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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 7.21.2016

Clear, hot, and breezy….. the perfect weather for fires. Let’s be careful out there. And speaking of temperatures, as these lazy days of summer bear down upon us, keep in mind your local trout streams are heating up as well. One of the many things I carry with me when I fish in the summer is a thermometer. This time of year I am usually wet wading and if I feel the water “seems” warm, it usually is…. to verify my gut feelings, I will plop my handy-dandy Fishpond thermometer into the stream while I am fishing. I’ve got it attached to a long, waterproof cord. I keep it submerged by stepping on the lanyard. After I think the thermometer has stabilized, I take a reading. If the temps are in the mid-60’s or lower, I will carry on and fish. As the mercury climbs towards the 70’s, however, you have to make a conscious decision whether to fish or to not fish. As for myself, I pack it in. You can still catch fish in warm water, BUT, their mortality rates sky rocket. There is less oxygen in warmer water, which is why you usually find trout hanging in or near the riffles in the summer months. They need to breathe. In cold, oxygen rich water, a trout can recover from being hooked and swim away to see another day. In tepid water that is not the case. Often, they do not revive and die….

So, be careful with campfires and keep tabs on the water temperatures. Cheers!

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San Joaquin River

The river keeps dropping as the snow from the high country has melted. The flows are about 43 cfs. 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.

Lower Owens River

If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of water screaming down the Owens Valley towards Los Angeles. The flows have sky rocketed to almost 370 cfs! I would wait until the flows come back down before venturing into the water. You can fish from the bank but I would not risk wading unless you enjoy swimming.

Upper Owens River

The Upper O is ambling along at 41 cfs, it does not seem to change. There are more trout in the system and the fishing has improved. You can expect to find browns and rainbows spread out from the lake (Crowley) to the Longyear Ranch. Most of the bigger fish have moved into the lake but there are still some nice stragglers to be had if you move around and keep grinding away at the river.

East Walker

The East Walker has been dropping slowly but surely. It seems that it changes about 20 cfs every few days.The flows are at 178 cfs, which is a great level. The trout have much more habitat and hideaways. The fish are spreading out throughout the river so the densities of fish are less. If you are not getting grabs, keep moving. Midges and baetis work well in the early mornings, then make a transition towards caddis and stoneflies as the day heats up. Damsel flies also work well, on top and sub-surface as well.

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