Those anglers who decided to head up to June Lake for the Opening Day of fishing season were in for a big surprise this year. The lake had been stocked this past October with 20,000 pounds of trout weighing from 3 to 11 pounds.
As the sun started melting away the night’s several inches of snow in the June Lake area, many fishers could be seen walking with their lines full to the limit with some good-sized fish, taking them to the marina to get weighed and cleaned.
According to Mickie and John Fredrickson, owners and operators of the June Lake Marina, they had hatched and grown thousands of fish but the drought cut into the amount of water needed at the hatchery to keep all of the fish alive so they decided to stock them into June Lake.
The Fredericksons also own Crowley Lake Marina, and are partners in Inland Aquaculture Group at Conway Ranch, where the famous Alpers heavyweight trout were reared up until this season. The fish were previously grown for decades by Tim Alpers and the Alpers family at the Alpers Owens River Ranch, which was sold in 2007. Alpers joined the Inland Aquaculture Group at Conway Ranch, eventually bowing out to serve as a Mono County supervisor.
“Local people still refer to the fish as ‘Alpers’ because they were hatched and raised at the ranch, but they are just a certain breed of trout,” Frederickson said. “And the ranch is now called Inland Aquaculture.”
According to Mickie, the planting of the Alpers whoppers was done in secret last October.
“Last year we had an overstock, so we held a ‘Fish-Off’ at the hatchery, and whatever was left over from that we put in the lake,” Mickie said. “We kept it private because we didn’t want people coming and fishing the lake out.”
It took 15 truckloads and four days to get the fish moved from the hatchery to June Lake. It takes two to five years to get the fish bred, hatched and grown to the size of 3- to 11-pounders, and Fredrickson said that those are the ones being caught now.
And there were plenty of anglers to do the catching this year.
Frederickson said the 2014 Opening Day was busier than ever at the marina, even with the snowy weather. “We’ve been here for over 40 years and in 2008 it dropped off and then it gradually declined, but this year it exploded.”
June Lake Marina also held its annual fishing derby. The winner of the custom belt buckle that Mickie gives away every year was Bill Hawkins, with his fish weighing in at 6.25 pounds.