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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 2.10.2016

It is amazing how quickly the weather can change over here. A week ago the thermometer read – 4º at daybreak. Today it reads 24º. Last week the temps barely crept out of the single digits the warmest part of the day. Now they are climbing into the 50’s in Mammoth. Bishop is expecting temps in the 70’s.. The Upper Owens is turning into a muddy quagmire in the afternoons. Access is easy in the mornings as the ground is still frozen and firm but beware of your afternoon exit, choose your route carefully. The main north-south road which leaves the pavement is not a problem, however, watch out for the lateral roads that meander down to the river. The low lying ruts are full of deep, water. Even high clearance 4WD’s have gotten stuck to the floor boards. In places it is like quicksand. Use common sense out there.

Upper Owens River

The big rainbows are still spread throughout the river system. Last week the fishing was exceptional during the week, right after the storms. The trout had a few days off from angler pressure and the water was grabby. However, on the weekend, the fish got pounded. By Superbowl Sunday, it was hard to buy a grab. But they are in there…. be patient.
The flows are running a steady 46 cfs, the water is slightly off color from the recent storms, and fishing is good. 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 tailouts and start hucking out small bwo patterns, size 18. The flows have been fluctuating along with the weather. Storm systems have been marching through the area with regularity. 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 takes.

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