Yippee ki yay, the forest is open again!!! We all learned last Tuesday that the Inyo National Forest is open again this Thursday. That’s great news. I don’t think there is a soul alive that is upset upon hearing this, right on time for the cooling temps as we quickly approach the changing of the seasons from summer to fall. One of my favorite times of year to cast flies at trout is the first month of college football season. There’s just something glorious about the month of September in the Eastern Sierra. And, go Bruins!
first suggestion I’m going to throw out though is to hit the Golden Trout Wilderness above Lone Pine out of Horseshoe Meadows. The Cottonwood Lakes are legally open for fishing, and those fish have presumably seen very low pressure with the regulation change that kept them legally closed until September 1. The mandated USFS closure extended that until today. Now is the perfect time to earn your fish by pounding some trail, and getting after those pure strain golden trout. Goldens are super aggressive fish. I’d throw lures at them, or cast streamers. They will chase them down the same way a brown trout will. Please do what’s best for the fish if you intend to release it, and pinch down the barbs. If you are fishing lures, it’s not a bad idea to flip out the treble hooks with a couple of barbless single hooks. It’s just less damaging to the fish. Hiking up to the Cottonwood Lakes is generally more than just a day trip. It’s so idyllic up there. It’s worth the effort.
Along with fishing the lakes in the backcountry, I think now is a great time to fish the lakes in the Mammoth Lakes Basin and the June Lake Loop. There will be less fishing pressure and human traffic at both spots this time of year, and it’s such a great time to be on the water. We are almost to the time of year when the brook trout change their colors during the spawn. Twin Lakes above Mammoth holds a lot of very colorful brooks. You’ll find success tossing Panther Martins near the reeds. Casting streamers is also a brilliant idea. Twin Lakes is relatively shallow, so kicking a float tube around with a weighted lure or bead head streamer pattern will hook brooks.
Chris Leonard is a longstanding teacher at Mammoth High School, and experienced fly fishing guide. He guides both rivers and lakes in the Eastern Sierra. His understanding of teaching and fly fishing makes him a choice guide in the region.