Because of the popularity of this annual event with the angling public, DFG is making every effort to stock trout in all accessible waters approved for planting prior to the season opener. Lingering winter conditions could play a major role in how many rivers, creeks, lakes and reservoirs can be stocked before April 28.
Most lakes, rivers and streams have a limit of five trout per day and 10 in possession. However, regulations differ on season opening and closing dates, bag limits, minimum and maximum size limits and gear restrictions. Anglers are advised to check the 2012-13 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulation booklet, found online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations, for regulations specific to each body of water.
This year DFG regional staff created the Eastern Sierra Back Country Fishing Guide to provide anglers with a quick, informative and accurate account of the distribution of fisheries in back country high elevation lakes. This guide does not address front country waters, defined as lakes and streams that are accessible by vehicle. Most of the lakes lie within U.S. Forest Service lands managed as Wilderness and usually require back country permits for overnight use. Most back country fisheries are based on self-sustaining populations of trout and do not need regular trout stocking to maintain fish populations. The guide can be found at http://dfg.ca.gov/regions/6/.
Crowley Lake in the Eastern Sierra is expected to be one of the most popular opening day destinations for anglers from around the state. In past years, an estimated 10,000 anglers have turned out for the opener, and approximately 50,000 trout are caught during the first week of the season. Typically Crowley is planted with hundreds of thousands of small and medium sized trout, and because of excellent food sources in the 5,280-acre lake, these trout grow to catchable sizes and weigh at least three-quarters of a pound by the opener. About 10 percent of the trout caught at Crowley during opening weekend weigh over a pound and a half. These fish are from stocks planted in previous years or are wild fish produced in Crowley’s tributary waters.
Anglers are asked to be particularly vigilant when cleaning fish and fishing gear at Crowley Lake and in the upper and lower Owens River Drainage. The New Zealand Mud Snail was discovered several years ago in the Owens River Drainage and DFG is trying to keep the snail from spreading into other waters. To avoid spreading New Zealand Mud Snails to other waters, anglers are advised to clean and dispose of their fish guts in trash cans, rather than throw them back into the water. Wading gear should be properly cleaned before using in new waters.
All persons age 16 and older must possess a valid California fishing license to fish within the state’s borders. Freshwater fishing license can be purchased online at www.dfg.ca.gov/OnlineSales or at regional DFG offices or other authorized dealers. Anglers no longer have to display their license visibly above the waist but they must have it in their possession while fishing.