One of California’s most anticipated and celebrated outdoor traditions unfolds Saturday, April 27 one hour before sunrise when the state’s general trout season opens in many counties throughout California.
In the last three weeks, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) trout hatcheries have stocked more than 170,000 trout weighing nearly 95,000 pounds.
Trout fishing is available and popular year-round in many waters across the state, but the general trout season unlocks many destination waters in the Eastern Sierra that will attract thousands of anglers, rekindle friendships and renew family traditions on opening weekend.
The communities of Bridgeport and Bishop are the epicenters of the opening weekend trout fishing activity, festivities and revelry – what many anglers refer to as “Fishmas.”
Because of the popularity of this annual event with the angling public, CDFW released trout to accessible waters approved for stocking prior to the Eastern Sierra season opener. Because of heavy snow this winter, some popular high-elevation waters were inaccessible or covered in ice.
CDFW’s Hot Creek, Black Rock and Fish Springs trout hatcheries stocked several waters with catchable trout, including Bridgeport Reservoir, Convict Lake, Crowley Lake, June Lake and the West Walker River in Mono County; Pleasant Valley Reservoir and the Owens River in Inyo County; and Markleeville Creek in Alpine County.
In the Central Valley and western Sierra, CDFW prioritized stocking waters adjacent to major highway corridors such as State Routes 108/120 in Tuolumne County, State Route 168 in Fresno County and State Route 178 in Kern County. After the 2018 flooding, evacuation and subsequent repair, CDFW’s Moccasin Creek Hatchery in Tuolumne County is once again raising fish. The hatchery is expected to reach full production in 2020.
Most lakes, river 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 specific area regulations and opening dates in the 2019-20 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations available online or in printed booklets at most local tackle and sporting goods retailers where fishing licenses are sold. All anglers 16 and older must possess a valid California fishing license to fish within state boundaries.