A Brief History of Alpers’ Rainbows
Beginning in the 1980’s Tim Alpers raised triploid Coleman strain rainbow trout at his Ranch at the headwaters of the Upper Owens River. In the pure spring water, these well-fed trout grew to enormous proportions, full-finned and gorgeous, then were sold to Mono and Inyo Counties and local businesses and stocked throughout Eastern Sierra waters. His trophy trout became so ubiquitous that every big Eastern Sierra rainbow was referred to as an “Alpers”. It so piqued the DFG that they began attaching metal “DFG” tags to all their brood stock plants.
Tim’s 3-acre Alpers Ranch pond was stocked with only his biggest and most prized rainbows. For $75 you could float tube the pond for three exciting hours (barbless catch and release fly fishing only) with a good shot at a 10 pounder if you knew what you were doing.
It took us years to get a reservation for one of the 9 rental cabins on the Ranch, but once we did we kept that same time slot every summer until the Ranch was sold in 2007.
Alpers’ Pond was magical, and those of you that fished it know what I’m talking about. Pam Alpers (Tim’s wife) showed me a picture of the biggest rainbow caught at the pond, with a snout like a dolphin, that weighed 19 pounds.
Alpers Ranch was sold to the owner of the adjacent Arcularius Ranch with a promise that it would remain undeveloped, and an unmaintained Alpers Pond was slowly overtaken by weeds.
Tim started a satellite operation in 2010, rearing Hofer strain rainbow trout (a hearty German strain more resistant to Whirling Disease), stocking his biggest ones in the 2-acre Conway Pond, near Mono Lake.
It was at Conway Pond, in 2013, that my wife Yvonne caught what I believe might be the biggest Alpers rainbow ever caught, on a size 14 callibaetis nymph, tied to a 7 pound tippet. When I weighed the fish in the net, it bottomed out my 15-pound Boga Grip scale, so I measured it; 35 inches long with a 23-inch girth. By the standard calculation (length x girth squared divided by 800) her fish weighed 23 pounds!
Sadly, Conway Pond closed in 2014, ending the Alpers legacy.
Tim Alpers: Thanks for the memories!
Alpers’ fish gallery – click each image to see full size.