Many years ago, Phil Pister, at that time the local California Department of Fish & Game warden for the Mammoth Lakes area of California's High Sierra was again enjoying the spectacle of opening day at Crowley Lake. The annual circus of anglers and wannabes that transforms this immensely fertile manmade impoundment that drains much of the eastern sierra was in full swing. For once the weather had cooperated and the long queue of boat trailers were soon emptied of their watercraft. Scarcely twenty minutes after the lake was opened to fishing, to Phil’s surprise a small skiff could be seen returning, its lone occupant steering directly for the dock. ‘Surely,’ Phil surmised, ‘no one could have limited out that soon. Guy probably just needs to relieve himself.’ As the angler cut the engine and made fast bow and stern an excited crowd

began to form. Phil could faintly hear a buzz of questions which soon became audible as the occupant climbed out of his boat, hefted a very large fish secured by a lanyard through its gill and mouth and marched shoreward.

"Hey, man, where'd you get him?" "What kinda bait?" "Did it take a lure? What kind?" "Geez, look at that thing!" Everyone was excited, shouting questions, as the fisherman strode silently forward

It was not until the man was nearly abreast of Pister that Phil was able to identify the species and see the smug smile playing about the fellow's mouth. Phil barely managed to stifle a matching grin. Far be it for him to spoil the fun. To the knowledgable, it was obvious that the hero-of-the-moment's apparently near-record catch was a beautiful thirty-plus pound freshly thawed white sea bass.

In old mining parlance, that crafty devil had simply ‘salted’ the lake.

Copyright 2001, John McKim