Ahhh…. Labor Day has come and gone; the traffic in Mammoth and the highway has faded, and autumn is beginning to settle into the Eastern Sierra. I love this time of year…. change is in the air. There is a hint of color in the trees and the morning air is crisp. Oh! And the fishing has greatly improved. There are still issues with fires to the north. Check the link below to check on the latest road conditions and closures. Also, keep a heads up for deer…. they are getting antsy and are on the move.
Let’s be careful out there….
The river flows actually dipped into the upper 200’s for about a day but is back up to 340 cfs. I think the ideal level lies between 200-300 cfs, but it is very fishable 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!
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.
If you like to fish in a wilderness setting, try the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin. The river is cruising along at nearly 90 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 40 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 68 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
The flows are finally dropping, but don’t rush out and grab your fishing gear. The river is still running strong at 450 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.