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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Jim Stimson Reports on 6/29/2017

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Tioga Pass opened, finally. Now, if they could get the road open down to Devils’s Postpile and the San Joaquin River, we could get on with summer.

There is a “yuge” amount of water being shuttled about, particularly to the north. The East Walker has blown out to over 1500 cfs, the highest levels in over 15 years. The Twin Lakes Reservoirs are releasing water downstream towards Bridgeport to accommodate runoff from snowpack that still remains in the high country. This runs into the Bridgeport Reservoir which is already close to full capacity, so…. the East Walker river system is taking a beating. I have no idea how long these flows will continue, there remains a “tremendous” reserve of snow up high.

Last weekend the East Walker crested at over 1000 cfs, at the time, we thought this was a big deal. So, exercising a complete lack of common sense, we packed up the truck and headed north to see if we could catch a fish, or none. Over the years, it has been a goal to catch trout at all the different river levels and have bragging rights with being in the 700 Club, 800 Club, 900 Club, etc. Now with the river at a new high for us, we were treading, no pun intended, new water…. the 1K Club. With the super high conditions and cold water, you need waders to be comfortable, a wading staff, a buddy, and a willingness to say, “No.” You need to pick and choose where you fish, carefully. Remember, this is only fishing, you do not want to get flushed downstream. Think personal safety first. You are evaluating the objective danger…. if the current is too swift and deep, the bottom too slippery, move on….. find a place that is fishable, but do not be afraid to walk back to your vehicle and drive home.

That said, we had a successful trip, we both landed some nice trout. Now, with the 1500 cfs carrot dangling out there, will we “take the bait?” Stay tuned for next week’s report!

Hot Creek

The creek is powering through the canyon at 240 cfs. Remember, even if the water becomes off color and fast, the trout will seek the quiet water along the edges. San Juan worms work wonders in these spring conditions.There is a nice lunch time hatch of BWO’s, sized 18’s. Zebra midges, Barr emerges, juju baetis, and scuds will usually elicit a bump. Target your casts to the feeding lanes between the grasses and rocks. You may not see fish, but they are in there.

Lower Owens River

The flows are still cranking above the 600 cfs mark, so don’t rush out and grab your fishing gear, but the flows are coming down, finally. 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 150 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). The river is chugging along level with the banks along the edges. The mosquitos out there are heinous as everything is soggy. This is one of those few times when you actually wish for wind to keep the clouds of bugs at bay. 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.

East Walker

I would wait on the East Walker, see the opening paragraph above. The river is raging at over 1500 cfs and most likely unfishable for awhile. Beware, beware, beware…..

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