Most of Sunday this past weekend was spent running around in my slippers and pjs. It was dumping rain, sleet, and the weather was just plain foul. I had a guide trip scheduled on the river but my clients wisely cancelled so I spent the day doing chores and licking my wounds from Saturday’s adventure, hiking for rainbows. Thank goodness for Advil. Backcountry fishing is a wonderful option when the local rivers are out of sorts. My knees cry foul but the promise of trout tugs, adventure, and scenery make the autumn ritual of physical conditioning worth the toil. It was a blustery day and the wind had a cold, hard edge but I managed to land a few fish. I watched as many others came “unbuttoned” as they leapt out of the lake, doing amazing aerobatic displays, then splashing down, free. Argggh! The tug’s the drug, right? Get out there and enjoy it.
Lower Owens River
flows have been pulsating up and down with a highs cresting at about
250 cfs. The river is running steady now at 200 cfs. With the increase
in the water volume, the trout have been spreading out and skittish.
Once the flows stabilize, they will resume their normal feeding
activities. Right now, the fish are laying low, but they still need to
eat. Hang in there, be patient and grind away at them. Try moving
further downstream from the dam. The water is less turbulent and the
trout are not as stressed. Streamers have been working well. Try an
olive wooly bugger. Throw on a sinking tip (3.9 ips) with some 3x
tippet, cast down and across, throw in a quick mend, then let the
streamer ease slowly across the current. Look for drop offs, shelves,
undercuts, the cushions above boulders, and the seams in the current.
The early morning risers in the softer water are coming up for tricos.
Upper Owens River
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.
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.
fish can be pinned from shore with dries! In some of the weedy, mossy
areas look for the rises of large fish. They are feeding on damsel
flies. These are not subtle grabs. Use at least 4x tippet. These are big
rainbows and browns with some serious attitude. Hang on!