You can feel a change in the air, say farewell to the long, lazy days of summer and welcome to the shorter days of autumn and the long nights of winter. The fall equinox is upon us. The alarm goes off in the morning and it is dark outside. The thermometer is dipping into the 30’s, ice is starting to form along the creeks, aspens are beginning to turn yellow. The sun is low on the horizon and the peaks are taking on a bluish hue. Enjoy these days of autumn. The afternoons are warm, the colors great, and the fishing isn’t too bad either. Get out there and enjoy it!
Lower Owens River
The flows have been running steady at about 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.
Upper Owens River
The flows have stabilized on the Upper Owens (42 cfs) and fishing is fair. As the water temperatures begin to climb, you can find nice rainbows, browns, and the odd cutthroat in the riffles and 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.
Currently flowing at about 21 cfs, this river has cold, gin clear water (65 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.
Nice 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!
The road to Devil’s Postpile is open. If you enjoy fishing in a pristine wilderness setting, then the San Joaquin area is for you. Though the flows on the San Joaquin River are a trickle at 6 cfs, try lubing up with sunscreen, throw on a daypack, and head into the backcountry to explore some of the high lakes and scenery. There are some nice fish up high.