¿El Niño, dónde está? February is going out
with a fizzle. I mean the weather is unbelievably nice, don’t get me
wrong, but t-shirt weather? Hopefully March will bring much needed snow
to the mountains.
Upper Owens River
The river is changing…. big rainbows can still be found here and there but I believe a lot of fish are moving back into Crowley Lake. The numbers of fish being hooked are decreasing. It could be that these trout are getting wiser as the winter ambles on, who knows? They’ve been getting pounded by anglers. With the lack of snow along the river system, access is easy, and fisherman have been fighting tooth and nail for the opportunity to hook into large fish. In “normal” wintery years, deep snow provides a barrier to access and the trout get a few months of solitude.
The flows are running a steady 42
cfs and the water is pretty clear, so you need to fish with some
stealth. Walk quietly along the river banks, watch where your shadow
casts upon the water, and keep a lower profile. The fish are spooky with
the low, clear water. You are not going to get high numbers of fish but
the trout you hook into are large, very large. The water temperatures
are cold, so you can expect to find the nice rainbows in the tail outs.
Look for deep buckets. Try copper johns, san juans, and pheasant tails.
Vary the color, some days pink is the ticket, other times it is red.
They like the bright colors. Make sure you are getting your nymph rigs
deep enough. A combination of enough split shot and setting your
indicator deep enough is the trick. The key is patience. Keep grinding
away on a run. Keep the faith. Again, they’re in there. Make sure you
are covering a tail out thoroughly, start your drifts near and end far.
The fish are lethargic. Putting your bugs right in front of their faces
is the key to success. Good luck out there, stay warm.
Lower Owens River
I would have to say that all in all, the fishing has been steadily
improving, but that said, one day it is stellar, the next it seems like
you are casting to empty water. The afternoon baetis hatch has returned.
Look for rise forms in the foam lines and start hucking out small bwo
patterns, size 18. The stream flows are holding steady at about 100 cfs.
The wading is still easy but the water is 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 stimulating 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 do
they land softly but more importantly, you can detect even the softest