Rainbow and Brown trout are beginning to pair up for the fall spawn in the Sierra. Fly fishing the Upper Owens, East Walker, Lower Owens, and Crowley Lake is getting good.
Summer has passed and fall is beginning in the Sierra. The aspens & willows are glowing in the canyons and the morning air temps are freezing now in the high country. Daytime temps remain well above average with the dry weather pattern which has plagued the region continuing. Crowley and Bridgeport are at very low levels and most of the creeks are flowing at winter, not fall rates. The exception being the Lower Owens River which continues to be high; however as of this report it is steadily dropping and will continue to do so through October. With no winter type storms forecast in the foreseeable future we hope you get the opportunity to come see nature’s transition into fall and enjoy some great fall fly fishing with us in the Sierra.
I have used Sage Rods 490-4 ZXL’s, 590-4 ONE rod’s, 690-4 ZXL’s, 4100-4 ONE rod & Lamson Litespeed LS-2 reels for sale at great prices. Full rigs with lines are $750.00 including sales tax, you need to pay shipping if needed. I will sell the rods and reels separately as well, contact me for prices please. Keep this in mind for a holiday or birthday gift, these are great prices for top of the line gear in excellent condition.
My good friend and client Craig Smith has designed a website for Stroud’s Tackle in San Diego http://www.stroudtackle.com As many of you know my dear friend Bill Stroud passed away this year but Bill’s fall fish’N tradition on Crowley Lake will continue! Rick Vorst has taken over the shop and will be making some changes over time here. You can get all the fly fishing equipment you need to fish the Sierra’s here.
These are islands in the middle of Crowley Lake. Crowley is nearing record low water levels.
These islands are located between Life Guard Pt. & the BLM Campground on the south shoreline. They are pretty much in the middle of the lake and are marked with white containers and buoys. There are other high spots near here as well, hug the north shore until you clear Life Guard, give Sandy Pt. a wide berth as well.
I am told that the lake has been lower in the past-this guide has not seen it at this level in fifteen seasons. The fly fishing remains good, with tubers enjoying some banner days using Loebergs, Punk Perch, and Matukas in the north end. Still water nymphing has been sporadic and the chironomid hatches are tapering off. Crystal emergers, gillies, broken back tigers & copper headed zebras have been my choices for midge patterns in 6-8 feet. With the lake at levels we have not seen in recent times, traditional areas we fish are basically dry or have less than two feet of water. You will find 6 feet in the middle of the lake adjacent to North Landing-(this spring there was 25 feet here!) Green Banks is 3 feet in the deepest spots. The water clarity is good in the north end from Alligator north; however you will see significant algae rafts in many areas of the lake. McGee Bay has been a trout ghost town for over two weeks. Six Bays and Layton have had good numbers, and I suggest you hug the south shoreline and stay tight especially in low light periods. What remains of the perch fry are hugging the shoreline with the trout cruising right next to the the beach early. The launch ramp remains open at the Fish Camp. If you have a big boat be prepared for some work to get it back on the trailer as the ramp is very steep. Put your tow vehicle in 4X4 if you have it. Rent a slip if you are fishing for more than a day and save yourself the headache. PRAY-BEG-PLEAD-WHINE FOR SNOW THIS WINTER!!!
“Vorst Force” Ricky Vorst has taken over the reigns at Stroud’s Tackle in San Diego and is sticking to the tradition that Bill held fishing Crowley in the fall every year. The “force” was with him!
The Vorster with another twenty incher. You can get the midges he caught these fish on at Stroud’s Tackle
“The Force” was with SDFF member Jimbo Reeg as well. Jim was Bill’s companion on many a fly fishing ventures to Crowley and always gets trophy trout here.
Merle Bolton with a “Patriot Missile” This fish well well into backing before coming back to the launch pad!
Charley Teague with a Crowley slammer. You could rake the lawn with a tail that size!
Old age and treachery out fished youth and skill! Jack Stalder with another nice Crowley bow
I almost needed a harpoon, not a net for this one that Ricky caught! Thanks to Craig Smith for the picture.
Lower Owens River-updated 10-2-12
The moment we have all been waiting for has arrived! I am pleased to announce that the LO is finally dropping in flows. I have a real time link to the LADWP on the resources page so you can track the current release rates. At this time they are 300cfs, down from a high of 550cfs in September. Drift boat fishing is getting good and will continue to improve as flows continue to fall. Streamer fishing has been the best using Punk Perch, Loebergs, & Spruce-A-Bu’s. Heavy sink tips are still needed to get those flies down. Fall caddis are emerging as well, and dry fly opportunities will present themselves in the mornings and cloudy days. Some small mayflies around as well. The water remains on the warm side and afternoons can be slow at times. The most consistent fishing is along the pillow water next to the tulle’s, and at the base of riffles instead of the deeper pools as is usually the case here. October will rock here for sure!
First time Drifters Ben Kaufmann and his gal Kelsey Morgan showing off a trophy rainbow caught on a recent drift trip down the Owens. Fall is a great time to get into numbers and big fish like this on streamers.
Kelsey “dip and stripped” streamers for the first time and did great on her first float down the Owens.
Chub fry are prevalent in the pillow water along the tulle’s this time of year and this is why streamers can be very effective on the Lower Owens
Ben with another nice rainbow. The couple banged out two dozen rainbows and browns while drifting down the Owens River
Chuck Stokke bendo on a drift trip down the Owens. Chuck has opened a new fly fishing store in Springville CA. called the Sequoia Fishing Company
Bret Davis got hooked on fly fishing and never touched his spinning gear after hooking a bunch of fish with us on a drift trip down the Lower Owens River.
Chuck releasing one of many rainbows he fooled while doing the “dip & strip”
Upper Owens River
The numbers of fish migrating up from Crowley Lake have increased substantially since my last report. The majority being 10-14 inch mature rainbows and browns with a few 18-22 inchers in the mix. A significant cold snap with a string of cloudy days will really trigger the bigs to get moving. Conditions remain very good with water levels low; however not too bad considering the dry winter. Caddis and mayfly hatches are consistent, with clouds of midges on the high pressure days. The hoppers are also around so have a few Stimulators or grass hopper patterns in your quiver to cast along the grassy banks if it gets windy. While guiding here I am bringing two rods. One set up with tandem nymphs like flashback PT’s or Assassin bird’s nest. I have been nymphing with and without an Under-cator. Olive crystal caddis larva is also a good choice for a lower fly now. The other rod is rigged with a para mayfly or midge pattern, with some caddis adults handy to tie on. Having both set ups readily available allows me to fish more diverse water and situations. You can cover the riffles and pools without wasting valuable time during the hatches.
Charley Widle got this sweet Upper Owens bow on an egg pattern.
Gary Jones got into them on the Upper Owens using dry flies and nymphing diverse sections of water. There are some big migratory bows and browns mixed in with the foot longs so be ready to rumble!
This magnificent specimen is a wild rainbow from the San Joaquin River (had to show this picture again it is so gorgeous!)
San Joaquin River
The flows are really getting skinny here and as the temps cool look for the fish to move into the deepest pools in any given area. Fly fishing remains very good in the deeper sections with the mornings slowing down. I suggest you bring waders along now and put the wet gear away unless you arrive at lunch or after (it is pretty chilly before 10 now) Mayfly and caddis patterns are still good choices, with dry/dropper bead head combos a good choice for the deeper holes and cooler periods. The logging trucks are moving dead fall daily so there may be some waiting while these huge trucks go up and down the narrow road into Devils Postpile. Soda Springs and Agnew Meadows Campgrounds remain closed.
East Walker River
The conditions are improving as the water begins to slowly cool down; however there are times when it is difficult to keep your flies clean. Flows are trending downward and they seldom get bumped up above 150cfs-currently at 100cfs. As the dissolved oxygen levels begin to increase we will see more surface activity. Not much top water action lately and nymphing is your best bet for consistency in the deeper holes. With this being prime time for hoppers along the EW’s banks; a hopper & a bead head dropper combo will also work well. The browns are getting “spawny” and when the water drops a few more notches streamers will be a good choice to get one of the “Zillas” out to play. I like to use Spruce-A-Bu’s here this time of year-a light to moderate sinking tip will get this baitfish imitation down to them nicely.
Good catching in the clear areas- without trying to be redundant; the flows are very low and you will have about half the normal water to fish due to the weeds. The BWO’s are not far off so have the usual tiny mayfly imitations with you. Fall generations will be #20, the Tricos are #22. Go “rogue” and try an egg pattern or SJ worm in the deeper holes, this can bring out some nice fish at times here in the fall & spring.
Fall can be a fun time of year to hit Rush Creek between Grant and Silver, or below HWY 395 in the lower section near Mono Lake. Not only can you get into some wild colorful fish, the scenery can be spectacular with all the colors. Low flows, so work only the deepest pocket water and pools. Dry dropper nymph rigs are solid. Tiger and zebra midges crush them here.
I have heard that some rental docks are out of business due to low water so do not assume that all marinas remain open due to the nice weather. Most are fishing well and have been planted on a regular basis with tubers trolling streamers doing ok in most. The fall colors are worth spending time in areas like Rock Creek, Convict, Mammoth Lakes Basin, & June Lake Loop. The aspens on the Conway summit and around Virginia Lakes are also spectacular and fishing is pretty good right now with the mild fall weather.
Been pretty tough for all here as the low water levels have the fish holding in the deepest parts of the lake seeking cooler water. The DO levels are low as well and this is making the fish lethargic and not interested in feeding currently. The public boat ramp is open and very usable. Jeffery has the Bridgeport RV Park and store open fully and will give you info on the lake and East Walker. Cooler weather will get the Bridge going again and you will see some nice fish caught on streamers then.
October is a great month to fish Dobe. Hoppers all over the place and the fall caddis and BWO’s give us consistent dry fly action. This is private water, there is a link at the top of this page. Click on trips & programs then “waters we fish” to check out Adobe Pond. Please contact us for booking information.
Thanks for reading my report. Be the fly…Tom Loe, Sierra Drifters Guide Service