Spring time is here in the Sierras, and the fly fishing on the Middle Owens, Hot Creek, & Pleasant Valley Reservoir are very good. The spring fishing period around Mammoth and Bishop can be as good as it gets with mild weather and near perfect water conditions for fly fishing. Guided drift boat trips on the Middle Owens are kicking out some really large rainbows with steady dry fly action in the wading sections. Pictured above is Kevin Woody with yet another Gargantuan rainbow caught on 4/12/14. This is a magnificent trout anywhere in the world. Congrats Kevin, pleasure netting this one for you!
Flows are climbing on the Middle Owens and Bishop Creek. Bumped up to 226cfs in the WT section, Bishop Creek up to 70cfs from 30cfs a short while back. East Walker discharge back down to a puny 22cfs. That sucks! The forecast for opening weekend is calling for continuing chances of winter like weather. Very good chance there will be significant snow in the upper elevations on Friday, with breezy/cold conditions for the opener. So much for spring!
The general trout season for Inyo and Mono County begins on April 26th. Many of the quality waters are open year around so the opener is not as significant as in the old days. This year we will see a very different landscape with regards to fisheries for the beginning of the season. Access to most of the higher elevation alpine lakes is very good, and these lakes are ice free and ready to fish. This could change drastically in some upper elevation locations if the snow accumulates from the storms that are forecast to hit on Friday prior to opening. You will see some very low water levels in some locations, so if you plan on using a boat do your homework before you head up the hill.
Mammoth and June Lakes will be heavily planted with some quality fish that had to be removed from the IAG (formerly Alpers) rearing facility. These areas should see some excellent catching for the first few weeks of the season. Bridgeport Reservoir is very low, and the marina does not have water for docks this year. The RV Park and store will be fully open and rental boats will be available for the opening weeks. The “bath tub” public launch ramp is the only location to launch here. Twin Lakes and Virginia Lakes will be open and ice free. The East Walker continues to be very low and not fishing well. Flows will be rising soon, but look for another tough summer here. The Upper Owens is blown out as water is being drawn from the Rush Creek diversion to help fill Crowley Lake. This high release will not last long and you will see low flows here this summer as well. The section from the Benton Bridge down to the fishing monument sign remains closed until May 24th. Crowley has come up 8 vertical feet since closing last year & will be in good shape for most of the season. It could still rise 15 vertical feet to put it in perspective. Crowley has been ice free most of the winter and water temps are well above historical averages. Look for an early turnover & a shot gun start to the season here. We have been told that levels will not drop below last years low-this insures the launch ramp will remain open through the entire season. The tributaries of Crowley currently have some spawning rainbows and cutthroats in them. Flows are low and there is limited water to fish in McGee, Hilton, Convict, & Crooked Creeks. The Middle Owens around Bishop is also low for this time of year. Flows are beginning to move upwards, but remain very good for wading and drifting. We have been getting some gigantic rainbows while drifting this spring, several double digit fish have come to net! The Gorge is blown out and running at 200cfs. It is probable that this will change soon and power generation will begin at Pleasant Valley Reservoir in the near future. Hot Creek is fishing well with good conditions currently. Some good dry fly action here at times. The San Joaquin River will be accessible super early this year. We are told that the road into Reds Meadow will open in mid-May barring a late season snow storm. Freestone Creeks like the Joaquin, West Walker, Rock Creek, will all be flowing much lower than normal & very fishable. Snow levels are high and only 35 % of normal this year. The summer will see very good conditions for these locations, fall may be tough in some areas due to very low water levels.
The weather forecast has a cold front moving through the region prior to the opener with a chance of snow down to the high valley floors. The opener weekend is forecast to be very cold and breezy with significant snowfall for the upper elevations on Friday & rain in the Owens Valley possible.
Middle Owens River 4/24/14
Flows have increased to over 226cfs recently. This release is still well below what is the norm for late April & is almost ideal for drifting after they stabilize for a day or two. It will temporarily move the fish around and put some debris in the water, but it is by no means a game changer at this point. If they continue to spike upward in the near future, this will make conditions tougher. Only the water lords at the LADWP know what will happen! Look for continued caddis and pale morning dun mayfly hatches. The water will need to stabilize before they get consistent. I suggest you have some hi-vis elk caddis & para mayflies #14/18. Theses are adults and good choices for surface action. Have a good selection of mayfly and caddis nymphs. Olive crystal caddis larva, olive zebras, assassin bird’s nest, flashback PT’s, money! Streamers like Loebergs & Spruce-A-Bu’s are how we consistently get the huge trout you see posted. You will need a heavy sinking tip line like the one Rio makes. 150/200 grain, 24 foot streamer tips are good for current flows & you can use them in lakes as well. Check out my guide tips link at the top of the page and scroll down to “dip & strip”. This technique is the key to getting the bigs in the Sierra on streamers. The fire on 4/19/14 was between the Hwy. 6 Bridge near Laws, & Five Bridges Road. It was a large/wind driven fire, and destroyed a lot of habitat along the river.
Another troutzilla bites the dust! Kirk Wendleburg & his son Tristen got this incredible rainbow on a Spruce-A-Bu pattern for their first fish of the day on 4/20/14 while drifting with me. Congrats Kirk, that is an amazing fish buddy!
Sled Reynolds had a fun day of drifting on 4/21/14 getting into a bunch of bows and browns like this blushing rainbow
Happy birthday Ann! Nice way to spend your B-day for sure. 4/19/14
Aiden Yamada did great for his first time nymphing on Hot Creek and the Middle Owens. Lot’s of scrappy brownies like this fell to a variety of mayfly and midge nymph patterns on 4/18/14.
Long time client Alan Yamada caught good numbers of wild browns on Hot Creek and the Middle Owens in a single day guide trip on 4/18/14.
Alex Rueda sent this nice picture in of how good spin fishers can whack them on the Owens too! Nice fish Alex! 4/18/14
Clinton and Nathan Keith had a good day of drifting the Mighty MO on 4/16/14. Son Nathan sizing up his dads bow so he can get a bigger one!
Greg C. with a long & lean bow he got on 4/17/14. Greg did well considering he had to battle 20 knot SE winds most of the day with his buddy Mark W.!
“The Professor” Floyd Sabins did fantastic with his grandson Spencer on their two day drift trip. That smile should tell the story & warm your heart! 4/15/14
Floyd (83 years young) & his grandson Spencer Sabins had a great day on their drift getting some nice doubles like this one on 4/14/14. Floyd is a member of the super Orange County Fly Fishers.
WOW! Kevin Woody got this beautiful massive bow on a Spruce-A Bu light on 4/12/14. It barely fit in my huge drift boat net! Almost had a mesh blow out with this big ole hen. Congrats Kevin, nice job.
John Angerer did very well for his first drift trip on 4/12/14. This accomplished fly fisher banged out double digits with nice rainbows like this one falling to a Loeberg streamer pattern.
Had a blast with first time drifter Jason Gugliotta on 4/9/14. JG got into good numbers of wild browns using a moderate sinking tip and punk perch pattern.
Kenny Wilson showing off one of many nice sized bows he caught on his drift trip on 4/5/14. Way to stick em Ken!
Taking a little time off before the dry season begins, fire fighter Nathan Gorham had a fun drift with his father Ron getting well into double digits with fish like this on 4/7/14
Sir Charles Middleton and his wonderful lab Merle. A brown with a brown! The fish’n was better than the catching on this drift-4/5/14. Thanks Charlie and Brian.
Jay Gordon had a good drift trip getting into solid numbers with fish like this fat rainbow he fooled using the dip & strip method on 4/5/14.
Long time friend and Drifter Dan D. doing net honors for his beautiful daughter Danielle on their drift trip 4/2/14. Danielle got the big one right at the buzzer! Fun day kids, thanks!
The daily double on 3/29/14. Veteran Drifter Nelly C & Ryan T. showing off a nice brownie and bow. Loebergs & Punk Perch streamers did the trick today as the two had good numbers for their drift trip.
This acrobatic rainbow Ryan T. caught on 3/29/14 looks like some of the dunk- mysters in the NCAA getting big air!
This monster rainbow is as large as they get damn near anywhere in the Sierra. “Troutzilla” has been caught! Congrats to Eric Kool for landing this behemoth while being guided by “Fill” Therrien on 3/25/14 What a trophy!
Now that is a beast! Kirt Collins “dip & striped” with an original Drifters Punk Perch to fool this blimp sized rainbow on 3/24/14. Congrats Kirt and Two Bug
Jon Hee is a San Diego Fly Fisher and veteran Drifter. He got this awesome hook jaw on his drift with Doug R. 3/1/14
This is an awesome fish John Davis caught. Truly one of the nicest bows I have seen in a long while on the Middle Owens. Rest assured this fish was released alive and well despite the sand. Doug R. tied a punk perch pattern on for John & fooled this awesome fish. Congrats guys. 2/21/14
Upper Owens River 4/23/14
Flows remain very high at 200cfs. You will need a shot of battleship chain to get those nymphs down at this release. The run of Crowley Steelhead is over; however you will see some cutties and smaller spring run fish in the slower pools. Flows will not likely hold at this level for an extended period. Use San Juan Worms, Egg patterns, crystal leeches, broken back midges, olive crystal caddis & zebra larva patterns, flashback PT’s , assassin birds nest, olive hares ear, all heavily weighted. We has an epic winter and spring season and look forward to the summer months and some dry fly action after the levels drop. Access remains good; however the access road on the eastside will rattle your doors off it is so washboard now.
I believe this picture pretty much punctuates the great winter and fall season we had in 2013/14. See ya next year for those Crowley Steelhead “snowbows” Big Ben and Ronnie!
Pleasant Valley Reservoir/The Gorge 4/24/14
Power generation now occurring. This pretty much wipes out the small river section as an option. The rez level has increased to levels that make fishing the transition section difficult. You can still move further down towards the lake proper and find some softer water with fish feeding in the suds, it is deeper and may require an Under-cator instead of a dry fly to get those nymphs down. Tubing is best under current conditions using Loebergs, Punk Perch, Agent Orange, & crystal leeches. Use a full or heavy sinking tip line. Still water nymphing Crowley style can also get you into numbers along the drop-offs. Use Broken back midges like gillies and tigers, crystal emergers, and pupa patterns are good calls as upper flies on a tandem rig. Stick to tigers and zebras as the lower flies.
The Gorge is flowing at 200cfs. Not worth the hike at this release. LADWP is doing extensive work on valves and hydro electric plants & this is why we are seeing such abnormal flows in this fishery.
The transition section at PVR can be very good at times. Doug Pease JR. with a nice bow he caught on a dry/dropper bead head rig 4/4/14
Hot Creek (4/24/14)
Very good caddis & mayfly activity occurring daily during this warm spell. The small spring 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” the Punk 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 start to emerge. Access remains good as of 2/26/14 however the forecast calls for some snow to hit on the weekend.
*Tom Loe is under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service to guide Hot Creek.
Stephen K. got this beautiful brownie on his guide trip 4/21/14. Nice fish buddy!
Hot Creek went off big time for Richie Neufeld on 4/21/14. Richie got into double digits on his guide trip nymphing the deeper pools and slots.
East Walker River (4/24/14)
Flows back down to 22cfs. The EW is facing some tough times this season, go easy on them friends.
Jeffery at the Bridgeport Marina gets an “A” for effort. He has moored his boats outside the marina (which is dry) so opening season anglers can utilize the newly painted and tuned up rental boats here. The RV Park is also in top notch shape and currently open for business. The public launch ramp at “the bath tub” will be open and staffed by volunteers (if they ain’t fish’n) for opening day. Go say Baaah to Jeffery at the marina for us! 4/18/14
I am happy to announce that the 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 daily 7-5 during the winter. 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!
Pyramid Lake is well known for gigantic cutthroat trout like this one Chris Linkletter got with me a few seasons back. Still water nymphing and streamers can both get you into huge cutts in the late winter through spring. You can get flies & Under-cators for Pyramid right on the way up from S0-Cal by stopping at Reagan’s in Bishop, or the Crowley General Store.
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