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Thread: Question for old timers to Eastern Sierra fishing

  1. #1

    Default Question for old timers to Eastern Sierra fishing

    Does anyone but me remember the 10 fish OR 10 lbs limit/day?

    You could catch 3 fish and if they went above 10 lbs you were done for the day.
    At least that's what my Dad taught us in the early 50s.

    I do remember many 10 fish per day limits though. As a family of 4 we would bring home 80 fish
    to freeze and eat (I and my sister cleaned every one of them). Usually at the cleaning sink at Big Rock Resort (Landing)
    that is still there and in use to this day! We ate a lot of fish while we were there also.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Devore Heights, CA
    Posts
    3,524

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    I am old enough to remember a 15 fish limit. Back in the day myself and three buddies would do a week long trip out of Bishop and make our own rules to make it a challenge. One such trip the rule was Brown Trout only and we could only count those that were over 18". We had our limit before noon on the upper Owens went back to Bishop for lunch at Jack's and finished the day with another limit on the lower Owens.

    I was on the waiting list for over two years to be able to fish the private waters at the Arcularius Ranch on the upper Owens and made it an annual event for many years.

    I had two friends that lived and had businesses in Bishop. Blair Hilborn and his wife were high school classmates and owned the Bishop movie theater. Blair had one of the first drift boats to fish the lower Owens, owning the theater was the perfect job as we could fish the lower Owens early and then clean up before the first afternoon matinee. Sadly Blair was killed while flying his private plane in the Owens valley.

    The other friend was Martin Luther who owned the Dodge dealership in Bishop. Martin picked my wife and I up at 3:00am at our hotel in his Dodge power wagon for a trip we will never forget. It was a 4 hour four wheel drive trip into the White mountains east of Bishop. Were went to a place called Cottonwood Creek after passing Crooked Creek aptly named because it crossed the road a number of times. At the end of the road was and old line shack to hold up in if the weather got bad. The creek was wide enough you could jump over but was teaming with Brook Trout. Several hundred yards down the creek from where the road ended was a small pond created by a Beaver dam. The pond was so full of Brookies you could almost walk across the pond on top of them. None were much bigger than 7" at best and were so aggressive that we caught one on every cast using only a bare gold hook with no bait. I quit counting after the first 100 were caught and released.

    The Owens valley and Easter Sierra's is still one of my favorite places to fish but the fishing is not like the old days. The scenery is however unchanged and is why I keep going back.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Gardnerville, NV
    Posts
    2,500

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    I'm old enough to remember the 10 limit ... but not the 15. My oldtimer's memory seems to recall that it was 10lbs of fish + 1 (any size ... whatever?) I remember people sitting on the big rock at Gull hammering them with horsemeat. That's when if you didn't have a phoebe ... maybe a super duper ... turn around and head home. Loved to use a Mepps in the Owens. Can't forget to mention the F7 Frog Flatfish. Have been hitting Jack's for 60+ years and about 50 years of the Carson Peak Inn ... first time was on our honeymoon. Boulder Lodge recommended the Red Mountain Inn (I believe it was called) or the Carson Peak Inn (with red gingham table covers) ... we chose the right one.

    I seem to remember that the cashier at Jacks was over next to the tackle shop. ???

    I Did the opener at June for over 30 years ... starting when John F and Mickie showed up (he runs Crowley Fish Camp also). Wish I knew all that Devore knows about the Owens

    Thanks for the memories!
    Last edited by billy b; 06-14-2016 at 10:42 AM.

  4. #4

    Default

    My Dad went to June the first time in 1925 (he was 21) 2 or 3 day drive in a model T camped at Little Lake (when there was a Little Lake "town" there) the first night. All dirt road from then on. He said average fish then was 5 lbs in June. We actually ate at the cafe at Little Lake once and only once in the 50s. That's always been a strange place around there. I wish I knew more about it. Off the highway eastside a short walk (now behind the fence near the lakeshore) is a few large rocks and one contains a cave with prehistoric paintings in it. Don't ask me how I know. Always wanted to fish the lake there.

    We'd stop a White's Cafe in Mojave in the early 50s for breakfast on the way up. Saw an atomic bomb test one morning while in the restaurant. The sky lit up then went dark. After we left we looked east and saw the mushroom cloud. Anyone remember all the geysers around Mammoth along 395? For Several years there was an old miner with a burro that traveled up and down 395 below Bishop in the 50s. Of course we only had the old Sherwin Grade with all the dead cars at the bottom to use.

    My Dad fished Grant when it only had the lower dam (now usually submerged). My Mom Hated Grant as there were no trees around.

    I think you're correct on the 10 lbs +1 fish now that I think about it. We used "cat gut " leaders (that you had to soak to soften) before mono came out. We all bait fished with fly rods and sinking line from the boat and as young kids we learned how to play a fish as we used 3/4 lb leader material. We used eggs and special homemade cheese bait. Back then you could chum so guys would by quart jars of salmon eggs, anchor the boat and then toss out the whole quart around the boat as they set up their gear. Actually had a guy who had no idea what he was doing come in near us to anchor and he threw his anchor into our boat!

    Carson's Camp and all the old run down shacks were right at the campground by Big Rock then. Only stayed there once (my Mom hated it). June used to have thousands of sticklebacks in it when I was a kid. We only used the big square barges to fish from (Big Rock) and I was supposed to work the dock there the summer when I was 14 but the owner died.

    June Lake had old crank telephones back then. There were 3 boat rentals on the lake and we'd eat breakfast once in awhile at the cafe in Big Rock's main building. We used a 1942 Johnson OB with an exposed rope start pully (no recoil starter for us, we don't need no stinkin recoil starter) that my Dad bought new (still have it!).

    Used to run a round with a guy named Stan Bell from Bishop 40+ yrs ago. He was the family member they didn't talk about. His Dad Marvin Bell drove the road grader for the county for years. The Copper Bell restaurant was a Bell family deal (closed now). There was a Bell sawmill down the valley a ways and way back when some of the Bell clan got into a gunfight with the law a century ago IIRC.

    Owens Dry Lake had water in it. A stream ran along the highway down south near Big Pine to Lone Pine. The Owens Valley was green.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Devore Heights, CA
    Posts
    3,524

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    Had a buddy that had a relative that owned a ranch near Olancha and early every year we would do a "Cast & Blast". When the cows were giving birth the Coyotes would come in with abandon to eat the afterbirth and any calves that were stillborn or down or disabled. It was blast Coyotes and then go fishing. Sometimes it was go fishing first and blast Coyotes in the evening. Those were the days indeed.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliffy View Post
    My Dad went to June the first time in 1925 (he was 21) 2 or 3 day drive in a model T camped at Little Lake (when there was a Little Lake "town" there) the first night. All dirt road from then on. He said average fish then was 5 lbs in June. We actually ate at the cafe at Little Lake once and only once in the 50s. That's always been a strange place around there. I wish I knew more about it. Off the highway eastside a short walk (now behind the fence near the lakeshore) is a few large rocks and one contains a cave with prehistoric paintings in it. Don't ask me how I know. Always wanted to fish the lake there.

    We'd stop a White's Cafe in Mojave in the early 50s for breakfast on the way up. Saw an atomic bomb test one morning while in the restaurant. The sky lit up then went dark. After we left we looked east and saw the mushroom cloud. Anyone remember all the geysers around Mammoth along 395? For Several years there was an old miner with a burro that traveled up and down 395 below Bishop in the 50s. Of course we only had the old Sherwin Grade with all the dead cars at the bottom to use.

    My Dad fished Grant when it only had the lower dam (now usually submerged). My Mom Hated Grant as there were no trees around.

    I think you're correct on the 10 lbs +1 fish now that I think about it. We used "cat gut " leaders (that you had to soak to soften) before mono came out. We all bait fished with fly rods and sinking line from the boat and as young kids we learned how to play a fish as we used 3/4 lb leader material. We used eggs and special homemade cheese bait. Back then you could chum so guys would by quart jars of salmon eggs, anchor the boat and then toss out the whole quart around the boat as they set up their gear. Actually had a guy who had no idea what he was doing come in near us to anchor and he threw his anchor into our boat!

    Carson's Camp and all the old run down shacks were right at the campground by Big Rock then. Only stayed there once (my Mom hated it). June used to have thousands of sticklebacks in it when I was a kid. We only used the big square barges to fish from (Big Rock) and I was supposed to work the dock there the summer when I was 14 but the owner died.

    June Lake had old crank telephones back then. There were 3 boat rentals on the lake and we'd eat breakfast once in awhile at the cafe in Big Rock's main building. We used a 1942 Johnson OB with an exposed rope start pully (no recoil starter for us, we don't need no stinkin recoil starter) that my Dad bought new (still have it!).

    Used to run a round with a guy named Stan Bell from Bishop 40+ yrs ago. He was the family member they didn't talk about. His Dad Marvin Bell drove the road grader for the county for years. The Copper Bell restaurant was a Bell family deal (closed now). There was a Bell sawmill down the valley a ways and way back when some of the Bell clan got into a gunfight with the law a century ago IIRC.

    Owens Dry Lake had water in it. A stream ran along the highway down south near Big Pine to Lone Pine. The Owens Valley was green.
    Over at rockcreeklake.com is an entire thread devoted to the Little Lake Hotel, you might check it out. Perhaps you can add your knowledge. Thanks for the great stories of Owens Valley past.

    John

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Devore Heights, CA
    Posts
    3,524

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    Perhaps some of you knew Ken that owned Ken's Sporting Goods in Bridgeport. I remember when he cooked up a batch of cheese bait and started selling it before the big guys. It was called "Dynamite" and came in several colors/flavors, garlic and anise were the bomb. The jar had a catchy phrase on the label "Fish won't bite, use Dynamite". You could only by it at the store and at the Fred Hall show, but the stuff did work, up til then everyone had used Velvetta Cheese.

  8. #8

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    YUP I remember Dynamite.
    The Owens Valley has quite a long history with Indian raids and dead settlers and the first cows being brought in from near Los Angeles. Got a whole book on it and if I can find it I'll tell the title incase anyone wants to look for it.
    A logging company once ran a rear paddle wheel steamer across Owens Lake to bring lumber east to the mines and gold back west.
    Before all the building between June and Gull that area had flowing water between the two and was mostly a swamp. Wallace Berry the old time actor had a cabin on the little island on the south end of Silver Lake. It got wiped out in an avalanche one winter. I remember when both OH Ridge and June Mountain Ski were built. BTW, there is a pile of old outboard motors on the lake bottom somewhere out in front of Big Rock. They were dumped there 50+ years ago.

    If you go around the corner past Grant and go to Walker Lake they have a gate across the access road and at the lake sits the Walker Lake Land and Cattle Co. It a group of private property and small cabins with a very select clientele owners. DFG sometimes stocks the lake but you have to walk in over a mile to get there and the land company owns land right to the lakeshore that you really can't walk across. They all have keys to the gate and drive in. I'd really like to know the history of that company, the DFG and the County and see where the bodies lie!

    Parker Lake near Grant used to have lots of brookies but I haven't been in there in 40 years. Go to the roadside near the pack station by Silver Lake any evening and start glassing the hillsides both sides and you'll see the deer moving near dark. Oh Ridge campground had 10 deer last year that would feed inside the camper area most mornings and you could walk to with in 25 feet of them.

    Stan Bell that I noted before used to shut the head gate off on the canal that runs on the east edge of Bishop, he'd walk down the canal bed and pickup what fish he wanted for dinner nd then turn the water back on. Like I said, he was different.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Pomona (Ganesha Hills)
    Posts
    16

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    It was MY proposed regulation change that the DFG Commission adopted to reduce the year-round limits from 10 to 5 in the early 1980's. California Trout, Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishermen were terrified of the anticipated "backlash" and assured me that they had long refrained from toying with limits for fear of severe public backlash.

    Bottom line: Not a single bit of opposition and it passed unanimously.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Ventura County
    Posts
    31

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    My Dad and Uncle used to take us up to Bishop every year. We'd fish the Owens only, usually at Aberdeen, Chalk Bluff and Benton's Crossing. We'd use mostly nightcrawlers and some stuff called clusters which was some goop with salmon eggs in it. We'd stay at the Mtn. Tom Motel and my brother and I thought it was so cool that they had a pool! Ate at Jack's for breakfast and admired (actually drool over) the trout that were mounted. Ate at Howard Johnson's for dinner. On our way up to Bishop we'd stop at a place (I wish I could remember where it was) called The Early Bird. We'd knock on the guys door and he would sell us the nightcrawlers. During our high school and college years we quit going because we were too busy but my brother and I started going again 26 years ago and haven't missed a year! Just got back and Benton's was as good as always! Thanks for the original thread! Bringing back some great memories!

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