The Future of the June Lake Loop Brown Trout Fishery
"We have a golden opportunity to start somewhere, and Rush Creek is that hidden gem in the High Sierra, with a growing reputation for monster brown trout. Let's protect the spawners for the future, and defend the natural population of trout we have now." ~Don Morton
Sustainable Trout Fishing, or Stocked Triploids?The sole intent of this article is to consider the future of the Brown Trout fishery along the June Lake Loop and Rush Creek, and the Eastern Sierra, and to help continue a discussion aimed at promoting a low cost, sustainable fishery. In this article I outline the costs and benefits of creating and maintaining a sustainable Brown Trout fishery that will result in a long-term, self-sustaining population of healthy fish. Our community looks forward to this open discussion with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
What is a Triploid?
Triploidy is induced by heat, or pressure shocking fertilized eggs. Simply stated, every trout killed which is capable of spawning will be replaced by a sterile trout unable to spawn. Current trout stocking policies of the California Department of Fish And Wildlife (CDF&W) require all trout stocked into Eastern Sierra waters to be triploids (sterile trout). We all wish the topic was simple, but it’s not. Politics, budgets, the increasing cost to raise farmed fish, CDF&W policies and the emotions of fisherman/anglers all come into play to have an influence on the issue.
Now comes the controversial part. As human impact gradually depletes the population of wild trout, fewer trout spawn, and fewer trout grow to spawning age. At some point, only trout stocked will contribute to the biomass, or total fish population. With no additional wild trout propagating in the system, you’re left with only the triploids that are placed there. In the future, as in the present, economic considerations will limit the number of triploids annually stocked into a body of water. If the past is any indication, fewer trout will be stocked in each coming year. Potentially, the very policy of stocking only triploids will actually decrease the number of easy to catch limits of trout over a very short period of time. Only a casual observation of recent past politics is required to assume the cost of stocked trout will continue to increase, while at the same time, the available funds to spend on trout will decrease. Another consideration: As the stocked triploids mature, they to will learn to avoid being caught, as the wild populations did.
What do we have to lose?
There is an opportunity to help our local June Lake fishery before irreparable damage is done. The opportunity is Rush Creek. This opportunity can be exploited in a simple experiment which will cause no harm, and could potentially help promote fishing in the June Lake Loop. There are some who believe the next California state German Brown record is swimming in Grant or Silver Lake and will spawn in Rush Creek, again. Here are some suggestions.
Basic steps to begin the simple experiment:
- Protect naturally spawning wild trout in Rush Creek.
- Restrict fishing on Rush Creek, from the staging area in Silver Lake to the staging area in Grant Lake, from October 1 to November 15 and during spawns.
- Catch and release, zero limits, barbless hooks, artificial baits only.
- Stay out of the water to protect redds, no dogs in the water.
- No annual budget fight or politics involved with these fish.
- Protect and promote a truly TROPHY trout fishery, right here in our back yard.
- Slowly educate the general public about the economic benefit and recreational opportunities created by practicing Sustainable Fishing methods and restrictions.
- I’ve already received commitments for donations to cover the cost for required signage and markers. All coming from the very limited number of Rush Creek advocates contacted.
- The same commitments to provide and install used fishing line receptacles.
- In other words, it will cost the taxpayer close to nothing.
- All fish produced by naturally spawning wild fish will be cost-free to Mono County, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the local marina operators.
- The lakes and streams involved will benefit because the total trout population in the waters will be augmented by cost-free spawning wild trout.
- Grant Lake, Silver Lake and Rush Creek can slowly become known as a Trophy Wild Trout fishery.
- Photos of large wild trout will generate attractive, eye catching, free publicity
- The June Lake Loop will become known for being more than just a put and take area, adding to the overall marketing potential.
- It will create a niche marketing potential not addressed by many other areas to fish in California
- Allow the Loop to participate in the increasing popularity of “Sustainable Fishing”, catch and release, fishing industry marketing.
- Local businesses including restaurants, convenience stores and those providing vacation accommodations (et al) in and around June Lake will benefit from out-of-town fishermen enjoying a natural, replenish able resource.
In closing, what to we have to lose? What do we have to gain? Let’s do something before we back our self into a corner where we’re forced to watch the overall fishery in the Eastern Sierra collapse as we slowly become more dependent on only stocked triploids. The time to do something is now.
Where to stay in June Lake?
Our small town of June Lake offers plenty of "home town" accommodations including custom vacation homes and vacation condos. All rentals are very clean and well maintained, very affordable, and all are close to Gull Lake and June Lake. Some are pet friendly vacation rentals. Are you looking for a bountiful weekend of fishing? How about a romantic weekend, or an extended stay with family and friends? Hoping to catch a lunker trout, go skiing on June Mountain, or test your skills on the hiking trails? Whatever your vacation desires may be, let us help you book a vacation that will keep you coming back for years to come. Call us today, or book online. Call the friendly staff at June Lake Accommodations 760-648-1919 to plan your next June Lake vacation.
June Lake is in the center of great fishing
June Lake is located in the heart of the High Sierra and the center of some of the best fishing in California. 50 minutes north to the East Walker River and and West Walker River, or 35 minutes south to the Upper Owens... all these waters are open to year-round fishing. June Lake has great seasonal fishing in a spectacular High Sierra setting.
About the author:
Don Morton has been in love with the June Lake Loop since his first visit in 1971. The annual frequent visits lead to him and his wife, Lynn, moving to June Lake in 1999. Both are avid fly fisherman and love to fish the Eastern Sierra for wild trophy trout. Both catch and release and practice “Sustainable Fishing” methods. Don is active on the community level as a Board member of the June Lake Citizens Advisory Committee, a member of the June Lake Trails Committee and was recently appointed by the Mono County Board of Supervisors to become a Mono County Fish Commissioner. Don can be reached by e-mail at don@JuneLakeAccommodations.com
A whitepaper by Ross Taylor