Tioga and Sonora Passes are open, AND, the road down to Devils’s Postpone and the San Joaquin River is open. I fished down there on Monday to scout for a guide trip (someone had to do it). A lot of the water is high and fast but if you explored around you could find some softer water and grabby fish. It is a magical place to wander around and explore.
The creek is flowing through the canyon at 120 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. Red San Juans, Copper Johns, Prince Nymphs, scuds, and CDC Caddis work 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 75 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 200 cfs. The river is chugging along level with the banks. 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. I tried a variety of bugs and got grabs on just about anything that was presented well: San Juans, Prince Nymphs, soft hackles, etc…. and, there are some VERY healthy fish in the river. As the days get longer and warmer, the fishing will only get better.
The flows are getting into that tempting realm of possibilities. The river is running at 500 cfs. I think the ideal level lies between 200-300 cfs, but it is very fishable now. When the river sits between 500-700 you need to exercise a little more caution than usual. You have to get into the water to get effective drifts, just beware of the strong current when you are wading deep. If you decide to venture out, use some common sense and evaluate the objective dangers. Always have an “escape route” in mind before you are swept into the current. Remember, it is only fishing….. be safe out there. Stoneflies, damselfly nymphs, Copper Johns, Prince Nymphs, and red midges are all working.
Jim Stimson Fly Fishing