A Fish Report for 3/5/15

Fly fishing the year around waters of the Upper and Middle Owens Rivers, Pleasant Valley Reservoir, & Hot Creek, located near Mammoth and Bishop Ca. will give you opportunities to catch trophy rainbows and browns while being guided by expert fly fishing pros. Sierra Drifters guides use top of the line drift boats, and fly fishing tackle to guide you on these blue ribbon trout waters.


Quick look fish report 3/5/15

Look for very cold mornings with pleasant afternoons through the weekend.  Middle Owens fishing well, BWO hatch peaking. Drift trips good for numbers with some bigs in the mix. Upper Owens picking up on numbers, spring run bows are here. Pleasant Valley Reservoir slow, level low at 4380′. Blake Jones trout derby on weekend of 3/13 here. East Walker flows down to 22cf. after a short period of increase.  Hot Creek good with the additional flows from Mammoth Creek.  Access and weather very good this week.

Our sincere thoughts to those affected by the Swall Meadows fire. This devastating blaze burned 8000 acres, & destroyed 40 structures. Swall Meadows is located 15 miles north of Bishop, on the west side of the Sherwin Grade. Vegetation along Lower Rock Creek was also destroyed in Round Valley. Click on this link to see pictures taken by Cat Connor. http://catconnor.artistwebsites.com/art/all/round+fire/all 


Upper Owens River 3/5/15


Another big thank you to Gary “the drone master” Runnels for this great picture of the Upper Owens near the Long Years section. Click on the videos, or YouTube link of our nav bar to see great video that Gary made their trip on the Upper Owens.

Please DO NOT WADE on spawning reads. These are circular depressions found in the tailouts of pools, or in deeper riffles.  Be EXTREMELY careful when handling, or photographing fish at temperatures below twenty degrees. Fish removed from the water for more than a minute can literally “flash freeze” and die. Resuscitating BEFORE, & AFTER your fight is essential for a safe C & R on these wonderful fish. Do not remove them from the water immediately after you net them please. Keep their gills out of the silt and completely submerged while removing the hooks and reviving them.

Single digit air temps possible around dawn. Strong inversion layer setting in. Afternoons will be pleasant through the weekend. Numbers of smaller rainbows have picked up recently. The larger migratory rainbows are very active on the warmer days, and can be found in the deeper pools and along the cut banks, or depressions. These fish will spook easily and a quiet approach is necessary to keep them in their nests. Access is currently fine.  There will occasionally be some off colored water downstream from the confluences of Hot Creek, & the irrigation canals. This condition may occur when we get warmer air temps. We have been having good success using Assassin’s, broken back tiger midges, SJ worms, crystal Vanderleeches, roe patterns. You will also want to have some smaller para-midge, or BWO adults for the afternoon midge hatch.  The resident fish are responding to this on the warmer days. Drifters guides use the “Four P’s” to consistently get on fish here. Position- Presentation-Persistence-Performance. Book a trip with us and we will teach you how to get these amazing fish.

Special angling regs in effect. Open year around upstream from the Benton Crossing Bridge. Closed from the Bridge downstream to Crowley Lake until next season.


Todd Yamada back in the fish report with another great fish. This “cuttbow” fell to a solid drift and egg patterns. Todd consistently puts them into Doug Dolans net!


Veteran Drifter Ken Herada showing off an awesome rooster. Ken has done great this year with Doug Dolan guiding him here.


Chuck Wilson pounded the numbers on his guide trip to the UO. This beefy hen was one of many out of a small slot.


Brian Chastain caught this beautiful male with a well executed dead drift below an Under-cator.


Bako Boy Gino Valpredo (Owner of Luigi’s in Bakersfield) gets the award for the prettiest fish of the year on the Upper Owens. Absolutely stunning Crowley Steelhead.


One of the famous BakO Boys from bakers patch, Ca. Mr. Jon Barnes crushed the bigs in the morning with this beautiful rooster being the icing on the cake. The beast ate a crystal Vanderleech. Fish took fifteen minutes to get in my net. Nice stick work today JB.


Veteran Drifter Greg Tucker fought gusty winds & ice in the guides to get this impressive Crowley Steelhead. Fish took a crystal Vanderleech after fifty casts into the same pool. The Glass Mountains got a dusting of snow too.


Mikey Brown laying one down with a backdrop to die for. The Mountains got about 8 inches, nothing on the river once again.


Chris Rhoden is back in the fish report with another trophy “snow bow” The sudden cold front made for some tough conditions, but he still nailed a couple fatties with me.


John Bowen battled these awesome “snow bows” and some tough weather conditions on his trip with Doug Dolan.

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Art Mills came down from Oregon to get some quality rainbows.  He was not denied! Way to be the fly Art,nice fish.

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Former SDFF president, and veteran Drifter Art Reitman got this nice male on the clubs annual winter outing to the Sierra.


SDFF member Steve Hansen hit some saaaweet Crowley Steelhead with Two Bug Doug. This gorgeous hen got fooled by a solid dead drift and attractor patterns.

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The beauty of these wild rainbows we call Crowley Steelhead never ceases to amaze me! Tracy Powell & I tag teamed this awesome hen on his first visit to the Upper Owens.

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Veteran Drifter Ryan Adamson, & his pup Sidney got into some really nice rainbows on a near perfect day recently. The warm air temps have the fish very active and moving out of the deeper pools.

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Dr. John Cassani had a fun day in “t-shirt” weather nymphing the UO. This colorful bow was one of many out of this sugar hole.

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Robert “Pops” Pitsenberger had a great first trip to the Upper Owens with Doug Rodricks. Pop’s banged out several of these beautiful migratory rainbows while nymphing with Assassins, Crystal Vanderleeches, & egg patterns.

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This long and lean Crowley Steelhead took dang near thirty minutes for veteran Drifter, & Long Beach Casting Club member Gary Runnels to hook up on crystal egg patterns.

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JR. Runnels battled this football shaped hen to net after a lengthy tug of war. The warmer water temps have the fish very active.


Ray Hunter booked a trip with Two Bug Doug and was given the “keys to the castle”.  He had an epic day under blue skies landing numerous Crowley Steelhead like this one.


Miles Clarke crushed the bigs on his guide trip. One pool kicked out ten rainbows over eighteen inches!


Two Bug Doug’s brother, & former fly fishing mentor Dan Dolan showing that he still has his Mojo!


Justin hit some Crowley Steel. Check out the broom tail on this big hen.


Sierra Pacific Fly Fishers always get into the bigs. Dale Lopez nailed his personal best rainbow while nymphing with egg patterns on a perfect February day. Nice fish buddy!

Middle Owens River (Bishop area) 3/5/15 

Drifting has been good with water temps well above average. Use smaller streamers like the original Drifters Punk Perch to fool the trout. The P.P. is a “strymph” pattern.  It can be a streamer, or nymph imitating a small baitfish, or swimming type nymph, or pupa.  I am seeing some little golden stoneflies, & large drake mayflies emerge already! The spring caddis have hatched early.  These are larger than their summer brethren. #14-16 profiles are good calls.  Flows are currently around 75cfs. below the dam at Pleasant Valley. Fishing is fair/very good from the footbridge at PV Campground downstream to the Five Bridges Crossing. Access to this area while wading has never been easier. The cold water mayfly called the “blue winged olive” is now emerging in numbers consistently. The first generations are large for mayflies, and a mainstay in the trouts late winter/spring diet. #16/18 BWO patterns are good profiles. Nymphing with tandem rigs-properly weighted will get you into fish before the hatch. I suggest you use Flashback PT’s, Assassin birds nest, broken back midges, tiger midges, small gillies, crystal emergers, or chironomid pupa, olive crystal zebras, & caddis larvae (to imitate caddis larva & rock worms) below an Under-cator. You can use dry/dropper bead head rigs for the warmer days working the tailouts of larger pools, & riffles. Have some high vis para BWO’s for the uppers & keep them dressed with desiccant to suspend your bead head nymphs. Stimulators are perfect stonefly imitations, & in smaller sizes are good calls for adult caddis profiles. Guided drift boat trips are a great vehicle to reach the secluded, and less fished areas of the river. We have been logging excellent numbers of planted & holdover rainbows recently. We predominantly fish streamers like Loebergs, Spruce-A-Bu’s, Punk Perch, Agent Orange, and Crystal Vanderleeches. Using a light sinking tip line we position the boat upstream from the target water, casting about 35 feet down towards larger pools. We then insert the rod tips below the surface to get the streamers down without using excessive weight. Stripping the line in an erratic series of short and long pulls imitates the swimming motion of injured baitfish. The “dip & strip” technique is a fun way to get into numbers and large rainbows that hold in the lower sections of the river well below the wild trout section. Check out my “be the fly” video by clicking on the videos link at the top of the page to see how we do it.

This fishery remains open year around. Special regs from the footbridge at Pleasant Valley campground to the fishing monument 4.7 miles downstream.


We are seeing some really nice rainbows on nearly every drift.  Adam Ferrell got this nice hen on a Loeberg with Doug Dolan as his guide.

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Lisa Worthington showing off one of her first trout on the fly. She used the “Lisa shuffle” to get this chunky rainbow on a Spruce-A-Bu streamer.

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Cap’t Ron Obray breaking a big bow on a near perfect day of drifting. 


This trophy rainbow nailed a Panther martin spinner for Greg Taylor. The big rainbows have been hitting consistently on the warmer days.


Wesley Price tossed spinners to hit numerous fish like this on his float with Doug Dolan. We welcome spin fishers, & you can do great from our drift boats tossing hardware.

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Mikey Brooks flat out ripped a bunch of trout lips on his float with me. This hook jaw had an over sized tail and puller like a tractor!

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Long time Drifter Mark Harpin leaning on one of the many nice bows he fooled using Spruce-A-Bu’s and Punk Perch streamers.

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Mike Harpin nailed this trophy male along with many others on a punk perch with guide Doug Rodricks on the sticks.

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Birthday boy Harold Green battled this 15 lb. carp for 20 minutes on a 6wt. The fish ate a small punk perch. Net man Mark Harpin & he did over 30 trout on their drift with me.

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The browns & bows are on the chew! Ron Noble taming a nice brownie while Art Prangley enjoys the show. Note the position of the boat with respect to the drop-off.

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The Wenger bros Dave, & long time Drifter Jeff, had a great day on numbers with fish like this chunky rainbow taking Punk Perch patterns all day. 

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Stephanie and brother Mike Dalessandro drifted with Doug Rodricks and hit some chunky bows like this one on streamers.

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SLAMMER! Jason Sugimoto showing off a trophy rainbow male that crushed a #14 olive Punk Perch during the BWO hatch. Proud father Lee doing net honors. Big fish will eat smaller flies this time of year.  Great fish cowboy!

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Lee Sugimoto got the numbers crown for his two days of floating the Owens with his family. Lee hit many chunky rainbows and browns like this one under blue skies and mid-seventy air temps.

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Cindy Sugimoto tight to a leaping rainbow. The family did great on their first drift using olive punk perch patterns & the “dip & strip” technique of streamer fishing.

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“Old broken horn” showing he has still got it! Long time friend and veteran Drifter Don Klahs hit this awesome buck with his son in law Matt Camara. Don used his favorite streamer the “Kelly Bundy” light Spruce-A-Bu to fool this fish and 40 others on their float with 70 degree weather.

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Dan Webb’s first drift was most excellent! This beautiful brown nailed a punk perch streamer. Jeff Chiate doing net honors.

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Jeff Chiate back on the fish report with a nice rainbow caught on a punk perch pattern. Jeff & his buddy Dan Webb spanked 60 rainbows & browns on their drift trip.

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Cap’t Ron Carson & “first light” Lance Geiger showing off one of ten doubles they netted on the way to a 60 fish day.

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Owner of L Geiger Jewelers- Lance “first light” Geiger showing off one of his many jewels caught on punk perch streamers and the “dip & strip” technique.


Matt Flemming with a nice male rainbow. His brother Shawn, & veteran Drifter Sir Charles Middleton put sixty in the net on a recent drift using smaller punk perch patterns.

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Long Beach Casting Club members Bob “Rocco” Ruscitto & Craig Divine swinging one of many to net on their drift.

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Justin Schroeder hit this beautiful male rainbow on his last cast right at the leader mark! Justin & his friend Luke Negro used olive punk perch patterns to fool other browns & bows on their drift with me.

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Kevin Oberon hit this air brushed buck on his drift trip with Doug R.  Nice paint job KO!

Hot Creek 3/5/15

Fishing has picked up with the increased flows. Midges are the most consistent hatch, with some BWO’s now emerging. First generation adults are large and a huge part of the trout’s winter/spring diet. High winged dark olive, or dun colored bodies #16/18 are good profiles. Keep them well dressed to ride high in the foam. PT’s & bird’s nest patterns are best for nymphs. Small parachute midge or mayfly patterns used with a 10 foot leader are best for surface presentations when the fish are on the midges/or clusters. There are a few sections that can be fished with a dry dropper nymph rig. Small dead drifted Punk Perch, broken back zebras, small gillies, egg patterns, SJ worms, scuds, flashback PT’s, or assassin birds nest bead heads in #18 are good calls for the dropper.

This is a year around fishery with special regs in place.

*Tom Loe is under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service to guide Hot Creek.

East Walker River 3/5/15/15

Flows back down to 22 cfs. after a brief increase. Blue winged olives are the key to success currently.  

This fishery is open year around with special regs in place.

Pleasant Valley Reservoir 3/5/15

There is a huge trout derby on the weekend of 3/13. The good news is PV will be heavily planted for this event. The level is 4380′, this is very good to fish the transition area with dry/dropper rigs. The small river section has been best for numbers of smaller rainbows. Forget fishing the river, or inlet if the hydro station is ramped up (this is uncommon during the winter/early spring, but can occur to flush ice from the huge aqueduct pipeline at times).   Dry dropper combos using Stimulators, hi-vis para BWO’s or hi-vis caddis may be used as the upper fly-use crystal olive caddis larva, flashback PT’s, Assassins, broken back or crystal tiger & zebra midges as your dropper bead head nymph. Tubing has not been so great as most of the biters are in the inlet section. If you do tube, I suggest you stay near the dam and use full sinking lines. Streamers like Loebergs, Agent Orange, Crystal leeches, & Spruce-A-Bu’s will get you into some nice browns, & larger bows in the rez proper. Use a full sinking line to get down to 10-15 feet quickly. You can also fish “Crowley midge style” in the rez near the drop-offs. Fish chironomid patterns below an Under-cator. Gillies, broken back midges, crystal emergers & pupa patterns. Tiger & zebra midges are always a solid choice for your larva pattern.

This fishery is open year around.


The small river down from the powerhouse resembles the East Walker in many ways, and is a true tail water. It’s rocky bottom provides excellent habitat for a number of aquatic insects. Growth rates rival those of Crowley. Dry/dropper nymph rigs are deadly in the riffles and pocket water. 

The Gorge 3/5/15

Great place to go if you want to escape crowds. The Wenger bros report good fishing in Middle section. Have those mayfly nymphs, & blue winged olive, & caddis adults handy. The spring caddis are coming off early this year. No snow or ice, trails are fine. This maybe the best dry fly fishery we have during the winter months. The Gorge could be classified as the true “tailwater” from Crowley Lake. The fish here are all wild browns with a large one going 16 inches. Moderate/difficult hiking is required to access the more secluded sections. Rock hopping and bush whacking can be expected. Dry/dropper bead head nymph combos work well in the deeper pools. Use PT’s, Assassin birds nest, broken back midges, tiger midges, & crystal olive larva patterns as the nymphs. Hi-vis para BWO’s, Stimulators, parachute midge adults, & elk caddis are good choices for your dry fly. Pack in water , have cleated wading boots and a stout staff. 2-4wt. rods are perfect for this water.

A compromise/ final settlement has been reached between the LADWP & CDFW for the re-watering and enhancement of the middle & lower sections of the Gorge. The Upper section will now be managed as a Tui-Chub” sanctuary for perpetuity- with no additional water, or trout enhancement allowed. The Middle & lower sections will begin to see immediate improvements in flows, fish access ladders, and management as a wild trout fishery. Final Draft of Owens Gorge Stipulation11 20 14[1]  Special thanks to Crowley local James Parker for keeping us informed on this complicated situation.

Season open year around

The GorgeLooking down into Middle Gorge from the “rim” . Lots of riffles and pocket water opportunities. This section is no good for Tui-Chubs darn it!

craig lamb grand rapids MI. doug lamb ridgecrest 003 rs

We have a fully stocked fly box and Under-cators in Reagan’s Sporting Goods in Bishop. The Drifters fly box will carry all the guide tested patterns you see on the fish report including patterns for Pyramid Lake, Eagle Lake, Lake Almanor, & other great trout fisheries in the west. This is a great shop with knowledgeable and super friendly people that is open 7 days a week. They open early, so you can get flies and tackle and still be on the water for the hatch! They are located on Main St. with easy access and parking.  This store has everything you need for fishing, hunting, camping. They sell licenses too!

I have added a picture gallery to the website .   Click on the “gallery” button and do a search for your name, or scroll through the pages. You can double click on the picture to enlarge it once it is located.

Thanks for reading my report.  be the fly….Tom Loe, Sierra Drifters Guide Service