A Fish Report for 8/29/14


mark lucas tomas smith 8:14 ms07

Summer time fly fishing around Mammoth has been very good. Consistently good results are occurring for guided fly fishing trips in locations like Crowley Lake, the Upper Owens River,  & the Middle Owens River near Bishop. Our pro guides are available to put you on quality trout on the fly here in the Sierra.

The Smith family did extremely still water nymphing off my fish magnet.  Mark & son Lucas with a 23 inch 7 lber caught in McGee Bay shown above.

Quick look fish report 8/29/14

Crowley remains on the bite in the morning, slower until the breeze came up afternoon. Streamer fishing with Loebergs very good in north arm. Caddis hatch very good on Middle Owens. Flows running 195-237cfs. Drifting good currently. Upper Owens fishing fair/good for planters above the bridge. East Walker down to 43cfs. Hot Creek,  San Joaquin all have low flows and limited water to fish. 

Crowley Lake 8/29/14

As good as it gets the last three days. North Arm & Sandy Pt. have been very consistent while still water nymphing in the mornings. Streamer fishing is also awesome. Loebergs are destroying them says client Eric Grothues. “I did 50 to net just casting & drifting”. The “Island” north of Layton can also be very good. Fish are also showing consistently around Six Bays. Hilton, McGee, & Crooked Creek. As the lake level drops slowly, it opens up prime mud bottom in the 9-12 foot range. This coincides with comfortable water temperatures for the trout. The weed lines are also in this zone.  This equates to excellent conditions for still water nymphing & streamer fishing. The lake is as clean as I have ever seen it in August. Lack of run-off for three years has kept the nutrients from cow dung out of the lake. The lake has been mostly filled with less alkaline water from Grant Lake. Hot Creek has been so low for a few years as well, not providing nutrients to feed the algae from this source too. Look for a significant increase in midge emergences the next couple weeks. The larger fish are beginning to stage in the north end & along the weeds in McGee Bay. Algae is not an issue in any area currently. There are solid chironomid hatches (midges); however the larger fish are targeting the small TUI CHUBS, perch fry and damsel nymphs. Spot up along some aquatic weed in the 8-12 foot range. Use an assassin, drifters punk perch, or damsel nymph as the upper fly for perch or damsel imitations. There are also a fair amount of callibaetis mayflies emerging in the north end.  My killa-baetis is a great trail fly behind a Loeberg or punk perch. Try a broken back gillie, crystal emerger, midge pupa, or standard gillie for your upper fly during chironomid emergences. Hang a broken back tiger or zebra, dark or copper crystal tiger or crystal zebra as the larva/lower fly. Give those flies some action if the surface is calm. You are competing with swimming/wiggling critters, and the movement of your flies is crucial to getting grabs. Streamer fishing really picked up the last few days using perch fry and damsel nymphs. Loebergs and #12 Punk Perch are great patterns for streamer fishers. The fish have begun to spread out so there is ample room for tubers to work the perimeters of the boat parking lots.  The perch fry are perfectly sized for still water nymphing right now- September/October will be streamer Nirvana I believe. Special angling restrictions now in place. Pinch those barbs down, love them and leave them, no scented or live bait please.

denny ryan garret paige smithgall 8:1415

Veteran Drifter Denny Smithgall hit some great fish with me in the north arm.  Hot rig was a dark crystal tiger midge & a punk perch for the upper. We are seeing trophy fish daily, best year for bigs in many moons!

denny ryan garret paige smithgall 8:1407

Paige Smithgall got a super nice cutty on a dark tiger midge.

floyd sabins jeanne killian 8:14 fullerton5

The professor strikes again! Floyd Sabins nailed this massive hen on a #18 broken back zebra. It was truly a pleasure fishing with these kids.

floyd sabins jeanne killian 8:14 fullerton3

Jeanne Killian is 91 years young. She landed this behemoth buck rainbow after a 15 minute battle.  The fish hit a broken back zebra in the north end. Pretty special day friends!

dave miller 8:142

Dave Miller got a Goliath of a rainbow with Doug R. Gillies and a crystal zebra fooled this pig.

Ana Tschanz 8:141

Anna Tschanz and Jerry with a beautiful bow caught in the north end.

brent jones doug campbell camo 8:141

This has been an epic year for browns at Crowley. Brent Jones hit several of these beautiful critters for his first time with a fly rod. Punk Perch, gillies, and dark tiger midges have been hot patterns.

brent jones doug campbell camo 8:148

Exceptional paint job on this chunky brownie for Doug Campbell’s first fly fishing trip to Crowley.

Jim Nancy Robert Illian 8:20143

Nancy Illian got her beautiful brownie on a broken back tiger midge off Six Bays with Doug R.

Jim Nancy Robert Illian 8:20142

Robert Illian got a few of these trophy bows on Doug R’s fish magnet.

Jim Nancy Robert Illian 8:20141

Jim Illian shows off one of many nice bows he got on a broken back copper tiger midge.

jim pagano jim molesky 8:1413

Jim Pagano sporting an old school Drifters hat & a Cutty that took him into the backing.  Nice fish Doc! Punk perch fooled this one.

jim pagano jim molesky 8:1412

Jim Molesky did great on numbers of quality fish like this for his guide trip with me.

jim pagano jim molesky 8:1404

Jimmy Pagano with a very thick brown he got on a punk perch/tiger midge still water nymph rig.

john rhonda norris 8:20141

John and Rhonda Norris went with guide Phil Therrien and got into this nice double.

sandra lilley 8:14 ms1

All the way from New Mexico…Sandra Lilley with a huge bow she got with Doug R. on a Gillie/ tiger midge rig off Sandy Pt. Check out the “bulbous bow” on that rainbow!


mark vidovich 8:20143

Mark Vidovich with one of his many nice browns. He slammed them at Sandy Pt. for the morning midge emergence.

jake brower 8:2014 ms03

Jake “the beef” Brower had a dream day off Sandy Pt. He hit the Crowley trout slam (all bigs) and I netted 10 fish over 18 inches on his half day trip. I did not think Crowley could fish any better than it has been…I was incorrect, it has improved!

cider and dad brett canon san marino ms 8:142

Classic picture from guide Doug R. Brett & son Cider Canon with a pair of cutty’s and some big smiles.  Crowley is on friends!

ian campbell 8:2014 ms07

I had a fantastic morning fishing with Ian Campbell at Sandy Pt.  The bigs were on the chew along the well defined weed lines. This 22 inch bow hit a gillie chironomid pupa pattern.

john knowles ps1 Jerry put John Knowles on a flipp’n toad rainbow in the north end.  Nice fish John!

natalie wolfe 8:141

Mammoth local Natalie Wolf showing off an impressive brownie. Nice fish Nat!

brad rice 8:14 ms1

Brad Rice hit this “wicked screamer” in McGee. This fish made Doug R. pull anchors and chase it down.  It was like a scene from Wicked Tuna.



Upper Owens River 8/29/14

Water conditions are very good, although flows are very low. You will find the river choked with weed in many sections down from the bridge. River conditions are better above the confluence of Hot Creek. Tandem nymph rigs in the deeper pools are doing the trick. You can also dead drift broken back midges & egg patterns without an Under-cator. Flows consistent at 52 cfs. Short water tactics should be used to fool the wild fish here.  Look for the deeper pools and runs during off hatch periods. Caddis (#18 or smaller dark bodies) and mayfly adults are good choices for the open riffle water. Hi-vis para bwo and caddis # 16-18 will get grabs.  Some hoppers showing up now. Use a Stimulator or larger hi-vis pattern with a bead head nymph as the dropper 2 feet beneath the dry for a deadly tanden rig. Nymphing with SJ worms, crystal egg patterns, flashback PT’s, Assassin bird’s nest, broken back midges, crystal olive caddis & zebra larva patterns near the bottom. I prefer to use a clear or yellow Under-cator on moving water as they are less conspicuous. The pink & orange work better on the still waters like Crowley and Bridgeport.   Think about streamers in the stiff afternoon winds. You will have to hunt down pools large; or deep enough to cast a streamer-they are very limited under current conditions. Patterns like Loebergs, Punk Perch, Crystal Leeches, & Agent Orange will get takes when used with a light sinking tip line.

mike and andrew mulhausen 8:14 ms12

Andrew Mulhausen did great on his wade trip to the UO. Crystal eggs and an assassin did a number on fish like this.

mike and andrew mulhausen 8:14 ms10

Mike Mulhausen’s first fly fishing trip to the Upper O was very good. He hooked numerous rainbows like this while nymphing the deeper pools with me.

maywood elizabeth wong 8:2014 ms05

” I think fly fishing is great, and I want to go again!” Elizabeth Wong did very well using a flashback PT & crystal egg nymph rig. I netted well into double digits for the father daughter first timers.

maywood elizabeth wong 8:2014 ms20

Maywood Wong had a terrific first day of fly fishing landing many of these hard pulling rainbows while nymphing.

ben kaufmann fs 7:20141

This guy ALWAYS gets bigs on the Upper Owens. Ben Kaufmann hit them on assassins, Drifters gillies, and tiger midges.

Bob Wickers ms 7:20149

Bob Wickers did 30 in a half day guided trip. I damn near wore out my net!

chad greg bob carter 7:2014 ms16

The fearsome foursome from Vegas whacked them using flashback Pt’s, assassins, and tiger midges. Greg Cassell got numbers honors along with this nice male. Chasing around 4 guys that are consistently hooking up was fun!

chad greg bob carter 7:2014 ms13

Organizer of the fearsome foursome from Vegas, Chad Read with a pretty bow. These guys did very well nymphing the upper sections recently. 

“I just wanted to say we all had a amazing time with you Tom, Saturday was absolutely epic day of fishing. Your knowledge of the Owens river and fishing skills are amazing. All I can say is we will be back for the winter trip.”

Middle Owens River (Bishop area) 8/29/14

Flows are running 190-237cfs. Much friendlier for wading & crossing. Birds nest patterns like Assassins, flashback PT’s, and hares ears for good profiles of a mayfly nymph and caddis pupa.  Crystal olive caddis larva & olive zebra midges are also good choices for a lower fly imitation of  caddis larvae or midge larva. Have some hi-vis caddis adults & hi-vis para mayfly adults for the morning hatch. Drifting has been very good since the flows have come down. The chub and sucker spawn was epic this summer, and we are seeing “balls” of these small baitfish in the pillow water and along the weeds. Streamer fishing is the best way to imitate these small forage fish by using heavy sinking tip lines and Loebergs, Punk Perch, & Crystal leeches, & Spruce-a-bu’s.

james jim fox 8:1407

All the way from the UK!  James Fox did very well doing the “dip & strip” method of pulling streamers from my drift boat.  This acrobatic fish hit a Loeberg.

james jim fox 8:1413

Jimmy Fox had a great day of drifting for his first visit to the MO. Loebergs all day.

tyler suzuki drift 8:2014 ms1

Young gun Tyler Suzuki banged out an impressive buck on his first drift trip.  Tyler got the big rainbow to hit a Loeberg. Even with high flows you can get into trophy fish like this using the “dip & strip method” of streamer fishing with our expert drift boat guides like Doug R.

mark taryn vidovich 7:2014 ss5

Mark Vidovich shows off one of the fish he got on a Spruce-a-bu streamer on his drift. Cooler periods are best this time of year as the bite slows when the hear sets in.

ervin wheeler tom clark la jolla ss 6:20141

Tom Clark did great on his recent drift down the Owens with Doug R.

kevin woody john angerer 4:12:14 fs4

Fish of the year goes out to Kevin Woody.  This Gargantuan rainbow is the largest trout I have seen in many years on my drift trips. We know where this one is lurking, come get it!

eric kool stanford 3:25:14 ss1

The Professor-Eric Kool with a behemoth rainbow caught & released earlier this season.  This fish is still swimming, come see if you can catch it again!

Hot Creek 8/29/14

Hot Creek is suffering from low water and extensive weed growth.  This limits the available water you can fish. Dry flies are the most effective patterns to use. I suggest a 10 foot leader and rod to keep the fly line off the weeds. My hi-vis caddis & hi-vis para BWO are good choices to fish the faster slot water that has less weed. Hoppers are also beginning to show, use a stimulator or grass hopper imitation if the wind comes up.  Para ant patterns are also a good choice if the wind is gusting in the canyon. There are a few sections that can be fished with a dry dropper nymph rig. Broken back zebras or assassin birds nest bead heads in #18 are good calls for the dropper.

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

hot creek upper owens 7:2014 ss7

This is one of the faster & deeper sections of the canyon section on Hot Creek’s public water. Even the faster deep slots have weed currently.

San Joaquin River 8/29/14


Flows are at late fall levels unless we get a substantial amount of rain. The wading is very easy in all sections. Fly fishing has become more difficult due to very low flows. The fish are holding in the limited pools and deeper slots. Attractor dry patterns like Stimulators, hi-vis para bwo’s & caddis are good choices that are easier to see in the plentiful pocket water that defines the SJR. Use a bead head flashback PT or assassin birds nest as a dropper in the deeper pools and runs.

*Tom Loe is under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service to guide the San Joaquin.

kelsy sj 6:20141

This gal can fish! Kelsey Kaufmann with a REALLY nice brown she took on dries recently. Love the hat!

mark hedderson san joaquin ms1

Warren Williams had an epic day on his guide trip with Doug R to the San Joaquin, getting into big numbers using a combination of tactics including dries.

mark hedderson 6:2014 ss1

Mark Hedderson enjoyed some excellent conditions with great “catching” on his guide trip recently.


East Walker River 8/29/14

Flows currently at 45cfs. River bed is full of weed with off colored water.

east walker 7:2014 ss2

At prolonged lower flows the EW has a tendency to fill in with aquatic weeds-thus limiting the water you can dead drift flies. It is currently very warm & green with some surface action late day.

Bridgeport Reservoir 8/29/14

The RV Parks are open. Call for information on launching, the lake is extremely low.


bridgeport 8:26:141

This is all that remains of the Bridge. Shot taken 8/26/14

bridgeport 8:26:142

 Bridgeport feeds the East Walker River, & the situation has become dire indeed.

West Walker River 8/29/14

Flows are VERY low but the water is clear. You will be hard pressed to find a pool that is 3 feet in depth. Hit the canyon and Pikel meadows sections. Dry/dropper bead head nymphs like crystal olive caddis, tiger midges, broken back tigers, assassin birds nest, &  flashback PT’s are all good calls fished below a Stimulator or hi vis caddis or BWO adult as your indicator.

Alpine Lakes 8/29/14

Tubing the inlets & drop-offs with full sinking lines and streamer patterns is a good way to locate “pods” of planted fish. The holdover, or wild browns and brookies in some areas are better fished using the still water nymphing method below an Under-cator. You can also try dry/dropper bead head combos with flashback PT’s as the nymph & hi-vis para BWO’s as the dry on the calm sun down bite days. Some of the hike too lakes are fishing really well for early summer. Still water nymphing with scuds, assassin bird’s nest, flashback PT’s, & broken back midge patterns will work near inlets and along tulles or drop-offs. Kirman, & Parker are fun locations to pack a tube in. Streamers like Spruce-A-Bu’s, Agent Orange, Loebergs, & Crystal Leeches used with a heavy sinking tip, or full sinking line will get you into them.  Fish deeper than normal 15-20 feet, and work the steep ledges or deeper sections near the inlets. Callibaetis or pheasant tail trailers can be deadly in some locations tied to a streamer.


Pack in a tube to fish Parker Lake. It is a beautiful spot loaded with brook & brown trout.


Colorful brookies like this are common at Parker Lake. The fish hold deeper in the summer, use a full sinking line with a Loeberg, Spruce-A-Bu, or Agent Orange as the streamer. Tie on an assassin or killa-baetis as a trailer.

mike mark harpin 6:2014 kirman ms1

Mikey Brooks (nice hat)  with a fine cutthroat specimen that made it well worth the hike up to Kirman Lake. Thanks for the pics Harpy!

mike mark harpin 6:2014 kirman ms2

Mark Harpin hiked in to Kirman Lake and nailed some nice fish like this beautiful cutty. Still got it ehhh Harpy!

kevin tippet 1

Long time Drifter Kevin Tippet sent this picture of a gorgeous cutty he got on Kirman Lake. Many of the day hike alpine lakes are in great condition early this summer.

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 this year.  You can click on it at the top of any page of this website. My apologies to any of our wonderful clients who have been with Sierra Drifters for the last seventeen seasons and do not have a picture posted.  I just can’t post the 30,000 pics we have taken!  I will make an effort over time to post what I have. 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

  • Check out our YouTube video clips. Send us a friend request or like us on facebook.
    Facebook and YouTube