Bishop Visitor Logo

Bishop Visitor's Center

Last month I stumbled upon a volunteer activity that really caught my attention – stocking Hot Creek with fish by bucket brigade! I quickly signed up and showed up at the parking area above the geothermal pools with a good crowd of other volunteers on a crisp October morning.

.image of Hot Creek on a fall morning

Why the bucket brigade?

We were briefed by Dr. Mark Drew, eastern Sierra CalTrout Headwaters project director, on the health of the Hot Creek fishery, and the project he’s been working on since 2016.

image of small group of people receiving instruction for the fish plant.

A 2007 survey by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife counted 12,000 fish per mile — one of the highest densities of wild trout in California. A follow-up in 2016 indicated the number had plummeted by a staggering 92 percent. Dr. Drew believes a Perfect Storm of factors is probably responsible; he listed the opening of Hot Creek to winter fishing without the promised Department of Fish and Wildlife annual health monitoring, the prolonged drought, and the concomitant 50% decreased in the flow of the spring that feeds the stream as probable causes.

The department adopted a shock-and-stock approach on Hot Creek, annually monitoring the progress of planting 20,000 (able to reproduce) sub-catchable trout each of the last two years — 12,000 rainbows and 8,000 browns, in the 3- to 4-inch range. Records are unclear, but it’s likely been decades since the wild stream was stocked, making the drastic intervention historic. The hope is that a hearty, sustainable population takes hold again. The stream will be stocked with 12,000 fish every year hereafter until annual population surveys indicate that there are 6,000 fish per mile of stream.

close-up image of small brown trout in a bucket.        close up image of small rainbow trout in a bucket.

DFW has done a quick study and finds no issues with water quality or food availability, and this is the third year for the bucket planting. Results are promising.

image of a man walking with a bucket of fish.

Photo: Fred Rowe

image of man holding a bucket of fish.

Photo: Fred Rowe

When a group of 25 people surveyed the stream in September of 2017, 80 percent of the trout were identified as “planters.” Surveyors used a  backpack capable of delivering 400 to 700 volts to shock sections of the stream. The “shockers” were followed by “live cars” — vented, plastic garbage cans that allow water flow — where stunned fish are deposited. James Erdman, a Fish and Wildlife biologist, estimated the largest trout landed was a 24-inch brown, but added “there were quite a few great browns in that 20-24 range.” Fish numbers jumped about 20 percent from 2016 to ’17, Erdman said, adding that they were “guardedly optimistic”.

The stream was shocked and trout counted again earlier this fall, and Dr. Drew indicated that the numbers were promising. Our job would be to deposit another 20,000 fish by forming a bucket brigade along the creek to the west of the geothermal pools (which form a natural barrier from the fish downstream).

How it went down

image of man carrying bucket down a hill.    image of truck with fish tank on the bed.

We spread ourselves out along the trail while Department of Fish and Wildlife employees filled the buckets, complete with little aerators. Buckets of live trout were passed from hand to hand upstream. At the end of the brigade the fish were gently released into the creek.

image of a man standing in a stream.

Photo: Fred Rowe

image of fish being transferred from a bucket to the creek.

Photo: Fred Rowe

Empty buckets were quickly transferred back up the line to be refilled.

image of a woman with a load of buckets.

We were a jovial group and people had come from quite a distance to help out; including southern California and Las Vegas. Hot Creek is a beloved fishery,  and people are very invested in its health. After a few hours and many hands, all the fish were in the water. We high-fived each other and now we wait for the next survey – holding on to hope for Hot Creek to thrive again.

If you want to go

Hot Creek is open for fishing all year with special regulations: Only artificial flies with barbless hooks may be used, and with a zero limit (catch and release only).

http://www.eregulations.com/california/fishing/freshwater/waters-special-regulations-f-m/

And remember that the Upper and Lower Owens are also great winter/ Year round fisheries…

Be sure to tag us when you post your photos: we are @visitbishop on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

 

Coronavirus Special Message

Check out the Digital Bishop Visitor Guide!

Archived Stories

Tell us:

Follow Us on Instagram

Join Us on Facebook!

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

20 hours ago

Who loves to get up where the oxygen is thin??!! Mt. Langley is one of the many 14,000' peaks here in our backyard. If you are coming this way, make sure to check out the current guidelines and state regulations. www.bishopvisitor.com/covid/
#KeepBishopOpen #KeepInyoOpen
Thanks, @wanderlena82 for this awesome shot!
... See MoreSee Less

Who loves to get up where the oxygen is thin??!! Mt. Langley is one of the many 14,000 peaks here in our backyard. If you are coming this way, make sure to check out the current guidelines and state regulations. https://www.bishopvisitor.com/covid/
#KeepBishopOpen #KeepInyoOpen 
Thanks, @wanderlena82 for this awesome shot!

Comment on Facebook Who loves to get up ...

I went up to 12,500 at Ski Apache in Ruidoso, N.M. My head nearly exploded.

Yep. I feel so amazing in high altitudes.

Very well done. I’ve never been over 12,000 and that just about ended me.

Why cant we post pics on this site anymore?

Been there a couple of times. Better than Whitney

Congratulations!

BEAUTIFUL

I like those kinds of places. You can get a natural high. I think I've been there before. Hope to get back there soon. <3

Badassery

Great photo! Looking great @ 14k+ ❤️

Definitely has a great view

...would have done it 40 years ago

How come females look so good after bagging a peak, but guys look tuckered out?

Mammoth parade starts at 11:00

Always head up to Whites Mountain for Ancient Bristol Cone Forest.

Awesome

Been up there.

My friend Jack McBroom from Hemet climbed the highest 14 peaks on California in about four and a half days. Not sure that is still the record but I know it was for awhile. Sports Illustrated did an article about him.

Hayden Pester adding this to our list

View more comments

2 days ago

In case you need to do a little reflecting today....

Thanks for the beautiful shot of Honeymoon Lake, @biffnix
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen #MaskWashDistance
... See MoreSee Less

In case you need to do a little reflecting today.... 

Thanks for the beautiful shot of Honeymoon Lake, @biffnix  
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen #MaskWashDistance

Comment on Facebook In case you need to ...

So beautiful California gold 😊😊❤❤

Reflection pix are my fav 🤩

Oh my, unimaginable beauty! Stunning!

Beautiful

So where exactly is this lake?

Just amazing!

Beautiful

Incredible!

See you there 4ofjuly

Can’t wait to get back up there!

I love it!

I like that you can go there even when you aren't on a Honeymoon. Even single folks go there. <3

So which side is up? Lol Great shot 👌!

Maayan Damti

Gorgeous.

Can't wait for August 1st will be there a whole week

Absolutely beautiful

Sharp knife and a shave! Awesome.

That water is like glass!

How beautiful

Hot creek. Much good for skin! Be respectful of native americans!!!!

Amazing

Hopefully we'll be able to go up there Labor Day weekend.

View more comments

3 days ago

The night sky here sure is something magical. 😍

Thank you, @Pat Pester for this beautiful shot!
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen
... See MoreSee Less

The night sky here sure is something magical. 😍

Thank you, @Pat Pester for this beautiful shot!
#KeepInyoOpen #KeepBishopOpen

Comment on Facebook The night sky here ...

Amazing! Don't see this very often!

The stars at night are beautiful. Miss them

Just beautiful. One of many reasons I love going there

Just spent 3 days there. Beautiful as always.

Missed my annual trip this past Memorial Day weekend, the beautiful Eastern Sierras Lake Sabrina South Lake etc were always so peaceful & tranquil to visit!

Absolutely amazing 😉

So beautifulth thanks for sharing 😊😊❤❤

13 days..... I We’ll be there!!!!

South Lake

This is at bishops??

View more comments

6 days ago

Happy Friday!! Ahhhhh, Big Pine Creek, looking sooooo good!
Thank you, @Pat Pester for the photo!
... See MoreSee Less

Happy Friday!! Ahhhhh, Big Pine Creek, looking sooooo good!
Thank you, @Pat Pester for the photo!

Comment on Facebook Happy Friday!! ...

Beautiful!! I wish I would be there!!

Such breath taking beauty! I so 💙 the Sierra's, and have many awesome memories of my times there. Thanks for sharing! 🌞

I love second lake especially for the view of temple crag

Just magnificent!

Great picture love Bishop

I wish the same as you Mary!

Was up there last week. Weather was perfect. Hiked up to Chickenfoot while I was there.

Still having earthquakes?

Been there! Beautiful!

Wonderful picture

Spent fathers day week there

Love the Sierras.

Beautiful!

Remember doing this hike. Gorgeous

So beautiful

Headed that way soon! 🏕

Beautiful

Sure hope to get there soon.

Very peaceful setting.

Breathtaking

Beautiful

What a godly view. On the hwy. drive you can see Snow on top of Mount Whitney mountains, so awesome during in month of June when its hot

Mt. Sill ! Sally Spear Molé. Stephen Busch . Do remember climbing this mountain Stephen ? That was an adventure !

I used to live in the town of Big pine many years ago

I wish !!!

View more comments

7 days ago

We love seeing folks doing their part to #KeepInyoOpen by wearing their face coverings! #lovebishop
Thank you, Chris Bubser for Congress for this cool shot!
#visitbishop
... See MoreSee Less

We love seeing folks doing their part to #KeepInyoOpen by wearing their face coverings!  #lovebishop
Thank you, Chris Bubser for Congress for this cool shot!
#visitbishop

Comment on Facebook We love seeing folks...

Thank you for doing your part. Just get used to it, we're in it for the long haul. It doesn't hurt to err on the side of caution. I would.

Best little town in the West. I hope you're all hanging in there. Stay safe so I can visit this fall!

I love Bishop because of it’s proximity to Death Valley and the Sierras. On a motorcycle!

A family hiking out in the mountains on a warm summer day..... with masks on. This has to be the stupidest photo on FB all day.

Ah, wearing a mask outdoors in the Sierra's. They're obeying their globalist masters. Good little sheep.

What a sad picture that this family appears to be out in the countryside ,away from people, wearing a mask..

You don’t need masks if you are outside hiking with your family.

Makes no sense to go up to the mountains for fresh mountain air just to breathe in your own co2

The masks with the exhale feature on it does not block your droplets from exiting and infecting the people around you.

That is not the Bishop I grew up in. We didn’t live in fear‼️ Bishop as lost it’s way. Sad fir a beautiful area ,

What time does the 4th of July parade start ?

masks are nonsense,, please stop

I really miss living there. Be back soon.

Enough of this bs. No way I would go hiking in the mtns and wear a mask. Just may as well stay in the cesspool known as LA County and breathe the air here with a mask on.

Hopefully the mask wearing works, cause the social distancing and all the sanitizing isn’t...

Wearing masks in fresh mountain air & sunshine. Just can't fix stupid.

More crying 😢 about wearing a mask. Pitiful little babies!!

Guess I won’t go this year👎

Jeeping this 4th of July!

More sheep

Looking good!

Yellow star,mask..same thing advocated by the same types of people.

No more masks.

Missing hometown

Lived in Bishop early 90's. Can't believe what houses cost there now!!!

View more comments

Load more