Jim Stimson, Jim Stimson Fly Fishing
Boy, what a difference a couple of days makes. Just a few days ago the Upper Owens was “warm and balmy,” with temperatures in the upper 30’s. Fishing has been fabulous with huge, porkulent rainbows taking flies if presented down, into the depths. Now, after a cold front moved through, the basin has plunged into a deep freeze. The Owens River is a slowly moving river of ice. For laughs, I fished it in the 8º temps, and that’s not including wind chill. The cold fingers were tolerable, but timing casts between the moving slush and floating ice was another. Miserable…… but once it clears up, all will be well again.
Lower Owens River
The river has been fishing well lately, mornings to afternoons. Nymphing has been very productive using midges, loop winged emergers, Barr emergers, PT’s, drowned spinners, etc…. just about anything baetis will work if presented well. Before you wander back to your car for lunch, you might want to stick around and check out the BWO hatch. It occurs around noon, you can almost set your watch to it. First the flurry of mayflies, then the rise forms. The trout start looking up and getting in on the surface action. If you enjoy fishing with dries, the time is now. The hatch lasts approximately an hour. Postpone your lunch….. you will be glad you did. Small baetis patterns work well (#18-20) such as an Adams, hackle stackers, etc. And keep your eyes peeled for trico hatches. Griffiths Gnats work well for these tiny little guys. Nice fish are coming up to enjoy the feast. Enjoy.
Upper Owens River
The river is low and clear but big fish are lurking throughout the system. They move out of Crowley Lake to winter in the waters of the upper Owens River watershed. Most of the fish are hanging out in the slow, deep, dark pools. With the low water, 50 cfs, use a little caution approaching the water. If you clomp up to river’s edge, the trout will feel those vibrations and dive for cover. Use some stealth and walk with light feet. Nymphing tends to be the best and most consistent tactic. With the cooler water the fish tend to be a little more lethargic. So, it may take many casts and the perfect drift to get a fish to make a commitment. Keep at it, they’re in there. Small baetis and midge patterns work well, plus San Juans, roe, and attractor patterns. Make sure you’re getting your bugs deep enough.