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bruce beretta bakersfield jon barnes bako boy 050 rs

Fly fishing on the Upper Owens River near Mammoth continues to be world class.  The warm weather has triggered some incredible “catching”. This is Bad Leroy Brown and he fell to a Drifters Crystal Leech with skills from one of my favorite guided clients Bako Boy -Jon Barnes.  Congrats JB, what a fish!

Upper Owens River (12-16-13)


UO went off today, BIG TIME!  I saw a huge mayfly emergence with a mix of trico’s and BWO’s #16-20.  I also witnessed perhaps the latest sedge caddis hatch I have ever seen on the UO & not just a few mind you.  Nymphing the deeper pools payed off with multiple bigs wanting to mix it up right from the get go.  Weather was splendid, I do believe it hit low 60’s here without a breath of wind. We used crystal leeches, dark assassins, flashback Pt’s (tung heads) hi-vis para BWO’s & BWO adults #18. Two Bug nailed them on his evil wicked SJ worm and egg patterns. Some turbidity around Hot Creek as there is some run-off occurring from Mammoth Creek. All the pictures you see below were caught on 12-16-13 by three clients in a single day and there were many, many more. This is a first for me and should illustrate how good it can be on the UO.  Incredible catching, hope you can fish with us soon.

bruce beretta bakersfield jon barnes bako boy 018 rs

The browns are finally around!  Bruce Beretta “a killer B” with a very nice brownie that he got on a dry/dropper rig during the hatch.  Saaaweeet fish Bruce!


Jeff Andrews is also a Bako Boy and one of the killer “B’S” Jeff had an amazing day getting into a bunch of these trophy rainbows.

bruce beretta bakersfield jon barnes bako boy 010 rs

JB with another gorgeous Upper Owens fish.  He stuck 5 of these in one pool!

bruce beretta bakersfield jon barnes bako boy 028 rs

“Might I have another?” Says Bruce. Two more to go outta this hole!

bruce beretta bakersfield jon barnes bako boy 033 rs

This one hit an egg imitation.  Check out the girth, absolutely spectacular fish here right now.

bruce beretta bakersfield jon barnes bako boy 036 rs

Looks like the “Barby twins” huh?  This fish took him 4 bends before I netted it.  Third piggy outta this hole.  Great day Bruce, thanks for the opportunity.


Jeff’s first time ever on the Upper Owens.  He he whacked them on nymphs and Two Bug got worn out netting his bigs today.  Welcome to the Killer B’s Jeff!

bruce beretta bakersfield jon barnes bako boy 007 rs

I almost wore out my wading boots I was running around so much netting today.  This is a nice double for the Killer B’s.  All the pictures of the Upper Owens fish posted are just from 12-16-13 & I could add more!  Amazing day folks.

bruce beretta bakersfield jon barnes bako boy 023 rs

This Bako Boy can fish.  Yur arm get tired today JB?, better get ready for tomorrow!

bruce beretta bakersfield jon barnes bako boy 053 rs

You know we gotta see Bad Leroy Brown one more time!  Bravo JB, great fish buddy.


Middle Owens River (12-14-13)


Flows are back down to 75cfs out of PV Reservoir.  The gauge is malfunctioning (not enough water if you ask me).  Weather has been really nice in the Owens Valley the last few days & this trend should continue into next week with some wind showing up by mid-week & a crash in temps by end of the week.  Water temps still too cool (upper thirties, low forties) for any kind of consistent surface activity; however nymphing the deeper pools will get you into fish using light and dark Assassin birds nest’s, flashback PT’s, broken back tiger and zebra midges, SJ worms and glow bugs work here also this time of year. I did see a sprinkling of first generation blue winged olives today, only two snouts came up all day on adults.  Drifting was good this afternoon and we had over twenty to net with half of them nice wild browns.  We are still getting into some nice fish while tossing streamers- just not big numbers.  Loebergs, Spruce-A-Bu’s, Agent Orange, Crystal Leeches, & Punk Perch patterns used with a light to moderate sinking tip will get grabs in the deeper water. Let those flies “hover” for a while on your retrieve and slow down your strip while the water is so cold. These fish will hit out of aggression, not because they are feeding for the most part.

*The Lower Owens River is now being designated as the “Middle Owens” due to some re-watering of the section below Tinemaha Reservoir down to the Owens dry lake several years ago. This has been deemed the LORP, or Lower Owens River Project.  The mid-Owens is around Bishop Ca.

craig lamb grand rapids MI. doug lamb ridgecrest 056 rs

The Lamb-Bros, Craig & Doug got into a slug of browns and bows on their drift along with some superb weather while using Loebergs and Spruce-A-Bu’s.

craig lamb grand rapids MI. doug lamb ridgecrest 041 rs

This is what we call a “double/double”! Fun day guys!

Chris pineapple pina and jim nghe from LA 043 rs

The Middle Owens is currently the best place to fly fish for trophy sized rainbows like this one Chris “pineapple” Pina got on a “Kelley Bundy” light Spruce-A-Bu streamer with us.  Jimmy N. tending the net for his buddy.

Chris pineapple pina and jim nghe from LA 048 rs

Jimmy Nghe showing off a gorgeous wild rainbow with spectacular paint job.  Love that one Jim!

scott linkletter san pedro 007 rs

Just before I splashed the drift boat on the Middle Owens it was MINUS ONE at 7 am today (12-6-13). That my friends, is cold for the OV this time of year. It got to 38 for a high on the river, slow fishing considering the talent I had. Scott “Linkcredible” could guide he has done this trip so often. He did manage to hook a couple nice ones and land this colorful hen. We struggled to get 10 to net today. Nothing coming off, water temps are mid-thirties. More winter a coming this weekend, I’ll be chasing snow-bows in the morn after an extended session in my hot tub at zero dark thirty!

steve and sean murray 020 rs

Sean Murray with a truly gorgeous buck in full spawn mode. Fish was caught on a Spruce-A-Bu streamer.


Bob Crane with a nice drift boat bow, Taryn Franks doing the net honors.

chris, spencer, tucker abts reno Nv 012 rs

Spencer’s first ever on the fly.  His brother Tucker all smiles on their trip with us.  Way to be the chub Spence! haha, inside joke.

jeff and jake holt 004 rs

The fish’n Holt’s strike again! Jake got jaws the rainbow with Jeff doing net honors.

Chris and Aaron 008 rs

More Bako Boys showing off big trout.  Chris hit this super sized hen on a Spruce-A-Bu with Aaron manning the safety net.


ron and matt 019 rs

Long time client and great friend Ronnie Guidone hit a trophy bow on his last drift. The big hen ate a Spruce-A-Bu. Matt Figel with the back stop.


jim thompsen carlsbad, ca 012 rs

Jimmy Thompsen started his drift trip out with this hook jawed beast smiling for the camera! This fish ripped a Spruce-A-Bu.

Pleasant Valley Reservoir/The Gorge 12-13-13


This is the only year around still water open in Inyo or Mono Counties.  The transition area is choked with heavy weed beds-more than I have ever seen.  The level is very high and you will find only limited access near the inlet section.  It pretty much sucks here right now in this section. The short creek section is fishing so-so in the deeper pools. Midge patterns and smaller mayflies are good choices for nymphing or dry/dropper combos in both areas.  FREEZE tubing has been the most consistent currently. The cold weather has really slowed all sections down and no hatches to focus on. Still water nymphing can be productive along the drop-offs on the west side in 9-12 feet. Tiger midges, gillies, crystal pupa and emergers are hard to beat here fished below an Under-cator. If the wind picks up use a broken back tiger as the lower.  Small Assassin birds nest work well for imitating the mayfly nymphs, use these under a stimulator or hi-vis para Bwo as your indicator. Streamer tuggers have a full sinking or heavy sink tip line. Loebergs, Agent Orange, & Spruce-A-Bu’s will get you grabs near the inlet and launch ramp areas.

IMG_0417 pv reservoir 11-21-13

The transition area between the lake and moving water is choked with heavy weed and not fishing well. This section is currently underwater due to high levels.

IMG_0428 pv river 11-21-13

The small river section between the lake and the powerhouse looks a lot like a mini-East Walker and fishes much the same.

The Gorge has been bumped up to 50cfs. below middle powerhouse. There is still a bunch of major work being done on the hydroelectric facility and flows are being bypassed through the Gorge.  Dry/dry, or dry dropper bead head rigs using small mayfly and crystal olive caddis nymphs are good choices.  The brush has really thinned out making it just difficult in some places to cast. This is not a place to practice false casting friends!

Hot Creek (12-13-13)


With the warmer weather Mammoth Creek is adding more water into HC improving conditions immensely.  Some of the weeds are also dying off making things better here for sure.  If it warms up a tad more we could see some good fishing soon.  Still on the slow side with fish holding in only the deepest water. Access is excellent.


East Walker River (12-13-13)


The “pulsing” of flows really payed off during the cold snap and prevented substantial bed ice from forming in the miracle mile.  Still on the slow side here, but if the trend continues this may be a good option as pressure has been extra light this fall and winter. Access is very good with no significant ice or snow around. Use the same strategy as you would on the Upper Owens.  Stick to the deeper water and pools. I like a punk perch/crystal leech #14 or 16 as an upper fly.  Use an Assassin, or broken back tiger or zebra midge as your dropper.  SJ worms and glow bugs also work well during the cooler months here.

mono lake east walker bridgeport 020 rs

Conditions are really good here considering how cold it was.  This is a shot from the dam looking downstream at the “Toilet Bowl” pool and 1X run.

craig lamb grand rapids MI. doug lamb ridgecrest 003 rs

I am happy to announce that the we will have a well stocked fly box and Under-cators in Reagan’s Sporting Goods in Bishop!  This is a great shop with knowledgeable and super friendly people that is open daily 7-5 during the winter. 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!

Santa getting in some fly fishing from a Drifters sled!

We can customize holiday gift certificates for that special fisherman or friend.  Guided fishing trips, flies, & personal instruction from one of our pros can all be arranged easily.  Just click on the contact us link at the top of the page and we will set up something memorable for you and yours.  Happy holidays, hope to fish with you soon.

Thanks for reading my report.  be the fly….Tom Loe, Sierra Drifters Guide Service

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