The California Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) implemented new freshwater fishing regulations statewide on March 1, 2021. The changes were intended to be simple, but for the Mono Basin, the new regulations create a tangled line of new rules and layered seasons.
Previously, fishing season for most lakes and streams in Mono County was the last Saturday in April through November 15, with a five-trout daily bag limit and fishing closed for the rest of the year. This is still true for the major lakes along the June Lake Loop: Grant, Silver, Gull, and June. The same goes for Lundy Lake and Virginia Lakes.
All other lakes in the Mono Basin, including those along the Tioga Road (Ellery, Tioga, and Saddlebag) are now open to year-round fishing with a five-trout daily bag limit. Rush Creek downstream of Grant Lake as well as Parker and Walker creeks are also open to year-round fishing, but only with artificial barbless hooks and all trout must be returned unharmed.
Rush Creek between Silver Lake and Grant Lake can only be fished from the Saturday before Memorial Day through the end of September with a five-trout daily bag limit. There is a two-trout daily bag limit for Lee Vining Creek downstream of DWP’s diversion from the Saturday before Memorial Day through the end of September, after which only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used and all trout must be returned unharmed.
All other Mono Basin creeks and creek sections not mentioned here (including Lee Vining Creek upstream of the DWP diversion pond) have a five-trout daily bag limit from the last Saturday in April through November 15, after which only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used and all trout must be returned unharmed.
During the public comment period for these new regulations, the Committee urged DFW to keep existing zero bag limits below DWP diversion dams and continue the winter fishing closure on Rush, Lee Vining, Parker, and Walker creeks for the benefit of the recovering fisheries (see Summer 2019 Mono Lake Newsletter). How these regulation changes impact stream restoration will unfortunately be another variable for stream scientists to unravel.
Remember, you can never possess more than double a daily bag limit, even if collected over many days. Find all the regulations at the California Department of Fish & Wildlife website.
This post was also published as an article in the Summer 2021 Mono Lake Newsletter. Top photo by Elin Ljung.