Merry Fishmas! We are in a period of unsettled weather for the holiday season. 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 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
flows seem to be holding steady at 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
migration is on…. big rainbows are showing up throughout the river
system. The flows are still running a steady 42 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.