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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Jim Stimson Reports on 8.23.19

it is that time of year to carry an important and often overlooked piece of equipment to the river, a thermometer. The tailwater fisheries, in particular the East Walker, are getting on the warm side. I tend to draw the line at 68º F….. anything warmer is putting too much stress on the trout. The mortality rates start sky rocketing when the water is too warm as they cannot get as much oxygen as they need to recover. Even though a trout seems to swim away fine, it does not mean that they don’t “belly up” sometime after their release.

The creeks and rivers are still swollen with high country runoff so be wary. 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. Fishing in general has been good with hoppers being the afternoon food du jour. As the afternoon breezes sweep across the grasses, hoppers get blown into the rivers and creeks and the fun begins. Benign looking water begins to boil with trout as they suck in these large terrestrials. It is REALLY fun smacking down hopper imitations along the river banks and watching the water erupt with hungry fish.

East Walker

The temps are starting to get too high, even in the morning, so err on the side of respect for the fishery and trout. Give the fish a break for a few weeks until the water cools off. Thanks.

West Walker

The river has dropped considerably thru the canyon and is at 124 cfs. Try patterns like San Juans or Prince Nymphs, big attractors, and fish the margins. Dry droppers work really well at these flows.

San Joaquin

The road is open and the flows are 90. If you poke around, you can find lots of soft water stacked with trout. Bring your waders as the water temperatures are frigid.


Hot Creek

The creek is flowing through the canyon at 71 cfs. Target your casts to the feeding lanes between the weeds and rocks, plus the overhanging grasses along the margins. There are some nice fish lying in ambush for hoppers falling into the creek. You may not see fish, but they are there. Try a dry-dropper setup with a hopper above and midges or caddis 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 180 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 to the reservoir, leaving rainbows and browns for the summer months. Hoppers are invading the river system and the trout are loving them.

Lower Owens River

The Lower Owens flows have been bumped up to above 510 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. You can find nice dry fly action along the foam lines and quiet water in the morning and evenings. Midges, tricos, mayflies and caddis are all working.

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