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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson reports on 10.19.2017

I will try not to BS anyone, I honestly have no clue what is going on with the local trout streams. I have heard second and third hand that the Upper Owens has cleared and fishing has improved. I can see from my house (with binoculars) that boats are anchored at the north end of Crowley Lake, meaning the fish are moving into the Upper Owens river system. I have heard streamers down at the mouth have been working well.

For the last couple of weeks I have been out of State fishing on the Upper Madison, Firehole, Henry’s Fork, Yellowstone, Bighorn, and the Beaverhead. I cannot choose a favorite. They were all good. See photo below from the Bighorn.

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….

East Walker

The river has dropped to about 150 cfs. The river is very fishy now. With the river dropping and trout on the move, try the upper section of the Miracle Mile. The pocket water is very productive with caddis worms, brown Fox pupae, stoneflies, damselfly nymphs, Copper Johns, Prince Nymphs, and red midges. The water temperatures are holding well in the low-60’s and as the day time temps begin to drop, the river will have made it through a hot summer with no ill effects. The trout are thriving!

West Walker

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 65 cfs, which is tenuous for river crossings but that said, 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.

San Joaquin

If you like to fish in a wilderness setting, try the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin. The river is cruising along at nearly 15 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.

Hot Creek

The creek is flowing through the canyon at 60 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 76 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. I have been wet wading (above the confluence) but I wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt for protection from the bugs. That said, the fishing isn’t bad. Caddis are buzzing around and anglers are scarce. Hoppers and damsel flies have been working well. 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 damsel flies hovering above the river or clinging to the weeds. It is WAY fun!

Lower Owens River
Don’t rush out and grab your fishing gear. The river went back up to 500 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

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