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Fishing Report

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Jim Stimson Reports on 9.30.20

Thank you firefighters! 

The Inyo National Forest remains closed until a revaluation of conditions occurs on October 8th, hence, any fishing on USFS land is prohibited. This goes for any activity: fishing, hiking, biking, sight seeing, etc….Until the extreme fire conditions (heat, wind, drought, not enough fire fighting personnel) disappear, expect and respect the temporary closures. This means no campfires, no campfires, no campfires! Each day is a nail biter with local residents poised and ready to evacuate as the Creek Fire burns out of control just 15 miles from Mammoth Lakes. Mono and Inyo Counties are requiring the use of face masks with the pandemic. Please respect local businesses, each other, and be good stewards of the land. Thank you!

East Walker

The flows are in the low sixties along with the water temperatures. The fishing now is tough. The Bridgeport Reservoir is very low from the drought winter and is kicking a lot of mud and algae into the river, meaning, the water is off color. The bigger fish are hunkered down and tight lipped. There are trout to be had but it is a grind-a-thon. Keep in mind it is fun being on the water and whiling away the hours. The fishing will eventually improve!

West Walker

I believe the West Walker has reopened (it flows thru a different National Forest). That said, having recently driven thru the canyon the conditions are low, boney, and clear. Seek out the deeper, longer runs and go into stealth mode as the water is gin clear. Walk quietly as you approach the river, maintain a low profile, use a longer rod, and wear some camo. Think invisible.

San Joaquin

Closed

Hot Creek

Closed

Upper Owens River

Well heh! Looky here! There is something that is actually open, flowing, and has trout. 

The flows sit at about 60 cfs high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to 90 cfs. There are some big fish beginning their journey back into the river system from the reservoir. Be patient and persistent….. dredge those deeper, slower buckets and you may get rewarded with a bruiser. You can get some top water action with elk haired caddis and tricos, but generally for smaller trout. I have had the best success nymphing with small pheasant tail or a soft hackled flies. 

Lower Owens River

The river is raging along at roughly 438 cfs. Beware of the high water levels, do not even think about wading across the river unless you enjoy swimming down the Owens Valley.

Get out there! You cannot catch fish if your line isn’t in the water. Stay safe!

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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Jim Stimson Reports on 9.17.20

I feel I am about to write a new Cormac McCarthy style novel; something dark, hopeless, with endless amounts of despair. If COVID were not enough, we now have thick, heavy, acrid smoke coming over the Sierra from one of the many fires burning in the State. With the extreme fire conditions (heat, wind, drought, not enough fire fighting personnel), all National Forests and BLM land are closed, temporarily. The agencies will reevaluate on the 21st but for now, you cannot even set foot on USFS lands. There is the campground on the Upper Owens and a BLM campground near Crowley Lake that is still open but everywhere else is closed. No campfires, no campfires, no campfires! Each day is a nail biter with residents poised and ready to evacuate as the Creek Fire burns out of control just 15 miles from Mammoth Lakes. Mono and Inyo Counties are requiring the use of face masks. Please respect local businesses, each other, and be good stewards of the land. 

Finally, thank you firefighters! 

East Walker : Closed

West Walker : Closed

San Joaquin : Closed

Hot Creek : Closed

Upper Owens River

Well heh! Looky here! There is something that is actually open, flowing, and has trout. 

The flows sit at about 60 cfs high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to 90 cfs. Most of the trophy trout have moved back into Crowley Lake but there are still some stragglers hanging around; nice browns and rainbows. You can get some top water action with elk haired caddis and tricos. I have had the best success nymphing with small pheasant tail or a soft hackled flies. 

Lower Owens River

The river is raging along at roughly 600 cfs. Beware of the high water levels, do not even think about wading across the river unless you enjoy swimming down the Owens Valley.

Get out there! You cannot catch fish if your line isn’t in the water. Stay safe!

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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Jim Stimson Reports on 9.2.2020

Wow, Labor Day weekend….. the mornings are starting to cool off and with the lower sun angle, the mountains are beginning to get that autumn hue. We are expecting record high temperatures for the next several days. It should be a fun weekend. Keep in mind there are NO campfires permitted now, even in developed campgrounds. And ad nauseam…. both Mono and Inyo Counties are requiring the use of face masks. COVID is running rampant. Please respect local businesses and be good stewards of the land. Take care of your trash, TP, sewage. That does not mean leave it for someone else to pick up. Leave no trace. NONE!

East Walker

The East Walker is very vulnerable to warm water conditions. The Bridgeport Reservoir is a heat collector and the water released into the East Walker in the summer months is tepid. Currently the flows are 95 cfs. Even first thing in the morning the water temps are in the low 70’s. Give the trout a break…. but if you insist on fishing up there, fish in the morning with heavier tippet so you can land fish quickly, then once it gets too warm, reel in, hop in your car, and head for the high country. West Walker The flows are 19 cfs, low and boney. The West Walker has gin clear water so use some stealth when approaching the water and fishing. A dry-dropper setup or Euro-style nymphing is deadly on this pocket water.

San Joaquin

The road to the Postpile and the San Joaquin River are open. Because of the pandemic, the shuttle busses will not operate this season. There will be some kind of quota system for driving your own vehicle down into the canyon. It is a zoo down there……. The flows are at 15 cfs

Hot Creek

The creek is flowing through the canyon at roughly 34 cfs. Target your casts to the feeding lanes between the weeds and rocks, plus the overhanging grasses along the margins. You may not see fish, but they are there. Try a dry-dropper setup with a caddis above and a midge or small mayfly below. Hot Creek is always a fun place to fish. If you enjoy technical fishing, this is the place to practice your laser-guided casts, mending, and good drifts. The canyon is home to not only some nice trout, but deer, osprey, and the occasional bald eagle. Enjoy!

Upper Owens River

The flows sit at about 61 cfs high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to 90 cfs. Most of the trophy trout have moved back into Crowley Lake but there are still some stragglers hanging around; nice browns and rainbows. When the afternoon breezes kick in, throw on a small hopper with a “drowned” hopper below. Aim your casts along the shoreline, tight to the banks and overhanging grasses. Money!

Lower Owens River

The river is raging along at roughly 546 cfs. Beware of the high water levels, do not even think about wading across the river unless you enjoy swimming with the fish.

Get out there! You cannot catch fish if your line isn’t in the water. Stay safe!

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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Jim Stimson Reports on 8.27.20

Ughh! California is an inferno. Other than smokey air quality that you could cut with a knife, the Eastern Sierra is one of the few places in the State not on fire. But, we all need to exercise caution. There are NO campfires permitted now, even in developed campgrounds. And ad nauseam…. both Mono and Inyo Counties are requiring the use of face masks. COVID is running rampant. Please respect local businesses and be good stewards of the land. Take care of your trash, TP, sewage. That does not mean leave it for someone else to pick up. Leave no trace. NONE!

East Walker
The East Walker is very vulnerable to warm water conditions. Currently the flows are 87 cfs. Even first thing in the morning the water temps are in the low 70’s. Give the trout a break…. but if you insist on fishing up there, fish in the morning with heavier tippet so you can land fish quickly, then once it gets too warm, reel in, hop in your car, and head for the high country.  

West Walker

The flows are 29 cfs, low and boney. The West Walker has gin clear water so use some stealth when approaching the water and fishing. A dry-dropper setup or Euro style nymphing is deadly on this pocket water. 

San Joaquin
The road to the Postpile and the San Joaquin River are open. Because of the pandemic, the shuttle busses will not operate this season. There will be some kind of quota system for driving your own vehicle down into the canyon. It is a zoo down there……. The flows are at 24 cfs
Hot Creek

The creek is flowing through the canyon at roughly 35 cfs. Target your casts to the feeding lanes between the weeds and rocks, plus the overhanging grasses along the margins. You may not see fish, but they are there. Try a dry-dropper setup with a caddis above and a midge or small mayfly below. Hot Creek is always a fun place to fish. The canyon is home to not only some nice trout, but deer, osprey, and the occasional bald eagle. Enjoy!

Upper Owens River

The flows sit at about 62 cfs high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to 90 cfs. Most of the trophy trout have moved back into Crowley Lake but there are still some stragglers hanging around; nice browns and rainbows. When the afternoon breezes kick in, throw on a small hopper with a “drowned” hopper below. Aim your casts along the shoreline, tight to the banks and overhanging grasses. Money!

Lower Owens River

The river is raging along at roughly 511 cfs. Beware of the high water levels, do not even think about wading across the river unless you enjoy swimming with the fish. 

Get out there! You cannot catch fish if your line isn’t in the water. Stay safe!

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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Jim Stimson Reports on 6.18.20

Hopper season is here. If you are planning on fishing the Upper Owens, stock up on those large, grotesque, and gaudy terrestrial patterns. They work! And don’t agonize over making perfect, delicate presentations with long 7X tippet. Hoppers are made to hit the water coming in hot. Don’t be tentative, plop them down along the river’s edge like that kid at the local swimming pool desperately trying to splash the lifeguard with endless cannonballs. Cast like you mean it and enjoy the excitement!

All of the mountain passes are open including Tioga Pass but check with the Park Service for details and restrictions. These are tenuous times with the pandemic. Enjoy the Eastern Sierra but please respect the fisheries and each other. Be prepared to wear a mask if you are grocery shopping or visit a retail store. And finally, please refrain from open campfires if you are camping outside of a developed campground. Fire season is already here. Thank you.

East Walker

The flows on the East Walker are at 120 cfs. Keep your eye on the USGS website as I would expect the irrigation district to start releasing more water as the snow from the high country starts making its way to the valley below. The river at this level is perfect. The trout love the extra cold water and are free to move throughout the river system. These flows are easy for wading as well. The fish have moved for the most part out of the deeper, still buckets and into the moving water. This is a combo of several factors; oxygen needs and the food source. Caddis and stonefly nymphs are tumbling out of the riffles into the run outs below, especially in the afternoons. That said, black zebra midges and WD-40’s work well in the morning but as the day heats up, watch for BWO’s, stoneflies, and caddis. I generally use a stonefly nymph as an attractor with a beatis dropper. The combo has been money. 

West Walker

The flows are over 300 cfs with the spring runoff as a heat wave settles in over the Sierra. if you insist on fishing here, tighten your waist belt, use a staff, and keep your wading conservative. Try using big, flashy, and bright attractor patterns in this fast, off-color water.

San Joaquin

The road to the Postpile and the San Joaquin River is currently closed.


Hot Creek

The creek is flowing through the canyon at roughly 52 cfs. Target your casts to the feeding lanes between the weeds and rocks, plus the overhanging grasses along the margins. You may not see fish, but they are there. Try a dry-dropper setup with a caddis above and a midge or small mayfly below. Hot Creek is always a fun place to fish. The canyon is home to not only some nice trout, but deer, osprey, and the occasional bald eagle. Enjoy!

Upper Owens River

The flows sit at about 64 cfs high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to 120 cfs. Most of the trophy trout have moved back into Crowley Lake but there are still some stragglers hanging around; nice cutthroats and rainbows. In addition to sunscreen, throw some bug spray into your fishing vest. The mosquitos are loving life now. As for bugs, just a plain ‘ole pheasant tail works wonders sub-surface, but hoppers are the ticket now for the top water. 

Lower Owens River

The river is cruising steady at roughly 276 cfs and is fishing well with all of the traditional patterns; PT’s, Hare’s Ears, midges, Frenchies…. If you enjoy hucking dry flies, this is the place. Around lunchtime, watch for BWO’s to start coming off the water. Be ready. The first thing you will notice is the bird activity along the river. You will see swallows, fly catchers, and sparrows flitting around the surrounding brush and diving at the river surface. Look for rises along the foam lines as fish snouts start poking up through the surface film. This BWO carnage only lasts about an hour. If you get finicky trout snubbing your dry flies, change your bug. Usually a sized 16-18 adams will get grabs, but often the trout are looking for a mayfly that is sitting lower in the surface film. An adams rides high so try a comparadun or a hackle stacker, they sit more within the film. Sometimes that is all you need to get back into the game.

Get out there! You cannot catch fish if your line isn’t in the water.



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Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Jim Stimson Reports on 5/30/2020

After months of social isolation I would like to welcome everybody back to the world of trout fishing. As I write this report, the CDFW has reopened Mono County for fishing except for Crowley Lake, though you can fish from shore, float tube, or kayak, just no motorized watercraft. And if their regulations were not confusing enough, the fishing has opened in Mono County but remains closed in Inyo County (except for the Lower Owens River — a year round stream). The rules and regulations are changing by the minute. I would expect all fishing to be open in Mono and Inyo Counties along with restrictions lifted on Crowley Lake by this weekend. Keep in mind, the motels and campgrounds are still struggling to open with the mandates set in place by the State. The private, concession based campgrounds are opening this week, at least in Inyo County. You can still disperse camp on public lands but BLM and USFS campgrounds are not expected to open until the end of June. Some of the campgrounds may not reopen at all because of issues with trash and sewage. It is disheartening to see the amount of trash, toilet paper, sewage, illegal open and often unattended campfires. Really?! 

 

If you plan on coming over anytime soon, be prepared to travel completely self-contained.  And please, when you camp and fish, honor the old adage, “Leave no trace.” Respect the fishery, the nice place you are visiting, and each other. Let’s all pitch in and leave our waters in better shape than you found them. Carry a trash bag and pick up some trash even if it is not yours. Come on over, do some fishing, practice social distancing, and be prepared to wear a mask if you are grocery shopping or visit a retail store. We are sailing on uncharted waters. A little courtesy and patience goes a long ways. We will get thru this pandemic.

Sonora and Monitor Passes are currently open, I have not heard of any rumors concerning a projected opening of Tioga…. Hang in there! Stay safe and healthy.

 

East Walker

The flows on the East Walker are at 150 cfs. Keep your eye on the USGS site as I would expect the irrigation district to start releasing more water as the snow from the high country starts making its way to the valley below. The river at this level is perfect. The trout love the extra cold water and are free to move around throughout the river system. These flows are easy for wading as well. The fish have moved for the most part out of the deeper buckets and into the moving water. This is a combo of several factors; oxygen needs and the caddis / stonefly nymphs are tumbling out of the riffles into the mouths of hungry fish. Black zebra midges and WD-40’s work well in the morning but as the day heats up, watch for BWO’s, stoneflies, and caddis. I generally use a stonefly nymph as an attractor with a beatis dropper. The combo has been money. 

West Walker

The flows are over 1000 cfs with the spring runoff as a heat wave settles in over the Sierra. if you insist on fishing here, tighten your waist belt, use a staff, and keep your wading conservative. Try using big, flashy, and bright attractor patterns in this fast, off-color water.

San Joaquin

The road to the Postpile and the San Joaquin is currently closed.

Hot Creek

The creek is flowing through the canyon at roughly 50 cfs. Target your casts to the feeding lanes between the weeds and rocks, plus the overhanging grasses along the margins. You may not see fish, but they are there. Try a dry-dropper setup with a caddis above and a midge or small mayfly below. Hot Creek is always a fun place to fish. The canyon is home to not only some nice trout, but deer, osprey, and the occasional bald eagle. Enjoy!

Upper Owens River

The flows sit at about 66 cfs high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to 120 cfs. The river is very clear so fish with some stealth. There are still some massive sized cutthroats spread throughout the caldera. Please avoid the temptation to cast onto the spawning fish. Choose where you wade carefully as you do not want to destroy their redds. Just a plain ‘ole pheasant tail works wonders. Thanks.

Lower Owens River

The river is cruising steady at roughly 200 cfs and is fishing well with all of the traditional patterns; PT’s, Hare’s Ears, midges, Frenchies…. If you enjoy hucking dry flies, this is the place. Around lunchtime, watch for BWO’s to start coming off the water and be ready. The first thing you will notice is the bird activity along the river. You will see swallows, fly catchers, and sparrows flitting around the surrounding brush and diving at the river surface. Look for rises along the foam lines as fish snouts start poking up through the surface film. This BWO carnage only lasts about an hour. If you get finicky trout snubbing your dry flies, change your bug. Usually a sized 16-18 adams will get grabs, but often the trout are looking for a mayfly that is sitting lower in the surface film. An adams rides high so try a comparadun or a hackle stacker, they sit more within the film. Sometimes that is all you need to get back into the game.

Get out there! You cannot catch fish if your line isn’t in the water.

Continue reading

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Jim Stimson Reports on 3.4.2020

The driest February on record! Ugh… and January wasn’t too much better. The 1st of March did bring a little snow to the high country but we’ve got a long ways to go before we get back to “normal." We can only hope that we get a Miracle March. That said, the Upper Owens is still kicking out some nice fish but the “bite” does not happen until close to lunch time. So relax, enjoy that extra cup of coffee, doughnut, NY Times, and wait until the water warms up a little. You can get some nice rainbows or browns throwing streamers or nymphing with PT’s or balanced leeches. If the cold temps are something you don’t care for, drive down the hill and fish the Lower Owens. It is a “banana belt” down there and the fishing for brown trout is fabulous.

Enjoy!

East Walker

The flows on the East Walker have been raised to about 70 cfs! Game On! The river at this level is still low but now the trout can move around and spread out throughout the system. They are not just sitting ducks in the deeper pools.

Hot Creek

The creek is flowing through the canyon at roughly 42 cfs. Target your casts to the feeding lanes between the weeds and rocks, plus the overhanging grasses along the margins. You may not see fish, but they are there. Try a dry-dropper setup with a caddis above and a midge or small mayfly below. Hot Creek is always a fun place to fish especially now that the crowds have gone home. 

Upper Owens River

The flows are dropping and sit at about 94 cfs high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to 130 cfs. More and more trout are pushing up into the river system from the reservoir. There are some really nice fish to be had with SJ worms, small baetis, and balanced leeches. Work the deeper buckets relentlessly…. they are in there. Currently, the driving approaches to the river are no problem but beware of any new snow or precipitation.

Lower Owens River

The river is cruising steady at roughly 127 cfs and is fishing well with all of the traditional patterns; PT’s, Hare’s Ears, midges, Frenchies…. Thank God for Bishop. It is a nice break from winter when you need to see some dirt again and feel some warmth. If you enjoy hucking dry flies, this is the place. Around lunchtime, watch for BWO’s to start coming off the water and be ready. The first thing you will notice is the bird activity along the river. They know! The hatch doesn’t last long. Look for rises along the foam lines as snouts start poking up through the surface film. 

Get out there! You cannot catch fish if your line isn’t in the water.

Continue reading

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Jim Stimson Reports on 2.27.20

The Upper Owens is still kicking out some nice fish but the “bite” does not happen until close to lunch time. So relax, enjoy that extra cup of coffee and doughnut and wait until the water warms up a little. You can get some nice rainbows or browns throwing streamers or nymphing with PT’s or balanced leeches. If the cold temps are something you don’t care for, drive down the hill and fish the Lower Owens. It is a “banana belt” down there and the fishing for brown trout is fabulous.

East Walker

The East Walker is still flat lining with low flows of about 22 cfs. Until the river flows pick up, I recommend giving this fishery a rest….. 

Hot Creek

The creek is flowing through the canyon at roughly 45 cfs. Target your casts to the feeding lanes between the weeds and rocks, plus the overhanging grasses along the margins. You may not see fish, but they are there. Try a dry-dropper setup with a caddis above and a midge or small mayfly below. Hot Creek is always a fun place to fish especially now that the crowds have gone home. 

Upper Owens River

The flows are dropping and sit at about 94 cfs high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to 140 cfs. More and more trout are pushing up into the river system from the reservoir. There are some really nice fish to be had with SJ worms, small baetis, and balanced leeches. Work the deeper buckets relentlessly…. they are in there. Currently, the driving approaches to the river are no problem but beware of any new snow or precipitation.

Lower Owens River

The river is cruising steady at roughly 150 cfs and is fishing well with all of the traditional patterns; PT’s, Hare’s Ears, midges, Frenchies…. Thank God for Bishop. It is a nice break from winter when you need to see some dirt again and feel some warmth.

Get out there! You cannot catch fish if your line isn’t in the water.

Continue reading

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Jim Stimson Reports on 2.20.20

We continue to live under a dome of high pressure which is nice if you like endless days of blue skies and mild temperatures. The remainder of February looks to continue along the current path, drought mode. Hopefully we will have a Miracle March that will blanket the Sierra with snowfall. We could use some moisture for the summer not only for the health of the fisheries but also to mitigate fire danger. Keep your fingers crossed.

Fishing continues to be good with nice fish being caught along our open fisheries; the Upper, Lower Owens and Hot Creek. It is fun skiing on the Mountain in the mornings then dashing down to the river and hooking into some nice trout. If the cold temps are something you don’t care for, drive down the hill and fish the Lower Owens. It is a “banana belt” down there and the fishing for brown trout is fabulous.

Enjoy!

East Walker

The East Walker is still flat lining and dribbling below 21 cfs. Until the river flows pick up, I recommend giving this fishery a rest….. 

Hot Creek

The creek is flowing through the canyon at roughly 42 cfs. Target your casts to the feeding lanes between the weeds and rocks, plus the overhanging grasses along the margins. You may not see fish, but they are there. Try a dry-dropper setup with a caddis above and a midge or small mayfly below. Hot Creek is always a fun place to fish especially now that the crowds have gone home. 

Upper Owens River

The flows are dropping and sit at about 94 cfs high in the river system. Once Hot Creek dumps into the mid-section the flows are closer to 150 cfs. More and more trout are pushing up into the river system from the reservoir. There are some really nice fish to be had with SJ worms, small baetis, and balanced leeches. Work the deeper buckets relentlessly…. they are in there. Currently, the driving approaches to the river are no problem but beware of any new snow or precipitation.

Lower Owens River

The river is cruising steady at roughly 150 cfs and is fishing well with all of the traditional patterns; PT’s, Hare’s Ears, midges, Frenchies…. Thank God for Bishop. It is a nice break from winter when you need to see some dirt again and feel some warmth.

Get out there! You cannot catch fish if your line isn’t in the water.

Continue reading