The afternoon thunderstorms continue to roll through the region bringing some significant rain to the upper elevations. A couple of the storms even dusted the highest peaks with snow, and some of the freestone creeks swelled and ran off color for a few days. If this pattern keeps up we could be in for a much needed huge winter. Flows are generally very low in most rivers and creeks for this time of year with the exception being the Lower Owens River which is currently at 535cfs-(near flood) and not fishing well. Air temps have been very warm even in the upper valleys, the OV is broiling with highs around the 100 mark daily. Make sure you have foul weather gear if you are planning on visiting the Sierra and keep an eye on those T-storms while boating or float tubing the alpine lakes.
Crowley continues to be the best still water in the area for fly fishers and the big browns just keep on coming! The big change is that the larger fish have really been focusing on the perch fry and damsel flies instead of the midges recently. The lake is dropping rapidly and the weed lines in McGee Bay, the North Arm, Layton Springs, and the Hilton’s are very defined with fish holding in 7-11 feet. Dawn patrol & sun down tubers are finding some great fishing with streamers like Loeberg’s and Punk Perch #10-14. The fish get tougher to get on streamers as the sun climbs and fishing beneath an Under-cator using perch fry #14-16 and Assassin’s will continue to get you grabs. I like a tandem PP rig with a #14 as the upper and either a #16 PP or #14-16 dark or light Assassin as the dropper. Bead head flashback PT’s will also work as a dropper #14-16. If you use a twin PP rig make sure you have a #4 split shot above the upper PP about 8 inches to sink the flies quicker. Water conditions remain good overall, however we are beginning to see the signs of another blue algae bloom in some areas. Depending on wind direction the goo will drift into an area and dirty the flies so keep them clean. The morning bite has been very consistent with a slow down most afternoons especially when the thunder bumpers begin growing. Half days are the way to go if you want to book a guide trip currently.
Long time Drifter Decker Warner got this screen saver recently in Hilton
San Joaquin River
Conditions continue to be great here and the recent rains bumped the flow up some. This fishery can really fluctuate with weather conditions and during periods of heavy rain the river can swell and become off color for a while. Dry fly fishing in this area is the best way to hit the riffles and pocket water with an upstream presentation. I like using a high vis para BWO pattern #16-18 for most situations, but you will get grabs on elk caddis, Stimulators, humpies, foam ants, and other high riding adult or terrestrial imitations. The campgrounds at Agnew Meadows and Soda Springs remain closed but access to the river from day use and trail head parking is possible.
With the recent rains HC got some more water improving conditions for the time being. Flows will be very low here later this fall unless we get some early lower elevation snow or rain. Still plenty of water to fish but you may have issues in some runs with weeds making extended or normal drifts difficult. Fishing has been good using tiny mayflies called tricos. 6X tippet, 10 foot leaders and good eyesight and a smooth hookset are needed to fish these miniscule mayflies. Caddis and midge hatches are also consistent on the calmer days. Nymphing the deeper pools and holes using bead head FB PT’s and olive crystal caddis larva patterns #18-20 will also produce.
Upper Owens River
Pretty good here for planted and smaller wild fish. Dry dropper or tandem bead head nymph combos will do the trick both above and below the Benton Bridge. You must have barbless hooks upstream from the bridge. FB PT’s are always a good choice, Assassin’s, and broken back midges will also get grabs. I like a Stimulator or hopper #16-12 with a bead head nymph 2-3 feet below to fish many sections this time of year. It is a very effective rig especially for the wild trout. Flows are low and the larger, deeper pools will hold most of the fish.
Lower Owens River
Flows are blown out at 535cfs currently. There are better areas to fish currently.
East Walker River
We have not been guiding this area so my reports are based on clients that have fished it recently. Flows are running at 125cfs, good..water is off color and has a lot of weed and algae, bad…I hear that early is best, caddis or small mayflies get grabs until the sun comes up. Nymphing is tough due to the weeds and algae clinging to the leaders. Conditions will improve once it starts to cool and the Bridgeport turns over.
Still tough for fly fishers, however the trollers and still fishers getting down 20-25 feet are doing fine according to my buddy Jeffery at the marina. The Bridge is dropping in level and as fall approaches we will see the fish concentrate in the deeper water north of Rainbow Pt. and towards the dam. There will be excellent opportunities here in the fall for streamer fisherman trolling perch fry imitations. The marina boat launch and rentals remain in good shape.
Get on the lakes early before the T-storms fire up. Been pretty good using streamers like Loebergs, Agent Orange, Spruce-a-Bu’s, & crystal leeches. Full sinking type 3-4 lines are best. The DFG has been doing a good job this season keeping fish planted and I have heard few complaints in the more popular lakes and resorts. Each of the alpine lakes have their own unique characteristics and areas of transition. Look for inlets and outlet’s as even the smallest flows will attract trout. Ledge’s and edge’s-drop-offs are always good to traverse in a tube. Tree stumps or large rocks and weed lines are other good locations and most all of the upper elevation lakes in the Sierra have these regions. The lakes that are tough to fish with a fly have a tendency to be very deep with steep banks and few transition zones. My choice-Silver Lake in the June Loop. Target the west shore and inlet to Rush. You can still water nymph here and do well. Tiger midges always work here. If you need a place to stay in June and are not camping, get hold of my good friends Don & Lynn at http://www.junelakeaccommodations.com
Thanks for reading my report. Be the fly… Tom Loe, Sierra Drifters Guide Service