A Fish Report for 7/23/14

kole krieger ss 7:20141

Summer time fly fishing around Mammoth has been very good. Consistently good results are occurring for guided fly fishing trips in locations like the San Joaquin River, Crowley Lake, the Upper Owens River, Hot Creek, & The Middle Owens River near Bishop. Guides are available to put you on quality trout with a fly here in the Sierra.

Quick look fish report 7/23/14

Upper Owens still the best Sierra moving water around. Crowley has fish all over, conditions improving in all areas. Middle Owens drifting remains so-so.  Water is too warm for a consistent bite. Hot Creek  flows HALF of what they should be for late July, weeds a major issue here. East Walker at 68cfs. conditions remain poor here. West Walker settling down some, will be fine in a day or so. Alpine lakes that have water fishing well. I spoke with the HC hatchery manager, and they are planting  heavier early anticipating very low water conditions in many fisheries later this summer & fall.

Drifter’s Trophy Pond 7/23/14

It has been nicknamed “Jurassic Pond” because it has monsters living in it, literally. We guide here for special occasions, fly fishing classes, & wounded warriors/healing waters. The largest wild rainbows in the Sierra thrive here, & it is totally private water with Drifters guides having exclusive access. Call or fill out a trip request for availability. 

charlie and matt pond 7:2014 ss1

Matt Flemming with one of the Jurassic monsters. This one went 32 inches on the button and weighed 17.5 lbs. Ate an assassin!

charlie and matt pond 7:2014 ss2

Sir Charles Middleton & yours truly with a double digit Loe-bow.

ben kelsey pond 7:2014 lrg3

Kelsey Kaufmann letting husband big Ben do the hold for her gigantic rainbow she got on the Drifters trophy pond. They only broke one rod for their session!

ben kelsey pond 7:2014 ss5

Big Ben with his “tackle buster” he got on Jurassic Pond. You should have seen the one that busted his 6wt on a run!

Crowley Lake 7/23/14

Bite remains sporadic in most areas. Water is very clean in the north arm towards Alligator Pt.  Sandy Pt. is spotty, the algae is terrible at times. McGee is clicking outside the weed lines & has fished the best recently.  Hilton has been moody; but when it goes the brown bite is amazing. The algae situation is improving, late morning southeast winds have been terrible recently. The fry are here, the fry are here! Sacramento perch fry now showing up along the weed lines. Get those punk perch patterns out.  Hang a PP and a midge pattern below an Under-cator. Post up along the weed lines in any location-11-13 feet is about right now.  The low flows on McGee Creek/Upper Owens channels will not help “channeling” the fish up much this year. You will not find fish “in tight” as in seasons past.  These channels are choked with weed right up into the inlet. Weeds are currently out to about 12 feet.The lake level remained high enough to form significant weeds in any of the channel sections. Stay outside the weeds, 12-18 feet, keep those flies clean.  Gillies #18/20, crystal emergers & pupa #18/20. (Broken back tiger & zebra midges, broken back gillies) good when you have some texture on the surface. Copper Tigers & zebra midges #14/18 also good choices for the lower or larva imitation. Smaller punk perch & damsel fly nymph patterns are the hot ticket during late morning damsel migrations. My broken back gillie is a dead knock off for large chironomid pupa, or damsel fly nymphs that are emerging. Best used with some texture on the surface, or give your Under-cator a smooth pull, or twitch every minute or so.  Streamer fishing damsels can be effective during heavy algae along the weed lines. 

kenney larry jackson 7:2014 ms05

KJ got the Crowley trout grand slam on his annual guide trip with his dad Larry Jackson. Nice cutty Kenny!

mike greene cynthia ortiz ms 7:201414

Mikey Greene and Cynthia hit “double chocolate”. The couple had a great morning session getting well into double digits for browns.

mike greene cynthia ortiz ms 7:201412

Cynthia Ortiz banged them browns for her first fly fishing trip. Punk perch and a dark tiger was the hot ticket.

david jessica vanacore ms 7:201413

Jessica Vanacore holds a “broom tailed” bow she battled to net. Fun day with you and your dad Jess!

david jessica vanacore ms 7:201410

“The great composer” and my great friend David Vanacore shows off one of the nice browns he got in Hilton with me. Punk perch & tiger midge combo worked well.

meagan zanitsch charlotte nc ss 7:20141

Meagan & Roger Zanitsch came all the way from Charlotte NC to get a trophy rainbow. Mission accomplished-that is a nice one kids!

mike barbara belfield 7:2014 ss9

Mike Belfield and his bride Barbara got into some nice browns recently using assassins and tiger midge combos.

ron holbert fs 7:20141

Stand up comic/Drifters guide “Fill” Therrien put Bako Boy Ron Holbert on some quality browns recently.

brian jake garrett bako ss 7:20142

Son of a Bako Boy this kid can fish!  Jake Garrett with a saaaweeet brown. Nice shot Doug R.

brian jake garrett bako ss 7:20141

Them Bako boys just get em’! Brian Garrett with a bitch’n rainbow he got with Doug R in Hilton.

sharon mora 7:2014 ss1

Sharon Mora went for quality, not quantity. Nice cutty mam!

kole krieger 7:2014 ss1

Kole Krieger had an epic day with his grandpa Mel Twist. No newbies to the fish report this tandem can fish! Great job King Kole! Doug R put them on the fish.

noel michael maestre ss 7:201403

The battle between brothers was a draw! Noel Maestre took big fish with this quality rainbow. Fun day guys, thanks.

noel michael maestre ss 7:201408

Michael claimed the numbers crown.  Day was punctuated with several doubles like these twin browns.

paul cook doug r 7:2014 ss1

Paul Cook letting Doug R show off this awesome brown he caught recently. Best year for browns in many seasons on Crowley.

scoitt coleman brian delmontes TO 7:2014 ss13

Scott Coleman spanked them on an assassin & dark crystal tiger midge combo in Hilton. Nice brown buddy!

scoitt coleman brian delmontes TO 7:2014 ss07

First time fly fisher Brian Belmontes had no problem getting into a bunch of quality browns and bows like this one on his guide trip.

kevin crawford carlsbad 7:2014 ss1

Kevin Crawford with a trophy bow. Hilton has been very consistent in deeper water this season, and our fish magnets have been right on them!

jj golden ventura 6:2014 ss1

Another quality brown gets digitalized by Doug R. JJ Golden hit this trophy fish in Hilton Bay, 16 feet. Nice JJ!

kevin tippet 6:2014 ss1

Nice hold job on that chunky brown Kevin Tippet. Kev & kids had a good day with guide Jerry Gilpin.

ryan davis cap james gustin 6:2014 ss1

The browns just keep on coming! James Gustin hit this one on a broken back tiger. Nice fish James! Chris Basso guided him.


Upper Owens River 7/23/14

Excellent.  CDFW put 1500 lbs of catchable bows around the campground area. Slam dunk for a while here. 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.  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.

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.

Ren Adam Chris Siluverdale ss 7:20141

Chris Siluverdale showing off a nice football shaped bow he fooled along with many others on his guide trip to the UO. Nice pic Doug R.!

Ren Adam Chris Siluverdale ss 7:20142

Ren Adams creamed them while nymphing along the cut banks. The bows are jumping & very active here.

Bob Wickers ms 7:20149

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

Bob Wickers ms 7:20144

Bobby Wickers absolutely crushed them on flashback PT’s and egg patterns. The cloud cover got them on the chew.

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 all I can say is we will be back for the winter trip.”

chad greg bob carter 7:2014 ms07

Bob Chiodini got big fish honors. It was a tough battle for this prize amongst the fearsome foursome.

chad greg bob carter 7:2014 ms05

The youngest member of the fearsome foursome from Vegas, Carter Read with one of his feisty rainbows.

hot creek upper owens 7:2014 ss2

This is a very productive riffle located downstream of the “monument” As you observe, weeds have filled the channel.

Middle Owens River (Bishop area) 7/23/14

Recent drift trips have been good/fair during cooler periods. I suggest half day floats to avoid the afternoon heat in the Owens Valley.  Water is very warm and this is causing the fish to shut down by late mornings. Flows remain wonderful for wading & drifting, currently running between 215-230cfs. Wading (no waders needed this time of year) remains good at this release below the dam at PV Res. Use birds nest patterns like Assassins, flashback PT’s, and hares ears for good profiles of a mayfly nymph.  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 late morning hatch. The chub and sucker spawn was epic this spring and we are seeing “balls” of these small baitfish in the pillow waster 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.

Beau Porter 7:2014 ms1

Beau Porter had a good day of drifting. The “dip & strip” method of streamer fishing paid off for him.

mike eric belfield drift ss 7:201406

First time Drifter Eric Belfield tight to one with his dad Mike looking on.

mike eric belfield drift ss 7:20141

Mike not to be out done-gets an aerobatic bow to show colors.

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.

mark taryn vidovich 7:2014 ss4

Taryn Vidovich had a good morning with bows like this hitting Loebergs.

ervin wheeler tom clark la jolla ss 6:20142

Ervin Wheeler with a nice drift boat bow. He did very well on his float.  The lower flows this summer are creating unique opportunities to drift the MO during the warmer months.

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 7/23/14

Flows are dropping & weeds are becoming an issue in some sections. The manager at the HC Hatchery told me flows out of the springs are only HALF of what they should be for late July. NOT GOOD. Decent caddis & mayfly activity occurring daily during warm spells & calmer days. The small dark caddis are like candy to these wild fish and you will enjoy the best snap during this hatch. #18/20 hi-vis elk hair imitations will suffice, try some crystal olive caddis larva patterns for nymphs. San Juan Worms and egg patterns are good choices for spring conditions on the crick. Dry dropper rigs using para midge or hi-vis para BWO or blue wing olive adult patterns #14-18 as an upper, while dropping a broken back zebra or tiger midge, assassin bird’s nest, or crystal olive caddis/zebra larva pattern will get you into fish in the slots between the weeds. Lengthen your leaders to ten feet here, 5X is a good tippet size. The deeper pools can be fished with weighted attractors like SJ worms and egg patterns hung beneath an Under-cator. A hot rig is an olive or light Punk Perch as your upper fly with an assassin or PT as a dropper. You may also “swing cast” a Punk  perch or crystal leech across the deeper slots and pools for a shot at one of the bigs that hunker along the weed lines or in the gut of the larger holes. Use the yellow, or clear for short water nymphing. Midge cluster, or para midge adults in the #20-24 range are hot flies for surface action.  BWO adults fished high in the suds #16/18 also good calls afternoon when the baetis/PMD’s start to emerge. Dead drift some crystal scuds with a tiny, or no indicator at all in the deeper slots.

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

hot creek upper owens 7:2014 ss6

Fish are still here, just not easy to get a dead drift with so much weed protruding. Dry flies are best right now.

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.

Stephen Kleczkowski 4/21/14

Stephen K. got this beautiful brownie on his guide trip.  Nice fish buddy!

San Joaquin River 7/23/14


Flows are at historical late summer levels, and 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 7/23/14

Flows at 69cfs. Water is filled with algae and weeds, tough to get a clean drift currently. Yuck. Water temps into the 70′s, this will make the fish lethargic. Better oxygen levels further you go downstream towards NV.

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.

east walker 7:2014 ss1

The issue on the EW is not just the weeds attached to the bottom, note the free floating weeds coming down from the die off on the lake. Tough conditions currently here for fly fishers.

Bridgeport Reservoir 7/23/14

 The RV Park is in full operation & in tip top shape.  Fishing remains good/fair for planted rainbows with a few nicer browns showing up for conventional anglers/trollers. Algae/weeds are an issue in some areas.


West Walker River 7/23/14

Snow run-off has decreased and conditions are good except when we get significant T-storms. This fishery is very prone to flash flooding & quickly changing water conditions. 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 7/23/14

Mammoth Lakes basin got a good jag of planters, easy picking for tubers trolling streamers near the inlets and drop-offs. Great way to get out of the heat. 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, Laurel, & Parker are fun locations to pack, or bring 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. 

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.


dolan hurt 5:20141

Best wishes to Drifters stand out guide “Two Bug” Doug Dolan who incurred a serious injury recently, and will be out of action for a while. Two Bug made it out of extensive surgery and is receiving PT for a while. He is finally out of the hospital and really improving!  Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. We gave him a pet fish to hold while he recovers!

Two Bug has helped out many people including Wounded Warriors, Handicapped Anglers, & special youth groups.  He needs some financial help to get him through this tough period.

If you would like to make a check donation that goes DIRECTLY INTO DOUG’S ACCOUNT ONLY – make payable to: FBO Doug Dolan  (FBO stands for “For Benefit Of”) And mail it to: Eastern Sierra Community Bank PO Box 5069 Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546


craig lamb grand rapids MI. doug lamb ridgecrest 003 rs

We will 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

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