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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 1/12/2016

It is amazing the difference a day makes. For the past several mornings I have risen to temperatures near 0º. When a high pressure system settles into the Eastern Sierra, we typically get a temperature inversion in Crowley Lake and Long Valley. Even though Mammoth Lakes is higher in elevation, they will be warmer than us. That cold, stagnant air pools in the low areas like Crowley and it gets butt cold. This morning however, it was 43º at 6:00 am. A warm, storm front is blowing in with the promise of more, much needed snow. The weather Gods are forecasting the possibility of a pineapple connection next week, or with the current terminology, an atmospheric river event. We’ll see…. when I see it, I will believe it. That said, the fishing is great, frigid temperatures or not.
Here’s to a wet New Year. Cheers!

Upper Owens River

The migration is on…. big rainbows are spread out throughout the river system. The flows are still running a steady 44 cfs and fishing is good. You are not going to get high numbers of fish but the trout you hook into are large, very large. As the water temperatures begin to fall, you can find nice rainbows, browns, and the odd cutthroat in the tail outs. Look for deep buckets. They’re in there… Try copper johns, san juans, and pheasant tails. 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. I think the key is patience. Keep grinding away on a run. 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 75 cfs. The wading is easy and the river is fishing well. 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. Right around lunch time look for rises along the foam lines. The browns have been sucking down BWO’s. Keep your eyes peeled for these mayflies as they start lifting off the water surface. The hatch seems to occur just before noon. Eat your lunch early, otherwise, you may miss incredible top water action. When you start seeing sparrows flitting around in the willows and cattails along the waters edge, you can bet that the hatch is happening. The sparrows and swallows show up when the bwo’s start lifting off the water. They are there to carb load, along with the fish. Anticipate the hatch…. Small Adams patterns, hackle stackers, anything sized 18-20 that sits on or within the film will usually trigger a response.

Jim Stimson Fly Fishing

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