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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 7.14.2016

I’ve been away from California, the computer, my fly rods, and trout. My wife and I spent nearly two weeks visiting with our daughter and exploring New England. I did manage to break away one afternoon with a buddy to wade out into the tidal flats at the mouth of the Saco River in southern Maine to cast flies to Atlantic stripers. It was a hoot standing waist deep in the Atlantic Ocean casting to striped sea bass. I need to hit the salt water more often. It was a blast.


Locally, not much has changed. The weather has been nice and warm and the fishing solid and predictable. The freestone rivers are dropping in flow as the runoff from winter is stabilizing. For me, I am heading into the backcountry as much as possible. The temperatures are cooler and the prospect of catching golden trout beckons. Cheers!

San Joaquin River

The river is running at a steady 70 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

The stream flows have been raised slightly. Right now the river sits at about 250 cfs, give or take a few feet. The wading is on the tenuous side but doable. Choose your crossings carefully and use a wading staff. The fish are seeking the quiet water along seams and the deeper buckets below tail outs. For indicator nymphing, tie on black zebra midges or trichos in the mornings then make a bug adjustment as the temperatures rise. Go for something in the baetis family next. And there is the odd caddis and golden stone cruising around to add to the confusion. Those bright green caddis worms work like a charm once the morning chill wears off. As the temperatures begin to rise throughout the day, try casting into the shallower riffles. Trout are seeking the caddis and more oxygenated water.

Upper Owens River

The Upper O is ambling along at 41 cfs, not a raging flow by any means, but steady. 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 keeps creeping up, surging higher and higher. The flows sit at 230 cfs, which I believe is a great level. I’ve always liked the East Walker between 200-300 cfs, the trout have much more habitat and hideaways. The river has been fluctuating a little for several weeks now and the system hasn’t seen water levels like this in a few years. The higher levels are going to flush out a lot of the grass and algae that has built up during the low flow, hot summers. The water clarity is quite good but I don’t expect the levels to remain this high for too long. There just isn’t the water in the reservoir or high in the backcountry for runoff,  but that said, it is perfect — a nice healthy level for fish and anglers. The fish are spreading out throughout the river so the densities of fish are less. If you are not getting grabs, keep moving. The EW or “Dubyah” is a treat to fish…… with the fish spread out, the grabs are few and far between, but they are in there. Nice fish too! Enjoy.

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