Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery Tag

Revisiting the Eastern Sierra

Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower forty-eight states, is the peak in the background with the jagged spires. Photo by author.

My first opportunity to visit California’s magnificent Eastern Sierra came in late April 1975, while I was a young Fish and Game warden stationed on the Colorado River. During the next three and a half years, I was sent to the Eastern Sierra six more times. My assignments included working the opening weekend of trout season at Crowley Lake, the opening weekend of deer season near Walker, and covering the June Lake Loop while district warden “Bigfoot” Johnson was on vacation. Regardless the duty, I couldn’t wait to go.

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.