Blumer.” I like this guy. He’s got balls. I mean, I’ve never seen any political candidate completely change their tactics mid-campaigning from talking about the bigger picture issues to asking everyone in town, “Dude, who’s got my hat?” It’s sweet!
1. Extreme headwaters, especially at the tree line, where you can hop across the crick but you can catch MONSTERS in some of the deep pools!!!
2. I like to actually go up with nothing but line on a spool, barbless hooks, and make my own pole out of willow or aspen, and use small rocks for weight, and then use whatever natural critters I can scavenge for bait!! Mayflies, hellgrammites (water tigers!!), locusts, grasshoppers, June Bugs, periwinkles, grubs, wood ants, etc.
3. Gad(about)Fly!!! Always seeking for fun and, according to Webster’s Unabridged, “Rousing people out of their complacency”!! Voter apathy sucks… If you don’t vote NOW, Don’t complain later!! REGISTER AND DO IT!!!
4. I would like to see TOML invest in our own hatcheries so that we can stock the creeks in and around our town for Town Kids’ derbies, and also the local lakes, and have more and expansive fishing tourneys. We cannot afford to wait and hope that DFG/USFS/CDF or any of the other state/fed guys provide us with stock… We need to insure that Mammoth continues to be one of the prime world destination fishing vacation areas!!
Next on the list is Tony Barrett. I ran into Tony at The Sheet’s 7th B-day party and told him I’d go easy on him. He said don’t bother, that I could completely rip him apart. Not being the type to refuse such an offer, I really think Tony could seal this deal if he changed his official campaign name after one of the characters in The Simpsons. I mean, how sweet would it be if some anglers were encroaching my space on the Owens this summer, and I could tell them with an Italian accent, “Hey, I voted for Fat Tony. You-aaahhh need me to give him a call there, maestro?” That’d be bad ass. As for his angling practices:
1. Hot Creek because of the proximity to town. I find it enjoyable to watch the visiting kids and their families as they throw the fish food in the runway and watch the fish jump out of the water in their ‘boil.’ Seeing the expressions on their faces is priceless. Hot Creek Fish Hatchery also offers tours that are very educational for our children and adults. Hot Creek Hatchery is an incredible asset to Mammoth Lakes and the Eastern Sierra, after all, our hatcheries make up for approximately 70 percent of all the fish stocked in California. Now if you desire an incredibly beautiful and scenic hatchery then Mt. Whitney is a must-see. (Note from author to Tony… THANKS for the tip… I’m gonna start guiding clients at the Hatchery, and when DFG asks me what the hell I’m doing, I’ll look up my mafia connections.)
2. I’m a bait fisherman; I don’t fly fish but understand it’s an incredible experience. For bait fishing, I prefer using Rainbow Sherbet Powerbait or Salmon Eggs. They make your hands stink, but you catch great fish with them. For a lure, I use a German Brown Rapala. They look like little tiny fish. They’re available in all different sizes and look like they’re swimming when you reel them in. For that special lucky lure, I use a Panther Martin. It’s black with yellow spots, what a catch it makes for!
3. I’m assuming you’re talking about fly fishing catch and release. I would only be a barbless hook or fish safe catch and release fly rig.
4. The Annual Children’s Fishing Festival held in Mammoth Lakes is an absolutely wonderful starting point to teach our young children and youth the values and sport of fishing. This event also shows single mom and dads and families that fishing is an economical family sport. It shows them how economical it is to come to Mammoth for a family fishing vacation, not once, but many times during the season. It also creates a venue for families to share their time together. After they learn the sport and values of fishing, they then can take their families on day hikes along the creeks and fish. When my nephews were younger, I would walk them up and down the creek fishing. I found that young kids get antsy just sitting on the banks of the lakes and walking up and down the creek makes it more interesting for them. My grandfather would bring us up to Mammoth every fishing season, my first year was 1957, but he had been coming here for many years before. We’d spend a week fishing Mono County and the Lakes Basin here in Mammoth, fond family memories I wish for all of our fishing visitors to have in their lifetime.
The next response came from dear Kirk Stapp. I taught with Kirk at the high school before he retired, and I really like the guy. But I never knew he utilizes his guerrilla war tactics on Bambi. Kirk, I’ve shot deer, too. And, downed it with one bullet. And, ate it. But, what’s with the violin piece your offering me???
“About 20 years ago, I was deer hunting. This tiny buck came out of a thicket of trees and a group of six guys began banging away at it. The deer was probably hit four or five times. Most of its meat was messed up. I was disgusted. When I got home that morning, I took the trash out and there was a stringer of fish in the dumpster, rotting, going to waste. I stopped hunting and fishing. I now feed the ducks and fish in the pond outside my house (Snowcreek IV).
“I still believe in wildlife management and fishing (and education), but I stopped. I love the kids’ fishing festival, watching the young kids catching their first fish–and the fish being cleaned, and sent home to be eaten. Unfortunately, I still find fish in Snowcreek IV’s dumpster after the kids fishing festival.
“I still have a dozen guns in the house (I still like shooting) and one fishing pole. I also bought three raffle tickets to go fishing with Chris Leonard, he’s supposed to be a fishing guide. If I win, I just might go fishing.” (Note to Kirk: Let’s get you that winning ticket next time!)
Never got a response from Rick Wood. Matt Lehman was first to respond though, straight and to the point:
1. Ice fishing early season on Lake Mamie. I like the local lakes as they are beautiful and easy to get to.
2. Thomas Buoyant (orange) or Trout Teaser.
3. I would want to be a homemade Woolly Bugger (made by me) while fishing on a lake. Reason: I wouldn’t likely get eaten, as I couldn’t tie a fly to save my life.
4. Best day of fishing was off of my snowmobile on Lake Mamie, caught a 7-pound Alpers on my first cast of the season. I also love deep sea fishing and spend a bit of time in East Cape, Mexico.
Fair enough. For those of you wondering whether or not to cast a vote for Dawn Vereuck, I think we’ve found what makes her tickle:
1. My favorite place to fish is the Lakes Basin, specifically, Lake Mamie because that was my Grandma’s name. And my favorite time of year is from fishing opener until they open the road to cars. My boyfriend and I walk in with a picnic lunch complete with a couple of bottles of wine. Often times we do not see one other person up there during this time of year. It makes for a great day.
2. My favorite lure is the Rainbow Thomas Bouyant because it is shiny and pink.
3. If I could be a fly, it would be the Woolly Bugger because the name makes me giggle.
4. On a serious note, fishing is extremely important to Mammoth and Mono County. Many do not realize the economic impact the fishing industry has on our community and how vital it is. It is imperative we make education and preservation a priority in this region for future generations.
I love chicks that fish. Along with Dawn, I had to solicit a response from Sharon Clark:
“My favorite fishery in the Eastern Sierra is Crowley … ‘cause that’s where the ‘big’ fish are; however, the ones I caught were just under the limit so I had to release. Our good friend Jim Jeffery had us arrive at Crowley at 5:30 a.m. to board the boat. He taught us how to use a spinning rig with a bubble and fly. And that is all I know about fishing in the Eastern Sierra. When we have time, we hope to learn to use all the fly-fishing equipment our kids have given us because they know learning to fly-fish was one of our goals when we moved here.
“I grew up fishing/trolling for bass with my own rod, reel and favorite lure on Lake Travis just outside Austin, Texas. Nothing tastes quite as good as fish from lake to frying pan in just 30 minutes. Our family would camp on the bank and then we would use dough bait or grass hoppers to catch catfish. Daddy would not let me clean catfish because of the spines but I certainly know how to kill, scale and fillet bass.”
Sharon, we have yet to introduce you to beer-battered, deep-fried Crowley perch tacos with fresh mangoes. Last on our list of council members is John Eastman.
1. My favorite fishery is Lake George, because of the “setting,” and my ability to catch fish there.
2. I use “Dave Davis” spinners, with worms as bait.
3. I like the Woolly Bugger, because it sounds good and because it’s the only fly name I can remember.
4. I’ve heard good tales from fly fishermen, but have never tried it.
All good stuff. That concludes this week’s “fish report.” You might be left high and dry wondering what the hatch is on the Upper Owens, or the depth the fish are biting on Gull Lake. But consider the new knowledge that you have from this article: If you are ever stumped for a sound bite using comparative metaphors when trying to prove your case at a Town Council meeting, just throw in the word “Woolly Bugger.” You are bound to get a hit!
Best of luck to our candidates. I’m going fishing!
A more detailed report can be found at http://kittredgesports.com/fishing_report.php. Leonard guides for Kittredge Sports. Call 760.934.7566.