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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Reports

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Jim Stimson Reports on 7.28.2016


It has been clear and hot for weeks now. Usually we start getting some monsoonal flow come July, but no sign of relief yet. It would be nice to get dosed with some rain and cool breezes. With that said, watch the water temperatures. Buy yourself a thermometer and keep it handy like you would a pair hemostats. I checked out the East Walker last week on my way to Carson City. The water first thing in the morning felt very nice and comfortable to wet wade, which isn’t what you would expect for that time of the day. Sure enough, upon dropping my thermometer into the river, I got a reading in the mid to upper 60’s, which is exceptible to fish, just don’t play the fish too long. Get them to hand, revive, then release. I was able to pin a few nice fish so I kept moving downstream, searching for trout. After several hours of slow fishing, I took another temperature reading. Now, the water temps had crested into the low 70’s. I reeled in and packed up my gear and headed around the corner and explored the West Walker. See below:

Enjoy the summer, be careful with campfires, and keep an eye on the water temperatures. Get out there! Cheers!

San Joaquin River

The river keeps dropping as the snow from the high country has melted. The flows are about 37 cfs. This is a nice comfortable level for trout and the angler. You can get lots of fish nymphing with small mayfly patterns like a juju beats. As the temperatures rise look for salmon and stoneflies cruising through. Switch to a dry or a dry-dropper setup in the shallower runs. Use something fairly big like a #14-16 stimulator with a baetis nymph suspended below. There are lots of hungry browns and rainbows.

Lower Owens River

I do not know what is going on down in the Valley other than the City of Los Angeles is releasing gobs of water. Even as I write this the flows have gone from 450 cfs to 370, and now they are climbing up again towards 500. You can fish from the bank at these high flows, but I would not risk wading unless you enjoy swimming. The Lower Owens is rippin’ fast now. Give it some time and the flows will eventually drop and stabilize.

Upper Owens River

The Upper O is ambling along at 41 cfs, it does not ever seem to change. There are more trout in the system and the fishing has improved. You can expect to find browns and rainbows spread out from the lake (Crowley) to the Longyear Ranch. Most of the bigger fish have moved into the lake but there are still some nice stragglers to be had if you move around and keep grinding away at the river. Try swinging some soft hackles.

East Walker

The East Walker has been dropping slowly but surely. The flows are at 140 cfs, which is a great level, however, be vigilant with the water temperatures. Fish it first thing in the morning, early, then move on once the water temps get too high. Give the trout a break.

West Walker

The West Walker is a great place to fish. Even though the highway parallels the river, there are places that don’t receive that much angling pressure. The water is super clear, rocky and lends itself well to dry flies, dry droppers, and nymphing. The flows are perfect now at 140 cfs and being a freestone river, the water temperatures are much cooler than the East Walker (a tail water fishery). I had great success using prince nymphs. There are lots of nice rainbows in the 12-14” range that tug very hard, especially in that current.

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