Brrr…… 17º on the thermometer this morning! This will make driving out to the Upper Owens considerably easier with the frozen ground BUT, beware of the afternoons. That deep muck will eventually thaw. I would recommend at the minimum using a high clearance truck, preferably with 4WD. With these frigid temps, make sure your fishing line has been cleaned with one of the many line cleaning solutions from Loon, Rio, Umpqua. A clean, slick line not only makes casting and mending easier, but also helps with the buildup of ice on your fly line. Also, you should put a smear of Loon ice off paste on your guides. Then as always, check and clear your guides of ice buildup with your fingers. It may be cold, but the trout are still in the stream waiting to eat. Be persistent, keep casting, and exercise some patience. They are there but sometimes it takes a drift that lands right in their face before they commit to a grab.
If the cold temps are something you don’t care for, drive down the hill and fish the Lower Owens. It is the “banana belt” down there and the fishing for brown trout is fabulous.
The East Walker is still flat lining and dribbling below 20 cfs. Until the river flows pick up, I recommend giving this fishery a rest…..
The creek is flowing through the canyon at roughly 41 cfs. Target your casts to the feeding lanes between the weeds and rocks, plus the overhanging grasses along the margins. You may not see fish, but they are there. Try a dry-dropper setup with a caddis above and a midge or small mayfly below. Hot Creek is always a fun place to fish especially now that the crowds have gone home.
Upper Owens River
The flows are dropping and sit at about 94 cfs high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to 150 cfs. More and more trout are pushing up into the river system from the reservoir. There are some really nice fish to be had with SJ worms, small baetis, and balanced leeches. Work the deeper buckets relentlessly…. they are in there. Currently, the driving approaches to the river are doable, though muddy, with only a few icy puddles to worry about. Beware of any new snow or precipitation.
Lower Owens River
The river is cruising steady at roughly 148 cfs and is fishing well with all of the traditional patterns; PT’s, Hare’s Ears, midges, Frenchies…. Thank God for Bishop. It is a nice break from winter when you need to see some dirt again and feel some warmth.
Get out there! You cannot catch fish if your line isn’t in the water.