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April 16, 2012 Fish'N Conditions

Capt. Tom Loe
April 17, 2012
Eastern Sierras - Freshwater Fishing Report

April 16, 2012 Fish'N Conditions

Howdy friends and Sierra Drifters. A string of late spring storms dashed through the region bringing significant snow to the upper elevations and strong gusty winds with cooler air temps. The extended forecast is calling for a major warming trend currently, and I can tell you it is really nice in the Owens Valley right now. Great news for spring skiing too. Release rates on the tail waters of the East Walker and Lower Owens continue to be below historical averages despite the recent storms. As of this report the LO real time gages continue to be inaccurate with the flows holding at 275cfs immediately below the dam at Pleasant Valley Reservoir. The EW has been staying around 100cfs and the flow gage is currently operating-you can click on these links from my resources page above, they are usually working .
Crowley Lake and Bridgeport Reservoirs are full and have been ice free since January. This equates to a shot gun start for the fly fishing seasons on both of these great still waters. During the warmer days I have seen significant hatches of chironomids in both locations. You will see a very early "turn over" in both lakes this season with water levels decreasing in both locations as the summer unfolds. This is in contrast to last year where we observed the lakes starting low, then filling and remaining high throughout the entire summer. This is a good scenario for both fisheries and we will have a fine season with more consistent fishing throughout the summer.
The Alpine Lakes will be ice free and accessible much earlier this year. It is too early to predict which locations will be in full operation as the late storms may hamper conditions for each resort. Convict, Lundy, Twin Lakes Bridgeport will all be open and ice free. The Convict Lake campground is closed for maintenance this opener but you should find other lower elevation spots that will be open and snow free unless we continue to get hammered by late storms. We may have some issues on the San Joaquin this summer as well. A hurricane force wind downed thousands of old growth trees here that destroyed campgrounds and closed roads. The NFS is working to clean up these areas and campgrounds. Despite the light winter, we may see a late opening of the road into this area due to the tree falls.
The San Joaquin and West Walker are freestone rivers that are not dammed or flow regulated. The run-off will be moderate this season and you will see some fine conditions early on, with very good flows by July. The fall will have lower than normal levels- but not poor in my opinion, there is enough snow left from the previous winter to keep things flowing.
I will be updating this page as necessary and may not send out an email for small changes so check this and my Facebook page out periodically if you do not get an email alert please.

Lower Owens River

I would have lost money if you bet me that the flows would still be under 300cfs in mid-April. This is a rare occurrence that only happens in light snow years with reservoirs that are full. The "catching" has been pretty darn good most days, with the only drawback down in the OV being some persistent and nasty winds that have made casting and fishing dry flies difficult some days. We are seeing the early emergence's of PMD's (pale morning dun) mayflies and the final stages of the spring caddis hatches. Midge activity remains strong on the high pressure days and a few little yellow stones are also in the stew at times. Wading is mediocore at flows below 300 for most of the wild trout section, and you will have difficulty crossing and getting into the more secluded runs along the tulle's and willows. Use plenty of weight to get your nymphs along the bottom. A couple BB shot or even twin AB's may be needed to get down in the faster runs and deeper pools at this flow rate. Use crystal olive zebras, broken back zebras or tiger midges in the morning. Switch to bird's nest or flashback pheasant tails before you see the snouts sipping or smashing the caddis or mayfly adults in the foam lines or eddies in the larger pools. The streamer fishing from the drift boats has been consistent since the flows have stabilized and we are seeing very aggressive takes using heavy sinking tip lines and streamers in the slower runs and at the tail outs near the rear of the pools. The wind has put the Ki-bosh on the dry fly action for us recently but when it calms down surface activity has been good. The willows and roses are greening up and the trees are beginning to bud along the river. It is really pretty here while drifting this time of year and while the flows remain stable you should visit the LO this spring.

East Walker River

Pretty fun. A client and I very recently spent half the day nymphing and half the day casting parachute BWO's and midges to a large pod of fish feeding in an eddie. They ate midges, they ate mayflies, they ate a San Juan Worm-they REALLY ate an olive crystal caddis larva pattern. We almost called Sea World because there was a fish that looked like Shamu and we thought it had escaped! It bent a 2x heavy nymph hook out after a couple hours of casting to it. Rat bastard! Conditions remain very good, flows are around 100cfs and you just need to get on a section of water that has a hole over 3 feet deep to get into some numbers most days. During the calm days the fish are moving into the riffles as well and using "Guerrilla" tactics and covering a lot of water will pay off under this condition.

Hot Creek

For years there has been a rumor amongst the most elite of the flyfishers that Hot Creek is VERY technical, only for pros and experienced fly fishers, 15 foot 7x leaders are necessary-size 28 flies are the only thing they will bite. If you don't dress like an Orvis fly fishing manikin & carry a Smithsonian endorsed cane rod while casting- NO TROUT FOR YOU… BS!!! This is the easiest place other than Crowley to fish in the entire Sierra. I strongly recommend this area to novices. The more I guide it, the more it dawns on me… fly fishing is easy here. Even when conditions are poor and extended drifts are difficult you can catch fish here because there are so many of them! The midge and BWO hatches are great currently, nymph the deeper holes and pools if it is windy or cold. The rainbows are pretty "spawny" right now and you can see them chasing each other and battling for position in some locations. Really pretty coloring on them, even by Hot Creek standards. The NFS gate is open currently, but may close with significant snowfall even this time of year. I will update this after the storm.

Upper Owens River

The kite flying has been better than the fly fishing here lately due to all the wind. Your quest for a trophy spring rainbow may have to wait for a while. Numbers are ok, lots of smaller/medium fish eager to smack a BWO or small spring caddis if it is not blown out. Quite a few 8 inch browns up there from last seasons DFG planting at Crowley. The bigs are scarce and spread out right now. As a matter of fact, I had more fish spawning in my home court (McGee Creek) two weeks ago than I do currently. Scouting the tribs is proving that the fish are not moving in numbers yet and it has nothing to do with water temps. We have had some cold storms granted, however my water temp gages on McGee have had mid through upper forties last week with only a few fish honeymooning. The warm snap next week will get them moving and I'll update here for sure if things improve for the bigs.

Pleasant Valley Reservoir

The lake itself is fishing good thanks to a ton of planted DFG rainbows. You can do well still water nymphing along the drop-offs using a Crowley-esque tandem midge or pheasant tail rig suspended below an Under-cator. Trolling streamers from your tube at the ten foot depth is also productive and a few nice browns may be in the mix during the cloudy or lower light periods. The river section is blown out most days as the LADWP is generating power and this raises the flows here a bunch. The reservoir will fluctuate in level considerably under these conditions - it is used as a "buffer". The flows remain consistent below the dam, however the level rises and falls depending on power generation. Hit the inlet to the lake from your tube when the genset is hooked up, the fish move towards the slow moving water.

Be the Fly…
Tom Loe, Sierra Drifters Guide Service
Cell 760-937-2015
Email [email protected]

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