Outdoor Notes / Earl Gustkey : New Sierra Fishing Spot Being Readied

Eastern Sierra visitors should have a new place to fish in a couple of weeks--but not for trout.

The Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power is restoring a 25-mile, mostly dry stretch of old Lower Owens River stream bed, roughly between Tinnemaha Reservoir and Owens Dry Lake. The old stream bed, biologists say, should be a productive warm-water sport fishery, providing largemouth bass and channel catfish.

The restoration of the old riverbed is one of 18 projects agreed upon by the DWP and Inyo County as a way of resolving litigation the two parties have been involved in since 1972.

“The old stream bed isn’t completely dry,” pointed out DWP biologist Dave Babb. “There are numerous ponds, and there are some bass in there. That water is seepage water.


“We’ll put a flow in there sufficient to connect the ponds and maintain a slow flow that will maintain a warm-water fishery. We’ll start with a 20-cubic-feet-per-second flow. We’ll probably run 30 c.f.s. in the summer months, 20 c.f.s. in the winter.

“The flow can’t be much higher than that. We’re required not to let any water flow into Owens Dry Lake.”

The intake point for the old, natural stream bed is at a DWP aqueduct facility at the state Black Rock Fish Hatchery nine miles below the Tinnemaha Reservoir, just off U.S. 395. A water gate was opened Thursday morning. Near there, the Lower Owens River is diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

The new warm-water fishery, with dirt roads running along most of its length, should extend to California 136, just south of Lone Pine, Babb said. DWP engineer Dennis Williams said the old riverbed should fill in about 10 days.


Babb said: “After we have water, we’ll begin developing a warm-water fishery management plan with the Department of Fish and Game. It should also develop into a nice wildlife area. We could have a greenbelt effect, with more water birds visiting the area, along with resident quail. There are a lot of cottonwoods along the river there.

“We want a strong enough flow so that it will keep undesirable species of vegetation out, but not strong enough so that it will reach Owens Dry Lake.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that a record number of Lahontan cutthroat trout, about 1,500, ascended the Truckee River this spring and spawned. Biologists say rare circumstances permitted the spawning run from Pyramid Lake, Nev., where the Lahontan cutthroat evolved.

A high Pyramid Lake water level, which enabled the trout to swim over the Truckee’s sandy delta in the lake, an above average flow volume in the Truckee, and a partial washout of the earthen portion of Derby Dam, 20 miles upstream from Pyramid Lake, led to the run.


Briefly United Anglers of California has filed suit against Sonoma County and the Department of Fish and Game over salmon, steelhead and shad passage problems created by Healdsburg Dam on the Russian River. . . . A $50,000 first prize and a total payout of $325,000 has been approved for the U.S. Open pro bass fishing tournament at Lake Mead, July 11-19. . . . Residents of Parker, Ariz., had been troubled recently by unusually large numbers of caddis flies and asked for help. So, the Arizona Game and Fish Department recently stocked 70,000 caddis fly-eating razorback suckers and 5,000 eight-inch rainbow trout in the nearby Colorado River. . . . James B. Jamieson, vice president for research at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, has been elected a national director of Trout Unlimited. . . . The Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering a $750 reward for information leading to the arrest of whomever killed an elk calf May 12 near Firebox Spring, removed the hindquarters, and left most of the carcass to rot. . . . Rolf L. Wallenstrom is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new regional director responsible for 162 national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries in California and five other western states.