A Fish Report for 4/23/15

Fly fishing trips on the waters of Crowley Lake, Silver Lake, the Upper and Middle Owens Rivers, Pleasant Valley Reservoir, Hot Creek, & the San Joaquin River 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 utilize top of the line center console   bay boats, drift boats, and fly fishing tackle to guide you on these blue ribbon trout waters.


Quick look fish report 4/23/15

RUT ROW! The weather has taken a turn for the worse. Looks like a fast moving nasty cold front could bring some snow, and much cooler temps for opening weekend. Alpine fisheries will be ice free this opener, unless the forecast storm brings significant snow. Many access roads opening much earlier this spring. Flows now up to 200cfs. in wild trout section of Owens near Bishop. Wading will be more difficult, bite will slow through the cold snap. Drift boat fishing slower due to the flow increase, will settle in a few days if flows stabilize. Upper Owens remains off color and high around fishing Monument. High water, above bridge-clarity good with decent numbers of 15 inch bows. Flows are dropping, currently down to 120cfs. from 140cfs. Section between Benton Bridge & the CDFW Monument remains CLOSED to all fishing until 5/23/15. Very few fish migrating in other smaller tributaries of Crowley, very low water in all. Crowley Lake in good shape for opener (might be windy and cold), water conditions better than most early seasons. Hilton, Alligator Pt. Sometimes Bay, Crooked Creek, Sandy Pt. in 13-16 feet good locations to spot up.  All systems go at Bridgeport Reservoir- well stocked with catchable browns and TROPHY sized bows for the beginning of the season.  East Walker still a trickle at 20cfs. Hot Creek good for numbers of smaller fish, low flows here. Pleasant Valley Reservoir level down to 4384′  Tubing best near the inlet, power generation now occurring at times. The Gorge fishing well, good place to escape the crowds.


 Crowley Lake 4/23/15

Weather gods changed their minds for opener.  Looks like it could be windy & cold with a chance of snow on Saturday. Monday/Tuesday of next week. Chironomids will be emerging on this cycle. To be honest, we are in uncharted waters with regards to how low Crowley is this season to open, & where it will end up. The lake has only come up 7′ since its low last November ( it typically rises over 20 feet). The LADWP did a remarkable job of keeping this fishery accessible to the boating public last fall. I will be amazed if they can do it again this year. I believe that it will fish very good early on, with not only numbers-but quality sized fish showing for a good part of the summer. I have seen solid chironomid hatches already coming off on the warmer days. Look for a shotgun start to the season, still water nymphing in the 13-16 foot range near Hilton Bay, Sometimes Bay, Sandy Pt., Crooked Creek, Alligator Pt., and off the drop offs along Six Bays. Have some broken back midges for surface conditions with a textured surface. The fish will not be picky to start, most midge larva, & pupa patterns will get takes if you are set to the proper depth below your Under-cator. Crystal Tigers & zebras, crystal emergers, pupa, Crystal Vanderleeches, & Gillies are all good calls.

crowley 4-2015 - 1

Shot of Crowley from atop McGee Canyon. McGee Bay should  be called McGee Bight this season due to it’s small size!

Upper Owens River 4/23/15

Flows continue to be at high levels; however trending down. Currently at (120cfs) They will stay this way until May as the LADWP pulls all its alloted water from Grant Lake early this year. The water is high and off color in the lower sections downstream from the CDFW Monument which will open on 4/25/15. The waters DOWN from the Benton Bridge, to this large regulation placard remain CLOSED until 5/23/15. Water clarity and overall conditions are fine in the sections above Hot Creek & the irrigation canals.  You will need heavily weighted nymph rigs to get down in the deeper pools. There are some cutthroat, and medium sized cuttbows, around if you cover a lot of water.  SJ worms, flashback Pt’s, crystal leeches, broken back midges, & egg patterns strung below an Under-cator will get you fish if you can locate some slower water.  At this water level streamers can be a good call when used with a light sinking tip line. Work the deep side along the cut banks using the “dip & strip” technique. Loebergs, Spruce-A-Bu’s, Punk Perch in #6-12. 


Darren Thornberry had a great day for numbers on his trip with Doug Dolan. Chunky fish like this were hitting SJ worms, and egg patterns fished in the slower water.


Dave Edmondson is back in the report showing off a long & lean spawned out hen.  Dave did great with Doug Dolan. Flows remain high, but water clarity, and overall conditions have improved recently.


Good sized “cuttbows” like this are beginning to stage up for the spring run. Dave with a kyped out colorful male.


Blake Edmondson got this chunky brownie along with some other nice rainbows for his first trip with Doug Dolan. Fish are here, you just need super heavy weights to get to them.

Special angling regs in effect depending on time of year. Open year around upstream from the Benton Crossing Bridge

McGee Creek 4/23/15

As of 4/23/15 no significant migration of cutthroat, or rainbows in the lower sections. Low water, & the increasing numbers of “triploid”or sterile rainbows and cutthroats that have been planted for a couple years most likely the reason.


This is one of the more prominent riffles & gravel beds on Lower McGee Creek. It has 4-8 inches of water. No spawning trout anywhere on McGee as of 4/15/15.

opener pics 4-12-15 - 7

This is one of the irrigation ditches that flood the pastures for grass to feed the cattle that show up in May. When these canals get re-watered, they really drop flows above the confluence of Convict Creek. With the lack of snowfall this year we will see very low water in McGee Creek, & other tributaries of Crowley reducing spawning habitat.

Middle Owens River (Bishop area) 4/23/15 

Flows up to 200cfs. below the dam at Pleasant Valley Reservoir. They are lower in the drift boat sections, as water is being diverted into the irrigation canals. This has slowed the bite down. It takes a few days for the fish to adjust, & water to clear of debris. I have been told that a significant flow increase is not in the short term water management plans this year due to the extreme drought. The cooler weather will also shut down the caddis until the barometer swings upward. We are settling into a typical late spring pattern, with the bite slowing down as the sun gets higher. You will see some large spring caddis, and last generation smaller BWO’s #18-20. High-vis & natural caddis adults, parachute hi-vis mayfly, or blue dun adults are correct profiles for surface presentations. Assassin birds nest, flashback pheasant tails, broken back midges, crystal olive caddis, & olive zebra larva patterns good calls for nymphing with an Under-cator. Have some Loebergs, Punk Perch, & crystal Vanderleeches if you choose to toss streamers.

This fishery remains open year around. Special regs from the footbridge at Pleasant Valley campground to the fishing monument 4.7 miles downstream.

will hoyem justin park 4-20-15 - 16

Justin Park had never fished a single day until he took a float with his pal Will. He did fantastic to say the least! This trophy male ate a light punk perch streamer.

will hoyem justin park 4-20-15 - 12

Will Hoyem putting the heat on a hard fighting rainbow with his buddy Justin doing net honors. These first time drifters did great using smaller punk perch streamer patterns on a near perfect day recently.


Kimberly and Jim Hoyem took their first drift with Doug Dolan. They got into a bunch of nice rainbows and browns like this one Kim is proudly showing. Fish ate a Punk Perch streamer.

floyd connor 4-17-15 - 15

Keeping in the Sabins family tradition of excellence in fly fishing. Connor taming a pin wheeling rainbow for his first drift with me.

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Veteran Drifter Floyd Sabins took big fish honors on the first annual family drift-a-thon. This lit up male munched a punk perch streamer pattern.

floyd robert 4-16-15 - 12

The trout professor, Floyd Sabins with one of many nice rainbows he bested during his two days of “dip & strip” streamer fishing. This one ate a Loeberg streamer.


Spencer Sabins got this beautiful hook jawed rainbow on a Loeberg. He and Robert Belfield did well drifting with Doug Dolan on the oars.

floyd robert 4-16-15 - 1

Fellow seaman Robert Belfield with his first trout on the fly. This rascal hit a Loeberg streamer in a deep pool.

josh richard akemon 4-19-15 - 3

This is the first season we are consistently seeing large mouth bass showing in the fish counts. The water temps have remained well above average all winter allowing the bass to migrate up from the lower sections of the river. Josh Akemon and his dad Richard showing off a “bucket mouth” that smacked a punk perch.

mike kowalski trevor winton 4-18-15 - 7

First timer Trevor Winton took the numbers award with a good jag of browns and bows like this one hitting light punk perch streamer patterns.

Rhys Davis 4:3:151

First time fly fisher Rhys Davis got this amazing rainbow with Doug Rodricks. High fives Rhys! Fish hit a Loeberg streamer while doing the “dip & strip”

jason elyse gandola 4-11-15 - 6

Bako girl Elyse Gandola with her first trout on the fly. That smile tells it all. Fun day Jason, thanks again.

Hot Creek 4/23/15

Spring through early summer will be the best periods to fish the crick this year. 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.

hot creek uo 4:8:152

Dry fly fishing is the best method of fly fishing the “Crick” currently.  Have a selection of small to medium mayfly duns, and small dark, or natural caddis adults. Shots taken on 4/8/15

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This is a popular riffle near the first parking area. There is significant weed covering the entire bottom even in the riffle water making nymphing impractical.

Bridgeport Reservoir 4/23/15

The Bridge will fish well in the early part of this season. It received a good jag of TROPHY RAINBOWS, & catchable sized browns, rainbows, and cutthroat recently. Conditions are excellent despite low water. There is a small boat launch/courtesy dock near the dam that will get you on the water. Tubers should do great this spring working the drop-offs with Loebergs, crystal leeches, and punk perch patterns. On the warmer days still water nymphing with Assassins, callibaetis nymphs, broken back midges, gillies, and flashback PT’s will get you pull downs with your Under-cator. 10-13 feet should get you into them. See Jeffery at the marina for flies,  boat rentals, and fishing info.

walkers bridge res 3:30:153

The Bridge will fish well in the early stages of the season. Conditions are very good with solid midge and callibaetis hatches.

Alpine Lakes 4/23/15

Most lakes and creeks below the 9000′ elevation will be totally ice free this opener (4/25). They have been planted with catchable, & trophy sized rainbows for the opener. Looks like a good chance of nasty weather for the opener. Snow is in the forecast. The CDFW will make sure these popular drive to lakes will be well stocked for opening day. The natural lakes are full and have no level issues at this time. The high elevation reservoirs will be low, and may have boat launching issues, especially as the season rolls on. My travels to several of the more popular alpine fisheries have shown well above average water temps, with fish actively feeding on midges. Streamers are always a good choice for these waters, and full sinking lines will get you down faster, & more effectively.  Loebergs, Agent Orange, Crystal Vanderleeches, Spruce-A-Bu’s, & Punk Perch in the #6-12 range are good for early alpine trout. Use my Killa-baetis, assassin, or crystal tiger midge as a trailer fly two feet behind the streamer. We will be guiding Silver and Grant Lake this season from a fish magnet, drift boat, or tube depending on what techniques are working best.

*Tom Loe is under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service to guide Silver and Grant Lake.

opener pics 4-12-15 - 4

Silver Lake in the June Lake Loop has spectacular scenery, and some big ole browns that travel between here and Grant via Rush Creek. We are now guiding here with our fish magnets.

opener pics 4-12-15 - 1

Rock Creek Lake will be ice free by opener, and is in great shape despite the drought. So beautiful here!

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Extensive repairs to the road, & bridges accessing RCL and RC will be in progress this summer. Expect delays.

opener pics 4-12-15 - 5

This picture of Grant Lake really tells the story about how little snowfall we have received the last few winters. Grant is being drained to fill Mono, & Crowley. Shot taken on 4/12/15.

East Walker River 4/23/15

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.

walkers bridge res 3:30:152

“The Aqueduct pool”. The rock line you see is the remnants of a temporary dam used for electro shock fish surveys. Lots of slime, and silt in the channels here currently. The faster sections have some fishable water; but it is limited at 20cfs.

Pleasant Valley Reservoir 4/23/15

The level has come up to 4384′.  The transition section is a good call at this level. 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 4/23/15

This fishery is not effected by flow increases on the Middle Owens. 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. 

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Thanks for reading my report.  be the fly….Tom Loe, Sierra Drifters Guide Service