A Fish Report for 4/19/18

Sierra Drifters Guide Service

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.

This shot of Lower Twin Lake near Mammoth was taken in mid-April. Most of the lower alpine lakes should be ice free by opener.

Fish’N Conditions 4/19/18

Hopefully we will see an extended warming trend after a cold/snowy front passed on 4/19/18.  Run-off has slowed considerably, and flows have dropped slightly; or stabilized on the year around moving waters.

East Walker continues to fish well during good weather. Take advantage of the lower/stable flows while you can. BWO and midge hatches daily. Lots of eager chunky rainbows in the deeper riffles!

The Middle Owens hovering around 300cfs. Wading can be difficult; but drift boat conditions have improved considerably with these stable levels. The “catching” is slow due to cooler weather.

Hot Creek can be a good option for moving water enthusiasts, thanks to a decrease in water levels. The windy weather has impacted hatches during the stormy periods; but solid BWO, & midge activity will give you dry fly opportunities afternoon during warmer/calm days.

Upper Owens has improved water conditions recently. Levels are on the high side; but nothing heavier weights can’t solve. A few large Crowley migrants are holding over, with decent numbers of smaller rainbows, & browns around as filler fish. Good BWO and midge pops on the nicer days. Cutty’s are still scarce due to cooler conditions. Roads have dried out for the most part making vehicle access safer.

Power generation will be sporadic at Pleasant Valley Reservoir making it tough to fish the river and transition section.  Tubing is your best shot at a good day using full sinks and streamers. Lake level has dropped this week allowing good access near the inlet section.

The general trout opener is on 4/28/18. Crowley Lake, Bridgeport Reservoir, Twin Lakes Bridgeport, Convict Lake, & the June Lake Loop will all have ice free conditions and good access. Road closures for locations above 8000 remain likely due to heavy March snows, and a wet April. 

We anticipate good early season “catching” on Crowley & Bridgeport Reservoirs. I have seen some large chironomids (midges) emerging already. The lakes have remained ice free for most of winter, & water levels are nearing capacity. With higher flows expected on most moving waters, the larger lakes will be the best option for early season success. The cutthroat trout migrations on the Upper Owens and McGee Creek have not begun yet in substantial numbers. This dynamic can change suddenly, especially under current conditions.  


***We have changed to a Gmail account. Please add driftfish1@gmail.com to your address book, & delete the driftfish@qnet.com account.

Middle Owens River (Bishop Area) 4/19/18

The cooler weather and abating run-off have prompted the LADWP to close the flood gates a little. Flows have leveled off at 300cfs. making for much better water conditions on the drift boat runs.  Wading the wild trout section remains difficult at this level. Still a decent BWO hatch coming off with a few stoneflies showing. Streamers like Spruce-A-Bu’s, Loebegrs, and Crystal Leeches used with a heavy sinking tip line are the right call under these conditions. Heavily weighted nymph rigs with standard; or parallel Assassins, flashback pheasant tails, and parallel punk perch can get you grabs below an Under-Cator.

Tom Robison managed to get this beautiful rainbow on a slow day of drifting. Cooler temps have slowed the bite down although flows have stabilized on the MO.

Jake McCreary had a great spring break landing this husky bow. Nice paint job Jake! Doug Rodricks was the guide.

Calvin Lee drifted with Doug Dolan to fool this big bow. Nice Calvin.

Rob Pontello hit some stable flows for a good day using a Spruce-A-Bu streamer, and a BWO dry to hit some sweet bows and browns.

Steve Quarles battled back in the second half of his drift with Eric Siedenburg to take big fish honors. Lots of laughs, thanks guys.

John Manian showing off a gorgeous wild brown he got on his drift with Doug Dolan.

This aerial shot taken on 2/19/18 shows the burn area along Chalk Bluff Road that parallels the Owens River along the Wild Trout section. The fire burned 3000 acres, & was stopped just above Five Bridges Crossing. Access to the wild trout section, and campground are open. 

This fishery remains open year around. Special regs from the footbridge at Pleasant Valley campground to the fishing monument 4.7 miles downstream. We guide you from a drift boat; or walk and wade the upper sections.

   Upper Owens River 4/19/18

Still waiting for the cutthroat to arrive in numbers. The cold weather has delayed the migration. Water clarity is good, although it remains higher than normal. Use extra weight to get those nymphs down below your Under-Cators.  Access is currently better as the roads have dried out. The cutthroat numbers remain low. There are a few husky spring rainbows holding over, with decent numbers of catchable bows and browns on the warmer days.  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 fished with plenty of weight below an Under-Cator.  

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. We walk and wade guide here. During winter we will access the UO with snowmobiles.

Veteran Drifter Mitch Kelly got this awesome hen late in the day on a Drifters Crawler. High fives Mitch!

Bob Myers came out from CO. to see what these Crowley Steelhead pull like. He had him some fun.

Hot Creek 4/19/18

The run-off has really slowed due to cooler temps, making for better water conditions. Numbers are decent here during warmer periods; with fish holding in the deeper slots and pools. Best bite occurs during early afternoon when the BWO’s are emerging. Large midge hatches coming off during a high barometer. Dry dropper rigs with a #16-18  Para Hi-Vis BWO and a #22 Gillie dropper 12″-18″ below is a consistent rig currently. When you observe those noses sipping the adults in the suds, remove the dropper, and dope up those high wings so they ride high on the surface.  Longer leaders, & light tippet in the 5-6x class is best. During off hatch periods try attractor patterns fished with/without an Under-cator. You can get into some of the larger fish using this method during the spring months.

This is a year around fishery with special regs in place. We walk and wade guide here.*Tom Loe, Doug Rodricks, and Doug Dolan are under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service to guide Hot Creek.

Check out this gorgeous rainbow Sean Evans C & R on his trip with Doug Dolan. Congrats Sean!


Kurt Collins got a nice fish in the interpretive area below the hatchery.

Katie Collins gently cradling a nice bow from the crick. Doug Dolan guiding.

Pleasant Valley Reservoir 4/19/18

Lake level has been fluctuating; currently on the low side, & good for access around the inlet. With sporadic hydro power generation now occurring, conditions around the transition area can be poor. If the powerhouse is churning, go elsewhere unless you are planning on tubing the lake 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, & parallel; or standard 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 may get huge days here while making extended drifts in the foam lines. The trout will concentrate here to feed on the abundant chironomid, & mayflies that come off throughout the cooler months. 

The Powerhouse, & confluence of Lower Gorge into the Owens. You will observe tremendous turbidity, & high flows emanating from the chute when hydro electric power is being generated.

This is the confluence of Pine Creek/Rock Creek into the river section of the Owens just downstream of the powerhouse. Flows can change here quickly from snow melt.

This fishery is open year around. We guide it from shore; or float tubes.

The Gorge 4/19/18

Flows have moved up significantly making for improved conditions. The best bite occurs 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 4/19/18 

Best game in the region. Water releases have been around 185cfs for a week, with good water conditions. Last falls planted rainbows are amazingly “rotund”, & very healthy. At this water level you can find pods of rainbows in the deeper riffles especially during the emergences. Warmer weather can trigger some solid midge, & mayfly activity. Assassins, Drifters Crawlers, crystal eggs, broken back midges. Tugging streamers like Spruce-A-Bu’s, and Loebergs in the larger pools can get a bad Leroy brown to come out and attack.

 This is a year around fishery with special regulations. We walk and wade guide here.

Tom Atlas came down from Klammath Falls & got into some sweet rainbows using an Assassin and egg combo. Fun day Tommy, thanks.

Alton Forthe had a great day for his first time nymphing the EW. The near perfect flows are moving the fish into the riffles, & out of the deeper pools.

Ian Navarro holds a chunky EW brown with buddy Doug Wilson doing net duty.

Crowley Lake

Season opens 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 opens 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” opens 4/28/18 this year.

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…. Tom Loe, Sierra Drifters Guide Service



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