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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 10.15.2015

Autumn, without a doubt is the best time of year to visit the Sierra. The colors are at their peak. The canyons are a palette of reds, yellows, and golds. The mornings are crisp, with perhaps a hint of frost on the ground, followed by warm, calm days. Concentric rings, rise forms, dot the surface of the quiet water from the noses of feeding trout. Don’t miss out, get out there!

Lower Owens River

The flows have stabilized finally at about 150 cfs, which is perfect. It is easy wading and the river is “grabby” again. The drop in flows along with the onset of autumn temperatures has made this a blue ribbon fishery once again. Look around for the quiet water in the evenings if you want to catch the trout looking up for some dry fly action. There are a potpourri of aquatic bugs cruising around. Huck out an elk hair caddis or Kaufmann’s stimulator and see what happens! One of my favorite mayfly patterns, the hackle stacker, works like a charm. 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. Mercer’s micro mayflies are killer along with small PT’s. Don’t ignore the shallow riffles, there are still lots of nice fish hanging out, sucking oxygenated water, soaking some rays, and eating. Try tying on a caddis pupae, casting across and down, perhaps throwing in a mend, and let your fly swing across the deeper grooves. When you get the grab, hang on! Because the river is so shallow in the riffles, the trout explode off the bottom seeking freedom. There’s no place for them to go except up. Enjoy the aerial displays!

Upper Owens River

The flows have stabilized on the Upper Owens (42 cfs) and fishing is fair. 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 21 cfs, this river has cold, gin clear water (63 degrees) 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.

Crowley Lake

I’ve been utilizing a switch rod to carefully hurl out my nymph rigs, aka “spey-cator” fishing. This works great if you don’t have a lot of room for a back cast but your need to get your bugs out to those deeper channels where the fish are cruising with a simple roll cast. Good ‘ole fashioned bugs with no bells or whistles are crushing it. Try a hare’s ear or bird’s nest, sized 14 or 16. There are some big trout out there. Did I mention BIG?

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