A Fish Report for 9/18/14

 jessica and libby 9:14 #206

The fall fly fishing season is just beginning in the Sierras near Mammoth and Bishop. Fly fishing guide trips on Crowley Lake are proving to be the best we have seen in years. Guided drift boat trips on the Owens River will be fantastic this fall for fly fishers. The Upper Owens River will soon have large migratory rainbows and browns moving up to spawn from Crowley and we can put you on these trophy trout on the fly.  

Jessica Vaughn holds an amazing buck rainbow she bested on Crowley Lake .  One of two trophy fish she landed recently while still water nymphing from our fish magnets.

Quick look fish report 9/18/14

Middle Owens flows crashing. 270cfs and falling. Upper Owens has a few bigs moving up. Hopper & a dropper will get some mixed sizes. Crowley remains on the bite. McGee Bay/north end best. Flows low with poor conditions on Hot Creek, East Walker (flows down to 22cfs),. West Walker very low but fishing ok in the deeper pools near planting points. Much gratitude for all those fire fighters & support crews that have saved so much property and wilderness this year. Great job knocking down that June Lake blaze quickly.

kevin nola lewis 9:1401

This rod is pointing to big rainbows, above and below the water.  Hope you can make it up to fish with us this fall friends.


Crowley Lake 9/18/14

The weed lines are vanishing quickly as the lake recedes. Clean mud bottom begins in 7-8 feet.  McGee Bay & the north end (or what is left of it) have been the most consistent locations. Fish are also showing inconsistently off Sandy Pt., Six Bays, Layton Springs, Hilton, & Crooked Creek.  The lake is as clean as I have ever seen it in mid-September; however you can expect the fall turnover to begin soon.  The cold mornings have lowered water temps significantly & we are seeing the first “buds” of blue algae beginning to form.  Midge activity will be very strong as long as water temps stay in the 60′s.  The larger fish are staging in the north end & along what remains of the weeds in McGee Bay.  There are solid chironomid hatches (midges); however the larger fish are targeting the small TUI CHUBS, perch fry and damsel nymphs. Spot up along some aquatic weed in the 8-9 foot range. Use an assassin, drifters punk perch, or damsel nymph as the upper fly for perch or damsel imitations. There are also a fair amount of callibaetis mayflies emerging in the north end.  My killa-baetis is a great trail fly behind a Loeberg or punk perch. 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 zebra, dark or copper crystal tiger or crystal zebra 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. Streamer fishing using perch fry and damsel nymphs is very good currently. Loebergs and #12/10 Punk Perch, Crystal leeches are great patterns for streamer fishers here. The fish have begun to spread out so there is ample room for tubers to work the perimeters of the boat parking lots.  The perch fry are perfectly sized for still water nymphing right now. CDFW has been planting sub-catchable sized fish all month.  They have also tossed in some brood fish. Special angling restrictions now in place. Pinch those barbs down, love them and leave them, no scented or live bait please.

jim parque blaire mount 9:142

This awesome buck brownie caught by Blaire Mount is displaying full fall spawning colors. Doug R. put him on the fish.

jim parque blaire mount 9:141Jim Parque showing that Crowley may soon give Pyramid Lake a run for its money on trophy cutthroats. A couple more years & we may see double digit cutty’s here I think.

wayne b. Robelynn a. 9:141

Wayne B. & Robelynn A. slammed the fish with guide Joe Contaldi. Nice twin cutthroats kids!

ronnie rogers 9:141

Ronnie Rogers got his Crowley Slam with Jerry Gilpin recently. The cutts are really gorgeous this year.

lee jana deminski 9:1415They call him “big fish Deminski” You can see why. Don’t give me the “he is holding it out too far” B.S. either.  The fish measured at 24 inches. This fish is an absolute BEAST & Lee got it on a punk perch after nearly spooling him. Hey D.A., where the @#$%$ are you buddy?

john wymore 9:142

John Wymore hit the Crowley grand slam of trout with Jerry Gilpin. Check out the size of this Pyramid grade cutty!

camilla julian, sebastian, jeremy ,oliver1

Camilla & sons Jeremy, Oliver, Julian, & Sebastian went out with guides Phil T. & Jerry G.  They rocked the fish on Crowley!

jr kinander 9:141

Jr. Kinander got into a bunch of quality cutthroats like this with Doug R recently.

Paul Pierce gp Chris B 9:142

Chris B. & his gramps Paul Pierce nailed this saaaweet double in McGee Bay with Doug R. Note the spawning colors on that brownie.

lee jana deminski 9:1405

Jana D. with her largest trout on the fly to date.  She nailed this bow in Six Bays after it ripped 100 feet of backing!

chris b 9:141

Six Bays payed off for Chris B..  He got into some nice browns like this with Doug R doing the guidance.

mike mongold ryan whisnant 9:1405

Double chocolate brownies for Mike Mongold & Ryan Whisnant. The couple used a punk perch and dark tiger, or crystal zebra midge combo in McGee Bay to hit some nice fish. Fun day kids, thanks!

nola kevin lewis 9:142

I have known Nola Lewis since 7th grade! She went fishing for her 35th wedding anniversary & was given this massive rainbow by the trout gods. High fives kiddo! That is as big as wild/holdover rainbows get in Crowley, fish took a dark tiger midge in McGee Bay.

Mike diane white 9:141

Diane White tried fly fishing with Doug R & looky what she got! Nice fish mam!

Mike diane white 9:142

Mikey White’s first time fly fish’n was a great success.  Check out the choppers on this buck rainbow. Fish ate a crystal dark zebra Doug R tied on.

jessica and libby 9:14 #106

Eat your hearts out guys! These beauties got some beauties with me in the north end. Jessica V. & Libby L. (doing net duty) showing off a monster buck that ate a dark tiger midge.

andy vaughn 9:141

Andy Vaughn showing off a beautiful cutthroat he got with Doug R. These predators are hunting down chubs, damsel nymphs, & perch fry near the weeds, but will eat midge patterns as well.

zeb evan samson 9:1408

Now that is a trophy cutty! Zeb Samson with a gorgeous male that fell to a Drifters dark tiger midge off north landing.

jerry searcy 9:14 deep creek1

Deep Creek Fly Fisher Jerry Searcy got this nice cutty despite a slow day in McGee Bay. Fish hit a dark crystal tiger midge #14.

barbara erickson 9:141

Barbara Erickson with a super thick brown she bested in Hilton with guide Jerry Gilpin. Thats a blimp of a fish Barbara!

rick carruso 9:141

Rick Carruso nailed this trophy buck with guidance from Dave Carranza in McGee Bay.

zeb evan samson 9:1410

Quality cutthroat are really showing up frequently in the north end this fall.  Evan Samson shows a beautiful specimen he got on a crystal zebra midge.

david kendrick tube 9:142

David Kendrick is a long time Drifter and has been slaying the trout from his tube in the north end using a LOEBERG streamer with a sinking tip line. The cutty’s are thick in the north end currently.

gary betsy gillingham 9:1412

Gary Gillingham is known for big tuna, & big trout!  He got this impressive buck with me using a gillie on his last cast!

gary betsy gillingham 9:1403

Betsy Gillingham got this sweet brown her first casts with an assassin in McGee. Nice choppers on this one Betsy!

len pettek kelley pagett tom laverdi 9:1411

Len & Kelley with a very nice double caught in McGee Bay.  Hot rig was a gillie with a crystal zebra long shaft for the boys.

“Thank you so much for a great time on the water.  Your humor, knowledge and stories just add to the great fishing. Thanks again, Len.”

adam duffin darren booth 9:1413

Adam Duffin won a guide trip from the Mammoth Lakes Tourism people to fish with me, and cashed in on this trophy cutty.  Fish clobbered a gillie in the north end.

darren booth rs1

Darren Booth won a huge raffle trip to Mammoth from the tourism folks and hit some great fish like this cutthroat in the north end. Hot rig was a gillie/punk perch as the upper, broken back zebra as the dropper. 


Upper Owens River 9/18/14

A few migratory browns & fall run rainbows just starting to move. Numbers still need some help; but “catching” is picking up for sure. There are good numbers of grasshoppers around, try a hopper & a dropper combo in the afternoon. 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 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.

wayne brackin 9:141

Wayne Brackin did well with guide Joe Contaldi using a hopper pattern recently.  The fall migration is just beginning from Crowley.

mike and andrew mulhausen 8:14 ms12

Andrew Mulhausen did great on his wade trip to the UO. Crystal eggs and an assassin did a number on fish like this.

mike and andrew mulhausen 8:14 ms10

Mike Mulhausen’s first fly fishing trip to the Upper O was very good. He hooked numerous rainbows like this while nymphing the deeper pools with me.

maywood elizabeth wong 8:2014 ms05

” I think fly fishing is great, and I want to go again!” Elizabeth Wong did very well using a flashback PT & crystal egg nymph rig. I netted well into double digits for the father daughter first timers.

maywood elizabeth wong 8:2014 ms20

Maywood Wong had a terrific first day of fly fishing landing many of these hard pulling rainbows while nymphing.

ben kaufmann fs 7:20141

This guy ALWAYS gets bigs on the Upper Owens. Ben Kaufmann hit them on assassins, Drifters gillies, and tiger midges.

Bob Wickers ms 7:20149

Bob Wickers did 30 in a half day guided trip. I damn near wore out my net!

chad greg bob carter 7:2014 ms16

The fearsome foursome from Vegas whacked them using flashback Pt’s, assassins, and tiger midges. Greg Cassell got numbers honors along with this nice male. Chasing around 4 guys that are consistently hooking up was fun!


Middle Owens River (Bishop area) 9/18/14

Game on! Flows are crashing & trending down. 270cfs currently. Drift boat trips are the best way to fish the river with flows above 125cfs. Water clarity has improved over the last week & conditions are great. We just need the air temps to cool down into the low 80′s & it will rock. Birds nest patterns like Assassins, flashback PT’s, and hares ears 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 or midge larva. Have some hi-vis caddis adults & hi-vis para mayfly adults for the morning hatch. Drifting has been very good when the flows come down below 300cfs. The chub and sucker spawn was epic 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 heavy sinking tip lines and Loebergs, Punk Perch, & Crystal leech, & Spruce-a-bu’s.

joe sanchez 9:141

Joe Sanchez had some high water to deal with on his drift with Doug R but managed to get this nice bow on a Loeberg streamer.

james jim fox 8:1407

All the way from the UK!  James Fox did very well doing the “dip & strip” method of pulling streamers from my drift boat.  This acrobatic fish hit a Loeberg.

james jim fox 8:1413

Jimmy Fox had a great day of drifting for his first visit to the MO. Loebergs all day.

tyler suzuki drift 8:2014 ms1

Young gun Tyler Suzuki banged out an impressive buck on his first drift trip.  Tyler got the big rainbow to hit a Loeberg. Even with high flows you can get into trophy fish like this using the “dip & strip method” of streamer fishing with our expert drift boat guides like Doug R.

mark taryn vidovich 7:2014 ss5

Mark Vidovich shows off one of the fish he got on a Spruce-a-bu streamer on his drift. Cooler periods are best this time of year as the bite slows when the hear sets in.

ervin wheeler tom clark la jolla ss 6:20141

Tom Clark did great on his recent drift down the Owens with Doug R.

kevin woody john angerer 4:12:14 fs4

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!

eric kool stanford 3:25:14 ss1

The Professor-Eric Kool with a behemoth rainbow caught & released earlier this season.  This fish is still swimming, come see if you can catch it again!

Hot Creek 9/18/14

Hot Creek is suffering from low water 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. Hopper imitations are good call in the early fall-use a stimulator or grass hopper imitation if the wind comes up.  Para ant patterns are also a good choice if the wind is gusting in the canyon. 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.

*Tom Loe is under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service to guide Hot Creek.

hot creek upper owens 7:2014 ss7

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 9/18/14


Please be extra, extra, careful with cigs and campfires. It is a tinderbox in our forests currently. Flows are at winter levels-very, very low. The wading easy in all sections. Fly fishing has become more difficult due to very low flows. The fish are holding in the limited pools and deeper slots. Attractor dry patterns like Stimulators, hi-vis para bwo’s & caddis are good choices that are easier to see in the plentiful pocket water that defines the SJR. Use a bead head flashback PT or assassin birds nest as a dropper in the limited deeper pools and runs. Sotcher and Starkweather Lakes were planted this summer and have decent conditions for tubing.

*Tom Loe is under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service to guide the San Joaquin.



East Walker River 9/18/14

Flows currently at 23cfs. We are not guiding here currently.

east walker 7:2014 ss2

At prolonged lower flows the EW has a tendency to fill in with aquatic weeds-thus limiting the water you can dead drift flies. It is currently very warm & green with some surface action late day.

Bridgeport Reservoir 9/18/14

The RV Parks are open. Call for information on launching, the lake is extremely low. Water is cooling and the large browns should be an easy target for tubers this month.


bridgeport 8:26:141

This is all that remains of the Bridge. Shot taken 8/26/14

june fire bridgeport aerial 9:142

Thanks to Jeffery Wenger for this aerial shot of what is left of Bridgeport Reservoir. Taken mid-September 2014.

West Walker River 9/18/14

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.

Alpine Lakes 9/18/14

Some of the “hike in” lakes like Kirman, Parker, & McCloud can be excellent during the fall.  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.


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 hold deeper in the summer, use a full sinking line with a Loeberg, Spruce-A-Bu, or Agent Orange as the streamer. Tie on an assassin or killa-baetis as a trailer.


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 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

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