Howdy friends and Sierra Drifters. We hope you all get a chance to come fish with us this spring as it is turning out to be one of the best in several years. The high snow pack is melting slowly. This allows a gradual transition into summer, as opposed to the huge run-off in creeks and tail waters which is the historical normal as we approach the Memorial Day holiday.
The wind has been an issue recently, and it seems that this pattern will continue through the holiday weekend. These dry fronts bring strong southwesterly winds that pretty much shut down fisheries that are exposed or open to these down slope winds. We seem to get a day or two of pleasant conditions between cold fronts and during these times the fishing has been great in some areas. The alpine regions are opening up quickly and even the higher elevation lakes and streams will be ready to fish by Memorial Day, which is quite unusual as you may well know.
Flows continue to trend upward on the East Walker and Lower Owens; however they are well below historical averages and allowing an extension of early spring like conditions.
The fire season is already upon us here in the Sierra. The NWS and NFS are asking that outdoorsmen use extreme caution this year. You will see control fires throughout the Sierra this spring as the NFS is trying to reduce fuel along fire prone areas. There will be extensive control burns around the June Lake and Mammoth regions.
The Long Beach Casting Club hosted the Wounded Warriors- Healing Waters Program at the Sierra Drifters trophy pond on May 19th. Very special thanks to the vets for their sacrifices, and thanks to the LBCC members and SD’s Two Bug Doug Dolan who helped out these special people.
Healing Waters Wounded Warriors and the Long Beach Casting Club
Two Bug Doug spent a day with the Wounded Warriors and Long Beach Casting Club on the Drifters trophy pond
Thank you Vets! Two Bug Doug with one of the vets for the Healing Waters Waters day with the Long Beach Casting Club
My great friend and legend in the fly fishing business Bill “the mighty osprey” Stroud is not well. I am asking a favor from all of you who know of Bill to keep him in your thoughts and prayers for a recovery. Bill’s contributions to the San Diego Fly Fishers and fly fisherman everywhere have been huge. Special thanks and a hug to Ricky Vorst and Jim Reeg for their incredible friendship and loyalty to Bill.
Please keep Bill “the mighty osprey” Stroud in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery
It has been many years since I have used the word “excellent” for Crowley. I had three long time clients recently and we lost count at 50 in a gale of wind! The word epic was tossed around, but not quite designated yet. By September when these fish gain another couple inches and a add more weight on average you may see this label for Crowley once again. I have been guiding Crowley nearly everyday this month and it appears that Crowley is back and we will have a tremendous season here. Some of our long time clients have returned to fish here and they all agree that Crowley is once again an amazing and consistent fishery. The brown counts are incredible and growth rates look to be nearly off the charts due to the mild winter.
The chironomid hatches are spectacular and you can expect grabs while still water nymphing on your first casts in most areas of the lake. Sandy Pt. & Layton Springs have been the most popular and consistent areas, rig up for 11-15 feet. The fish move deeper as the sun climbs especially if there is no wind. Fish a midge emerger pattern for your upper, and a larva pattern like a crystal tiger or zebra midge as the lower beneath your Under-cator. Twin emergers like the Drifters “Gillie” have been deadly on the high pressure days. You may also fish these pupa imitations higher off the bottom as the fish are looking up in the water column for the emerging insects. I have had good “catching” weather permitting…just about everywhere including McGee Bay, Sometimes Bay, the Hilton’s, and Green Banks.
The water clarity is as good as I have ever seen this year and visibility is nearly 10 feet! Not exactly the Caribbean but damn good for Crowley. Some algae buds are showing as water temps near that mid 60 degree mark. I believe we will have relatively mild turnovers this year due to less nitrates from shoreline run-off (cow dung). The weeds are also starting to grow around the 10-11 foot range so make sure you locate a clear spot of bottom to suspend your flies over.
There are some jumbo sized Sacramento Perch starting to spot up on their shoreline Redd’s this week also. They fight like a wet gym sock, but if you ever wanted to eat a fish out of Crowley they are delicious.
I have updated the Drifters fly box in the Fish Camp tackle store and Crowley Lake Deli with new patterns to fish all of the Sierra. Both locations are selling the fantastic “Under-cator” strike indicator now as well.
Long time Crowley fly fishers Lance “first light” Geiger, his father Bill, and Guy Sanderson had a great day while still water nymphing
Frank Carlsen with a nice brown caught on a crystal copper tiger midge
Richard “pops” Rathcke still banging those Crowley fish at 83. He fished all day in a tube the day before!
Richard “the ripper” Rathcke agrees Crowley is back big time!
Eric Carlsen backing down hard in full reverse while in his tube battling a Crowley rainbow that took him way into fly line backing
Jeremy “screech” Hermes with one of his many nice bows caught on Crowley Lake
Dave Fleming with his cute little “midge” daughter Bryce showing off a nice Crowley bow
Brayden Fleming would not put his rod down on Crowley for two days and did great!
Guy “big fish” Sanderson with one of his many he got on Crowley agrees the lake is really fishing well this season
Reports are very good from the Bridge as well. Jeffery at the marina is saying the inlet near the East Walker inlet, the drop-off near Rainbow Pt. and Buckeye Bay 11-14 feet are all holding good numbers and consistent fishing on the calm days. The wind has been a pain here like other areas in the Sierra, and this has kept the boats off the water at times. The chironomid hatches are going off big time here as well and if you still water nymph I suggest you rig pretty much the same as Crowley. Crystal emergers, gillies, tigers & zebras. The marina store has a new Drifters fly box with all our patterns to fish the Sierra, so stop by and pick up some bugs for here or the East Walker.
The flows are slowly moving up and are currently around 120 cfs. Nice for this time of year and fishing has been good all along the Cal section. I suggest you venture downstream below the “miracle mile” and cover the less trafficked water. At current flows and water temps the fish will spread out and re-locate from the deep holes and runs immediately below the dam. Try nymphing with #18-20 crystal caddis larva or emerger patterns. A flashback PT or Assassin bird’s nest will also work well until you see the mayflies come off near mid-day. BWO or PMD adults # 16-18 will get you looks on the top. Para midges are not the easiest adult dry fly to fish, however they are deadly for the more selective wild fish that have seen a few presentations in their time. Guide tip: You may not get big numbers if you fish a crayfish imitation right on the bottom in the larger pools here, however what you will hook will be worth the effort. The bigs on the EW eat crayfish and if it is a trophy you want stick to the mini lobsters and have some patience.
This is updated 5-21-12. Flows up to 460cfs below PV Reservoir. Bishop Creek which confludes with the LO is also at 100cfs-also running high. Conditions are poor here for both drifting and wade fishing, I suggest going up the hill and fish other moving waters listed in this report.
There is some run-off and off colored water on the warmer days here. The wind has been an issue as well, but on the nicer days you will see good mayfly and midge activity. Higher flows should not deter you from fishing on Hot Creek, and in many instances they are beneficial to extending drifts over the weed beds. There are a staggering amount of fish that hide or hold in and along the thick weeds in HC and under lower flows these fish can be nearly impossible to reach or make a nice drift over. Dry dropper combos using a hi-vis para mayfly and a bead head midge, caddis, or mayfly nymph can be effective under conditions like these.
Flows are stable here and about double winter or fall release rates. Water conditions can really suck here this time of year, however this has not been the case thus far. Numbers are decent for smaller fish in the open waters sections. Note that the UO remains closed to ALL fishers from the Benton Bridge downstream to the fishing monument about 1/2 mile up from Crowley Lake until May 26th. Way more fish in this section, although they are on average about 11-14 inches with only a few bigs in the mix. Nymphing with SJ worms and roe patterns, flashback PT’s, and olive crystal caddis will get you takes. Access is very good to all the open sections this spring although the wind has shut down the UO many times since the opener. If you see the “dust devils” while driving in-you might as well hang a U-turn and go elsewhere. Streamer fishing using a medium sinking tip line can also be fun on the UO this time of year and will keep you on the water if it is windy.
Fun stuff here this year. I will say that the bigs are not as prevalent, and the lack of cutthroats is very apparent-however there are a pile of catchable rainbows staged up and holding in the pools on McGee and Convict Creeks. The spring migration is nearing the end and well past peak, however there are still good numbers to be found for another week or so. Water conditions are great and clarity remains very good. The wind will shut you down for sure so choose your day according to the weather. The trek down to the quality water is considerable but well worth the effort. SJ worms, roe patterns, flashback PT’s or crystal midges will all get looks. Approach is important so you don’t spook them. Stay off the redds please- focus on the fish in the pools, not the actively spawning rainbows.
Free Stone Creeks
Rock Creek, Robinson, Mammoth, Lee Vining, Upper Convict
Considering the time of year these locations have very good conditions and access and water clarity is great, even at the 9000 foot elevation. The DFG has been planting pretty well with catchable rainbows in the lower campground and popular access areas. Stockers are easy targets for streamers and flashy nymphs. I enjoy fishing these locations in the long slow meadow sections using a dry dropper nymph rig. There are some feisty wild browns and brookies here as well that will clobber the dry fly too.
Lower Alpine Lakes
Convict, Lundy, Twin Lakes Mammoth & Bridgeport, June Lake Loop
Good reports for numbers with a few hold over DFG brood fish and IAG/Alpers rainbows showing up. Tubing these waters this time of year requires a full sinking line and flashy streamer patterns with some red or orange. May on the lower alpine lakes historically brings the larger browns out. Fish the low light periods near creek inlets and trees stumps. As the days get longer and the waters warm the “elusive ones” will move deeper and become more photosensitive making it far more difficult to catch them on the fly. Either of the Twin Lakes, Bridgeport would be my choice to hunt a brownzilla during the month of May.
FOR SALE and ready to go for the new season: 24 foot one of its kind Bay Ranger. Better than new, too many features to list- I built this beauty for Cap’t Ron and it is absolutely the finest Bay boat around. 250hp Verado (40 total hours), Lowrance electronics, Sat radio, board racks, custom deck mats, BEYOND LOADED, just add water and turn the key. Stored indoors! 52K or best. Contact Tom Loe or Ron Obray (owner) 530-308-4408, firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Thanks for reading my report friends. Be the fly…Tom Loe, Sierra Drifters Guide Service