I got out of Dodge last weekend and headed north to Pyramid Lake with my son and a buddy from Crowley. We met up with some friends from the Bay Area and regular contributors to Lost Coast Outfitters, Tyler Graff and Aaron van Schyndel. We spent the morning on our ladders, laughing, telling stories, and catching fish nymphing and stripping streamers. Nobody caught anything super huge (for Pyramid) but they were all quality cutthroat.
Lower Owens River
The flows are above 700 cfs and have been for several weeks. 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 read about 80 cfs but these are taken well above the Hot Creek confluences, so the actual data is a little higher. The river system below the confluence can be muddy, off color, and full of debris if you wander out there just after a wet storm. It usually takes a couple of days for the river to clear up (as long as another storm does not roll in). The fish in the Upper Owens are porkulent rainbows that have come up from the reservoir seeking more oxygen, food, and their spawn. They are generally fairly lethargic and seek the quiet water of deep pools. The snow is melting out but I would use extreme caution if you plan on driving in. There are some major bogs out there….. keeper mudholes. San Juans, egg patterns, and red pheasant tails work well. You need to make sure you cover the water thoroughly. The trout will grab if you put it on their snouts. There are fewer fish now in the upper section of the river as the fish are heading back towards the lake. You will find that those dime bright rainbows have now turned dark as the spawn is over.
The river is running fast and furious at just under 900 cfs. You
fish at these levels however, be aware. If you fall in you are going to be swimming for awhile. You are looking for the quiet water along the edges. Size up on your tippet material, use 3x at the minimum. San Juans will work in this off colored water.
Jim Stimson Fly Fishing