All of the passes are open now with no restrictions; Tioga, Sonora, and Monitor, as well as the road down to Devil’s Postpile. However, unless you have a campground reservation at Devil’s Postpile, to drive your own, personal vehicle, you will need to pass thru the kiosk at Minaret Vista before 7 am. Otherwise, you can take a shuttle bus that boards at the ski area. The Middle Fork of the San Joaquin is raging as it plunges over Rainbow Falls. Well worth the short hike.
The creeks and rivers are swollen with high country runoff and there is so much more snow left to melt. Be careful out there! Get yourself a wading staff and cinch up that belt around your waist. River hydraulics are powerful. Err on the side of caution while fishing and wading during this time of year.
The flows are at about 440 cfs, which is a smidge on the high side, but fishable — with caution. At the higher flows, there is less river to fish safely. The section in particular below the bridge and the Miracle Mile has a steeper gradient and lots of pocket water, which makes for nail biting, white water angling. Your best bet is the softer water below the dam. The trout are moving around and settling into their new habitats. With the high volume of water coming out of the reservoir, the angling options get reduced. Most of the best fishing will be in the Miracle Mile. You will find most of the trout stacked along the river margins, hanging in the softer water. Fishing is decent now. Try stonefly patterns in the buckets below the riffles, along with BWO’s and caddis. There are a potpourri of bugs out there now. With the higher water I tend to fish a lot of attractor patterns. With the swift water the trout only have an instant to see and commit to your bugs floating by, make it as obvious as possible for them. I often pull out my trout spey rod for these conditions. I like being able to stand in the safe water along the edges and cast down and across, swinging my bugs into the juicy looking areas under the willows and cottonwoods. It is fun but be careful out there.
The creek is flowing through the canyon at 125 cfs. Target your casts to the feeding lanes between the grasses and rocks. You may not see fish, but they are there. Try a dry-dropper setup with a caddis or mayfly pattern above and a midge or scud below.
Upper Owens River
The flows are 105 cfs but these are readings taken high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to over 230 cfs. The better fishing has been above the confluence where the water has better clarity. More and more trout are spreading out throughout the river system. You may see the odd cutthroat here and there leftover form their spawn but for the most part, the trout have left to head downstream and the reservoir, leaving rainbows and browns for the summer months.
Lower Owens River
The Lower Owens flows are at 390 cfs. This is on the high side for this section of the river so exercise some caution when you fish. You can easily go for am impromptu swim and end up flushed downstream if you are not careful. Most trout are in that 10-12” range but if you poke around and get lucky, you can hook into some browns in the 15-16” category. There are some healthy midge and mayfly hatches throughout the day. I caught fish on everything from green caddis worms to black midges.