A Sierra Drifters Fish Report for 1/16/18

Guided fly fishing trips for Crowley Lake, Grant & Silver Lakes, the San Joaquin, Upper and Middle Owens Rivers, East Walker River, McGee Creek, Pleasant Valley Reservoir, Hot Creek, & the Gorge 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 utilize top of the line center console bay boats, drift boats, float tubes, and high quality fly fishing tackle to guide you on these blue ribbon trout waters.


Fish’N Conditions 1/16/18

A couple of mild winter storms came through the region, but only dropped any measurable precipitation at the highest of elevations. Another storm was forecast for the coming week, but it looks to be mostly rain. We are keeping an eye on the following weekend for the possibility of a decent snow storm. This one will be much colder and could bring over a foot of snow to the upper elevations. East Walker river is holding at a nice winter release. Fish are once again spread all over the river. Upper Owens river has experienced a major increase in flows. Fishing may improve here if they drop again or some new fish move in. Hot Creek stuck at low winter flows. Some decent afternoon hatches are providing some dry fly opportunities. Middle Owens River fishing good. Flows are holding at 98 and the water clarity is great. Wild Trout section and PVR have been decent. Try dry dropper rigs with small patterns #18-22 in the wadeable sections, while full sink lines can dredge up some trophy sized fish in the reservoir. 

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   Upper Owens River 1/16/18

Flows have jumped up suddenly to 108 cfs. This is typically the flow rate we experience in early spring. A colder storm which is forecast for the upcoming weekend may trigger some new migratory rainbows to make their move up river. For now, fishing will be tough here for a few days. Flows will need to drop some and allow for the fish to settle back into their normal holding areas. Crystal Eggs, San Juan Worms, #16-18 Assassins (dark and light), #14-16 Crystal Leeches, and #16-20 Copper Tiger Midge, Zebra Midge, and Gillies have been good patterns fished with plenty of weight below an Under-Cator. Access remains good on most of the two track roads leading down to the river. Check out our guide tips page if you are not experienced in fishing attractor patterns during the winter. There is a new posting that will give you some pointers on how to set the hook.

Here is the first officially netted Crowley Steelhead for 2018 ! Jeff Harlan battled this special male rainbow to achieve the honor.

Not bad for your first fish of the New Year buddy! 

Mike Delpero with a beefy hen that hit our crystal eggs. We had to cover a bunch of water to find a few quality fish. Nice work Mike, thanks.

Mike Delpero with another quality rainbow. This excellent fly fisher took full advantage of the few grabs he had on his guide trip.


Kelsey Kaufmann got this awesome male rainbow fishing solo. Woohoo Kels!

Ingrid Young fished with Doug Dolan to catch some super Crowley Steelhead. Way to go Ingrid, nice work!

Ingrid  with another beautiful Crowley Steelhead.

Redundant dead drifts finally payed off for Mike Burke. Killer fish Mike! This awesome buck had some serious moves before finally coming into my net!

Sean Burke got this nice brown along with a handful of other rainbows along a nice slot in a cut bank.

Mighty Boden Bevan battled numerous trophy rainbows on his trip to the Upper Owens. Way to go Boden! Doug Dolan was his guide.

Joe Bevan with a beast he bested with Two Bug Doug’s guidance. Congrats Joe, great fish! 


The section upstream from the Benton Bridge is open year around with special regulations. Seasonal closures, and angling restrictions apply downstream from the bridge, check regulations before fishing in this section.

Middle Owens River (Bishop Area) 1/16/18


A big drop in flows here to 98 cfs. They are higher below the confluence of Bishop Creek. Water clarity is improving daily and the BWO’s are coming off in the afternoons. Some pools are holding multiple fish in mixed sizes and species. Browns and rainbows have been showing up to take our streamer patterns on most days. Drawing the fish toward the boat with multiple retrieves has been a good strategy. Some larger fish, mostly rainbows, are also on the chew now. Scaling down in size to smaller perch fry patterns like our #16 Punk Perch in the afternoons during the BWO hatch is a good call. Make sure you have some #16/18 adult baetis (BWO) patterns as the month rolls on. We believe this will be a memorable late winter for surface action. Nymph the base of riffles, drop-offs, & tail out sections of larger pools using Assassins, flashback pheasant tails, broken back midges, olive crystal caddis larva, & olive larva patterns. 

Guide tip: When the fish are weary, and following your streamer all the way back to your rod tip, try adding a longer pause in your stripping rhythm. We have been hooking a lot of fish recently while the fly is “hovering” in the current, and not moving.

Hrag Hamalian opted to fish with his wife Natalie instead of skiing on a busy weekend!

Natalie also scored some nice ones! The couple did very well on the river.

Beau Brower got a nice surprise while pulling streamers with Tom Loe! This largemouth bass was on the prowl!

Jake Brower displays a nice river ‘bow!

Beau with another rainbow!

Jake even got the browns going!

Matt Schubert with a nice colored up brown while fishing with Tom Loe!

Here’s Matt displaying a solid Owens rainbow!

Rocky Taylor with a torpedo of a rainbow!

Brian Chastain and his bride to be; Shannon Velotta celebrated the New Year with a float down the Owens. They did well using Loebergs, & Spruce-A-Bu’s. Fun day kids, thanks!

Brian and Shannon shared some memorable fishing moments on their first float together down the MO.


Mr. Kevin Tippitt showing off why he is one of the best sticks I have had the privilege of guiding. This beauty took a “Mary Ann” dark Spruce-A-Bu. Bravo KT, we will remember that one buddy.

Jennifer Aery spanked the fish on her first drift trip. Way to use that positive MOJO Jen! Kevin doing the hold for her.




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

Hot Creek 1/16/18


Numbers are pretty good here as the newbies acclimate to their new home, & spread out along the deeper slots and pools. Flows holding at 11 cfs until some more precipitation arrives on the scene.  Best bite occurs during early afternoon when the BWO’s are emerging. Dry dropper rigs with a #16-18  Para Hi-Vis BWO and a #18 Gillie dropper 2′ below is the perfect rig at this time. When you observe those noses sipping the adults in the suds, remove the dropper, and dope up those high wings so they ride high on the surface.  Light tippet in the 5-6x class is best. During off hatch periods try attractor patterns fished without an indicator. You can get into some of the larger fish using this method during the winter months. No snow or ice present currently, and the NFS gate remains open.


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

*Tom Loe, Doug Rodricks, and Doug Dolan are under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service to guide Hot Creek.


Pleasant Valley Reservoir 1/16/18

Big change in water level here recently. This will set the stage for some potentially great dry/dropper fishing in, & around the inlet section. You will experience some very sticky/nasty mud until the banks dry out.  Still water addicts can get their fix here all winter. This fishery is planted all winter, & can provide some excellent fly fishing opportunities from a float tube; or near the inlet section that feeds the reservoir proper. Full sinking lines fished along the steep shoreline drop-offs using patterns like Loebergs, Crystal Leeches, Parallel Punk Perch, Parallel Agent Orange, & Spruce-A-Bu’s are good calls for “freeze tubers” during the winter. Locals call PVR “little Crowley” as fly fishers in the know will use still water nymphing techniques to score big numbers during periods of stable water levels. Set your “Under-Cators” to suspend those broken back midges, crystal tiger/zebra midges, gillies, & Assassins around the 12-14 foot depth. The inlet section is historically the most consistent section to fish. This diverse fishery also allows you to move into the short river section that feeds the lake. Looking much like the East Walker, this short; but sweet section has plenty of pocket water and riffles that hold holdover rainbows and browns that move into the heavy brush during periods of lower flows. Dry/dropper rigs using para hi-vis BWO’s, Stimulators, and hi-vis caddis patterns as your upper; with crystal tiger midges, crystal olive caddis larva, & assassins as a nymph. The transition area that dumps into the lake has slower moving/deeper water that requires the use of an Under-Cator, or longer dropper off your dry. This is perhaps the most fertile area of the lake, & competent roll casters can enjoy huge days here while making extended drifts in the foam lines. The trout will concentrate here to feed on the abundant chironomid, & mayfly that come off throughout the cooler months. Keep this fishery in mind if the weather gets nasty in the higher elevations.

Beautiful trout like this wild brown Jeff Hudson caught hold in the plentiful riffle and pocket water found in the river below the powerhouse at PVR.

The “transition” section that flows into PVR is the most fertile section of the fishery. Long, dead drifts in the foam line are key to fooling the fish that line up to feed on the abundant midge, & mayflies that emerge during cooler months.

The Gorge 1/16/18

Upper Gorge is the best call currently. No snow or ice present at this time. Flows have dropped here. Now at 40 cfs. A good place to go and get away from angling pressure. The bite kicks into high gear during the BWO hatch mid-day. Use lighter weight rods here with a mayfly adult or go with a dry/dropper combination. Our Parachute hi-vis BWO is an excellent pattern as your dry. FB PT’s, Assassins, & small midge emergers are good calls for the dropper nymph. 

Season open year around

 East Walker River 1/16/18 

Flows have leveled off and are running at 140 cfs. More fishable water has now opened up, so the fish are once again in various areas of the river. Colder weather ahead should trigger the bigger browns to go on the chew.  Look for increasing BWO, and midge activity especially if this warmer weather pattern remains in place. #14-18 Assassins, Crystal Eggs, #16-20 chironomid patterns (Copper Tiger, Gillie, Zebra, Blood Midge, and Brassie) have been good patterns to fish under an indicator with sufficient weight.  The baby perch die off is ending; but you may encounter concentrations of them along the banks in some areas. Some rather large midge hatches have been occurring mid-day. This fishery is open year around with special regulations.

Guide Tip: The general rule of thumb for indicator fishing is to set your indicator to 1  1/2  times the depth of the water you are fishing. For example: If your water depth is 6′, you would set your indicator 9′ above your fly or upper weight. This should be used as a starting point but it would be wise to play around and go deeper or shallower as needed.

Check out some recent catches from our clients:

Bill Regensburger making the rounds and landing this beast! He fished with Doug Dolan.

Bill displays a fine brown trout!

Matt Fleming shows off a killer brown trout he got while fishing with Tom Loe!


Hugh displays his fat rainbow during a great afternoon bite on the EW!

Charlie Middleton is all smiles with this chunky monkey rainbow!

Jerry Cox joined them for a colored up rainbow trout!


Silver dollar sized perch are flushing through the pipe from the reservoir!



This is a year around fishery with special regulations. Check regulations before fishing here.


Crowley Lake

Season closed until April 28, 2018.

Big Ben Kaufmann with a stunning brown he got with Doug Rodricks. Crowley will be in great shape for the 2018 season so reserve your guided trip on one of our fish magnets now.

Bridgeport Reservoir 

The reservoir is now closed until 4/28/18.

Mitch and Madison Kelly fished with Tom Loe during the regular trout season and scored this fat rainbow!

Jurassic Pond


The “Pond” is now closed for the season and we will start guiding here again next Spring!

Jurassic Pond has no equal in the Eastern Sierra. This private water holds the largest rainbow and brown trout to be found anywhere in the region. Sierra Drifters Guides have exclusive access to these amazing fish. Book your trip for next season and see for yourself how fantastic Jurassic Pond truly is!



Balanced patterns are the new rage for nymphing, & streamer fishing. Parallel Punk Perch has been the hottest fly on Crowley Lake recently.  We have been guide testing these patterns for several years, & I can honestly say they are the most significant improvement in fly design in over a decade. They are truly superior to conventional fly designs. The flies ride “parallel”; or “level” to the bottom giving them a far more realistic profile. The jig style hook becomes more effective as it seldom gets snagged on the bottom, & sets efficiently in the fishes mouth. These flies are intended to fish as your bottom fly in a multi fly; or tandem rig. They are deadly fished solo as a streamer. Add these patterns to your quiver for all fisheries that you still water nymph; or cast streamers.   Click on “fly sales” on the nav bar above, hit “menu” first from a mobile device to access the nav bar.

You can pick up our flies & Under-cators at Reagan’s Sports in Bishop, the Crowley General Store (not at the lake), Ricks Sport Center in Mammoth (limited selection), Bridgeport Reservoir RV Park (currently closed for winter), Stroud’s Tackle in San Diego, & Malibu Fish’N Tackle in Thousand Oaks.

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.

Thank you for visiting our website and checking out our report. Be the Fly…. Doug Rodricks, Sierra Drifters Guide Service.



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