Highway 395 Tag

Every fall, aspens put on a magnificent display in California’s Eastern Sierra. Photo by Steven T. Callan.

Golden Trout and Golden Trees

Every fall, aspens put on a magnificent display in California’s Eastern Sierra. Photo by Steven T. Callan.

Every fall, aspens put on a magnificent display in California’s Eastern Sierra. Photo by author.

The first time I experienced the awesome grandeur of California’s Eastern Sierra was in 1975, when, as a rookie Fish and Game warden, I drove there on assignment to work the Crowley Lake trout-season opener. That spring, the majestic mountains to the west were covered with snow, and the entire scene, from Mount Whitney to Mammoth Lakes, looked like something you’d see on a Christmas card. Over the years I’ve visited again and again, sometimes in the spring, sometimes in the summer, and sometimes in the fall.  Whatever the season,  the Eastern Sierra always offers an eye-popping display of color and natural beauty.

Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery, which is featured in "Crowley Trout Opener," a chapter in Badges, Bears, and Eagles--The True-Life Adventures of a California Fish and Game Warden by Steven T. Callan.

Crowley Trout Opener

Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery, which is featured in "Crowley Trout Opener," a chapter in Badges, Bears, and Eagles--The True-Life Adventures of a California Fish and Game Warden by Steven T. Callan.

Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery. Photo by Kathy Callan.

The last weekend in April marked the opening of trout season in California’s Eastern Sierra Mountains. This annual spectacle rivals the Mardi Gras in New Orleans or spring break in Palm Beach.

Highway 395 out of the Los Angeles basin was jammed with a steady stream of cars, trucks, motor homes, and trailers, all the way to Bridgeport. Every motel in Lone Pine, Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, Lee Vining, and Bridgeport was booked and every campsite was full. What Christmas is to department stores, trout opener was to businesses in the Eastern Sierras. Fish and Game wardens from all over Southern California were commandeered to leave their own manageable districts and spend three days in virtual chaos.