Let’s be careful out there. The runoff is here and everything is running full steam. We have had a couple of dogs that have been swept away and drowned locally, so again, be cautious if you are going to wade. River hydraulics are incredibly powerful and unforgiving. That said, if you plan on fishing your best options are: the Upper Owens, Hot Creek, and Crowley Lake. The reservoir in particular is red hot. Big fish have been coming out of there daily; browns, rainbows, cuttys, and the odd perch. So, bring your float tube and mosquito repellent.
The creek is on the rise and edging towards 250 cfs, as runoff from the high country kicks in. 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. Remember, even if the water becomes off color, the trout will seek the quiet water along the edges. San Juan worms work wonders in these spring conditions.
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 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 scarceI 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 edging up towards 900 cfs again, which makes even 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.