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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 7.8.15

Thunderstorms, dramatic skies, and intense pockets of rain have been gracing the Sierra the past week. It looks like an additional week of showers until the weather begins to dry out. Beware of the afternoon buildup and the charged air. Remember that your fly rod not only catches fish but also conducts electricity, especially if you are standing in water. Storm cells pass quickly… be prudent. Head to your car and wait out the lightning. Get a snack, crack open a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and smell the wet sage of the Great Basin desert.

San Joaquin

The 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 35 cfs but dropping. 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

The flows have stabilized on the Upper Owens and fishing is good. 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.

Lower Owens River

The DWP has been pumping out water from Pleasant Valley Reservoir at a steady rate of about 100 cfs. The lower Owens has been fishing particularly well, mornings to afternoons. The air temperatures have been in the mid-100’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. Voilàl!  Enjoy.

East Walker

PLEASE DO NOT FISH THE EAST WALKER. Even though there has been a steady release of water from Bridgeport Reservoir at over 60 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 West Walker.

West Walker

Currently flowing at about 100 cfs, this river has cold, slightly off color water (58 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 lots of rainbow and brown trout. We pinned some nice fish with caddis pupae in the afternoon, baetis nymphs in the morning.

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