Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Mammoth Lakes

Book on short hikes for Eastern Sierra wild trout is a treasure

Fishin-Trails-front-cover-300dpi "Fishin' Trails: 25 Short Hikes for Eastern Sierra Wild Trout," by Jared Smith, is a book that makes me want to fish. It makes me long for that last Saturday in April to finally arrive and, with it, opening day of the Eastern Sierra general trout-fishing season.

Smith, who is general manager of Parchers Resort in Bishop Creek Canyon, refers to himself as a "bonafide fishaholic," and one can't help but be impressed with his knowledge of back-country lakes and their gilled denizens.

Smith discusses the species and sub-species of trout that call the Sierra Nevada range in California their home (and includes photos).

Informative, interesting and amusing, he offers advice and tips on basic back-country hiking, fishing gear, tackle, and techniques, and includes a chapter on outdoor ethics (he calls it the "Most Important Chapter") and what not to do so you aren't labeled "that guy" -- the one who litters, blasts music at top volume and generally annoys anyone fishing in the vicinity.

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Weekend ahead should be a great opportunity to head outdoors

Even the foothills above La Crescenta received a dusting of snow.

A respite this weekend from the storms that have been pounding the region, coupled with the glut of snow from them, probably has those who have been stuck inside all week ready to head to the great outdoors to take advantage of both.

Just a reminder to be sure to have patience and use common sense when venturing out. Remember to have tire chains in your vehicle, just in case, as well as drinking water and perhaps taking some snacks for the road, as there may be delays caused by travel conditions and by other drivers. 

There may also be risk of falling rock and landslides because of saturated soil, and avalanche from all the fresh snow.

Travelers might want to check the websites for specific areas they are heading to (for instance, Yosemite National Park announced the closure of all roads into the park this morning), or check SigAlert.com or the Caltrans highway conditions Web page. Caltrans also offers a toll-free number, (800) 427-7623, to call for current highway conditions.

Here's hoping readers take the opportunity to get out and enjoy the crisp, fresh air these storms leave behind. Be safe and have fun!

-- Kelly Burgess

To follow this blog on Twitter, please visit @latimesoutposts.

Photo: Even the foothills above La Crescenta received a dusting of snow. Credit: Scott Bassin

2010 means it's time for a new sportfishing license

Davey's Locker sportfishing boat 'Western Pride' makes its way back to Newport Beach at sunset.

The new year on the horizon is a time to reflect and to remember -- that it's time to purchase a new annual sportfishing license.

The California Department of Fish & Game requires that any angler 16 years of age or older possess a sportfishing license.

Licenses may be purchased online, at most sporting goods retailers and at DFG sales offices.

Below are some of the frequently asked questions and answers posted on the DFG website regarding sportfishing license requirements:

Question: How long is an annual sportfishing license valid?

Answer: Licenses are valid for a calendar year (Jan. 1 through Dec. 31).

Q: Do I have to wear my fishing license?

Continue reading »

Mammoth Mountain receives 60 inches of powder, will expand open terrain


Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is ensured of a white Christmas after more than 60 inches of snow fell during the latest storm.

That builds the Eastern Sierra resort's base to 5 to 8 feet of packed and fresh powder and will enable crews to open Canyon Lodge and Eagle Lodge by Wednesday, and the entire mountain by Friday. The resort had been operating only 10 lifts.

Southern California resorts also benefited from the weekend storm, and are reporting base depths of up to about 30 inches.

-- Pete Thomas


Images captured Monday morning, courtesy of Mammoth Mountain

Charges filed in shooting death of bear near Mammoth Lakes

A Victorville man who shot and killed a black bear on the shore of Lake Mary in late September has been charged with two misdemeanors: unlawful take of a bear and shooting in an unlawful area.

Roy Flores, 60, had been fishing with a female companion and claimed he shot the 175-pound bear in self defense. The animal reportedly had twice gone after their food. 

In an Outposts story after the incident, Don Barrett, who runs Lake Mary Marina & Store, said he heard the shot and was told by witnesses the bear was standing on its hind legs when it was shot. Flores used a .44-caliber revolver to kill the bear.

Barrett also said bears that visit the lake during the summer and early fall have learned to frighten anglers from their fishing spots, then steal their stringers of fish from the shallows.

Mono County District Attorney George Booth told Outposts the case against Flores is scheduled for Dec. 21 in Mammoth Lakes.

-- Pete Thomas

Eastern Sierra motorists urged to carry chains, or risk being turned back

U.S. 395, heading southbound, near Lee Vining.
If you were among the roughly 400 northbound travelers turned back on U.S. 395 over the holiday weekend, you already know: It's not only safer to carry chains while traveling through the Eastern Sierra, it also might be the only way you'll be allowed to venture beyond an area just south of Mammoth Lakes.

Doug Northington, a public information officer with the California Highway Patrol, explained in a story on the Sierra Wave website that motorists are required to carry chains when signs are posted or when "R1" or "R2" conditions exist. That was the case over the weekend, and motorists stopped at checkpoints at Tom's Place and the famous Green Church were told they could not continue without chains.

Northington said even four-wheel-drive vehicles with snow tires must carry chains under the more severe R2 conditions.

Although this angered many motorists, it must have been a boon to vendors of tire chains in Bishop, which is the nearest city south of Mammoth Lakes. Northington conceded that strict enforcement of the codes is new. He also pointed out that heavy snow and strong winds in the Bridgeport area in northern Mono County on Saturday caused numerous cars to spin-out and said vehicles were "stacked like firewood" alongside the highway.

So it's not unreasonable to require that motorists come prepared, as weather can deteriorate quickly in the region.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: U.S. 395, heading southbound, near Lee Vining. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Storm arrives in Lake Tahoe area as resorts plan weekend openings

The Lake Tahoe area is already feeling the effects of the season's first significant winter storm, and resorts in the region are expected to receive about a foot of fresh powder through tonight.

At Heavenly ski area, which overlooks the sprawling lake, today's planned opening is postponed until Saturday because of strong winds that arrived in advance of the storm. Light snow began to fall during the lunch hour.

I checked the Heavenly website and plucked its "Snowmakers" video (above), which provides an entertaining glimpse of the crews in action, and some new powder as seen from spectacular vantage points the resort is famous for.

Boreal and Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe are already open. Northstar-at-Tahoe and Squaw Valley USA will open Saturday. Alpine Meadows will open Dec. 5. Kirkwood and Sierra-at-Tahoe will open when conditions allow.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in the Eastern Sierra also hopes to receive a boost from the storm. It has about 100 acres open with top-to-bottom runs and a 16- to 24-inch base. Mountain High in Wrightwood and Bear Mountain and Snow Summit in Big Bear are open. Mt. Baldy plans to open before Thanksgiving.

-- Pete Thomas

Eastern Sierra hikers asked to keep eyes peeled for Karma, the red-tailed hawk

Karma the red-tailed hawk Hikers, birders and other visitors to the Eastern Sierra are encouraged to be on the lookout for Karma, an adult male red-tailed hawk that for the past two-plus years had resided at the Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care facility in Bishop.

The majestic raptor was believed to have been kept illegally as a pet before it was abandoned in the wild. It could not fly when it was discovered floundering and suffering from heat prostration and brought to the center, which cares for injured and abandoned critters.

But Karma learned to fly at the facility and was regularly driven afield for brief falconry-type flights. He always returned to his handlers, but last Thursday in the Keough Hot Springs area west of Highway 395, he dipped behind an outcropping and disappeared.

Cindy Kamler, who runs the facility, told Outposts that people have been scouring a two-square-mile area but have not spotted the bird, which is wearing black leather bracelets on both legs and might be trailing a short orange cord. 

It's feared that Karma will be unable to fend for himself or find his own food, but Kamler is hopeful and cites a few instances where the bird captured and killed sparrows that had entered its enclosure.

Interestingly, it had recently begun communicating with wild hawks during its flights, notably a juvenile red-tailed hawk that was present during Karma's last controlled flight. Could Karma simply have answered the call of the wild and sought freedom?

Kamler concedes it's a doubtful scenario, since the bird had been raised in captivity. "It'd be unique," Kamler says, "but not impossible."

Anyone who spots the hawk is urged to call the center at (760) 872-1487.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo of Karma the red-tailed hawk courtesy of Chris Morrison

Mammoth Mountain will open Friday for skiing and snowboarding

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area has announced plans to open Friday. It's the second-earliest opening
for the resort and almost a month sooner than the scheduled opening date of Nov. 12.

The storm moving through the area dumped at least two feet of snow at Main Lodge and significantly more on the upper slopes.

Free lift tickets are being offered for Friday, with only Broadway Express operating beginning at 8:30 a.m.

--Pete Thomas and Kelly Burgess

Photo: A skier speeds down the slopes at Mammoth Mountain last November. Mammoth's slopes received a substantial blanket of snow during the current storm and will open Friday, much earlier than planned. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

Mammoth Mountain signs agreement for summer airline service from LAX

A Horizon Air turboprop plane touches down at Mammoth Yosemite Airport during a test run last October.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area has reached agreement with Horizon Air to begin summer airline service to and from Los Angeles and Mammoth Yosemite Airport beginning in April.

The Mammoth Times reports and sources confirm that a deal has been signed and an official announcement will be made as early as next week.

Horizon already provides winter flights on a schedule that has grown from one to four flights per day -- with service from LAX, Seattle, Portland, Ore., and San Jose. Winter flight service is from Dec. 17 through April 11. Summer service will begin April 12.

The ski area helps subsidize the winter flights, and the ski area and Mammoth Lakes will subsidize the single daily summer flight.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: A Horizon Air turboprop plane touches down at Mammoth Yosemite Airport during a test run last October. Credit: Peatross/MMSA

Bear shot to death by angler at Lake Mary in Mammoth Lakes area

A 175-pound adult female black bear was shot to death Tuesday afternoon by a 58-year-old visitor to Lake Mary near the Eastern Sierra town of Mammoth Lakes.

Steve Searles, wildlife manager for Mammoth Lakes, described the shooting as "unprovoked," according to a report on the Sierra Wave website.


The California Department of Fish and Gam is investigating the case. The department's Lt. Marty Markham said this morning in an interview that the man and his companion were frightened away from a spot on the lake's shore by an approaching bear. Another person helped "haze" the bear away.

The couple returned to the site and the bear returned. The woman tried to "haze" the bear away. The man retrieved a large-caliber handgun from his vehicle and shot the bear once in the head.

Markham said the investigation should be complete within a week, and could not say whether charges will be brought against the man, whom Markham would describe only as a 58-year-old from San Bernardino County.

Don Barrett, who runs Lake Mary Marina & Store, did not witness the shooting but was at the lake and heard the shot. Barrett, in an interview, said he heard that the bear was aggressive and standing on its hind legs approaching the couple when it was shot with a .44-caliber pistol.

Barrett said bears have learned to frighten anglers from their fishing spots, then steal their stringers of fish.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: A bear near South Lake Tahoe, Calif., last year. Credit: Associated Press

Hot Creek Ranch trout fishing 'monumental' as the caddis hatch is on

Hot Creek, Sept. 09 018

The summer heat is fading, leaves are beginning to reveal brilliant colors of fall and caddis flies are hatching, which places fly fishermen in some areas of the Eastern Sierra in paradise. 

Chatsworth angler Bennett Mintz provided the accompanying photo of a 20-inch rainbow he raised, hooked, landed, photographed and released while fishing last Saturday at Hot Creek Ranch near Mammoth Lakes.

"This chunky rainbow fell victim to a size 20 Bob Brooks’ Hot Creek caddis [fly] on a 6X tippet," Mintz said via email.

The Hot Creek caddis hatch is occurring between about 9 a.m. and noon, and again from 4 p.m. until dark. That latter period, Mintz said, "is monumental."

He suggests anglers use a size 18 or 20 gray or tan elk-hair caddis, Schroeder caddis, parachute or other popular pattern.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: A 20-inch rainbow was no match for Chatsworth angler Bennet J. Mintz. Credit: Bennett J. Mintz


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About the Bloggers
Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.