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April 18th 2014 Fish'n Conditions

Capt. Tom Loe
April 19, 2014
Eastern Sierras - Freshwater Fishing Report

Spring time is here in the Sierras, and the fly fishing on the Middle Owens, Hot Creek, & Pleasant Valley Reservoir are very good. The spring fishing period around Mammoth and Bishop can be as good as it gets with mild weather and near perfect water conditions for fly fishing. Guided drift boat trips on the Middle Owens are kicking out some really large rainbows with steady dry fly action in the wading sections.

We are one week from the general trout season opener in the Sierra. This year will differ from the norm in many ways. The light winter & warm spring temps have even the higher alpine lakes ready to fish. Mammoth and June Lake basins are all ice free. Rock Creek, Convict, Lundy, Twin Lakes Bridgeport-ready to go. June & Mammoth Lakes will have an abundance of large planted rainbows due to the closing of the IAG pond. Not a bad call for opening week friends. There may be issues with low water in some locations so check your destination if you plan on launching a boat. Most of the passes will be open in Mid May-including the road into Devils Postpile/Reds Meadow and the San Joaquin. Bridgeport Reservoir will have a boat launch at the "bath tub area" It is a crude public ramp, but it will get you in. Crowley will be in very good shape considering the low water year. It has come up about nine vertical feet since closing in 2013. There are decent numbers of rainbows and cutty's moving in the tributaries on Crowley. Low flows will not make this an epic spring spawn. There will be changes in flows very soon on the East Walker and Middle Owens Rivers. For now they remain very low based on historical averages. Upper Owens is at flood, flows may drop around opening but fishing here is not good currently. The section around the campground down to the fishing monument will remain closed until 5/24/14. The forecast looks very good for opening weekend; however there is a good chance early arrivals will see some snow and very cool temps mid-week.

Middle Owens River 4/18/14

I have it from a reliable source that flows will remain somewhat stable here through the beginning of May due to the continuing issues with the power plant maintenance. Good news because we are enjoying some excellent conditions currently. Flows came up to over 150cfs on 4/17/14. We are enjoying perhaps the best year for super large rainbows I have seen in many moons. Streamers are the way to get the large rascals, & we are having consistent results for numbers using the "dip & strip" also. At current flows use a moderate sinking tip line. I like a Rio 150 grain, 24 foot streamer tip. Wading the section immediately below Pleasant Valley Dam has also been very good. Nymphing with, or without an Under-cator has been consistent The dry fly action has been inconsistent recently. It seems the fish & the bugs only want conditions perfect before they will show. The midge hatch is nearly a blanket emergence on the high pressure days. These smaller insects are a mainstay for the Sierra's trout. Use very small patterns like tiger and zebra midges with crystal tails #20/22 to imitate the shucks they crawl from. # 20/22 gillies, pupa, & crystal emergers work well while nymphing beneath an Under-cator. Midge cluster patterns and parachute adults #20/22 are best for dry fly enthusiasts. The recent warm weather has also triggered the beginning of the spring caddis emergence. On the high pressure calmer days you will see good numbers of these light bodied delta winged insects covering the water. Hi-vis Elk hair caddis adults are good replicas #16/18. Nymph patterns like assassins birds nest, flashback pheasant tails, and ribbed hares ear patterns work great to represent the larger sub-surface profiles. #14/18 are good calls. Mayfly adults have upright wings, twin tails, and ride high in the foam lines. The pale morning duns (PMD's) are good sized for mayfly adults. Use a #16 pattern for these sulphur bodied duns. Keep them high riding in the suds or foam lines. "The foam is home, don't roam from the foam" during a good mayfly hatch! Streamer fishing using the "dip & strip" (see my guide tips on how to fish this method- top of any page of this site), is also productive & will fool larger trout more often. During low light periods , or "off hatch" cycles use the Spruce-A-Bu. This has been my top producing fly for many years on this river fooling countless larger trout. With the fish feeding now and warmer water temps, patterns like olive and light punk perch #12/16, Loebergs #10, crystal leeches & agent orange #12/16 are good choices. Recent drift trips have the olive punk perch as the top producer. This fly is a "strymph" pattern. Cross between a streamer and a nymph. Use these with a light sinking tip & swing your fly into the foam lines or main current-do not cast on top of where the fish are holding so you don't put them down or spook them. We are recently seeing some damsel flies and dragon flies chasing around the other smaller macroinvertabrates. They are very large nymphs and can be represented by punk perch or my damsel nymph patterns. Big trout love these critters, so keep this in mind as the sun gets higher late mornings. They are showing a month early due to the warmer weather.

Upper Owens River 4/18/14

It is over here until conditions change. Flows are a total blow out at 200cfs. This is FOUR times the discharge that was here during most of the winter. Let's hope this flushing flow does not wash out all the eggs that the spring rainbows laid recently. We has an epic winter and spring season and look forward to the summer months and some dry fly action after the levels drop. I suspect it will not be a prolonged period of this high flow rate & should be fine by opening.

Pleasant Valley Reservoir/The Gorge 4/18/14

The levels are really fluctuating this spring, & I am having a hard time keeping up on it as we are not guiding here much recently. They are currently very good and the transition area is darn near perfect to fish from the shore. Flows may be on the high side for wading the "brambles" section located downstream from the powerhouse to the lake proper. They have over 120cfs. moving down the gorge currently. The transition section is fishing well if you know how to strip a streamer or use a dry/dropper bead head combo. Not a lot of huge fish, but the numbers can be great. Tubing is best under current lake levels. Check out the short river section just down from the powerhouse using dry dropper combos like hi-vis para BWO and stimulators as the upper-broken back tiger and zebra midges, assassin birds nest, flashback PT's, crystal olive zebras, and copper or dark tiger midges as the nymph. Don't "roam from the foam" as the fish really line up on this section of water to feed on the emergers drifting down in the slower current. Tubing has also been very productive using Loebergs, Punk Perch, Agent Orange, & crystal leeches. Use a full or heavy sinking tip line. Still water nymphing Crowley style can also get you into big numbers along the drop-offs. Use Broken back midges like gillies and tigers, crystal emergers, and pupa patterns are good calls as upper flies on a tandem rig. Stick to tigers and zebras as the lower flies. Watch out for the slippery or frozen mud along the shoreline so long as the level remains low.

The Gorge has very high flows for this time of year as the LADWP is moving water down from Crowley through this section instead of the pipe that goes into the power house. Work continues to go on here. Flows are at 200 cfs with normal being 33 cfs. Tough to fish here at this release.

Hot Creek (April 18th)

Very good caddis & mayfly activity occurring daily during this warm spell. The small spring caddis are like candy to these wild fish and you will enjoy the best snap during this hatch. #18/20 hi-vis elk hair imitations will suffice, try some crystal olive caddis larva patterns for nymphs. Dry dropper rigs using para midge or hi-vis para BWO or blue wing olive adult patterns #14-18 as an upper, while dropping a broken back zebra or tiger midge, assassin bird's nest, or crystal olive caddis/zebra larva pattern will get you into fish in the slots between the weeds. Lengthen your leaders to ten feet here, 5X is a good tippet size. The deeper pools can be fished with weighted attractors like SJ worms and egg patterns hung beneath an Under-cator. A hot rig is an olive or light Punk Perch as your upper fly with an assassin or PT as a dropper. You may also "swing cast" the Punk across the deeper slots and pools for a shot at one of the bigs that hunker along the weed lines or in the gut of the larger holes. Use the yellow, or clear for short water nymphing. Midge cluster, or para midge adults in the #20-24 range are hot flies for surface action. BWO adults fished high in the suds #16/18 also good calls afternoon when the baetis start to emerge.

*Tom Loe is under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service to guide Hot Creek.

East Walker River (4/18/14)

Flows back down to 22 cfs. Not good for the river-the silver lining is more water for Bridgeport Reservoir for the opening weeks. EW is having a rough couple of years & we have not been guiding here by choice. West Walker flowing pretty good, some off colored water due to snow melt.


Jeffery at the Bridgeport Marina gets an "A" for effort. He has moored his boats outside the marina (which is dry) so opening season anglers can utilize the newly painted and tuned up rental boats here. The RV Park is also in top notch shape and currently open for business. The public launch ramp at "the bath tub" will be open and staffed by volunteers (if they ain't fish'n) for opening day. Go say Baaah to Jeffery at the marina for us!

I am happy to announce that the we will have a fully stocked fly box and Under-cators in Reagan's Sporting Goods in Bishop! The Drifters fly box will carry all the guide tested patterns you see on the fish report including patterns for Pyramid Lake, Eagle Lake, Lake Almanor, & other great trout fisheries in the west. 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!

Pyramid Lake is well known for gigantic cutthroat trout like this one Chris Linkletter got with me a few seasons back. Still water nymphing and streamers can both get you into huge cutts in the late winter through spring. You can get flies & Under-cators for Pyramid right on the way up from S0-Cal by stopping at Reagan's in Bishop, or the Crowley General Store.

I have added a picture gallery to the website this year. You can click on it at the top of any page of this website. My apologies to any of our wonderful clients who have been with Sierra Drifters for the last seventeen seasons and do not have a picture posted. I just can't post the 30,000 pics we have taken! I will make an effort over time to post what I have. 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.

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

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