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 10/20/14
What a weekend for fly fishing! Fish went nuts with lots of bigs on the chew. Weather looking good for the week. Middle Owens best moving water in the region by far. Fishing very well for wading & drifting. Flows down to 136cfs. Crowley back on the bite big time. Streamers & nymphing. Crowley Marina closes on 10/31/14, lake open until 11/15/14. Upper Owens kicking out decent numbers with a few bigs in the mix. Pleasant Valley Reservoir level very low, watch the mud in the inlet section. Hot Creek, San Joaquin, & East Walker all have poor conditions. West Walker very low but fishing ok in the deeper pools. Adobe Pond fishing well, this is private water and we fish it from our drift boats.
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 10/20/14
Bite is back on in several locations. Fish are definitely moving into shallower water in some locations. 6-10 feet if you see some texture or have cloud cover. There are concentrations of fish all over the lake. Move to another area if you are not getting grabs & weather permits. The numbers of twenty inch fish have been amazing this fall. Consistent areas are Hilton Bay, Sandy Pt., Alligator Pt., Layton Springs, & Six Bays. 9-13 feet. The slope east of Sometimes Bay called Stormy Flats now has a concentration of fish. Good area for tube access in nice weather. 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 “Island” off Hilton Pt. is 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. 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.
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.
Back for more. Steve Danziger did so well on his first trip to Crowley he booked another trip with Jerry Gilpin & got this awesome brown.
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.
Former Double Haul in the Fall winner Mike “Uno” Wash with a nice cutty. I’m still laughing buddy!
Still ripping lips at 90 years young! Morton Wakefield hit big numbers with his son Don. Jerry G. did the netting.
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.
From down under…Guy Jeans spent a couple days with Two Bug Doug showing him around the area. He got this nice brown near Six Bays.
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)
Neal H. first fish on the fly off Sandy Pt. Not bad ehhh? Two Bug Doug put him on it.
Daryl B. with a bulbous rainbow he caught off Layton Springs on a dark crystal zebra midge.
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.
You take your gal fly fish’n for the first time, ya better expect her to get the biggest one! Kim H. did great using the still water nymphing method.
LJ with one of many quality trout he put into the net off Sandy Pt.
Tim Traxler all smiles as he shows off this trophy Cutthroat he got with Jerry G off Sandy Pt.
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
Rick Kendall (background) had no problem landing this awesome brown, he just could not hold the damn thing! Scott S. helped us out. Great fish pal. This beast ate a broken back zebra midge.
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 10/20/14
Fair “catching” here for medium rainbows and a few browns, it is picking up this week. Some large migratory rainbows now holding in the deeper pools. Steady action while nymphing the deeper holes above the bridge. Hopper activity slowing down with the cooler weather in the morns. 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.
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.
Perhaps the most scenic backdrop for fly fishing the Sierra has to offer. Jeffery tight to another hard pulling rainbow.
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.
Wayne Brackin did well with guide Joe Contaldi using a hopper pattern recently. The fall migration is just beginning from Crowley.
Middle Owens River (Bishop area) 10/20/14
Flows have dropped to 138cfs & conditions are very good drifting the lower sections, & wading the wild trout area. Numbers have been excellent off the drift boat, 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. 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.
Check out the paint job on this buck! Chris Pittenger nailed the bigs while drifting with Two Bug Doug.
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.
We are seeing some beautiful trophy rainbows coming to net this fall. Jujitsu trainer John Reed took down this awesome buck with Two Bug on the oars. He & his friend Randy Jones had a fifty fish day recently.
Ed Goldburg & Pete Austin put 40 in the net with Two Bug. Ed showing off a fat bow that was fooled by the “dip & strip” method of streamer fishing.
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!
Gary Gillingham did a solo trip with me and put FIFTY FIVE trout to net in a single days float. Hot flies were Loebergs & Spruce-A-Bu’s
Richard Louv showing off one of SIXTY he & John Johns C & R with me recently while floating the secluded sections of the Owens.
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.
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!
Adobe Pond 10/20/14
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.
Don Wakefield showing off one of Adobes jewels. He and his father Moe have been fishing here for SEVENTY years.
Drifters Trophy Pond 10/20/14
You will find the largest rainbows in the entire Sierra here-bar none, They are not planted fish, some have been here for nearly a decade. TWENTY POUND bows & TEN pound browns can be expected if you have the skills. You need to have a Drifters guide accompany you for a session on this totally private fishery near McGee Creek. Pond will be available to fish through October, it closes for fall spawning until spring. We do private casting instruction here also. Call us for booking and availability please.
John Ogata had a helluva time just holding this twenty pounder. He had an epic day on “Jurassic pond” and did not even take pictures of the other twenty he caught. We use still water nymphing techniques and streamers here with equal success.
Hot Creek 10/20/14
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 10/20/14
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 10/20/14
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 10/20/14
Shore/tube fishing possible. Lake is very low.
This fishery closes on 11/15. Opens the last Saturday of April 2015.
Thanks to Jeffery Wenger for this aerial shot of what is left of Bridgeport Reservoir. Taken mid-September 2014.
West Walker River 10/20/14
Flows are very low but the water is clear. 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 10/20/14
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 10/20/14
Water levels are currently super low for fishing the transition area. Be cautious of the sticky mud along the banks. 4383′ is optimum in my opinion. Level is 4375′ 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