Jim Stimson, Jim Stimson Fly Fishing
Lower Owens River
Happy Autumn! After several weeks of raging waters on the lower Owens River, the Department of Water and Power has finally cut back the flows coming out of Pleasant Valley Reservoir. The river has been running between 200-225 cfs, depending on the whims of the DWP. The river is getting “grabby” again, the fishing is getting better by the day. The drop in flows along with the onset of autumn temperatures will make 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. Think about mayfly patterns at noon-o'clock (Mercer’s micro mayfly, PT’s, biot emergers), then caddis worms in the afternoon. 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. 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 spinners worked well in the morning. And don’t ignore the tried and true, almost redundant pheasant tails. What a great bug, still.
The autumn colors are going off… the aspens, willow, birch, huckleberry are beautiful now. Lace up your hiking boots, charge up your camera battery, and hit the trails. You can find brookies, rainbows, browns, cuttys, and goldens if you do some exploring. Enjoy.
I’ve been avoiding my favorite fishery…. boney water and high water temperatures.
With the low weedy water, try fishing with dries. Get there early for the trico hatch, hike out, get some lunch, then go back for the evening glass off with the Western Gray Sedge. There are lots of does and fawns grazing in the river. Enjoy the scenery.