The skies are still smokey with fires down in the San Joaquin and Yosemite. Generally speaking, the heaviest concentration of smoke has been to the north of Mammoth — the Mono Basin is heinous.
One of the most important tools to throw into your fishing vest now is a thermometer. Do not hesitate to use it. 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 have to go fishing, use heavier tippet material so that you can land your trout immediately and quicken up the release process.
I recommend NOT fishing the East Walker for now. The water temperatures are too high, even first thing in the morning.
The West Walker is flowing at about 105, which is perfect. 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 47 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 beetle pattern and mayfly or stonefly pattern below.
Upper Owens River
The flows are meandering along at 110 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 150 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 526 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 trout will hammer stimulators and elk haired caddis. The flows are about 40 cfs. The San Joaquin is a dry fly paradise. Enjoy!
Jim Stimson Fly Fishing