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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Incoming…. storm alert! We’re bracing for hurricane speed winds and with any luck, a few feet of snow. Living near a ski resort, especially after a few years of drought, it is exciting to watch these events unfold. After all, snow is white gold. With a good snow year, people flock to Mammoth Lakes to ski, snowboard, eat at the restaurants, stay at condos and motels, and enjoy the winter atmosphere. In the spring, during the runoff, our streams and lakes get recharged. In a land parched by three years of drought, keep your fingers crossed for a good winter. The health of our fisheries depend on it. Happy Holidays! Be safe in your travels.
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, 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. 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. Make sure you’re getting your bugs deep enough.
One final note, with this latest storm, exercise some caution on the dirt roads. The roads currently are buried under a few inches of snow but this will melt off soon. The main north-south road that parallels the river is composed of pumice and DG, this is good. However, the side roads that branch off to the river run thru a clay substrate. This is NOT good. We’re talkin’ major amounts of slime, sometimes impassable even with a 4WD. If in doubt, walk. It’s not that far to the river.

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