HALLE-FRIGGIN-LUYAH! It is snowing! After a long day of driving in howling winds to Carson City and back for a dermatology appointment (Guide Tip: Wear plenty of sunscreen), I went to bed early with little confidence in the weather forecast. After all, the winter so far has been a series of disappointments, storm after storm traveling over the top of California, depositing nothing more than wind. But now, this is the real deal, granted not a drought buster, but as I write this there is about four inches of snow piling up on the deck and driveway and the snowplow is rumbling along outside doing the roads. This may not sound like much but we live more in the rain shadow of the Sierra. The high peaks above my house are getting dumped on. This makes me smile. Snow is good.
I had the pleasure of fishing with the Lost Coast Outfitter crew; Steve, Kevin, and Travis on Friday and Saturday. Stay tuned for a new video of fishing and instruction on the East Walker and the Upper Owens. We hooked into some nice trout on both river systems.
With this new snow, beware of driving out to the Upper Owens. It could be a really goopy mess.
The river is holding steady at 140 cfs, damned near perfect! There are nice fish holding in the deeper buckets and the grabs are super subtle. Set on anything that looks suspicious. The fishing in general has been slow to get started but around mid-morning a midge hatch begins and the “bite” is on. You can use just about any bug, as long as it is small and black. Zebra midges in the size 20-22 worked well, though I did get a nice brown on a brown Pat’s rubber legs. Go figure.
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 55 cfs,
The creek is flowing through the canyon at 48 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 bumped up to 108 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 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 pinned some nice fish just two days ago with a pink San Juan as an attractor, with a small baetis pattern as the point fly. They liked the little mayfly.
Be careful driving out there, with the new snow, the roads can become impassable, even with high clearance four wheel drive trucks. The higher the clearance, the deeper you sink.
Lower Owens River
The river just dropped to 90 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 was 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