With most of our local streams blowing out, I am heading north to Pyramid Lake this weekend for a change of scenery. I am looking forward to meeting up with some friends, casting for cuttys, and camping on the beach of an ancient lake.
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 walk in is on deep snow, do not attempt to drive unless you have a snowmobile. You can usually walk in on the packed sled tracks or snowshoe directly to the water’s edge. Figure on a two mile hike in, one way. 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.
On Sunday morning I looked at my FishHead app on my iPhone for the East Walker River. It was 342. Several hours later it was reading 942! The spring release has begun. You can 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