Damn! Adiós August. The smoke has pretty much cleared out and the temperatures are cooling down. The grasses and trees are getting a hint of autumn coloration. So enter September, an awesome time of the year to fish. Trout are getting fidgety in their search for cooler, oxygenated water, not to mention the brown trout are thinking about the autumn spawn. They are getting all juiced up with hormones.
Keep an eye out for warm water in our streams. I always carry a thermometer with me this time of year. With the stream flows decreasing and the solar gain from the hot summer, it is easy for the local waters to reach an unsafe threshold for the resident trout. Be aware that as the water temperatures go up, the amount of dissolved oxygen goes down. Very often, trout cannot recover from a prolonged fight from fishing. 68º is my cut off point. The rising water temperatures along with decreased river flows make for a deadly combination for any fishery. If you absolutely are intent on going fishing, use heavier tippet material so that you can land your trout immediately and quicken up the release process. Better yet, leave the trout alone and go fish for carp. They thrive in the tepid water.
I recommend NOT fishing the East Walker for now. The water temperatures are too high, even first thing in the morning. Soon, very soon the river will cool off.
West Walker The West Walker is flowing at about 60, which is fun. I stopped and fished there on the way back from a trip to Reno. It was killer! Try attractor patterns such as Copper John’s and Prince Nymphs, then dangle a Rainbow Warrior or Lightning Bug below.
Hot Creek could not be any better. The creek is flowing through the canyon at 45 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 hopper or ant pattern and mayfly or stonefly pattern below.
Upper Owens River
The flows are cruising along at 125 cfs but these are readings that are taken high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to about 170 cfs and off color. The entire river system is open now, from Big Springs to the reservoir. The Upper O is fishing well. More and more trout are spreading out throughout the river system. You can catch many small rainbows and browns on the surface with elk haired caddis, stimulators, hoppers, and some bigger fish with nymphs in the deeper runs. If the surface activity is not happening, throw a juju baetis off the hook bend of your hopper and see what will happen.
Lower Owens River
The Lower Owens is back to running high and swift. Crowley Lake is still brimming with water, which is a head scratcher. Where is all of this water coming from? The flows are over 343 cfs which makes for “interesting” river crossings. Err on the side of caution when wading and make sure your waist belt is snug in case you go for a swim.
Keep your eyes peeled for a noon time hatch of bwo’s. There is a narrow window of opportunity for hucking dry flies, usually for about an hour or so. Watch for the appearance of birds feeding along the river. They can spot a hatch well before we can. If all goes well, snouts begin appearing along the foam lines in the river. Then, cast away…. usually something sized 18-20, blue-gray in color, in the mayfly family will get some nice splashy grabs. Have fun! With the big brush fire we had a couple of weeks ago, access is much easier. A lot of the tules are gone and the willow have been thinned. The river corridor has an apocalyptic look and feel, but the river itself is running clear and fishy. New grass growth is already appearing, the river should recover quickly.
San Joaquin River
The road to Devil’s Postpile is open. If you drive in before 7 am and exit after 7 pm you can avoid the mandatory shuttle buses. The smoke from the Lion Fire has pretty much cleared out, it is nice down in the canyon. The trout will hammer stimulators and elk haired caddis. The flows are about 22 cfs, which is kind of bony, but the trout are healthy and hungry. There are lots of fish hanging out in the pocket water.