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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 2.3.2016

Winter has hit the eastside, it is cold and snowy. Today we awoke to a balmy 4º, yesterday it was – 4º!  Beware out there! I can’t emphasize that enough. There are no access problems for the lower Owens River, however the upper is an entirely different story. Friday’s storm system arrived warm and wet. The high mountains received snow, but the lowlands rain. Then on Sunday, it snowed all day down to the valley floor. The ski area is reporting 3-4 feet, the river received about a foot. What this all boils down to is that access is an issue. 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, icy water. Even high clearance 4WD’s have been getting stuck to the floor boards. In places it is like quicksand. If you have any doubts, park just above the bridge and walk upstream. That said, the fishy ain’t half bad.

Upper Owens River

Big rainbows are spread out throughout the river system, still. The flows are running a steady 46 cfs, the water is slightly off color fro 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. They’re in there… 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 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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