Alexis Perez with a pretty sweet Brown
By Chris Leonard
There is nothing quite like the sweet smell of recently consumed green grass feed steaming from piping hot, fresh horse droppings. Oh, baby! I’m not saying it’s good, I’m just saying there’s nothing quite like it. Kinda like Powerbait.
I gotta watch where I put my Tony Lamas as I stroll alongside the steel-gated pens inside the Tri-County Fairgrounds temporarily housing some of the finest mules in the West. Kicking dust up next to the Main Arena as I casually stroll to the bleachers for the evening show, I take another bite of my $7 investment in some tasty Indian Fry Bread, squirting sour cream all over my fingers as I mark the dirt with my own game trail of chopped lettuce and cheddar cheese bits. I certainly enjoy wearing my cowboy boots on Memorial Day Weekend. Matter of fact, it’s the only time of year I put them on. I suppose to some extent they are the cowboy equivalent of fishing waders, keeping mule manure from getting inside my jeans. I’m not calling myself a “cowboy.” Some fish-less days, I think “angler” is a bit of a stretch!
Now, in the spirit of Mule Days, I figured we’d spend part of this week’s report on some of the great angling in and around Bishop. It goes without saying that one of the best things about Mammoth is its proximity to Bishop. When I’m buried in 17 feet of snow in the middle of February, casting a line on the Lower O is a lifesaver. And the fishing in Bishop is no joke. If you’ve got a few hours between kicking Betsy in the rear before her “Chariot Races,” or need to clear your head before negotiating a reasonable price on that fine leather English saddle you’ve been eying, there is excellent fishing to be had.
One of my favorite places to fish is up Hwy 168 (Line Street) west of U.S. 395. Every May, some monster Alpers trout are taken out of Intake II, located 12 miles above Bishop. This float tube-friendly fishery is an idyllic setting to kick around with Thomas Bouyants or Bloody Ripperz, so expect some horse-butting-sized hits. You can hook plenty of trout casting from the shore with Rainbow Sherbert or Salmon Peach Powerbait, as well as nightcrawlers. Just walking upstream a bit along Bishop Creek gets you into some decent fishing holes where you can get at some pan-fry sized trout with Salmon Eggs.
If you’re casting on the fly, heading a bit further up Bishop Creek along the South Fork is well worth it. I love getting at the wild trout in and around Willows Campground and Table Mountain. Your best bet is indicator-less fishing with smaller standard nymph patterns. You really can’t go wrong with a size-18 Flashback BH PT. Running them under a Yellow Stimi might allow for surface hits also. The fish aren’t big, but beautiful. The snow runoff is cold, so wear your long johns under your waders. If you’re into bigger waters, a morning trip to Pleasant Valley Reservoir is a sound selection. Bait anglers are constantly whacking them with inflated nightcrawlers dipped in Powerbait Garlic Trout Dip. Flicking orange or green Trout Teasers from the shores into the waters will hook trout. Float tubers will get grabs on Rapalas for the spin anglers, and streamers for the fly cowgirls and cowboys. Midge fishing in PVR a couple feet off the bottom should bend rods.
Parachute Adams and Callibaetis Cripples are good dries when the fish are noticeably surface feeding. Likewise, there are plenty of perch in PVR to be had.
As for the Lower Owens River, water flows have skyrocketed, but you could get into a few trout if you work the waters right. Green Rock Worms, PT’s, Zebra Midges… all good nymph patterns for this part of the O. Bait anglers are better off on Bishop Creek with more manageable flows.
Enjoy the long holiday weekend, and some great fish jumping in any direction of it, any day of the week.
A more detailed report can be found at http://kittredgesports.com/fishing_report.php. Leonard guides for Kittredge Sports. Call 760.934.7566.