The mercury is rising….. the weather is hot and windy. Bishop has been in the triple digits all week. With the warm temperatures, the snow is melting even in the high country. Many of our freestone streams are beginning to blow out again. A few weeks ago the fishing was off-the-charts stellar, now with the runoff upon us, trout are scattered and fishing has slowed. You can still pick up nice fish here and there, but just don’t expect the “numbers.” The extra water is a good thing. Fishing (and catching) will get better soon. I’ve been dividing my time between high country hiking and the San Joaquin, trying to avoid the heat. Plus it is nice seeing new water…..
San Joaquin River
The river fluctuates in volume throughout the day and night depending on the runoff coming out of the high country. That said, the flows are in the 200-260 cfs range which is very fishable. Rainbow Falls looks very nice now with lots of water cascading over the rim. You can get lots of fish nymphing with small mayfly patterns like a juju baetis. 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 stabilized. Right now the river sits at about 230 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 finally starting to see more water. The gauging station reads 44 cfs, but this is high in the river system. If you were to measure below the Hot Creek confluence, the reading would be substantially higher. That said, the fishing is marginal at best above the Benton Crossing Bridge. The river and the weather are in a state of transition now. It won’t be long and the “catching" will improve again.
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.