Morrison’s Fall Bonus Derby Feeds the Soul (and the Creel) at Convict Lake
There’s an old saying around Mammoth that goes, “People may come for the winters, but they stay for the summers.” While that’s accurate, it’s missing a key element in the equation—fall.
Autumn is when most local and longtime visitors, especially those of us with passions for fishing, hiking, photography and mountain biking, really fall in love with the place. The leaves light up like fireworks, the mountain peaks begin to get crested in white, and the crowds are gone. The lakes and streams, however, are still full of trout, hungry for a fat meal before another winter arrives.
That’s why many anglers will tell you fall is the best time to cast around the Eastern Sierra. Charles Porter is just such an angler. He moved up to Mammoth at the turn of the century and began working at Convict Lake a couple years ago.
“I love the fall here. The fishing, the hunting, you get the great fall colors and mellow crowds. You can’t beat it,” Charles said. But then he corrected himself, because you can beat it, or at least put some nice frosting on the cake if you fish at Convict Lake.
The annual Ambush at the Lake Derby runs all fall on Convict Lake and rewards participating anglers with great prizes ranging from fishing gear to stays at the Convict Lake Resort. But on the last weekend of the month, the Morrison Bonus Derby takes place, rewarding anglers with a total of $2,200 in cash as cold and hard as the rocks that line the lake. (See details about the derby below).
Even those who aren’t lucky enough to catch one of the 14 tagged fish are still bound to have lots of luck at Convict Lake. The crisp fall nights make the trout feisty and ready to fatten up before another winter takes over.
“The biggest fish are usually caught in the fall,” Charles said about his favorite season. “The fish are more active and there’s plenty of them. The lake gets stocked every two weeks and even more will be put in for the Morrison Bonus Derby.”
Charles, who is also an avid bird hunter, said just about any method that works during the summer can work during the fall, too. The popular ways to fish Convict Lake in autumn include trolling with needlefish or Tasmanian Devils, or bait fishing the banks with Powerbait and inflated night crawlers. Fly fishers who like to strip streamers also find plenty of success on the gin-clear lake.
The slogan for Convict Lake Resort reads: “Good for the Soul.” It’s a slogan that’s easy to appreciate when autumn arrives.
“The fall is the best time. Between the great fishing and the crisp fall air, to the beauty of the colors and the really unique experience at Convict Lake of having mountain peaks over 11,000-feet high right here,” Charles said, “Fall is the prime time to come up and do something good for your soul.”
The Morrison Bonus Derby is held at Convict Lake from October 28-30. The weekend long derby will have 14 tagged trophy trout stocked in the lake. Each of the fish will be tagged with a different dollar amount equaling a total of $2,200 in cash prizes. One fish will be tagged for $1,000, one for $500, two for $100 and ten for $50. There is no need to register to participate. All you’ve ha veto do is catch a tagged fish and turn it in to the Convict Lake Resort general store by closing on the day of your catch. So be sure to check for closing time on the day you go fishing. Tags must be intact and attached to the fish at time of check-in.
For more information about the derby call 760-934-3800 or go to convictlake.com.
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