Tom Cruise, Tim Alpers and Talking Fish in June Lake, Mammoth

Tim Alpers has heard his share of fish stories, but there’s nothing like a hit of reality to knock him sideways.

Rather than serving up fish to the anglers among us, the former owner of the Alpers Owens River Ranch this week is serving up fish to Tom Cruise, the high-profile actor who is filming a new sci-fi film, “Oblivion,” in June Lake.

It’s not what you think.

“The way I understand it,” Alpers said on Tuesday, “The character Tom Cruise plays lives in a post-apocalyptic world, with no humans. The director is calling for Cruise to reach into a lake, pull up a fish and begin talking to it.”

Alpers couldn’t help but laugh about it, but at the same time, the directions were a bit of a challenge.

“We’re going to have our (fish) crew at the pond at Double Eagle Lodge," he said, "and get them anestheized, somehow, so that Tom can reach in and grab a fish, hold it close to his mouth and talk to it.”

Left unsaid—by Alpers and everybody else—was that how different the experience would be than to be lifting, say, Katie Holmes from the water, holding her face close to his lips and whispering sweet-nothings.

But that’s a tale for TV news and the celebrity magazines, which have covered, in as much depth as possible, the “Divorce Heard 'Round the World.”

As for Mammoth and June Lake, movie crews are out and working, the paparazzi was scrambling for anything at all about Cruise and his whereabouts in the Eastern Sierra and, of course, Alpers’ Talking Fish.

“For the next 12- to-72 hours,” Alpers said, “Mammoth Lakes and June Lake is it. We’re at the center of television, big economics, show business, you name it. We are at the center of attention everywhere. (ABC Good Morning America’s) Robin Roberts mentioned Mammoth Lakes on the news this morning; the L.A. Times is up to cover the Lemonade Stand proceeds at June Lake (see related story).”

He also mentioned the bankruptcy of Mammoth.

“It’s unbelievable.”

Cruise—shorter than you’d think—arrived at Mammoth-Yosemite Airport on Monday. He stopped off a private plane wearing a blue ball cap and an untucked white shirt. He zoomed away in a Black Cadillac Escalade.