Happy summer! Be careful where you fish. There is wild, raging water everywhere. The West Walker River for example is screaming at nearly 4700 cfs. This is spectacular to witness, but I would wait on the fishing. Everything is flooded and at these levels the river hydraulics are substantial. If you insist on venturing in, always have an escape route or exit planned. If you are wearing waders, make sure you cinch down your waist belt. If you get swept into the river, keep your feet below you and use your hands to paddle to the soft water along the edges. Good luck and be careful out there.
The creek is powering through the canyon at 325 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 RiverThe flows are still cranking above the 750 cfs mark, so don’t rush out and grab your fishing gear. 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 180 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.
The flows are just above 800 cfs again, which makes the upper part of the river, the Miracle Mile, sketchy. You can fish at these levels but beware. If you get dunked, you might be swimming for awhile. Anything below the bridge will be ripping fast as the river narrows and has a steeper gradient. I would stick to the section below the dam. Look for the quiet water along the edges. Watch the flows, they will be fluctuating all spring. Size up on your tippet material, use 3x at the minimum. San Juans, Prince nymphs, stoneflies, Bird’s nests, and streamers like a wooly bugger and crayfish have all been working. The fish are big and bloated, they are not starving.
Jim Stimson Fly Fishing
142 Larkspur Lane
Crowley Lake, CA 93546