Earth Day, Pupfish, and Fishmas 2024

Earth Day, Pupfish, and Fishmas 2024

“We’re an eco-system”– says it all at this year’s Earth Day celebrations, reintroductions, and upcoming fishing opener

By Christina Reed
The Hired Pen


“We believe in the healing properties of cannabis, CBD, and nature”–Oak Creek Dispensary


Eastern Sierra, CA– “We’re an eco-system,” says Matt Paruolo, Southern California Edison’s Local Public Affairs spokesman. And, his statement resonated across a number of venues this past Earth Day Weekend, in the eastern Sierra. From reintroductions of the ancient, historic, critically endangered Owens Pupfish on Paiute Tribal lands, to vegetation management and microgrids with SoCal Edison’s help, from Inyo County’s Office of Emergency Services’ wildfire and disaster safety tips to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s exhibits of unique and endangered Owens Valley fish species, there were many good ideas under the bright, sunny, Sunday, Earth Day, April 21, at the Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center in Bishop, CA.

Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center
The Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center came alive, literally and figuratively, on Earth Day, with colorful booths, demonstrations, Owens Valley artists and entrepreneurs, Inyo County’s Office of Emergency Services, and many of the region’s power / utility companies creating and promoting clean energy. The handouts, grab bags of resources, and free plants, flowers, and native seeds (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power handed out Indian Ricegrass seeds) were an interest point at all of the booths, and many of the participants were local representatives of state and federal agencies, which made the Earth Day Weekend seem relevant to our world.

The Bishop Paiute Tribe had volunteers walking the neighborhoods, picking up trash, on Earth Day, April 21, and the lush, green Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center grounds were beautifully on display, with the native vegetation starting to sprout in spring. Top on the Tribe’s list of recent achievements, the reintroduction of the Owens Pupfish, with the Tribe and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife heading up this unique Native American project. Unique, in that, the Owens Pupfish has been on the United States Endangered Species list, the California Endangered Species list, and is a fully protected California species. And, it looks like California legislation and recognition is on its way to be enacted, on behalf of this endangered species too!

Fishmas Dreaming….
Can you feel it? Can you smell it? Can you catch it? It’s the annual, Fishmas Day, the Eastern Sierra Fishing Opener, on Saturday, April 27, at dawn. And, this year’s trout fishing opener promises to be a slightly different version from last year’s overwhelmingly, snowy year. The Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that Crowley Lake never completely froze over in 2023-2024, and they were able to reach their usual stocking locations this year. Crowley Lake is very full, so shoreline camping isn’t going to happen this year. A consumption advisory has been issued by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment for Crowley Lake fish species and mercury content. “The advisory provides safe-eating advice for Golden Shiner, Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Sacramento Perch.” This safe-eating advice is site-specific, and is age and gender specific, so looking at the OEHHA’s website is advised for the safest fish consumption. Also, the backcountry lakes, like Sabrina and South Lake, and Rock Creek Lake are still frozen, so exercise caution. However, Intake II, up Bishop Creek is ice free.

There are several Youth Fly Fishing Camps at the Bishop City Park, and in southern Inyo County there is a Kids Free Fishing Day at the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery, Independence, CA (Saturday, April 27, from 9 am – 12 pm), and a Trout Derby at Diaz Lake, south of Lone Pine, CA, Saturday, April 27, 6 am – 3 pm (put on by the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce with free coffee and doughnuts at sign in), and remember…anyone 16 years of age and older needs a California fishing license. As for Earth Day, and the benefits of fishing, well, let us count the ways to cast on the successes. Conservation efforts include catch and release, lead-free weights, barbless hooks, and biodegradable fishing lines, and then there’s the reel / real reasons we fish. Relaxation. Enjoy nature. A way to spend quality time with friends and family. It builds community. Happy fishing everyone!