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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 12.22.2017

By the time you read this, I will be flying the friendly skies towards Ecuador. This will be the last “current” fishing report until after the New Year. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everybody!

And while I am thinking of it, do not forget to buy a California fishing license for 2018.

Cold, cold, cold and more cold…. That “persistent” high pressure dome seems anchored out in the Pacific. When this happens, the valleys get super chilled with temperature inversions. The morning temps out on the Upper Owens and the Bridgeport Valley have been hovering in the single digits, but as the sun climbs higher in the sky, the rivers heat up quite nicely. This is a nice time of year to fish in spite of the frigid temperatures. Make yourself a second cup of coffee and wait for the frost to clear from the stream bank before heading out. The fish are generally holding in the deeper, quiet pools. The grabs are lethargic, watch your indicator carefully, and set on anything remotely suspicious.

Peace Out!

East Walker

The river has risen to about 75 cfs. We rushed up there on Saturday and spot fished a few choice locations then dashed out into the Nevada section. There are nice fish holding in the deeper buckets. The grabs are super subtle. Set on anything that looks suspicious. You can use just about any bug, as long as it is small and black.

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 was last running at about 70 cfs, but their gauge has not been working for a couple of weeks so I am taking a guess at the actual flow.

Hot Creek

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 are roughly 68 cfs high in the river system. The fishing in general has been better below the highest Hot Creek confluence as the river becomes a little off color. 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 and fry, or dead drift them through the deeper buckets.

Lower Owens River

The river is still flowing on the high side (350 cfs) but fishing is possible, just be careful if you wade. I walked around the other day to check out some of my favorite places and like always, during the lunch hour, there were snouts appearing in the slower water especially along the foam lines. There are a potpourri of insects: mayflies, midges, and caddis. There is no angler pressure now…. nobody is fishing. The only tracks out there are from the cattle. Enjoy!

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