A Fish Report for 3/30/15

Fly fishing the year around waters of the Upper and Middle Owens Rivers, Pleasant Valley Reservoir, & Hot Creek, 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 use top of the line drift boats, and fly fishing tackle to guide you on these blue ribbon trout waters.


Quick look fish report 3/30/15

Flows coming up on the Middle Owens. Not expected to be a blow out; however you will see debris during the increases. WT section continues to fish well. Upper Owens kicking out numbers, bigs getting scarce. Poor conditions below Hot Creek due to aquatic weeds.  Hot Creek good in the open water, weeds a growing concern. Pleasant Valley Reservoir level down to 4382′. Dry/dropper rigs in the transition section deadly. Cooler, more seasonable weather forecast for the beginning of April.


Upper Owens River 3/30/15


A big thanks to Gary “the drone master” Runnels for this great picture of the Upper Owens near the Long Years section. Click on the videos, or YouTube link of our nav bar to see great video that Gary made their trip on the Upper Owens.

Please DO NOT WADE on spawning redds. These are circular depressions found in the tailouts of pools, or in deeper riffles.  

The UO is fishing like it is May. Lots of smaller fish have moved into the river from Crowley to feed on caddis, & midge hatches. The larger migratory rainbows we call “Crowley Steelhead” are definitely thinning out. You will need to cover a lot of water to locate a few quality fish. These fish will spook easily, and stealthy approaches are necessary to get a dance with one. You may observe free swimming large rainbows that have white patches in various areas of the body. This is called cold water fungus, and it is caused by the removal of their protective slime due to spawning, or mis-handling after being netted. It is lethal if concentrated in the gills and eyes. Very contagious amongst other trout, not harmful to humans.  Angel hair” algae and aquatic weeds are now a factor in the sections below Hot Creek, & the irrigation canals.  Silting/sanding is also occurring in some of the prominent oxbows & pools. Flows remain very low at 44cfs. The dark caddis hatch is the big news. Time to break out those delta wing profiles for some surface action. Numbers of catchable sized rainbows & browns have picked up quite a bit with the warmer air temps. We have been having good success using Assassin’s, broken back zebra midges, tiger midges, SJ worms, crystal Vanderleeches, Agent Orange, flashback PT’s, & roe patterns. You should have some smaller para-midge, high vis caddis, or BWO adults for the afternoon hatches.  The resident fish are responding to this on the warmer days. Drifters guides use the “Four P’s” to consistently get on fish here. Position- Presentation-Persistence-Performance. Book a trip with us and we will teach you how to get these amazing fish.

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.


John Claxton got some Crowley Steel! This wily buck had to see 40 well executed drifts before it took a Crystal Vanderleech/roe nymph rig. Nice one buddy.


Numbers of catchable sized rainbows and browns are making the trip up from Crowley to feed on the caddis, & midge hatches coming off on the Upper O right now.  Casey Hehr fooled this pretty brown while nymphing a slot below a riffle.


Dave Snyder with one of his awesome Crowley Steelhead he bested on a near perfect day. Some of the bigs are beginning to eat caddis adults during the larger hatches.  This one was working a foam line, and ate our crystal eggs while nymphing.


Sparky’s first time with a fly rod on the Upper Owens at 70 years young got him this wonderful shot with his son Dave Snyder.


Jack Taylor is all smiles for this shot. He banged out some trophy Crowley Steelhead while nymphing with Doug Dolan.


Veteran Drifter Ken Harada could have done a fish survey for the CDFW on the Upper Owens with all the bigs he has caught with Doug Dolan doing the guidance! Ken has mastered how to work the deep slots & pools while nymphing below an Under-cator.


Another one bites the dust for Ken. Beautiful fish my friend.


Todd Yamada back in the fish report again. The trout have put him on the most hated list on the Upper opens this year! This knot headed hen gobbled some crystal egg patterns.


This rainbow that Nathan Gorham fooled was in full bloom. Numbers of 12/16 inch rainbows have really increased recently as water temps have climbed above average.


Notorious Bako Boy- Gino Valpredo, owner of Luigi’s Restaurant in Bakersfield is back on the top of the fish report again! He punctuated two days of incredible weather, laughs, & catching with this wonderful Crowley Steelhead. Fish took a Crystal Vanderleech after working a slot for 30 minutes. Right on G!


This Bako Boy done real good! DT hit it big with Two Bug Doug putting him on the hogs. Fun times DT, well done man.


Chris “nasty” Sacchini with one of several beautiful rainbows he got while nymphing. The Bako Boys ripped some lips on their trip.


Fish like this are increasing in numbers to feed on the large caddis hatches. Bako boy Jon Barnes stroked this one during the peak of the hatch using an Agent Orange “strymph” pattern. This is a great profile for a caddis pupa in a #16.


Nice staging on this shot, and a nice fish to show Bill Bowers! Crowley Steel is still happening for those who know. Note the prescribed burn occurring in the back ground. Cal Fire anticipating the worst wild fire season in decades around here.

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That’s what I’m talk’n bout! Brian Austin with a bonefide golly whopper! Doug Rodricks put him on it.


Pretty Ingrid Young is back in the fish report with another nice Crowley Steelhead she got while nymphing with Doug Dolan.


Veteran Drifter Tony Saltikov with a brightly colored male rainbow he got with Doug Dolan.

Jim Herme (solo) and Rick Cadman1

Check out this rare quality double Jim Herme & Rick Cadman got while nymphing attractors. Guide Doug Rodricks was conducting.

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Larsh whacked them on caddis adults. This nice brown thanks to the guidance of Joe Contaldi.


Rain, nor sleet, nor dark clouds, & gusty winds could stop long time Drifter Scott Simonet from getting a beautiful Crowley Steelhead. Those ripples on the water are from wind, not a riffle.


Dave Borcher passed fly fishing 101 with honors! His three days with the Doug’s got him into double digit bigs even in the wind! Bravo Borchers!

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Youth & skill overcame old age, and treachery this day. Ian Borcher nymphed for the first time with Doug Rodricks, and got into a few really nice migratory rainbows squeaking by father Dave with one more big un’!


That smile tells it all. My great friend and client Joe DeDiminicantanio had a stellar day using crystal leeches and eggs while nymphing. This big rooster was the icing on the cake.


Check out the tail on this spring run Crowley Steelhead! Veteran Drifter Scott Beyer nailed a few of these amazing fish while using the “four P’s” we teach to get on quality migratory rainbows.


Mike Richelieu hit some nice Crowley Steelhead with Doug D. as his guide.  Beautiful paint job on this hen.

Middle Owens River (Bishop area) 3/30/15 

Flows on the way up. You can expect a lot of drifting debris, & aquatic weed during the bumps. Drifting has been fair/good with water temps well above average. We are still hitting some  bigs on the cloudy days, or early in the morn. Fish are in a late spring/early summer feeding pattern due to the above average air/water temps. Afternoons can slow down after the hatches. Use smaller streamers like the original Drifters Punk Perch to fool the trout. The P.P. is a “strymph” pattern.  It can be fished as a streamer, or nymph that imitates a small baitfish, or a caddis nymph in the pupal stage.  I am seeing some little golden stoneflies, dragon/damsel fly adults on the warmer days. “Catching” has been good from the footbridge at PV Campground downstream to the Five Bridges Crossing.  Pale Morning Dun mayflies (PMD’s), & spring caddis are now emerging. #16 high wing, long tail adult mayfly profiles will get grabs on the surface. Deer, or elk hair delta wings, with natural colored bodies for the adult caddis. Nymphing with tandem rigs-properly weighted will get you into fish before the hatch. I suggest you use Flashback PT’s, Assassin birds nest, broken back midges, tiger midges, small gillies, crystal emergers, or chironomid pupa, olive crystal zebras, & caddis larvae (to imitate caddis larva & rock worms) below an Under-cator. 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, or hi-vis caddis for the uppers, & keep them dressed with desiccant to suspend your bead head nymphs. Stimulators are perfect stonefly imitations, & in smaller sizes are good calls for larger adult caddis profiles. Guided drift boat trips are a great vehicle to reach the secluded, and less fished areas of the river. We have been logging good numbers of planted & holdover rainbows recently. 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.

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Charlie & Levi Clark nailed this nice rainbow on a Spruce-A-Bu streamer for their first float down the Owens. Fun day guys, thanks!


Thar she blows! That is a whale of a trout. Dennis Clark showing that monsters do exist in the Owens River.  Two Bug Doug Dolan on the sticks.

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Cary Stedman took his first drift with Doug Rodricks, & it payed off nicely. Conditions remain great for drifting on the MO.

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Jayme & Dave Fryer did well for their first time fly fishing. This chunky brown hit a Loeberg streamer. Way to be the fly Jayme!

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Austin Firth laying out a nice roll cast to some feeding browns at the top of a beautiful riffle. He and his father Dave used Loebergs and Punk Perch streamers to fool them.

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Many thanks to veteran Trent Aronson (foreground) and Wounded Warrior Brian Huppi for their sacrifices and heroism. They did great on their drift trip schooling a bunch of rainbows and browns.

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Brian Austin used the “dip & strip” method of fishing streamers with Doug Rodricks spotting him up on a hog hole to land this big rainbow. Nice one Brian! Check out the picture right below this one that Peniel Park is holding- it’s the same hen!  Practicing good C & R really works friends.

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The picture says it all. WOW. Peniel Park made a great first cast using a Spruce-A-Bu, & the dip & strip technique of tugging streamers. Fish lit off and crushed it on the first two strips. Right on Penel! Brother Paul backing him up for the pic.

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Ride em’cowboy! Peniel Park hanging onto a slammer. Look at the wave this pig made after it jumped.  Way fun guys thanks!

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“The three trout-kaa-teers” had an awesome day. Ed Lim with a beast of a rainbow that chomped a Punk Perch streamer. Peniel Park doing net honors, with bro Paul keeping the drift boat steady in the background. Great fish Ed, looking forward to that sushi next time I’m at Anglers Marine down south!

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Nice brownie Bill Kennedy! Smaller Punk Perch have been fooling the wild browns.

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Scott Simonet is back in the fish report. Scott whacked double digit trout on his “retirement drift boat trip” Congrats buddy!

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Long time Drifter Dave Immke did well on numbers of rainbows like this one that ate an olive punk perch streamer.

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Long time Drifter Tom Robison had a great morning drift, landing over twenty wild browns & fat bows like this one. Hot fly all day was a #14 Punk Perch fished as a streamer.

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You can teach an old fly fisher new tricks! Rex Burkheimer learned the “dip & strip” from Doug Rodricks for his first float trip down thew Owens.

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The wild browns are very active currently. Boris Ilic got this nice male while drifting on Doug Rodricks sled.


We are seeing some really nice rainbows on nearly every drift.  Adam Ferrell got this nice hen on a Loeberg with Doug Dolan as his guide.

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Lisa Worthington showing off one of her first trout on the fly. She used the “Lisa shuffle” to get this chunky rainbow on a Spruce-A-Bu streamer.

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Cap’t Ron Obray breaking a big bow on a near perfect day of drifting. 


This trophy rainbow nailed a Panther martin spinner for Greg Taylor. The big rainbows have been hitting consistently on the warmer days.

Hot Creek 3/30/15

Spring through early summer are best period to fish the crick I believe. As the spring and summer roll on, conditions will only worsen in drought years. The weeds are beginning to grow earlier than usual making drifts tougher in the limited open water.  Some good caddis/mayfly activity currently. High winged dark olive, or dun colored bodies #16/18 are good profiles for the BWO’s. Keep them well dressed to ride high in the foam. PT’s & 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. Try my hi-vis caddis pattern, it works well here. Small dead drifted Punk Perch, broken back zebras, small gillies, egg patterns, SJ worms, 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.

East Walker River 3/30/15

Flows have dropped to 20cfs. Will be another tough year here I’m sorry to say.  

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

Pleasant Valley Reservoir 3/30/15

The level is 4382′ & falling. This is an excellent level to hit the transition area with a dry/dropper rig. 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. Power generation can occur anytime during the spring. 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 small river down from the powerhouse resembles the East Walker in many ways, and is a true tail water. It’s rocky bottom provides excellent habitat for a number of aquatic insects. Growth rates rival those of Crowley. Dry/dropper nymph rigs are deadly in the riffles and pocket water. 

The Gorge 3/30/15

This fishery is not effected by flow increases on the Middle Owens, & is a great option if you get blown out in the WT section. Have those mayfly nymphs, PMD adults, & caddis adults handy. The spring caddis are coming off steady. This maybe the best dry fly fishery we have during the spring 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, & 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. 

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