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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Jim Stimson Reports on 5/30/2020

After months of social isolation I would like to welcome everybody back to the world of trout fishing. As I write this report, the CDFW has reopened Mono County for fishing except for Crowley Lake, though you can fish from shore, float tube, or kayak, just no motorized watercraft. And if their regulations were not confusing enough, the fishing has opened in Mono County but remains closed in Inyo County (except for the Lower Owens River — a year round stream). The rules and regulations are changing by the minute. I would expect all fishing to be open in Mono and Inyo Counties along with restrictions lifted on Crowley Lake by this weekend. Keep in mind, the motels and campgrounds are still struggling to open with the mandates set in place by the State. The private, concession based campgrounds are opening this week, at least in Inyo County. You can still disperse camp on public lands but BLM and USFS campgrounds are not expected to open until the end of June. Some of the campgrounds may not reopen at all because of issues with trash and sewage. It is disheartening to see the amount of trash, toilet paper, sewage, illegal open and often unattended campfires. Really?! 


If you plan on coming over anytime soon, be prepared to travel completely self-contained.  And please, when you camp and fish, honor the old adage, “Leave no trace.” Respect the fishery, the nice place you are visiting, and each other. Let’s all pitch in and leave our waters in better shape than you found them. Carry a trash bag and pick up some trash even if it is not yours. Come on over, do some fishing, practice social distancing, and be prepared to wear a mask if you are grocery shopping or visit a retail store. We are sailing on uncharted waters. A little courtesy and patience goes a long ways. We will get thru this pandemic.

Sonora and Monitor Passes are currently open, I have not heard of any rumors concerning a projected opening of Tioga…. Hang in there! Stay safe and healthy.


East Walker

The flows on the East Walker are at 150 cfs. Keep your eye on the USGS site as I would expect the irrigation district to start releasing more water as the snow from the high country starts making its way to the valley below. The river at this level is perfect. The trout love the extra cold water and are free to move around throughout the river system. These flows are easy for wading as well. The fish have moved for the most part out of the deeper buckets and into the moving water. This is a combo of several factors; oxygen needs and the caddis / stonefly nymphs are tumbling out of the riffles into the mouths of hungry fish. Black zebra midges and WD-40’s work well in the morning but as the day heats up, watch for BWO’s, stoneflies, and caddis. I generally use a stonefly nymph as an attractor with a beatis dropper. The combo has been money. 

West Walker

The flows are over 1000 cfs with the spring runoff as a heat wave settles in over the Sierra. if you insist on fishing here, tighten your waist belt, use a staff, and keep your wading conservative. Try using big, flashy, and bright attractor patterns in this fast, off-color water.

San Joaquin

The road to the Postpile and the San Joaquin is currently closed.

Hot Creek

The creek is flowing through the canyon at roughly 50 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. The canyon is home to not only some nice trout, but deer, osprey, and the occasional bald eagle. Enjoy!

Upper Owens River

The flows sit at about 66 cfs high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to 120 cfs. The river is very clear so fish with some stealth. There are still some massive sized cutthroats spread throughout the caldera. Please avoid the temptation to cast onto the spawning fish. Choose where you wade carefully as you do not want to destroy their redds. Just a plain ‘ole pheasant tail works wonders. Thanks.

Lower Owens River

The river is cruising steady at roughly 200 cfs and is fishing well with all of the traditional patterns; PT’s, Hare’s Ears, midges, Frenchies…. If you enjoy hucking dry flies, this is the place. Around lunchtime, watch for BWO’s to start coming off the water and be ready. The first thing you will notice is the bird activity along the river. You will see swallows, fly catchers, and sparrows flitting around the surrounding brush and diving at the river surface. Look for rises along the foam lines as fish snouts start poking up through the surface film. This BWO carnage only lasts about an hour. If you get finicky trout snubbing your dry flies, change your bug. Usually a sized 16-18 adams will get grabs, but often the trout are looking for a mayfly that is sitting lower in the surface film. An adams rides high so try a comparadun or a hackle stacker, they sit more within the film. Sometimes that is all you need to get back into the game.

Get out there! You cannot catch fish if your line isn’t in the water.

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