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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson reports on 1.28.2016

As Jon Snow says on Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming”…. with just a few days left in January, it looks like a hoser coming in this weekend. One of them “pineapple connections,” an “atmospheric river,” whatever….. in other words, it looks like it could be wet and nasty. If you are planning on a trip to the eastside, make sure you are prepared. In addition to plenty of clothing, make sure you pack chains, a shovel, food, and water. Keep that gas tank topped off. Scared yet?

Oh, and fishing is solid, not great, not fantastic, but consistent and good. There are some real pigs in the upper Owens River system. You may not get many bumps, but if you get a hookup, your trout will make your trip. You will forget about how many casts you had to make to get the grab. Trust me.

Upper Owens River

The migration is on…. big rainbows are spread out throughout the river system. The flows are still 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.

So far, access to the river hasn’t been much of an issue. There is snow on the ground but the roads are firm, that could change with this incoming weather. Be conservative…… an auto club tow out of the muck can be very expensive. Good luck out there.

Lower Owens River

The flows are holding steady at about 84 cfs. The wading is easy and the river is fishing okay, not great, but it is getting better. It has been a grind fest for the last couple of weeks. The BWO hatches that were so good a few weeks ago have dropped dramatically. The trout are settling into their winter habits and habitat. The water temperatures have dropped, so 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.

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