Last Sunday I ventured into new territory. I led a backcountry photography workshop into the Emigrant Wilderness Area just south of Sonora Pass out of Kennedy Meadows, not to be confused with the Kennedy Meadows in the southern Sierra. Although this was a photography outing, I was able to “sneak” a 7’6” Redington 2wt rod into my pack and fished everyday of the weeklong outing. I know… pity me, right? I fished the South Fork of the Stanislaus River, Kennedy Creek, and Kennedy Lake, where our group camped. There are some REALLY nice fish out there; very beautifully marked brown trout that bent my 2 wt well into the cork. I had a fun week taking photos of a section of the Sierra I had never visited before. Catching some nice trout was the icing on the cake.
Get out there, enjoy the wild, and be safe….
San Joaquin River
The river is dropping gradually as the snow from the high country melts. The flows are about 14 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
Upper Owens River
The Upper O is ambling along at 41 cfs. It never seems to change. 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.
I would skip the East Walker until the water temperatures start cooling down. If you must fish the river, get on the water early in the morning while the temperatures are still in the 60’s. It doesn’t take long for the river to heat up into the 70’s, once that happens, give the trout a break.
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 60 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.