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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson, Jim Stimson Fly Fishing

The last days of autumn are upon us. So long October, THE best month of the year. With snow expected this coming weekend, this could be it for color in the trees, at least in the high country. Bishop is still looking great however. Great stands of yellow cottonwood, willow, cattails, and the amber waves of grasses. Fishing isn’t just about the trout, life on the river is a visual, sensual treat. Get after it.
Lower Owens River
The river had been running about 125 cfs, which was perfect. The flows just got lowered to below 100…. the fish will be skittish and edgy with the clear water. Use some stealth. Approach the water with light feet and watch where your shadow is falling on the water. That said, It is easy wading and the river is “grabby” again. The drop in flows along with the onset of autumn temperatures has made this a blue ribbon fishery once again. Look around for the quiet water in the evenings if you want to catch the trout looking up for some dry fly action. There are a potpourri of aquatic bugs cruising around. Huck out an elk hair caddis or Kaufmann’s stimmulator and see what happens! One of my favorite mayfly patterns, the hackle stacker, works like a charm. For indicator nymphing, tie on black zebra midges in the mornings then make a bug adjustment as the temperatures rise. The browns have been sucking down BWO’s like there’s no tomorrow. Mercer’s micro mayflies are killer along with small PT’s. Don’t ignore the shallow riffles, there are still lots of nice fish hanging out, sucking oxygenated water, soaking some rays, and eating. Try tying on a caddis pupae, casting across and down, perhaps throwing in a mend, and let your fly swing across the deeper grooves. When you get the grab, hang on! Because the river is so shallow in the riffles, the trout explode off the bottom seeking freedom. There’s no place for them to go except up. Enjoy the aerial displays!
Upper Owens River
There are a lot of fish up high in the river system, above the Hot Creek Confluence and the Longyear Ranch. This part of the river is flowing steady at about 50 cfs. The water is cold and clear with many fish having made the migration out of the Crowley Reservoir seeking cooler water. The most successful fishing is in the faster, disturbed water and the shady undercut river banks. Because the water is so transparent, these areas give you the best cover to make your drifts. Copper johns, prince nymphs as attractors with drowned trico or baetis spinners worked well in the morning. And don’t ignore the tried and true, almost redundant pheasant tails. What a great bug, still.

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