MONO COUNTY, Calif. – For anglers, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, a time dubbed by locals and visitors alike as “Fishmas,” otherwise known as the official start to the fishing season in Mono County.

Mono County is a trout fishing paradise, and this 2016 season, starting on April 30, promises to be a big one, thanks to a strong winter, mild spring temperatures, thawing and filled lakes, and big plans for fish stocking throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Fred Stump, a longtime Crowley Lake resident and chair of the Mono County Board of Supervisors, has seen numerous fishing openers over the years.

“Opening weekend has a very special energy – everyone is so excited to be on the water again after the long winter,” Stump said. “And here’s a tip: The whole month of May is the best-kept secret for anglers because the fish are hungry and the summer crowds haven’t yet arrived.”

“We are looking forward to the best opening day conditions since 2012, both in terms of the amount of fish being planted and the healthy water levels of our lakes,” said Jeff Simpson, Mono County’s economic development manager.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) have planned a 20 percent increase in fish stocking allotments for Mono County, currently scheduled for every other week along with holidays and local events, according to James Erdman, an environmental scientist with the department.

“Many factors influence fish production and planting schedules…and we employ a planting criteria based on water temperatures and/or water flow,” Erdman said. “Our hatchery personnel work hard to provide a quality angling experience for the public and should be commended for their dedication.”

In addition to DFW’s allotments, Mono County will plant 6,400 pounds of fish this spring, with the majority of the three-to-five-pound trophy trout arriving before opening day, and an additional 17,600 pounds of fish before the end of the season in the fall.

Some of the streams and lakes regularly stocked throughout the county include Rock Creek, Rock Creek Lake, Convict Lake, Crowley Lake, Mammoth Lakes Basin (which includes Twin, Mary, Mamie and George), the June Lake Loop (June, Gull, Silver and Grant), Saddlebag Lake, Lundy Lake, Big Virginia and Little Virginia Lakes, Twin Lakes in Bridgeport, Bridgeport Reservoir, Robinson Creek and the West Walker River.

“With so many of our summer visitors coming to the Eastern Sierra specifically to fish, we are committed to providing an exceptional experience for anglers and we can’t wait to welcome both new and returning fishing enthusiasts this season,” said Gaye Mueller, chair of the Mono County Fisheries Commission and organizer of the 29th Annual Kids Fishing Festival (which takes place July 30 in Mammoth Lakes).

The official Mono County Fishing Opener kicks off on April 30 with numerous events, derbies and festivities, including the classic Fishmas Day Celebration at Tom’s Place, Crowley Lake’s Big Fish Contest, Round-up at Convict Lake, the Monster Trout Contest in the June Lake Loop, plus a brand-new derby -- the WON 395 Big Fish Sierra Trout Opener.  For those that can’t wait that long, regular fishing season at Topaz Lake just north of Walker/Coleville is going on right now – sign up for the Hook Line & Sinker, Ken Hembree Classic derby on April 9 and 10 at Topaz Lake. For a complete list of fishing events all season long at Mono County, visit MonoCounty.org/Fishing or contact Mono County Tourism at 800-845-7922.

About Mono County:  Located approximately 315 miles north of Los Angeles, and 280 miles east of San Francisco, Mono County accesses the east entrance to Yosemite National Park and beckons visitors in all seasons.  Whether taking advantage of convenient direct flights on Alaska or United Airlines from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), San Diego (SAN) and San Francisco (SFO)) to Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH) or arriving by car on the all-weather US Hwy. 395, the Eastern Sierra’s vast playground is an easily reached destination.  US Hwy. 395, which traverses Mono County from north to south, is a State Designated Scenic Byway offering motorists tremendous vistas right from the steering wheel and countless side-roads, hiking trails, lakes, and roadside villages to explore.  For more information or to request guides, visit MonoCounty.org or call 800-845-7922.

PHOTOS: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/3jnsr56u4o0dbho/AACScBIrMPbkK90YVw9GJPXca?dl=0