Sierra Mountain Fishing and more!

Updated: Dec 10, 2019


For nearly 40 years, the small town of Bishop, CA has held the annual Smith & Bennet "No Show" Golf and Fishing tournament. Fishermen, hunters, golfers and other liars travel from far and wide to attend the by-invite-only event, a full five days of tall tales and camaraderie. The nearby mountains are almost too amazing to be real, one might think they're a photo shopped post card!

The day we arrived in camp, we celebrated just getting there by drinking some Hamm's beer. Then we went to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner, and explored town a bit before eventually heading back to camp.

The next day, we headed out to fish the Owens river. No luck, though, the water was high and fast and about as clear as mud. We then headed for the mountains...camp elevation is about 4,000 feet, but the lakes, creeks, and rivers in the mountains can be anywhere from 7,000 to 11,000 feet. Everything you do affects you more at that elevation, especially if you are not used to it.

Temperature dropped into the 50s and it got very windy - there were white caps on the lake. So I decided it would be better to fish the creeks in between the lakes, where it was calmer. Still no luck that first day, but we did some scouting for the next day. Our next stop was a small mountain lounge that the locals go to, really a restaurant bar in a cabin.

The picture below is a shot of the Owens river.

In years past, Owens river was known as the spot where the trophy fish came from, but not this year! Fishing at the river was same as fishing the southern part of the Colorado river: it was hot, there were lots of mosquitoes and not much else to look at. The water visibility was only about 4 inches (from the surface to where the lure disappears). Although there are miles and miles of river where one should be able to seek out a good spot, not all parts of the river are accessible. Maybe next year I will spend some time scouting out the better spots beforehand, but we didn't want to waste the day.

Not everyone has the patience for the outdoors and fishing definitely requires patience. A lot of guys don't want to wait at all, and some fish for about 2 seconds before they're ready to move on to another spot. That being said, sometimes you really you do need to know when to wait and when to cut bait and run.

This is a great spot to fly fish if you have the gear for it. I have gone fly fishing before and enjoy it so much.

If you ever feel the need to change things up and bring back some excitement to your fishing, try fly fishing. There are a lot of different ways to fish and sometimes you can get in a rut of fishing only one way, some people throw bait and a bobber out and just sit, others use only lures and have a suitcase of different ones. I think as the fish change you also need to change how you hunt the fish. You have to remember to change up your technique if you want to be more successful.

If all else fails and you can't catch any fish at all, at the very least you still can catch a buzz! This is the lodge we stopped at after our first day of fishing. (The fish won that day but the war continues...) We walked in, eager to wet whistles parched from the dry mountain air. There's just something about a beer after a day of fishing with good friends. Interesting note - the bartender was from my hometown, we even went to the same high school. Small world!

Anyway, we enjoyed our beers, telling each other our stories about the one that got away. The bar is situated to give you a awesome view out to the mountains, and to the right you can just see a waterfall. Nice scenery, friendly bartender, and good beer... that's a good way to end a day of fishing! As you can see in the picture, I couldn't help but smile.

The following day, we got a earlier start. We went to Lake Sabina, and once again the wind was blowing hard. I wanted to try fishing the lake, but no one else was up for it, so we fished the creek that flows from the lake. Polarized sunglasses are an amazing advantage to see past the glare on the water. Once I could see the fish, it didn't take long to get a bite!

Hook, line, and sinker! I then hooked it to my stringer and proceeded to work on catching the next fish. I worked on the biggest one I could see and he was a smart one. He didn't like my power bait. He would suck it in and spit it right back out, not keeping it in his mouth long enough for me to set the hook. After only about an hour, the fish just stopped biting for everyone. The window closed on us and I was the only one in our small group that caught any fish.

"Back to the bar!!!" Bombay Bob yelled, so we pack it up and head back to same bar as yesterday. Again we had a beer and talked about the day of fishing, I had fun with the fact I caught a fish and they didn't. Last year I'd caught my limit, so now I've gained a reputation from the guys who've been coming here for years without catching one fish. The guys called me "the fisherman," but I have yet to win the derby. There has always been someone that catches something that looks like a damn salmon! There are huge trout to be caught, and those guys seem to do it every year. But I digress: one of our own guys had gone up to Lake Sabrina on his own and fished that windy lake. He limited out AND caught the winning fish. Of course, tradition dictates that the winner buys a round for everyone at Rusty's Saloon...and so he did! Another great trip in the books and more great memories that come with it!


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