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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson reports on 9.1.2016

My home lies on the edge of two worlds….. the Eastern Sierra and the Great Basin Desert. The light is changing, the shadows grow longer and the distant peaks are picking up the hazy, blue tones of autumn. The rabbitbrush is in full bloom, their yellow flowers are a hint of the fall colors soon to come. September and October are the best months on the eastside. The mornings are crisp, afternoons are warm, the weather is stable….. and the fishing ain’t have bad either.

San Joaquin River

The river is dropping gradually as the snow from the high country melts. The flows are about 10 cfs, running steady and true. This is a nice comfortable level for trout and the angler. You can get lots of fish nymphing with small mayfly patterns like a juju beats. As the temperatures rise look for salmon and stoneflies cruising through. Switch to a dry or a dry-dropper setup in the shallower runs. Use something fairly big like a #14-16 stimulator with a baetis nymph suspended below. There are lots of hungry browns and rainbows, and honestly, they don’t seem too particular what you throw at them. They are chomping just about anything.

Lower Owens River

I can literally see Crowley Lake dropping day by day from my house. The City of Los Angeles is transporting many acre feet of water down the Owens Valley to Southern California. The flows have finally dropped coming out of Pleasant Valley Reservoir and the river has become reasonable to walk and wade again at 150 cfs. Stay tuned for an updated fish report next week.

Upper Owens River

The Upper O is dribbling along at 43 cfs. It has been at this rate all summer long. The river below the bridge is off color with a fair amount of debris from the cattle grazing higher in the river. That said, the fishing is good on the lower river below the “Monument.” The water clarity higher in the system, between the Hot Creek confluence and the Longyear Ranch, is great. The best fishing is below the confluence down to the bridge. The water above towards the Ranch is on the boney side. A pheasant tail with a CDC collar was working like a champ.

East Walker

The flows are running steady at 85 cfs. The day and night time temperatures are dropping so the water temperatures should be coming into a safe and comfortable range for the trout as well. Keep a thermometer handy and be vigilant with the readings. Give the trout a break if the temps start climbing into the upper 60’s.

West Walker

The West Walker is a great place to fish. Even though the highway parallels the river, there are places that don’t receive that much angling pressure. The water is super clear, rocky, and lends itself well to dry flies, dry droppers, and nymphing. The flows are perfect now at 43 cfs and being a freestone river, the water temperatures are much cooler than the East Walker (a tail water fishery). I had good success using prince nymphs. There are lots of nice rainbows in the 12-14” range that tug very hard, especially in that current.

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