Jim Stimson, Jim Stimson Fly Fishing
Phish Report, September Ten, Fish Tales….
Lower Owens River
This part of the river system outside of Bishop is crankin’! The flows have been holding steady at 350 cfs, which for a lot of rivers in the West, doesn’t seem like much water, but keep in mind the Owens River flows down a fairly narrow river channel. 350 cfs is rippin’ fast when it is squeezed between the river banks. I wasn’t booked on Sunday so I thought, “What the heck. I’m up to the challenge. This will be great practice for the upcoming steelhead season.” So off I went to Bishop to go fishing. Wet wading no less. I’m a big guy at 6'4" and soon found myself in water well above my navel. I hooked into a nice rainbow right away on a prince nymph. When the water is rippin’, try fishing the margins. Trout don’t like to “tread” water all day, it’s too tiring. They like to hunker down in the quiet water along the banks. Just beware, the river is very swift now and not for the faint of heart. If you must make a crossing, choose your route carefully. Always have an “exit” in mind in case you get swept away. The trout are in there, but they are a lot of work. Make sure you add plenty of split shot, a couple of BB’s, to get down to the fish. Attractor patterns like copper johns or prince nymphs with a green caddis worm dropper was working well.
Upper Owens River
I saw one of the biggest rainbows I’ve ever seen on the river last week. There were several fish in the same run that were 16-18" and these guys looked like guppies. I’m guessing somewhere in the mid-20’s? I could see her well which meant she could also see me. She flitted around her run anxiously. I had zero luck casting to her….. but I will return under the cloak of low light, perhaps with a streamer.
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 to while away the hours. 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. Again, copper johns, prince nymphs as attractors with a brown fox poopah worked well.
I will always prefer moving water to stillwater, but some of the backcountry lakes have been outstanding. Lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera and fishing gear. Now is the time. Get out and explore and enjoy the shoulder season. The crowds have gone, the colors are turning, and the fishing is incredible. One of the most successful patterns so far has been a chartreuse copper john. Not only that, I have been tying these with parakeet feathers for the legs along the thorax. This has become the “green goblin.” Who knows what this is thing is imitating. but who cares, right? The trout have been crushing this pattern.
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.