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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson reports on 12.22.2016

Has anyone ever had a close encounter of the bovine kind? Let me explain. I was guiding a client on the Lower Owens River and was rammed by a cow! I inadvertently startled her coming out of the willows but instead of loping off in an another direction as they usually do, she ran full steam at me, lowered her head, and hit me square in my chest. I went airborne, flying backwards into the brush about ten feet. I was a little sore afterwards, but no worse for wear. The two fly rods I was carrying survived as well. So beware of the cattle down there.

The ski area received 4-5 feet of snow from that latest front with more expected this weekend. Fresh snow for Christmas. It doesn’t get much nicer. I hope everybody has a wonderful holiday. Be safe out there!

Lower Owens River


The Lower Owens is flowing at 75 cfs. This is on the lower side but it makes the wading easy. The trout are still in there with appetites. With the background peaks cloaked with fresh snow, Bishop is a nice place to wet a line. Try a hopper-dropper combo with either a black zebra midge or micro mayfly on the bottom. There is also a nice midday surface hatch along the foam lines to anticipate. Small, sized 18-20 bwo’s work great. I love when the browns start looking up. I usually use a 2 or 3 wt rod. You can throw super delicate presentations and fight feisty browns on a nimble rod-reel setup. Try an Adam’s or a hackle stacker. It is really fun!

Upper Owens River

The Upper O is getting better. With the surface of the reservoir freezing, the trout start their winter migration to spawn and to seek more oxygen. The fishing can be hot or cold. One day the river is really grabby, then the next it can punish you. I’ve had good success nymphing with a soft hackled pheasant tail, copper johns, and black zebra midges. Egg patterns work well too. The key is that the trout are moving up the river which means you should do the same. The fish are really spread out through the river. If you are not getting bumps, walk to the next run. The flows are low and clear, currently running at 52 cfs. Be stealthy. The sun angle is low now which means you cast a long shadow. Try to keep your shadow off the water and walk quietly to the river’s edge. If you see fish, they can see you.

East Walker

Keep an eye on the flows, they’ve been all over the map the last couple of weeks but I believe they are settling into the winter mode. This morning it was about 28 cfs. If the river sits at below 50, I avoid the East Walker to give the fish a break. Just saying’….

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