A Fish Report for 6/29/15

Fly fishing trips on the waters of Crowley Lake, Silver Lake, the Upper and Middle Owens Rivers, Pleasant Valley Reservoir, Hot Creek, & the San Joaquin 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. Sierra Drifters guides utilize top of the line center console   bay boats, drift boats, and fly fishing tackle to guide you on these blue ribbon trout waters.


Quick look fish report 6/29/15

Exceptional bite happening on Crowley Lake right now for fly fishers. Hiltons & McGee best. San Joaquin fishing well, water conditions great. Middle Owens fair during cooler periods of the day, flows low/warm water. Upper Owens/McGee Creek good for smaller fish. Decent dry fly activity. Hot Creek good caddis action, flows are beginning to recede. East Walker has flows of 108cfs. fishing remains slow here. West Walker has great conditions, good in planted sections. Alpine lakes have been planted for the holiday weekend. Afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast the entire week, and could intensify for Independence Day festivities. 

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Crowley Lake 6/29/15


I describe a super hot bite as being consistent for more than three days, having an area that can accommodate a large group of boats and tubes, and you can’t leave a rod unattended or it will get pulled overboard! Grand slams of trout are now common. Big rainbows, browns, & cutthroats are now being logged daily. Such has been the case with good ole Crowley the last four days. The strong south winds have become a daily event recently, bringing the whitecaps into McGee Bay by 11-12 each day. This weather event has pushed a large concentration of browns into the lee shoreline of the Hiltons where deeper water lies close by the mud flats of these bights. 15-18 feet has been the hot depth. It has been very consistent before the wind stiffens. We are even seeing some steady action during the windy periods. McGee Creek has dropped in flows thus reducing the influence of cooler, more oxygenated water near the inlet. The lake level has stabilized for the time being, & the heavy aquatic weed lines are growing out to 15 feet all over the lake. Water clarity is as good as it gets. This due to the lack of run-off from the cattle pastures. Cow dung is a nutrient that feeds the algae (an aquatic plant). The less dung, the less algae. The damsel fly migration, and emergence has begun big time.  You will see the nymphs getting pulverized on the surface as a predatory trout aggressively slams the surface. A variety of midge patterns will work; but these flies have been very consistent for us. Crystal emergers and pupa patterns #18, gillies #18 & 20, crystal tiger midges both dark, and copper #14 through 18 along with their articulated brethren the “broken back midges” #16 and 18.  Try the BB dark zebra, or the long shank crystal zebra midge as your lower fly in deeper water. Articulated patterns like broken backs work well when you have “texture” from the wind on the surface. My Under-cator strike detector “slides” if you wish to make it easier for you to fish deeper water.  If you prefer tugging streamers from a tube -use a light sinking tip and have some damsel nymphs, crystal leeches #12, or #14 & 12 punk perch streamer patterns. Look for those aggressive boils around the weed lines in 14 feet. These are the predatory trout feeding on the damsel nymphs.

*We are now observing some trout spitting blood from their gills after being netted. This is caused by mineral deposits that attach to the gill filaments,  caused by high alkalinity levels in the water. This mineral coating impedes the oxygen exchange process. It’s like when you run very hard, and kinda taste blood after you stop. It is critical after fighting a fish & net it; that you leave the head completely submerged for a few minutes before removing them from the water to take a hook out; or a quick picture. Net the fish; then let it resuscitate for a while before lifting it out of the water. We are also seeing some fish that have a skin disease called “strawberry”. This is also caused by high alkalinity. Many of these fish are “post spawn” & have not fully regained their protective slimes. Strawberry looks like small red ulcers on the sides, and fins. Please practice good catch & release to insure the health of Crowley’s trout. It is going to be a long, hot summer with very little fresh water circulating into the lake. PH levels will only climb, as oxygen levels fall.

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 One big after another for her in Hilton. Ya done good Taryn, & Brian is smiling down upon you girl.

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You know its good when you can’t leave a rod unattended or it will get pulled overboard! My great friend Mark Vidovich, and his D.I.L Taryn smashed the fish using a crystal emerger as the upper, and a long shaft dark zebra midge as the dropper.

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This young lady had a dream day. The pictured female cutthroat had been spawning in one of the tributaries and is very thin for its large length. Super day Taryn, congrats!

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Warren Vidovich showing off a deep bodied cutthroat he got in Hilton bay on a broken back tiger midge. Nice finish buddy!

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This shot is not over exposed. Mark Kaupp got “Moby Bow” the great white trout! I have only seen three albino rainbows like this in many thousands of fish over the years. Note his friend Jeff bent on another fish. We pulverized them in Hilton recently. Crystal zebras, and emergers, along with broken back tiger midges are hot right now.

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It was as good as it gets on Crowley for first timer Jeff Stuart. He rocked the fish in Hilton using a crystal emerger and BB copper tiger midge.

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Bob & son Max Koenig crushed them with Doug Rodricks. This quality double taken on a gillie/copper tiger midge combo in Hilton Bay.

andy nuanes stan moya 6-28-15 - 9

Hilton Bay was on fire for Andy Nuanes & brother Stan Moya. Hot flies were a crystal emergers, assassins, broken back tiger midges, and crystal long shank zebra midges. 

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The Shumaker clan fished with Jerry Gilpin, and they all got nice fish like this chunky brown. Way to go guys, you did great I hear!

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Joe Franks is all smiles as he shares this trophy rainbow with us. Joe fished with guide Jerry Gilpin in McGee Bay.

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Gary Huffman’s first fly fishing trip to Crowley was a success. Nice one Gary!


Ed Rumsey showing how good the brown trout fishing has become this year at Crowley.


JT Haboush with a rather rotund rainbow he got with Doug Dolan.


John Haboush holding a very nice cutthroat in Hilton Bay. John got the Crowley slam with Two Bug Doug Dolan.

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Paul & Dan Cook had a great morning with Doug Rodricks in McGee Bay using Assassins and copper tiger midges. 

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Double chocolate brownies for Ken & Aylssa Jablecki. We hit some nice fish in Hilton after the wind picked up. Broken back tiger midges worked well in the chop.


The bite picked up when the wind started in McGee for Jon Johnson. This nice bow fell to one of Two Bug’s midge patterns.


Nick Dempkowski with a chunky brown he got in McGee Bay. Clipping fins is NOT legal for anyone other than CDFW biologists. We are seeing more than the usual amount of fish that have been disfigured this year. Two Bug Doug netted this one.


San Joaquin River 6/29/15

Run-off has leveled off, & conditions are very good. Campground sections have some small planted fish. The wild trout here are eager to hit most surface imitations in the #14-18 range.  I like hi-vis para mayflies, Stimulators, and  hi-vis caddis patterns as a point fly.  Tie a two foot dropper off the hook bend and add a blue winged olive or natural caddis adult.  Dry/dry tandems are effective and can really help you see you imitations in riffle water, or shadows.

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

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Flows are near perfect on the San Joaquin. This is currently the best dry fly fishery we have in the Sierra.

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Tyler Suzuki tight to a fish in one of the deeper pools Doug Rodricks put him on. Flashback PT’s, Assassins, tiger midges, & crystal olive caddis larva nymphs good calls while nymphing in the deeper pools.

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You won’t find many large trout on the SJ; but what they lack in size is made up in beauty. Janice Suzuki with a pretty wild brown caught on a dry fly.

Middle Owens River (Bishop area) 6/29/15 

Blistering air temps, & warm water. Solid caddis activity in the wild trout section, down to the Five Bridges Road crossing. Mornings and calm afternoons are very good for dry fly fishing. Use hi-vis caddis #16 & 18. Nymphing with crystal olive caddis larva, assassins, and broken back midges are also good when the hatch is off. Flows are very low (90cfs) so dry/dropper bead head rigs can be effective in the deeper riffles. Drift boat trips have been slow, and we are seeing more tiny largemouth bass than trout! The bass have moved up from the lower sections of the river, and migrated through the canals from Buckley Pond into the Owens. Even the wild trout section has numerous bass now. Prolonged periods of low flows have elevated water temps, & lowered oxygen levels this summer. Not good news for the trout here, and we hope the flows come up soon. THE TICKS ARE HORRIBLE HERE THIS SUMMER. You need to check your pets, and yourself thoroughly after anytime time in the brush. There are also some mosquitoes present on the calm mornings.

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

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Joe Scanlon with his first drift boat rainbow. Nice one buddy!

jack lynn bryson lovett 6-6-15 - 6

Jack Lynn managed to get into a few nice trout on his drift. We hit several like this in one pool using punk perch streamers.

jack lynn bryson lovett 6-6-15 - 2

I never imagined I would say the bass fishing is better than the trout fishing in the drift boat sections of the river; but it is currently true. Bryson Lovett and Jack Lynn got well into double digits using Loebergs & Punk Perch streamer patterns. Most of the bass are smaller than this one.

Upper Owens/ McGee Creek 6/29/15


Fishing is fair here. Some planted fish have moved upstream into the deeper pools. Stream bed conditions are much better above the bridge. You can get into a few decent browns on caddis, and last generation BWO adults at times. Stimulators, hi-vis caddis, & natural caddis are good calls for dry flies.  Flows are low here (40cfs) with aquatic weeds an issue in the lower sections below the Benton Crossing Bridge.

McGee has some small browns and a few decent rainbows. Dry dropper rigs, & nymphing with FB PT’s, Assassins, & olive crystal caddis below an Under-cator, or hi-vis caddis or hi-vis para BWO will work.

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Grant proudly holding one of his first fish fooled on a dry fly. Guide Joe Contaldi set him up.

Hot Creek 6/29/15

The run-off from Mammoth Creek has begun to recede exposing the aquatic weeds. Some good caddis activity currently. Dark bodied, or natural colors for bodies are the hatch. Keep them well dressed to ride high in the foam. Pheasant tails, & 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. The hoppers are beginning to show. A stimulator is a good profile for them. Use these in the wind, as the terrestrials get blown off the banks, & the trout hunt for them along the shoreline. Try my hi-vis caddis pattern, it works well here. Dead drifted broken back zebras, small gillies, scuds, flashback PT’s, or assassin birds nest bead heads in #18 are good calls for the dropper. Size 18 or smaller crystal olive caddis larva or zebra midges are good calls as droppers.

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.

Bridgeport Reservoir 6/29/15

Big Independence Day party going on here. There is a small boat launch/courtesy dock near the dam that will get you on the water. Tubers should focus on the drop-offs near the dam with Loebergs, crystal leeches, and punk perch patterns. On the warmer days still water nymphing with Assassins, callibaetis nymphs, broken back midges, gillies, and flashback PT’s will get you pull downs with your Under-cator. 10-13 feet should get you into them. See Jeffery at the marina for flies, and fishing info.

Alpine Lakes 6/29/15

Most drive to lakes have been well planted in anticipation of large holiday crowds. I hear Convict, Mamie, & Virginia have been good this week. Road to Rock Creek Lake has major construction, expect some delays.  Some have low water levels already. Streamers are always a good choice for these waters, and full sinking lines will get you down faster, & more effectively.  Loebergs, Agent Orange, Crystal Vanderleeches, Spruce-A-Bu’s, & Punk Perch in the #6-12 range are good for early alpine trout. Use my Killa-baetis, assassin, or crystal tiger midge as a trailer fly two feet behind the streamer. We will be guiding Silver and Grant Lake this season from a  drift boat, or tube depending on what techniques are working best. Ernie Gulley did nearly 30 fish to net solo, with a monster cutthroat that measured 32 inches at Kirman (hike into this one). He was stillwater nymphing with midges. 

*Tom Loe is under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service to guide Silver and Grant Lake.

East Walker River 6/29/15

Flows running at 109cfs. Trout fishing is slow.

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

Pleasant Valley Reservoir 6/29/15

Hot weather slows the bite down in the afternoons. The small river section has been best for numbers of smaller rainbows, & browns-use dry/dropper bead head nymph combos here. Forget fishing the river, or inlet if the hydro station is ramped up due to hydro power generation which can happen at anytime.  Heavy weeds are now present in the transition section near the inlet, and along the lakes shoreline as levels have remained relatively stable for a prolonged period. 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 really picked up from the launch ramp, up to the inlet section.  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, or heavy sink tip line to get down 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 Gorge 6/29/15

Too hot for me to fish this during the summer; however 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. Watch out for rattlers. 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, & hi-vis 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. Snakes may be out early!

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. 

Jurassic Pond 6/28/15


Young gun Jimmy Scanlon got this stunning double digit rainbow nymphing on Drifters trophy pond. Fish like this are common at Jurassic Pond.


SDFF member and long time friend Craig Smith with a twenty pounder he got on a streamer at Jurassic Pond.


Brownzilla finally got it’s picture taken! Jimmy Scanlon & guide Doug Rodricks on Jurassic Pond.


You can book session on this amazing fishery with one of our top guides. These trout are by far and away the largest fish you will find in the Sierra, with many fish in the twenty pound class. This is a totally private fishery situated in a beautiful setting on McGee Creek. We use streamers, and still water tactics to dance with these beasts.

You can pick up my flies & Under-cators at Reagan’s Sports in Bishop, the Crowley General Store (not at the lake), Bridgeport Reservoir RV Park, 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.

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