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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Jim Stimson Reports On 7.10.2020

One of the most important tools in your summer fly fishing arsenal should be a thermometer. In these hot days of summer, I LOVE putting on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and heading outside. However, trout don’t feel the same…. they thrive in cold conditions. When the river starts feeling tepid, take the time to use your thermometer and get some readings throughout the course of a day. You might be surprised. It is amazing how much the temperature can fluctuate in just a few hours. If your morning reading is in the mid-60’s, raise a yellow flag because by afternoon there is a good chance that the temps may climb close to 70º, which is not good for the trout or the fishery. Trout love water that is in the 50’s. Once you climb into the upper 60’s and beyond, the fish get lethargic, they don’t feed as much, and their mortality rate goes up if they get hooked. If you must fish, tie on heavier tippet material so you can land the trout quickly. Because of the reduced dissolved levels of oxygen in warm water, trout can get stressed and die — basically by suffocation. This is only a recommendation, let your conscious be your guide. I tend to pull the plug once my thermometer reaches 68º. I will give the river a break and seek out the high country or water that is cooler. 

All of the mountain passes are open including Tioga Pass but check with the Park Service for details and restrictions. These are tenuous times with the pandemic. Enjoy the Eastern Sierra but please respect the fisheries and each other. Be prepared to wear a mask if you are grocery shopping or visit a retail store. And finally, please refrain from open campfires if you are camping outside of a developed campground. Fire season is already here. Thank you.

East Walker

The East Walker in particular is vulnerable to warm water conditions. I am giving the river a break until the summer cools down……If you fish up there, again, watch the river temps. Fish in the morning with heavier tippet so you can land fish quickly, then once it gets too warm, reel in, hop in your car, and head around the Sweetwater Range to try the West Walker. The flows on the East Walker have dropped to 82 cfs.. 

West Walker

The flows are over 98 cfs with the spring runoff as a heat wave settles in over the Sierra. These flows are perfect. The West Walker has gin clear water so use some stealth while approaching the water and fishing.

San Joaquin

The road to the Postpile and the San Joaquin River are open. Because of the pandemic, the shuttle busses will not operate this season. There will be some kind of quota system for driving your own vehicle down into the canyon. Stay tuned! The flows are at 64 cfs

Hot Creek

The creek is flowing through the canyon at roughly 43 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 65 cfs high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to 110 cfs. Most of the trophy trout have moved back into Crowley Lake but there are still some stragglers hanging around; nice cutthroats and rainbows. In addition to sunscreen, throw some bug spray into your fishing vest. The mosquitos are loving life now. Hoppers are still “money."

Lower Owens River

The river is cruising steady at roughly 250 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. 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. Stay safe out there and have a great 4th of July weekend.

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