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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 9.21.2017

First off, I would like to send out thoughts and prayers to the victims of the Mexico earthquake and the hurricanes that continue to sweep through the Caribbean. These events are hard to fathom and witness.

Early this morning before dawn arrived, you could hear rain pounding down on the roof. Fall is in the air, the seasons are changing. With the thermometer sitting in the low 40’s, I expect the peaks to be plastered in snow once the clouds clear. This is looking like an incredibly scenic autumn. The fishing will be good!

If you need proof, check out the following photograph taken last weekend. The day in general had been on the slow side, everybody had hooked into some trout, but with the water looking so “fishy,” I expected the day to be better. We stopped for a lunch break, ate sandwiches, drank some beer, and then headed back out to the river for one last opportunity. From the road I pointed out a place and said, “There is one more place we have to try before we pack it in.” We thrashed thru the brush and spread out along the river. I left my wading staff back at the truck so I told Tyler, “I don’t feel comfortable wading through the swift water but I think you should fish the far side of the river, under those overhanging tree branches.” There was a nice calm section in the pocket water that looked promising, but to get to it you had to slosh through some fairly deep, moving water. Tyler was a collegiate swimmer, young, energetic, and had no problem with wading, anywhere. In fact, he was already drenched to his shoulders from his many immersions throughout the day. His waders were filled above his knees. He told me, “I am not having a good day unless my waders are filled to my waist!” Nothing fazed him. Off he went and soon he was high sticking thru this run. He hooked and landed a couple of medium sized browns, then stuck a toad. He let out a shriek, “I can’t see it yet, but it feels huge!” The fish turned and darted downstream into the current. Tyler followed closely behind, bobbing and weaving through the boulders, swift water, deep buckets, getting dunked and going up to his chin in the river. Sometimes all I could see was his rod hand extending up through the water. I stashed my rod along the riverbank and followed in pursuit with my net, trying to wade as quickly as I could through the river. Finally, the brown stopped and turned upstream and parked it for awhile. I was able to catch up. The trout was huge, the coloration was amazing, the head and shoulders on this thing were immense. The only thing we could say at the time was, “Holy Shit!” as it slid into the net…….

Let’s be careful out there….

East Walker

The river has dropped to about 235 cfs. I think the ideal level lies between 200-300 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 mid-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 200 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 80 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 28 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 100 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 460 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.

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