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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 11.4.2015:


The infamous El Niño waddled down through California on Sunday and finally made an appearance in our area on Monday. With these tropical connections, it takes awhile, even at the higher elevations, for all of this moisture to turn to snow. By the time the temperatures had dropped and the clouds cleared, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area reported 12" at the base and 30" at the summit. The ski area plans to open November 5th. Tioga, Sonora, and Monitor Passes are currently closed and will probably remain that way for the season. There was a high water content within this storm system, certainly not a drought buster, but it is a beginning. Keep it coming!

The floor of the Owens Valley doesn’t get any prettier. The big cottonwood trees are just now coming into peak colors and with the Sierra Crest plastered with fresh snow, it is a great time to get out with your camera and of course your fishing gear. The lower Owens has been on fire with BWO hatches. If you like picking off brown trout from the top water, don’t miss out.

Lower Owens River

The flows have been lowered to less than 90 cfs. It is easy wading and the river is “grabby” again. The trout are transitioning from summer to winter modes. The water temperatures are dropping so the fish are seeking the quiet water along seams and tail outs. There are a potpourri of aquatic bugs cruising around. For indicator nymphing, tie on black zebra midges in the mornings then make a bug adjustment as the temperatures rise. The browns have been sucking down BWO’s like there’s no tomorrow. Keep your eyes peeled for these mayflies as they start lifting off the water surface. The swallows start swooping down along the river competing with the trout for this bounty of food. Anticipate the hatch…. Small Adams patterns, hackle stackers, anything sized 18-20 that sits on or within the film will trigger a response.

Upper Owens River

The flows have stabilized on the Upper Owens (42 cfs) and fishing is picking up. As the water temperatures begin to fall, you can find nice rainbows, browns, and the odd cutthroat in the tail outs. Try small pheasant tails, about a sized 18. Make sure you are getting your nymph rigs deep enough. A combination of enough split shot and setting your indicator deep enough will do the trick. In the mid to late afternoons look for a caddis hatch. Once this begins, look upstream into the foam lines…. look for snouts to start breaking the surface and anticipate the feed. Nothing fancy here, just a simple elk haired caddis will do the trick.

West Walker

Currently flowing at about 54 cfs, this river has cold, gin clear water which is really fun to fish. With miles of great pocket water you cannot go wrong as the river cascades and drops through the canyon. This is the time to brush up on your high sticking and tight line techniques. Expect to catch rainbow and brown trout. We pinned some nice fish with caddis pupae in the afternoon, baetis nymphs in the morning.

Jim Stimson Fly Fishing

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