Perhaps there will be a change in the weather the end of February? We will see. In spite of the drought like conditions in the Eastern Sierra, the weather has been spectacular; unseasonably warm and dry. I am not advocating wet wading yet, but fishing midwinter in light clothing is kind of nice. The morning temperatures on the Upper Owens are dipping into the 20’s but it warms quickly. The roads are fine and access to the river is easy, all rivers for that matter: Upper and Lower Owens, Hot Creek, and the East Walker. Everything is fishing well, with midge, mayfly, and even the odd caddis cruising around. I would have to say that the numbers of big fish on the Upper O are lower than in past years, but they are still there, just more spread out. Let patience and your ability to thoroughly fish the river be your guiding light.
The river just dropped down to 36 cfs, a big change from the previous 140. 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.
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 68 cfs,
The creek is flowing through the canyon at 42 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 105 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 river has dropped to 75 cfs, I think. The latest readout is saying 3266 cfs, but I believe their gauge is temporarily inoperable. It usually takes a couple of days before “realistic” data starts getting published again. Writing with the assumption that the river is actually at 75 cfs, this is the lowest it has been in months. The stream channel has been scoured with high flows for the better part of a year. With news of the lower, fishable, user friendly flows, the wild trout section has been packed with anglers, fishing clubs, and classes. But fear not, the trout too are in abundance. They survived the flooding and are thriving. I had the best success fishing olive colored Mercer’s Micro Mayflies, small. Enjoy!
Jim Stimson Fly Fishing