August is winding down and the cool days of September are nearly upon us. If we can squeak into Labor Day Weekend without a local forest fire I will breathe a hugh sigh of relief. That said, the rest of California seems to be on fire. The Eastern Sierra is getting choked with smoke blowing over the crest from the westside, in particular the Rough Fire. Send well wishes and good thoughts to all of the firefighters out there. They’ve got their hands full.
spent the last week in the Ansel Adams Wilderness teaching a
photography workshop, my other profession. I had the best of intentions
to fish but minutes from camp, a mule which was carrying my load,
decided to freak out, buck off his load, then roll off the trail, and
nearly went for a swim in Lake Ediza. Other than some scrapes and
bruises, the mule faired well, my fly rod however is on its way to
Bainbridge Island for repair. Wah! I never got to make a single cast.
The nights are dipping into the upper 30’s-low 40’s, the water is cooling off, and the trout are starting to come out of their summer daze (haze). Just a few more weeks, then the thermometer will start to drop steadily throughout the day as well. The trout enjoy the cool water and will start becoming more active.
Be careful out there!
road to Devil’s Postpile is open. If you enjoy fishing in a pristine
wilderness setting, then the San Joaquin is for you. There will be
clusters of visitors heading to Rainbow Falls or Devil’s Postpile,
however, once you walk off the trail and head to the river, you will
generally have the place to yourself (read last week’s blog for a funny
story while fishing the San Joaquin). The flows are currently at about 6
cfs. This water comes out of the high, backcountry so it was chilly,
but doable for wet wading if the weather is warm. Expect the flows to
start decreasing as the snow and the runoff start to deplete. The month
of June has been stellar. There were lots of brown and rainbows eager to
gulp down small baetis and stonefly patterns. The shuttle service has
begun which means that unless you have a reserved campground below, you
will have to ride the bus into the Postpile during the hours of 7 am to 7 pm. You can take your personal vehicle down there outside of those times….
Upper Owens River
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
Lower Owens River
DWP has been pumping out water from Pleasant Valley Reservoir at a
steady rate of about 96 cfs. The lower Owens has been fishing
particularly well, mornings to afternoons. The air temperatures have
been in the mid-90’s so wet wading is the ticket and refreshing even in
the hot climate. The river is easy to wade at these flows, just make
sure every foot placement is solid. Nymphing has been very productive
using midges, loop winged emergers, Barr emergers, PT’s, green caddis
worms, etc…. just about anything buggy will work if presented well.
There have been stoneflies and caddis cruising through as well. Try
using a golden stone as an attractor then drop a caddis worm off the
hook bend. Huck this combo into the shallower, faster moving water and
watch what happens. Some dry fly action is happening as well. When you
see the swallows converge over the river to feed, start looking for a
hatch, usually BWO’s. The dry fly window is short but sweet. Keep your
eyes peeled and be prepared to make the change. If you arrive in the
early mornings, look for snouts sipping down the trico hatch. Voilàl!
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.
DO NOT FISH THE EAST WALKER. Even though there has been a steady
release of water from Bridgeport Reservoir at over 27 cfs, the water
coming out of the lake is like bath tub water. Even first thing in the
morning, the water temperatures in the river have been averaging in the
upper 60’s. By noon,
the thermometer is in the low 70’s. I am afraid these fish are barely
clinging onto life, don’t make matters worse by fishing. Here’s another
option, drive around the corner of the Sweetwater Range and fish the