Fly fishing the trophy trout waters of the Sierra near Mammoth and Bishop have been excellent this fall. The Owens River and Crowley lake have been providing quality rainbows, browns, and cutthroat trout for fly fishers booking guided trips off drift boats, and state of the art lake flats style boats. Guided fly fishing trips on the Upper Owens have been very good for migrating rainbows and browns.
Heading picture: Mike Stames got a monster drift boat rainbow with partner Ken Jablecki doing the net honors. The patented “dip & strip” method of streamer fishing secluded sections of the Middle Owens gives you opportunities to fight these trophy trout.
Quick look fish report 10/31/14
Looks like some “scarry weather” moving in for Halloween. Winter storm warnings by the NWS through Saturday at noon. Snow possible at 5000′-very cold air temps to follow. Middle Owens trico mayfly/midge hatch excellent. Drifting very good for numbers using streamers. FLOWS DOWN TO 94cfs. Crowley fishing well, stick to areas near deep water. Marina closes 10/31. Pleasant Valley Reservoir 4379′, this is on the low side. Good dry/dropper fishing in the river section. Upper Owens improving in numbers of quality rainbows, water conditions very good. Browns getting spawny at Twin Lakes Bridgeport, Silver/Grant Lakes & Rush Creek.
Fall is drift boat time on the Middle Owens near Bishop. The scenery is spectacular and the fly fishing is fantastic. Special thanks to pro photographer Mike McIntire for this beautiful picture.
Crowley Lake 10/31/14
Fishing remains very good here during calm weather. A major winter storm is forecast to hit this weekend. The numbers of twenty inch fish & super thick browns have been amazing this fall. Consistent areas are Hilton Bay & Beaver Cove, Sandy Pt., Alligator Pt., Layton Springs, & Six Bays. 9-13 feet. Success using the still water nymphing method depends on position & conditions in a given area. The fish can be concentrated in a location, but wind direction & barometric pressure will dictate how your day will go. As a very general rule…try to position yourself in shallow water fishing towards deeper water. Fish the “lee”, or down current side of a drop-off or peninsula. Streamer fishing has slowed down due to above average chironomid activity. It can still be a good option for off hatch periods. As the weather continues to become more seasonal patterns like Loebergs, Punk Perch, crystal Vanderleeches, & Agent Orange will once again be effective. Water temps are cooling & the fish are migrating to the “gut” of the lake. The “Islands” off Hilton Pt. are now totally protruding and look likes a volcano has popped up! We are seeing very low water on Crowley this season. The fall turnover is ending, water clarity is very good. Hot flies if the midge hatch is off are Assassins and crystal leeches. Try a broken back gillie, crystal emerger, midge pupa, or standard gillie for your upper fly during chironomid emergences. Hang a broken back tiger or bb zebra midge, dark or copper crystal tigers, or crystal zebras as the larva/lower fly. Give those flies some action if the surface is calm. You are competing with swimming/wiggling critters, and the movement of your flies is crucial to getting grabs. CDFW has planted sub-catchable sized fish, treat them kindly as they are the future of this fishery. Special angling restrictions now in place. Pinch those barbs down, love them and leave them, no scented or live bait please. The boat launch closes on 10/31/14, the lake remains open for tubing and shore fishing with special regs until 11/15/14.
GUIDE TIP: When you are adjusting your depth for stillwater nymphing; make sure you are setting for the depth that your flies will be suspended-NOT WHERE YOU ARE LOCATED. This is a common mistake, and I see it on a regular basis. It is the most prevalent reason some fly fishers do not get grabs while in a good location with reasonable midge patterns.
Mike & Scott Noll slammed the browns using Assassins at Beaver Cove. Fish are cruising the drop-offs in 10-12 feet.
The big cutthroats are still on the prowl. Brett Barberie did great on his trip with Jerry Gilpin.
Chris Holm enjoyed some nice fall weather & fly fishing on his trip with Jerry G. Fish remain very active for still water nymphers.
Dave Schaub showing off a fat slob of a rainbow. Look at the girth on this fish! He did great off Sandy Pt. still water nymphing with Jerry Gilpin. Copper tiger midges got it done.
Lori Basch had to deal with some “kite flying weather” on her trip to Crowley with Jerry Gilpin. She did well off Sandy Pt.
Paul Chang got this beautiful rainbow near Six Bays with Jerry G. Fish are holding near deep water drop-offs.
Jeff & father Dennie Branch hit some nice browns in Hilton Bay on their first fly fishing trip to Crowley. Hot flies were Assassins.
Crowley’s fish will stand up to any fishery in the entire west! Kudo’s to the CDFW for their management plan. This magnificent bow was caught by Karl Kristkeitz on a crystal copper tiger midge. Karl had some epic fishing with us recently fishing the north end of the lake.
Now thats a saaaweet double. Steve D. & Karl K. double dipped Crowley & punished the big fish off Layton Springs.
Man on fire! Steve Danziger had an epic morning with this beast being the best of the day. Fish were on chironomid pupa in 10 feet. This one hit a “gillie”. Great fish buddy!
James “big fish” McCray is all grins showing off a big cutthroat. The gillie & dark crystal zebra midge combo was deadly at Sandy Pt. in 8 feet.
“I’ve been on many guided trips and founds your skills and personality to be much more enjoyable than most other people I’ve been with. I look forward to future trips with you.” -James
Former Double Haul in the Fall winner Mike “Uno” Wash with a nice cutty. I’m still laughing buddy!
Ribeye & T-bone. The Zamoras (Taide & Elijah) got to wrestle with some beautiful fish off Sandy & Alligator Pt’s. Fun day guys, thanks.
Gerald Scholl showing off one of his many cutty’s caught off Alligator Pt. Fish hit a dark crystal zebra midge.
Sean Hart hit the Crowley slam with guide Jerry Gilpin. This trophy brownie was the icing on the cake!
This twenty inch buck took Norm Ball well into backing, then did a full lap around my fish magnet before allowing us to get a picture. Ron Ball helping out with the net. Fish ate a dark crystal zebra in 8 feet off Sandy.
Time for you to leave the temple Grasshopper!!! Mark Harpin got this 23 inch brownie solo off Alligator Pt. Mark was using a Punk Perch while streamer fishing in the chop. Great fish Harpy.
Three generations of fly fishers. Meet the Geigers. Trevor (brown) was in diapers when His father “First Light” Lance & grandpa Bill started fishing with me. We had a memorable day off Layton Springs. The Crowley slam was achieved with twenty inch fish. Special day guys, thanks again!
Trevor Geiger took some time off from breaking three point records on the court to catch some quality trout with his dad Lance, & Gramps Bill.
Todd Francone is back on the report again! He got this chunky cutty off Sandy Pt. on a gillie chironomid pupa. We had steady action even through some gusty south winds.
The girth of the fish on Crowley this year has been special. Jim Lloyd showing off one of many thick bows he got with Two Bug off Six Bays.
Veteran Drifter Vito M. with yet another trophy cutthroat. Epic season for getting three species of quality trout on Crowley. Two Bug did the anchoring…(inside joke)
I knew it was going to be a great day when we had a double on the first casts! Larry & Mike Jackson hit big numbers with some great fish off Sandy pt. Hot flies were gillies and crystal emergers as the upper, crystal zebras & broken back zebras as the droppers.
The “trout professor” Floyd Sabins got a screen saver off Layton Springs. Beautiful brown with a stunning background. Dark crystal zebra fooled this one.
This 91 years young lady is still sticking them. Jeanne Kilian is back on the fish report with this chunky cutthroat. Fish hit a crystal emerger off Alligator Pt.
Check out this slammer rainbow friends. This huge buck took a broken back zebra midge. Steve Reich (holding), Joe Smigiel, & I had a blast catching these great fish off Layton.
That is a twenty inch rainbow being held by a 6′ 7″ mountain of a man. Joe Smigiel got his fall Crowley slam, and had a great day using broken back zebra midges and dark crystal emergers.
John M. & Brad W. saw Crowley on fire. Doubles and triples with Doug R. at Big Hilton. Gillies, crystal copper tigers, dark crystal zebras
Now that’s a slammer! Congrats to Jay Poore for taming this beast while still water nymphing with Two Bug. Fish hit a broken back midge.
Upper Owens River 10/31/14
Going to be cold and nasty for the weekend. The “catching” is picking up, look for the cooler weather to trigger more bigs making a move upstream from Crowley. Most of the fish are in the 13-16 inch range. Some nice pods of 14 inch browns, with a few “Zilla’s” now in the upper sections. Steady action while nymphing the deeper holes above the bridge. Hoppers are toast. Water conditions are very good, although flows are very low. You will find the river choked with weed in many sections down from the bridge. 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 49 cfs. Short water tactics are necessary 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. Some hoppers showing up now. 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 soft 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.
Special angling regs in effect. Open year around upstream from the Benton Crossing Bridge. Closed from the Bridge to the fishing monument until the Saturday of Memorial Day 2015. Same regs as Crowley Lake downstream from the monument to the lake proper, this section will then close on 11/15.
Hard to beat the scenery & fly fishing on the wonderful Upper Owens River.
And so it begins…Tim Williams got into some magnificent rainbows on his trip with me on 10/27/14/ Hot rig was a blood sucking crystal Vanderleech & soft glo-bug tandem nymph rig.
Tim Williams did “back to back” days fishing a couple beats on the Upper O. He did well on day two with Two Bug Doug.
Jim Stephenson Jr. showing off one of the first trophy sized migratory rainbows moving up out of Crowley. Two Bug used some special nymphing techniques we employ here to get him on this one and others recently.
Jefferey Wood punished them in an afternoon session with Two Bug Doug nymphing below an Under-cator.
Michael Del Pero did great on numbers with Doug Dolan. Some hopper activity on the warmer afternoons, stick to nymphing the deeper pools under current conditions.
Middle Owens River (Bishop area) 10/31/14
Flows currently at 94cfs & conditions are very good drifting the lower sections, & wading the wild trout area. Numbers have been good from our drift boats, the bigs are on the chew. It has been EXCELLENT recently for trophy bows. There are solid hatches of fall caddis, tiny Trico mayflies, and some PMD’s. Focus on the riffle water at the base of larger pools. The fish are keying on the afternoon trico, caddis emergences. Midge cluster patterns (Griffith’s knat) will also get surface looks. Birds nest patterns like Assassins, flashback PT’s, and hares ears make for good profiles of a mayfly nymph and caddis pupa. Crystal olive caddis larva, & olive zebra midges are also good choices for a lower fly imitation of caddis larvae, green rock worms, or midge larva. Have some hi-vis caddis adults & hi-vis para mayfly adults for the morning hatch. The chub and sucker spawn was immense this summer, and we are seeing “balls” of these small baitfish in the pillow water and along the weeds. Streamer fishing is the best way to imitate these small forage fish by using the “dip & strip technique” with heavy to moderate sinking tip lines. Go to patterns are Loebergs, Punk Perch, Crystal leeches, & Spruce-a-bu’s.
This fishery stays open year around. Special regs from the footbridge at Pleasant Valley campground to the fishing monument 4.5 miles downstream.
John Reed is back in the fish report again with this amazing buck he got with Two Bug Doug. John & his pal Bob Walsh did 40 to net on their drift. We are having some great late fall fly fishing on the MO tugging streamers.
The killer R’s struck hard. Richard Rybak got big fish honors. He & Russ R. netted over 40 on their drift. Loebergs were hot in the mornning-small Punk Perch got creamed in the afternoon.
The fish are biting T. C. !!!! Where the heck are you? Russ Robinson punished the rainbows on his drift with me.
Check out the paint job on this buck! Chris Pittenger nailed the bigs while drifting with Two Bug Doug.
Veteran Drifter Greg Tucker schooled a bunch of colorful rainbows on his drift trip. Despite red flag wind warnings we netted over twenty chunky bows like this recently on Loebergs.
Mike Brown’s first drift trip great! He spanked many rainbows like this even with a stiff south wind to deal with.
Mike & John Belfield hit good numbers on their drift. The “dip & strip” streamer method using a Loeberg payed off in the riffle water.
Chris had a dream day on the Owens. He went three for three on large fall rainbows while pulling streamers. Great job Chris!
We are seeing the best fall run of big fish in several years. First time fly fisher David Redford with sons Brent and Aaron, had a great day with two Bug. This gorgeous male was caught using the “dip & strip” technique.
Bobby McEwan hit this gorgeous buck on our first stop! The Diablo Valley Flyfisherman and his pal Gary did over fifty to net on their drift. Hot fly was an olive Loeberg.
Diablo Valley flyfisherman Gary Cummings is all smiles as he shows off this lean & mean hen rainbow he got on an olive Loeberg.
The “dip & strip” method of streamer fishing fooled this gorgeous male along with fifty other nice trout. Tom Newell had a fantastic float with Two Bug Doug. The conditions on the Middle Owens are excellent this fall.
The bigs are on the prowl. Scott Beyer showing off a thick buck he got with Two Bug.
The “Macman” strikes again! Long time friend and Drifter pro photographer Mike McIntire put down his camera for a while & hit this great rainbow on a drift with me in early October. baaahaaaah!
Flows have stabilized at perfect levels & the drift boat fishing has been excellent. Sean Robinson will attest to this! Doug D. put Sean on this gorgeous rainbow using the “dip & strip” method of fishing streamers.
Adobe Pond 10/31/14
The drought has kept us off Dobe for most of this summer. Now that the water is cooling, & the weeds thinning out there are some opportunities to get into some awesome wild browns on this special place. This is private water & we have exclusive rights to guide here, please call for booking info. Open until 11/15/14.
Don Wakefield showing off one of Adobes jewels. He and his father Moe have been fishing here for SEVENTY years.
Hot Creek 10/31/14
Hopefully some early low elevation snow will ramp up flows here via Mammoth Creek. Hot Creek is suffering from low water, silt, and extensive weed growth. This limits the available water you can fish. Dry flies are the most effective patterns to use. I suggest a 10 foot leader and rod to keep the fly line off the weeds. My hi-vis caddis & hi-vis para BWO are good choices to fish the faster slot water that has less weed. There are a few sections that can be fished with a dry dropper nymph rig. Broken back zebras 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.
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.
San Joaquin River 10/31/14
Flows are at winter levels-very, very low.
This is a year around fishery. Hwy 203 closes to vehicles after the first significant snowfall.
East Walker River 10/31/14
Flows currently at 20cfs. I was taught if you do not have anything nice to say, don’t say it ay all…
This fishery is open year around with special regs in place.
Bridgeport Reservoir 10/31/14
Lake level is extremely low. This fishery closes on 11/15.
West Walker River 10/31/14
Flows are very low. You will be hard pressed to find a pool that is 3 feet in depth. 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. If you can find a deeper pool around stocking points the LOEBERG is a deadly fly here. Light sinking tip, or just let it settle with a floating line.
This fishery is open year around along Hwy. 395 with special angling regs after 11/15.
Alpine Lakes 10/31/14
First significant winter storm forecast for Halloween weekend. A foot of snow possible at elevation. Some of the “hike in” lakes like Kirman, Parker, & McCloud can be excellent during fall. The wild browns and brookies are in spawning mode. They are more aggressive, & cruising in shallower water near inlets. The scenery alone is worth the walk! Packing a tube in is the best means of getting into consistent fish. Bring both floating, and full sinking lines to cover the water more effectively as the fish go deeper when the sun climbs. Tubing the inlets & drop-offs on the “drive to” alpine lakes with full sinking lines and streamer patterns is a good way to locate “pods” of planted fish. The holdover, or wild browns and brookies in some areas are better fished using the still water nymphing method below an Under-cator. You can also 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. 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. 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. Keep those streamers in the 10-15 foot range working the steep ledges or deeper sections near the inlets. Callibaetis or pheasant tail trailers can be deadly in some locations tied to a streamer.
Open from the last Saturday in April until 11/15. Some locations have special angling regulations year around.
Pack in a tube to fish Parker Lake. It is a beautiful spot loaded with brook & brown trout.
Colorful brookies like this are common at Parker Lake. The fish begin to cruise the shorelines in the fall, use a full sinking, of moderate sinking tip line with a Loeberg, Spruce-A-Bu, or Agent Orange as the streamer. Tie on an assassin or killa-baetis as a trailer.
Pleasant Valley Reservoir 10/31/14
Good call if you want to fish this weekend in poor weather. Water levels are currently good for fishing the transition area. Be cautious of the sticky mud along the banks. 4383′ is optimum in my opinion. Level is 4379′ currently. 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.
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 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