A Sierra Drifters Fish Report for 12/11/17

Guided fly fishing trips for Crowley Lake, Grant & Silver Lakes, the San Joaquin, Upper and Middle Owens Rivers, East Walker River, McGee Creek, Pleasant Valley Reservoir, Hot Creek, & the Gorge 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, float tubes, and high quality fly fishing tackle to guide you on these blue ribbon trout waters.

Book your winter fly fishing adventure with us and experience one of the most unique guide trips available.


Quick Look Fish Report 12/11/17

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The month of December is moving along with what looks to be high atmospheric pressure for the majority of the month. We have been experiencing some of the most pleasant days in the Owens Valley and in Mono County. Plenty of sunny days with little to no wind have been the norm, and the fishing has been great. The next shot of any storm activity may not be seen until after Christmas, so get up here before the holidays hit and come and join us for some fun in the sun style fishing. The East Walker River was holding at 50 cfs but has now gotten a small bump in flows. This will open up more area for fish to hold along the river.

Nymphing has been the most productive here, with streamers producing in the slower deep pools. Upper Owens seeing crowds on the weekends and big fish have been on the move daily and holding in the deeper slow water. Covering water here has been the way to find them. Hot Creek fishing ok with nymphs and some dry fly action in the afternoons. Middle Owens has been fishing decent to excellent with our streamer patterns and sinking lines from our drift boats. Flows on the Wild Trout section are still high for wading but better than last month. Pleasant Valley Reservoir is ok to fish now from shore and at the inlet with a float tube. Streamers and small midges have been good here.


Gift certificates are the perfect holiday gift for that special fly fisher. We can customize one for any occasion. Fill out a trip request form and we will take care of the rest.


   Upper Owens River 12/11/17

Flows here are continuing to hold at 69 cfs. The conditions for our migratory rainbows have been excellent and have allowed for the fish to hold along the undercut banks and deep pools. There are more fish moving in daily from below the Benton Crossing Bridge and you will find many smaller school sized rainbows mixed in with them. The larger fish tend to hold for a few days in their preferred deep water spots and you may find they have moved up river a few days later. They have been residing alongside the smaller schools of browns and rainbows and you can locate them in the late mornings and afternoons as the younger fish rise to midges and mayflies. Some days you will find the larger rainbows in the current transition lines and other times they will hold in the eddys. Crystal Eggs, San Juan Worms, #16-18 Assassins (dark and light), #14-16 Crystal Leeches, and #16-20 Copper Tiger Midge, Zebra Midge, and Gillies have been good patterns.

Guide Tip: A drag free drift is essential in persuading the larger “Crowley Steelhead” to bite. Stack mending is a required skill to achieving a solid drift when fishing across conflicting currents. Micro-drag may not be detected by most except for the most skilled of anglers, so perfect your presentation to ensure success.

Dan Oberlin fished with Tom Loe and had a fun day hooking these Crowley Steelhead!

Dan even added some brown trout to the list of catches!

Bako Boys John & Skip Barnes got some nice gifts from Santa in the way of Crowley Steelhead. The UO can be excellent during the winter, & we have the guides and equipment to get you on the water for an extraordinary fly fishing adventure.

Joel Carrizosa showing off the largest Crowley Steelhead of the season thus far. This rooster took nearly ten minutes to bring to net! This excellent stick had a dream day using Sierra Drifters specialized nymphing techniques. He was guided by Tom Loe.

Joel C. with another one of his great fall run rainbows.

Nelly had an amazing day on the Upper Owens with Tom Loe.

Chanel Carrizosa with another incredible male rainbow.

The section upstream from the Benton Bridge is open year around with special regulations. Seasonal closures, and angling restrictions apply downstream from the bridge, check regulations before fishing in this section.

Middle Owens River (Bishop Area) 12/11/17


We have been taking advantage of the lower flow rates down here. Our drift boat fleet has been deployed and given the signal to attack the trout with our arsenal of techniques. The record winter has overgrown the brush along the banks all along the river, and the drift boat is the best way to access every corner where these fish have been holding. You will find it most difficult currently to navigate the river on foot. Our “dip and strip” technique has been deadly on some beautiful rainbows and browns. The start of the Blue Winged Olive hatch has begun, and the first generation of larger mayflies are now showing up. We have had many fish following our streamers right to the boat, while the larger rainbows seem to be biting within the first few retrieval strips in the deeper water. Loebergs, Spruce-a-bu’s light, and Crystal Leeches have been great patterns when the water is slightly stained. Scaling down in size to smaller perch fry patterns like our #16 Punk Perch in the afternoons during the BWO hatch is a good choice. 

Guide tip: When the fish are picky and are following your streamer all the way back to the boat or to your rod tip, try adding a longer pause in your stripping rhythm. We have been hooking a lot of fish recently while the fly is suspended in the water and not moving.

Jim “The Herminator” Herman showing the trout the business end of his streamer! Tom Loe was his guide.

This rainbow has quite the motor (tail fin) on it! It put up one hell of a fight!

Hanso Grotewold watches his catch go airborne as it nears the boat!

Hanso’s dad, Jeff Grotewold, with a nice brown from the MO! They fished with Tom Loe!

Hugh Hensley is back on the scene and is tight to a rainbow early in the morning! 

This fish just would not give up, but neither did Hugh! 

Late in the day, Hugh ties into this beast. It took a Loeberg on the pause between the retrieve! Fun couple of days with you guys Hugh!

The weather has been spectacular here! Max McHenry enjoyed his day on the drift boat!

Chris Street fished with Tom Loe and scored this beautiful ‘bow!



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

Hot Creek 12/11/17


Very low flow rates here currently at 12 cfs. Best bite time seems to be the early afternoons when the BWO’s are emerging. Dry dropper rigs with a #16-18  Para Hi-Vis BWO and a #18 Gillie dropper 2′ below is the perfect rig at this time. If you experience more takes on the dry fly, clip the off the dropper. Light tippet in the 5-6x class is best. Some of the smaller diploid trout are spreading out throughout the creek and feeding heavily on these smaller food sources.



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

*Tom Loe, Doug Rodricks, and Doug Dolan are under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service to guide Hot Creek.


Pleasant Valley Reservoir 12/11/17

Still water addicts can get their fix here all winter. This fishery is planted all winter, & can provide some excellent fly fishing opportunities from a float tube; or near the inlet section that feeds the reservoir proper. Full sinking lines fished along the steep shoreline drop-offs using patterns like Loebergs, Crystal Leeches, Parallel Punk Perch, Parallel Agent Orange, & Spruce-A-Bu’s are good calls for “freeze tubers” during the winter. Locals call PVR “little Crowley” as fly fishers in the know will use still water nymphing techniques to score big numbers during periods of stable water levels. Set your “Under-Cators” to suspend those broken back midges, crystal tiger/zebra midges, gillies, & Assassins around the 12-14 foot depth. The inlet section is historically the most consistent section to fish. This diverse fishery also allows you to move into the short river section that feeds the lake. Looking much like the East Walker, this short; but sweet section has plenty of pocket water and riffles that hold holdover rainbows and browns that move into the heavy brush during periods of lower flows. Dry/dropper rigs using para hi-vis BWO’s, Stimulators, and hi-vis caddis patterns as your upper; with crystal tiger midges, crystal olive caddis larva, & assassins as a nymph. The transition area that dumps into the lake has slower moving/deeper water that requires the use of an Under-Cator, or longer dropper off your dry. This is perhaps the most fertile area of the lake, & competent roll casters can enjoy huge days here while making extended drifts in the foam lines. The trout will concentrate here to feed on the abundant chironomid, & mayfly that come off throughout the cooler months. Keep this fishery in mind if the weather gets nasty in the higher elevations.

Beautiful trout like this wild brown Jeff Hudson caught hold in the plentiful riffle and pocket water found in the river below the powerhouse at PVR.

The “transition” section that flows into PVR is the most fertile section of the fishery. Long, dead drifts in the foam line are key to fooling the fish that line up to feed on the abundant midge, & mayflies that emerge during cooler months.

The Gorge 12/11/17

Flows have dropped here. Now at 35 cfs. A good place to go and get away from angling pressure. The bite kicks into high gear during the BWO hatch mid-day. Use lighter weight rods here with a mayfly adult or go with a dry/dropper combination. Our Parachute hi-vis BWO is an excellent pattern as your dry. FB PT’s, Assassins, & small midge emergers are good calls for the dropper nymph. 

Season open year around

 East Walker River 12/11/17 

Flows have increased here to 70 cfs which is great for the fish and the fishing. There will now be more area in the river for the larger rainbows and browns to spread out. A 20 cfs flow increase can be the difference between specific sections of river being fishable or not. As the water starts to get colder here with the dropping nighttime air temperatures, the fish will inevitably seek out the slower and deeper water. Some of the bigger browns and rainbows we have been getting are still hanging in the transition current lines. The best target areas are seams in the current where fast water meets slower water or an eddy. If it is deep enough to where you can’t see the bottom, you should assume there are multiple fish in areas like these; especially if the water conditions are right. #14-18 Assassins, Crystal Eggs, #16-20 chironomid patterns (Copper Tiger, Gillie, Zebra, Blood Midge, and Brassie) have been good patterns to fish under an indicator with sufficient weight.  Some rather large midge hatches have been occurring mid-day.   Book your trip here. This fishery is open year around with special regulations.

Guide Tip: The general rule of thumb for indicator fishing is to set your indicator to 1  1/2  times the depth of the water you are fishing. For example: If your water depth is 6′, you would set your indicator 9′ above your fly or upper weight. This should be used as a starting point but it would be wise to play around and go deeper or shallower as needed.

Check out some recent catches from our clients:

Matt Fleming shows off a killer brown trout he got while fishing with Tom Loe!

The mighty Hugh Hensley with a bent rod on a nice one!

Hugh displays his fat rainbow during a great afternoon bite on the EW!

Charlie Middleton is all smiles with this chunky monkey rainbow!

Jerry Cox joined them for a colored up rainbow trout!

An afternoon midge explosion taking place!

Silver dollar sized perch are flushing through the pipe from the reservoir!

Looking toward the dam, the flow is excellent currently!

John “Cookie” Cookson drifts a nymph past a brown trout that was spotted in the rocks!


These little guys were on the menu. An easy meal for a lunker trout!

This is a year around fishery with special regulations. Check regulations before fishing here.


Crowley Lake

Season closed until April 28, 2018.

Big Ben Kaufmann with a stunning brown he got with Doug Rodricks. Crowley will be in great shape for the 2018 season so reserve your guided trip on one of our fish magnets now.

Bridgeport Reservoir 

The reservoir is now closed until 4/28/18.

Mitch and Madison Kelly fished with Tom Loe during the regular trout season and scored this fat rainbow!

Jurassic Pond


The “Pond” is now closed for the season and we will start guiding here again next Spring!

Jurassic Pond has no equal in the Eastern Sierra. This private water holds the largest rainbow and brown trout to be found anywhere in the region. Sierra Drifters Guides have exclusive access to these amazing fish. Book your trip for next season and see for yourself how fantastic Jurassic Pond truly is!



Balanced patterns are the new rage for nymphing, & streamer fishing. Parallel Punk Perch has been the hottest fly on Crowley Lake recently.  We have been guide testing these patterns for several years, & I can honestly say they are the most significant improvement in fly design in over a decade. They are truly superior to conventional fly designs. The flies ride “parallel”; or “level” to the bottom giving them a far more realistic profile. The jig style hook becomes more effective as it seldom gets snagged on the bottom, & sets efficiently in the fishes mouth. These flies are intended to fish as your bottom fly in a multi fly; or tandem rig. They are deadly fished solo as a streamer. Add these patterns to your quiver for all fisheries that you still water nymph; or cast streamers.   Click on “fly sales” on the nav bar above, hit “menu” first from a mobile device to access the nav bar.

You can pick up our flies & Under-cators at Reagan’s Sports in Bishop, the Crowley General Store (not at the lake), Ricks Sport Center in Mammoth (limited selection), Bridgeport Reservoir RV Park (currently closed for winter), Stroud’s Tackle in San Diego, & Malibu Fish’N Tackle in Thousand Oaks.

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.

Thank you for visiting our website and checking out our report. Be the Fly…. Doug Rodricks, Sierra Drifters Guide Service.



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