November…… and just a trace of snow in the mountains so far. Living in the shadow of a ski area, you are constantly reminded of the importance of snow and how it drives the winter economy. We always cross our fingers for a good storm system before Thanksgiving as it is the first big holiday of the year. Snow brings tourists and our guests buy lift tickets, rent condos and motels, and visit the many restaurants. As for fishing, the snow is banked and preserved in the high country until spring, then the melt water rejuvenates our lakes, rivers, and streams. It seems so simple, “just add water.” What a great winter and summer we had this year. In many of the local rivers, fishing was five-star. We are hoping for another good winter, a normal winter.
Fishing in general has picked up, trout are on the move. If I were to offer one tip for the local streams in general it would be, use some stealth. Most of the rivers are running low and clear which means the fish are very nervous and spooky. Approach the water’s edge with care: no heavy footsteps, keep you profile low, and watch your shadow on the water. A long rod helps as well in the pocket water. And be patient…. sometimes in takes awhile to get a grab. Enjoy!
Use caution if you are driving at night. The deer are flushing out of the backcountry in droves, the migration is happening.
Let’s be careful out there….
The river has dropped to about 60 cfs. These flows are getting boney, the fish are spooky. The water clarity is good so you need to fish the river with stealth. A longer rod is helpful to reach over the boulders in the pocket water. Try the upper section of the Miracle Mile. The pocket water is very productive with caddis worms, brown Fox pupae, stoneflies, Copper Johns, Prince Nymphs, and red midges. The trout are thriving!
If the East Walker weren’t so close, convenient, and a Blue Ribbon fishery, I would fish the West Walker more. It is a fun place to explore with lots of nice trout, primarily rainbows. The flows are about 50 cfs, the water gin clear, and fishing is good. In the shallows, try some stimmy’s or elk haired caddis. The deeper buckets you can usually find fish with attractor patterns like prince nymphs.
If you like to fish in a wilderness setting, try the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin. The river is cruising along at nearly 11 cfs as it winds through the canyon past Devil’s Postpile and Rainbow Falls. A dry dropper setup with a elk haired caddis, stimulator, or hopper along with any type of emerger pattern suspended off the hook bend will work; midges, juju baetis, pheasant tails, etc… these trout are ravenous.
The creek is flowing through the canyon at 54 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 dry dropper setup. Dave’s Hoppers are working well, very well. Streamers have also fooled some nice trout.
Upper Owens River
The flows are roughly 80 cfs high in the river system but as the Owens meanders towards the Benton Crossing bridge, Hot Creek dumps in a significant amount of water especially when spring runoff is involved (see above). In other words, once the Owens makes the bridge near the campground, the flows are closer to 140 cfs. Caddis are still buzzing around and anglers are scarce. Hoppers continue to get grabs on top. Target your casts as close to the grassy banks as possible. Hoppers tumble into the river, falling from the overhanging grasses. The trout have been leaping into the air to grab these insects. Also, black leeches have been working either swung through the buckets or presented with a dead drift. Enjoy!
Lower Owens River
Don’t rush out and grab your fishing gear. The river went back up to 550 cfs. This will be a new river once the flooding ends. The river is spilling its banks and there are sections between Chalk Bluff Road and the river that are wetlands and marshes. It is a muddy, goopy, mess. If you are going to wade, exercise extreme caution. With enough weight you can cast into the quiet water along the edges and perhaps raise a fish.
Jim Stimson Fly Fishing