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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 3.1.2018

As I write this, the first wave of snow is rolling in, the mountains have all but disappeared into the clouds. The thermometer sits at 28º and there is not a breath of wind. According to the weathermen, we will see several feet of snow by Sunday. This is such a welcome relief as the Sierra has only 30% of the “normal” snowpack. I have said this before, we need the water. Hopefully the weather Gods will look kindly upon us.

The other news is that the Lower Owens River is open again and believe it or not, fishing well. With the fire that roared through the area a week and a half ago, a lot of the brush and undergrowth are gone making access and casting not so much of an issue. There were reports of fish being killed and floating in some of the slower pools down by Five Bridges, but it seems negligible. Having less fish in the river system isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The survivors will grow larger now with less competition for the same food sources. I am trying to look on the bright side. The willow and grasses will return shortly, the big cottonwood tress I am less optimistic about…. they may be “toast.” I am keeping my fingers crossed that the fire did minimal damage. It looks like armageddon down there, but with time and some rain from these storm systems, the Lower Owens will come back better than ever.


East Walker

The river is rolling along at 27 cfs, kind of a trickle now compared to the previous flows. Unfortunately, for me at least, the flows are a little too low. I am going to wait until the irrigation district raises the river level before I drive back up to the north county to fish. It’s not that the fishing would not be without challenges, or good, but It seems kind of unfair to the trout. They need some time off from the angling pressure. With the river sitting so low, the fish are like sitting ducks.

West Walker
This is the “other” Walker River and a great fishery that I would visit more if the East Walker were not closer. This is a blue ribbon fishery and a fun place to explore. Generally the river runs gin clear as this is a freestone creek, so some stealth is needed. If you like pocket water and technical angling, this is your place….The river is running at about 100 cfs, but I am expecting to see these change once these storms roll through the Sierra.

Hot Creek

The creek is flowing through the canyon at 43 cfs.

Target your casts to the feeding lanes between the grasses and rocks. You may not see fish, but they are in there. If you are nymphing, try a San Juan or a Hot Creek caddis. Streamers have also fooled some nice trout. There are lots of hatchery fish cruising around and making the grabs, but every once in awhile, you can fool one of the old, wily browns. Keep grinding away.

Upper Owens River

The river is open year around from the Benton Crossing bridge northward (upstream) to the private property boundary. The section below the bridge to Crowley Lake is closed until April.

The flows have been running steady at about 109 cfs in the river system with a release of water from the Grant Lake Reservoir. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is moving water around, kind of like a shell game. Ultimately though, they are transporting the resource down the valley to LA. The water clarity is slightly off color which bodes well for the angler. The big rainbows like the security of the deep, slower moving, opaque water. Pink or red San Juans, egg patterns, and red/black leeches, have all been working. You can either swing the leeches or dead drift them through the deeper buckets. I have been pinning some nice fish with pink San Juans as an attractor, with a small midge pattern as the point fly.

Lower Owens River

The Lower Owens has reopened. The flows are about 39 cfs. These are very low and I will have to check out the river this afternoon.

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