Wow! June has arrived with a bang. They say, “If you don’t like the weather now in the mountains, just wait a day.” It was chilly and very unsettled through the Memorial Weekend, now the thermometer is climbing rapidly. This means a lot of the streams around the Eastern Sierra will rise with runoff from the backcountry snowmelt. Nothing dangerous, but expect many streams like Hot Creek to rise and become off color. This is good, we need the water. The streams need a good flushing. And, keep in mind, trout still need to eat. San Juan’s are a great pattern to try in streams that have lost their clarity. Don’t be afraid to step up your tippet size as well. The trout won’t be leader shy. And finally, in “heavy” water, expect the fish to be hanging along the margins of the river. Keep casting into that quiet water along the stream edges, the soft water along the seams, and those eddies behind rocks and high spots. They’re in there…..
Lower Owens RiverThe stream flows have stabilized. Right now the river sits at about 250 cfs, give or take a few feet. The wading is difficult as the water is swift, deep and cold. The fish are seeking the quiet water along seams and the deeper buckets below tail outs. For indicator nymphing, tie on black zebra midges in the mornings then make a bug adjustment as the temperatures rise. Go for something in the baetis family next. Red San Juan worms have been working well when the “normal” bug array are not eliciting grabs. And there is the odd caddis cruising around to add to the confusion. The grabs are subtle and lethargic. Yarn indicators work great this time of year. Not only will they land softly but more importantly, you can detect even the softest takes.
Upper Owens River
The river seems to roll along at a constant 40 something cfs..… the odd, big rainbow can still be found here and there but a lot of fish have moved back into Crowley Lake. The cutthroat spawn is thankfully about over. Those poor fish have been getting pounded by the masses. It is distressing to watch anglers cast to fish lying on their redds. Though not illegal, it certainly lacks ethics and integrity. I think most people are well intentioned but clueless. Fish the deeper buckets and avoid the fish hanging out in the shallows. Please be careful where you wade. You can see their “redds" along the gravely sections of the river. These are the light colored depressions on the bottom that have been cleared by the trout to lay their eggs. You can easily kill thousands of fish with klutzy wading. The cutthroats have depleted energy reserves and are stressed from the spawn. Please be respectful of the fish and help ensure a healthy population of trout for the future.
The East Walker is back up to 200 cfs. 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 through 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.