A number of 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 enjoying the spectacle of opening day at Crowley Lake. This large and immensely fertile manmade impoundment which drains much of the eastern slope is legend for both the volume of trout it produces and the circus it hosts annually on the first day of the trout season. Thousands of anglers and wannabe's jamb Highway 395 for miles in both directions, waiting for permission to launch from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power who owns and controls the lake. Sometimes, when the wind is up and the lake is too rough and scarred by whitecaps, permission to launch boats may be delayed or even denied. Over the years many hopeful anglers have been subjected to long and frustrating delays because conditions were deemed too dangerous for small boats. Nonetheless, they show up in droves. And paradoxically for many, this may be their sole fishing expedition for the year. A sort of annual rite of passage, a must thing to do. Indeed, scores will catch their limit within an hour or so and triumphantly head back to Los Angeles some three hundred miles away, mellowed out on beer and other beverages of choice, content that the long round trip was worth the drive.

On that particular day it was almost four P.M., and still the lake was closed when a very inebriated fellow weaved slowly up to Pister, a tall can of beer clutched in each fist. Peering blearily at Phil‘s badge, he asked: "Hey, man, aint you ever gonna open this damn lake?"

Pister explained that it was not his decision—the DFG just managed the fish—and recommended he ask a representative of the DWP.

The man seemed slowly to digest this advice, then in a hoarse and desperate voice blurted: "Aw, man, you jus gotta let us onta this lake. I caint take much more a this beer drinkin‘!"

Copyright 2000, John McKim