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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 1.5.2016

Happy New Year! I spent the holiday week near Sayulita, Mexico hanging with my family. My son and I went out early one morning with a guide and a panga and tried to catch some dorado. We had zero grabs with the mahí mahí but we did land some nice bonito and bass. It was a kick casting saltwater flies with a 10wt and watching how much bend those little fish can put all of the way into the cork.

We came home to fresh snow and cold temperatures. This week we are expecting a period of unsettled weather, nothing ominous, but nice, steady doses of snow. The mountains in particular have received a fair amount of snow and the storms keep lining up out in the Pacific. If you are coming to the Sierra to fish, dress warmly. The Upper Owens tends to be cool and blustery but the fishing is getting better by the day. Take your time getting to the river. You can always go skiing in the morning, then cast to porkulent trout in the afternoon. The ski area is off to a great start and the fishing is good. Be prepared for the winter weather though.’

Here’s to a wet New Year. Cheers! And, Peace with Earth.

Lower Owens River The flows seem to be holding steady at about 75 cfs. The DWP gauge hasn’t been working reliably for the last couple of weeks, but the river levels have not changed significantly. 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.

Upper Owens River The migration is on…. big rainbows are showing up throughout the river system. The flows are still running a steady 44 cfs and fishing has picked up. 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.
And beware of the roads out there. With these last couple of weather systems, there is snow on the ground. There are places along the river that can get really slimy, even with a big 4WD. Be conservative…… an auto club tow out of the muck can be very expensive. Good luck out there.

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