And voilà! Just as the weather forecasters predicted, we have snow! Not exactly an “atmospheric river” but there is snow on the ground with more expected throughout the weekend. The ski area is reporting a half foot. The paved roads are slick and I am guessing that the Upper Owens River will have some mucky conditions to contend with. Be careful out there! Today seems like a good time to stay indoors. I am going to sit down at the tying bench and stock up on winter flies, Christmas presents, and some steelhead patterns. Cheers!
Beware. Many of the streams in the Eastern Sierra have closed for the season. Watch the regulations. The Upper Owens (above the bridge), Lower Owens, Hot Creek, and the East Walker are open year around.
Lower Owens RiverThe Lower Owens is flowing at 75 cfs. This is on the low side but the wading is easy and the trout are hungry. 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. Money! 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. It is really fun!
Upper Owens River
The Upper O is getting better. Larger fish are moving out of the reservoir and into the river system but 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. 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.
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’….
Jim Stimson Fly Fishing