Last weekend we packed up the truck and camper for a guy’s trip to central Oregon to view the eclipse, explore some new country, and wet lines on some water that I have only read about. We camped along the Malheur River, fished for feisty rainbows and occasional bull trout. After the eclipse, which was beyond belief, we fished the canyon country of SE Oregon for massive brown trout. More on that later…..
I was guiding a client on the East Walker (thank you George) and we were getting into some nice trout right from the get-go. The morning was going well with a few fish to hand and a couple of bigger trout lost to the current (the river is still running heavy in many sections). We even had a double hookup, my client and an osprey. While Jim was busy fighting what turned out to be a chunky rainbow, an osprey just across the river dove into the water with a huge splash and flew away with a hefty trout as well, chirping at us as she flew off to feed her fledglings. The East Walker is returning to its past wild glory and awesome fishing. There are nice trout spread throughout the system and with each turn and gradient change, the river changes personality and requires a variety of techniques, which makes the angling fun and challenging.
Tioga and Sonora Passes are open, AND, the road down to Devils’s Postpone and the San Joaquin River is clear. We are in the midst of a monsoonal cycle with afternoon buildup complete with showers and lightning. Remember, those expensive graphite rods you are raising to the heavens on your overhead casts also conduct electricity. If you have any doubts, break down the rod, head to the car, and crack open a beer and watch the cattle get nuked out in the pastures.
The creek is flowing through the canyon at 41 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.
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 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.
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!
The river is getting very juicy as it is running at 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.
Enjoy yourselves and be safe out there!
Jim Stimson Fly Fishing