A Fish Report for 12/19/14

Fly fishing the year around waters of the Upper and Middle Owens Rivers, Pleasant Valley Reservoir, Hot Creek, & the East Walker River located near Mammoth and Bishop Ca. will give you opportunities to catch trophy rainbows and browns while being guided by expert fly fishing pros. We use top of the line drift boats, snowmobiles, and float tubes to access these blue ribbon trout waters.

chris rhoden mark tuai 12:14:145

Congrats to Chris Rhoden from Santa Cruz Ca. His passion and practice in fly fishing paid off when he landed this amazing “rooster” of a rainbow. What a fish; the epitome of a Crowley Steelhead. I love my job!

Quick look fish report 12/19/14

Cooler with moderate winds for the weekend. Very little snow on the ground on the Upper Owens & Hot Creek. UO continues to kick out twenty inch Crowley Steelhead. Middle Owens fishing  good to fair, no access issues-flows at 77cfs. Stick to small mayfly/midge imitations. Drifting fair/good using streamers. Pleasant Valley Reservoir planted with numbers and brood rainbows, good here currently. Hot Creek good in select spots, water flows coming up some. East Walker remains fair at best, poor conditions-small browns being planted. Gorge conditions very good, less the wind.


Upper Owens River 12/19/14


Water is off color with some weed coming down from Hot Creek. Access fine for all wheel drive vehicles currently, some mud in the ruts. The ground will be frozen in the morning, then get soft after it thaws. You will need to cover alot of water to locate the larger fish, and the deeper pockets they hunker down in. Solid mending techniques are critical in getting the bigs to hit. Stay on the “tail” of your targets whenever possible & keep those nymph rigs bouncing on the dirt. If you are not tickling the bottom at least half the drift, your leader is too short; or improperly weighted. Your presentations and mending might just suck too!  As Crowley slowly fills, the communication between the lake and river improves, giving the trout a more favorable pathway to migrate upstream. This is why winter fishing here can be so great! The colder air temps force the fish to seek refuge in the deeper pools. Nymphing below an Under-cator is the best method to get the larger migratory rainbows and browns to take a fly. Use attractor patterns-appropriately weighted, and in tandem such as San Juan Worms, & roe imitations. Flashback PT’s, Assassin birds nest, broken back midges, tiger midges, Agent Orange, & Crystal Vanderleeches are also good choices especially after the gravel warms up in the afternoons.  You will see a decent midge hatch and small mayflies during periods of warmer weather. Small para BWO’s or duns, and midge cluster patterns are good surface profiles. Streamer fishing can also be a good call during windy days.  Stay along the deeper/channel side of the river and use the “dip & strip” technique with a light sinking tip, or floating line. Loebergs, Spruce-A-Bu’s, & Punk Perch #10-6 can get those big boys out from under those deeper cut banks where it is difficult to dead drift a nymph rig. 

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. 

Guide tip-Why fish attractor patterns? Understanding what motivates a fish to take, or eat an artificial fly, or lure is crucial to success in any fishery. The large rainbows and browns that are currently present in the Upper Owens are migratory, and are here for only one reason; spawning.  They do not display normal feeding behaviors or characteristics. Objects invading their nests, or redds as they are correctly called, will be attacked if the fish is not spooked, or watching other movements from above. These spawning fish seldom move far from the Redd to defend it. They are genetically programmed to destroy competition to insure survival of the fittest- hence using roe patterns, streamers, & larger nymph profiles can be very effective for irritating, or aggravating a fish into hitting your imitations. Redundant dead drifts with careful attention to avoid disturbing the water above your flies will pay off eventually. The takes can be very, very, very light, and will display little difference from what hitting the bottom looks like. Set on everything that is not obvious! Drag the set, do not jerk it. Set the direction your indicator or line is moving to insure you are pulling the hooks into the fishes mouth, not out of it. This is counter intuitive as most sets will be downstream. Setting this way will achieve “angle” as well. This is vital when you hook one of those huge Crowley Steelhead and it rips line out like a bonefish! 

bill bacon steve wright 3:2:14 rs09

We have a fleet of snow mobiles with expert guides to take you in when the snow flies here. We pioneered guided “snow bow” trips many years ago and have perfected specialized nymphing techniques to consistently get you on trophy trout during the winter months. This may be the most unique fly fishing experience you may have in the Sierra. Whooohooo, bring on the snow!

dave diminicantanio 12:18:143

David DeDiminicantanio is all smiles after getting into some Crowley Steelhead. The only thing better was all the laughs with his father Joe.  Thanks guys, fun times!

dave diminicantanio 12:18:142

David D. stroked some fine snow bows on his guide trip.


When your first fish of the day is an incredible “rooster” the rest are all gravy.  Kevin Hinds pulverized the bigs with Two Bug nymphing the deeper pools and slots. The Crowley snow bows are here in force friends, let us show you how to catch them.


Kevin had an amazing day with Two Bug Doug doing the guiding. Love those big hook jaws!

kim yourczek 12:15:141

Kim Yourczek battled the elements all day and got a handful of nice rainbows with this fat hen being the icing on a very, very, cold cake! 

chris rhoden mark tuai 12:14:141

Mark Tuai is 6’2″.  This be a two footer people.  What a pig!!!  His first fish, on his first cast. Not bad for a rookie buddy. Fun day, thanks again.

chris rhoden mark tuai 12:14:144

This may be the prettiest “blushing buck” I haver ever seen.  Truly spectacular spawning colors on this trophy. Well done Chris Rhoden!

bruce young 12:12:1405

Bruce Young with an incredible hook jawed male “snow bow”  Loved taking a picture of that one Bruce!

Hanso Grotewold 12:10:1404

It was the Hans Grotewold show on the Upper Owens today.  The kid clobbered them while nymphing some choice pools. Bravo Hanso!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALarry Corbo likes big rainbows.  He did well on his guide trip with Two Bug pointing out the slots. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASal Corbo got to see what “Crowley Steel” is all about.  Nice one Sal!

Kevin R Anthony T 12:6:1409Kevin R. showing off a beautiful lit up male that ate a SJ worm.


David Richter 12:5:141Check out the gigantic tail on this huge rainbow David “Hollywood” Richter got. Not bad for your first cast, & fish to start the day! He had an amazing guide trip getting into many quality fish like this while nymphing with SJ worms, artificial eggs, and crystal leeches. He does not have a prosthetic hand.  I have come up with a very fish friendly holding device that keeps fingers out of the pictures, and minimizes stress on the fish.

David Richter 12:5:142This beautiful brown took a crystal Vanderleech for “Hollywood” Great day David, thanks again!

John Descary and Nadine 11:26:1406John Descary nailed this bloody buggahh on his way to a big day. That is a huge hen friends! Lots of numbers for this veteran Drifter.

jeff dennis patrick 11:12:142

This is the epitome of a “Crowley Steelhead” baby! Jeff Patrick got this one on a last cast at a pool I had given up on.  Stick & stay and make it pay! Nice job today Jeff, you can up your rating buddy. (inside joke)


Jeff Hudson had an “epic” day on the Upper Owens landing double digit rainbows and browns like this magnificent “Crowley Steelhead” he is holding here. Check out the choppers on this beast! The Snow Bows are running, book your winter trip with us soon friends.

Middle Owens River (Bishop area) 12/19/14 

Access is good in all areas of the Owens Valley. Drift boat fishing has been fair/good weather permitting. Flows are as low as I have seen in many years. Currently 77cfs. below the dam at Pleasant Valley. Fishing is consistently good from the Footbridge at PV Campground downstream to the Five Bridges Crossing. We are seeing a more seasonable weather pattern develop with the big fall hatches of mayflies fizzling out. There are still fishable hatches of tricos and last generation BWO’s on the cloudy days. Smaller midges will become more prevalent as the days shorten. Nymphing with tandem rigs-properly weighted will get you into fish consistently. I suggest you use Flashback PT’s, Assassin birds nest, broken back midges, tiger midges, olive crystal zebras, & caddis larvae (to imitate caddis larva & rock worms). 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. Guided drift boat trips are a great vehicle to reach the secluded, and less fished areas of the river. 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. 

Joe and David D. 12:19:1414

David D. strikes again!  He did well on his drift using Spruce-A-Bu’s, & crystal Vanderleeches. I almost fell in the water while taking this shot I was laughing so hard.

Joe and David D. 12:19:1407

My ribs are still aching from all the laughs Joe DeDiminicantanio! Joe lifting one of his caught on a Loeberg. Check those barbs out buddy…(inside joke)

jeff hans grotewold 12:11:147“Groters” got big fish honors on his drift with son Hanso. These seasoned fly fishers had to battle some tough afternoon winds to get into double digits

rich harms scott gilbertson 11:29:1412Veteran Drifter Rich Harms back in the report with this pretty brown. “Storm Crow” did great on his drift with Uncle Scott using Loebergs & crystal Vanderleeches.

rich harms scott gilbertson 11:29:1408I have re-named this pool “Scott Gilbertson bend” he spanked them here! This hook jawed rainbow hit a crystal Vanderleech.

rob robert blake neithart 11:28:1412

Rob & son Blake Neithart showing off a nice double. Blake spanked them on his first float down the Owens. Hot fly was a crystal Vanderleech.

mike p joe & mike b 11:24:1409The “three Amigos” ride again. I have had the immense pleasure of guiding this group for nearly twenty years. Michael Pouliot got this huge hen rainbow on a Loeberg. This fish went close to 7 lbs. The trio put 30 into the net on their annual float down the Owens.  “Thank you so much for the experience and memories. We feel the same way about you and treasure our time together.” MP

jack 7 brian hartnack 11:26:14 ms1

Right on! Jack (7yrs) & Brian Hartnack with a bonefide golly whopper. Awesome fish guys, way to go! Doug Rodricks put them on this one.

justin ahn 11:22:1402Check out this gorgeous brownie Justin Ahn fooled on a crystal Vanderleech. Justin stroked them on his float landing almost 30!


Jujitsu trainer John Reed has been knocking out the bigs on his drift boat trips down the Middle Owens. He & his friend Bob Walsh landed forty other rainbows and browns recently.


Jay Poore tossed a Rapala to fool this awesome rainbow hen. He and his son Ben caught & released 50 with Two Bug Doug.

Hot Creek 12/19/14

Very little snow here currently, gate remains open. Fish smaller mayfly/midge adult patterns. Locate the slots in the weeds, short accurate drifts are necessary. The “interpretive” section is fishing better than others currently. If you see a few cars at the parking area keep on trucking, as there is very little fishable water here. Conditions have improved some since the water has cooled.  Less aquatic weed in many spots.  Water levels remain very low; but improving as Mammoth Creek adds additional flow from snow melt.  Midges are the only consistent hatches coming off currently. Small parachute patterns used with a 10 foot There are a few sections that can be fished with a dry dropper nymph rig. Scuds, broken back zebras, egg patterns, SJ worms,  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 12/19/14

A little snow and ice along the river currently. Flows currently at 21cfs. Limited fishable water. Diploid browns will be planted here again-great news!

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

Pleasant Valley Reservoir 12/19/14

CDFW planted numbers, & some brood fish for the holidays.  Reservoir stable for a week at at (4383′). This level is optimum in my opinion.  Be cautious when the mud along the river bank thaws. Power generation can occur at anytime, so if you observe the water rising cross to the east side immediately to avoid a difficult walk back to the parking area.  They raise the water slowly; but there is no audible warning. The small river directly below the powerhouse is awesome when the flows are low, or stable. Forget fishing the river, or inlet if the hydro station is ramped up. The quiet water at the inlet can be great for tubers during this period. 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. Streamers like Loebergs, Agent Orange, Crystal leeches, & Spruce-A-Bu’s will get you into some nice browns 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 the same 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 Gorge 12/19/14


Good place to go to escape holiday crowds. Water conditions are very good, and access remains free of ice or snow. 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.

Season open year around

The GorgeLooking down into Middle Gorge from the “rim” Lots of riffles and pocket water opportunities.

Guided fly fishing in the "Gorge" near Bishop California with Sierra DriftersUpstream presentations are needed to fool the wild trout here.  If you stand across from the fish they will “spook” 

Santa getting in some fly fishing from a Drifters sled!Give a guided fly fishing trip to that special fly fisher for the holidays. Santa has been a client of ours for many years! Customized gift certs are easy and quick.


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