Jim Stimson, Jim Stimson Fly Fishing
The Shoulder Season
Living in a tourist mecca, we look forward to Labor Day Weekend for a number of reasons. It’s a three day weekend filled with good weather, art festivals, parking lot sales, the County Fair, and the last opportunity for frenzied business from our vacationing “guests." On Monday afternoon, there is a non-stop procession of cars, RV’s, and contraptions coming off the Black Rock Desert from "the Burn,” all heading home for the season. Ahhhh…. can you hear the sigh of relief? Can we swing the gate across the highway and close it off to traffic until winter? Time for a breather. Time to cleanup. What? Cleanup?! Sadly yes.
My “office” is a wonderful place. I get paid to take people fishing. What could be better than wandering along a river, coaching clients into trout, with a backdrop like the Sierra? There’s nothing better, I love it. And here’s the “but.” In my pack I have a small trash bag stashed among fly boxes and tippet. This is to pick up all the trash carelessly left behind on the stream banks. You name it; tangled gobs of fishing line, tapered leaders, beer cans and bottles (BudLight in particular), worm containers, bait jars, toilet paper, diapers, the list goes on….. “Really?! You mean It’s not okay to use your ‘office’ as a public toilet?” “Or public landfill?!” Is it just me or are there better places to take a dump than right next to a river? So yes, as part of my guiding schpeel, I collect trash as an example of how disrespectful people can be, not to mention I like looking at my rivers without the distraction of garbage heaped along the banks. I would bet that a lot of this “impact” is left by locals. Regardless, there needs to be a conscious effort to educate the public. It’s not that hard to carry your trash to your car or a trash container. Let’s all do our part and show some courtesy and respect for our neighbors andenvironment. Thanks.
Upper Owens River
Try fishing further upstream, above the main Hot Creek Confluence. There are tons of nice rainbows stacked in the slower meandering water. The river is low and clear but you actually have a chance at getting some nice hookups if you get there early, before the water warms and the fish get too jaded. Remember, these trout have been pounded all season long. Try midges, WD 40’s, and drowned spinners. Fear not though, if you get refusal after refusal, move on. Change your tactics and target the fish hanging under the shady banks and quicker water. Attractor patterns work well here. Try copper johns, stoneflies, prince nymphs, brown fox poopah, AND short drifts.
Lower Owens River
Beware. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is releasing a lot of water now. This morning the flows were running steady at 350 cfs. The river will still fish well but do be careful when you wade. If you are indicator nymphing, add another split shot to make sure you are getting your bugs deep. The fish may hunker down while the flows pulse. Be patient, they still need to eat. Keep grinding away. Try stoneflies or copper johns with a midge in the morning, then watch for mayflies to start popping off around lunchtime, then caddis in the afternoons. Mercer’s Micromays are one of my favorites, for me and the brown trout, then a green caddis worm.
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.
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.