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August 2011 Fish'N Conditions

Capt. Tom Loe
August 22, 2011
Eastern Sierras - Freshwater Fishing Report

Howdy friends and Sierra Drifters. I hope you are all having a wonderful summer and have had several opportunities to come visit us here in the Sierra. We have been enjoying a prolonged period of warm stable weather with no significant changes in the mid-range forecasts. Please click on www.sierradrifters.com/fish.htm to view all the great photos for this report.

Fish'N conditions are pretty good in most areas with the majority of the run-off behind us. The alpine regions are fantastic and have benefited from the huge snowpack. The freestone creeks are clear and running at fishable levels in all areas. Above average flows remain on the tailwaters of the East Walker; Lower Owens, and Rush Creek. You can expect this trend to remain for the time being. Look for an untimely increase on the Upper Owens in the future as well. We have a link to real time flow data for the LADWP and EW on the top of the www.sierradrifters.com/fish.htm page so you may check out what is going on locally.

Crowley Lake & Bridgeport Reservoir
Hard for me to pick which one to fish! They are both fishing as good as they get, and have the best conditions fly fishers have seen all season with good numbers of bigs showing daily. You can experience some painfully slow bites in both areas especially during the late morning/ middle of the day doldrums before the breeze picks up. The non-stop, Under-cator plunging all day, 50-100 fish to net we saw only a handful of years ago are just not to be in either location anymore. I said as good as they get, not as good as they have ever been. Stocking programs on both lakes are increasing since the declines in recent years and both fisheries will improve for numbers in the future. Crowley received DFG browns this spring and has been planted earlier due to excellent water conditions. Both locations have significant numbers of small rainbows that have been recently planted. They have infiltrated all areas of Crowley and you can't avoid them currently.

Elbow yourself into good spot and you can have fun with some trophy sized fish in between the dinks (new arrivals). Early mornings have been the most consistent on both bodies of water. The Bridge & Crowley are both full pool with fine water clarity. Weed lines end in the 18-20 foot range so you must locate clearings near creek inlets, submerged creek channels, or large "holes" in the grass. Stillwater nymphing has been productive in both areas with the most consistent fishing in the 11-15 foot depths with some "trout-codders" hanging bugs down 18-21 feet.
Wet years always make for a significant callibaetis emergence and you will have more opportunities using these imitations as opposed to chironomids near the inlets in McGee Bay, Hilton, and the Upper Owens on Crowley; Robinson & Buckeye inlets, or the EW channel on the Bridge. Trolling damsel nymphs and small perch fry from your tube can also be productive in these locations if you have the room to roam. The east shoreline around the marina to the launch ramp along the "drop off" is very consistent on the Bridge using our Punk Perch patterns or Loebergs #10-14. Loebergs on Crowley seem to be the ticket out in deep water along the weed lines, and then close to the shoreline along the protruding grass during low light periods. Use a "killa-baetis" callibaetis nymph as a trail fly in both areas.
The chironomids are showing in McGee Bay out in the deeper water where the bottom did not go dry when it was lowered this spring. Both larva and pupa/emerger patterns are performing on the mud. The deeper water has perhaps been more consistent, but it not nearly as fun as hooking them in short water and seeing your backing!
Both lakes have reached their high levels this year and will begin lowering steadily in the future. The weed lines will become more apparent and make it easier for those without GPS and sonar to find spots to fish and spread out. Shaping up to be a solid fall season in both locations.

East Walker River
The EW is pretty fun right now despite above average flows. This river can fish well even up to 400 cfs if you use enough weight this time of year. Example: I had high confidence that a number of fish were holding in a 30 foot section in a popular stretch of the Miracle Mile. A handful of well-placed casts and drifts from my client Jim Chase got NO LOVE. I added additional weight, lengthened the depth below the Under-cator and we went back to work. First drift with the additional weight-bendo! Same flies, same drift, more weight did the trick.

Seeing some good opportunities to fish small mayfly and para-midge patterns in the foam as well. The finicky finned veterans of the EW will hit those small dries if you can handle fishing the tiny adults in the soft water eddies along the shoreline. Use a larger high-vis mayfly pattern 2-3 feet above the your point fly to help you locate position and assist with mending. Afternoon caddis always fun after the sun goes behind the hills. Good reports from several clients fishing the sundowner recently.
PT's and broken back midges in the #16-20 range are good choices for nymphing with, or without an Under-cator. Our Copper and dark zebra broken backs are truly deadly here, you should try them. Grasshoppers are abundant as well, so when the flows drop some use a hopper & a bead head dropper to cover both layers of the water column.
Some sections have significant weed along the bottom and it can be frustrating to keep your flies clean. Don't get complacent and not clean/check them between presentations.

Upper Owens River
Excellent conditions currently. The section upstream from the Benton Bridge has some larger fish holding in the Long Years area and above the confluence of Hot Creek. Most are small wild fish here that are eager to hit BWO's or caddis and hopper patterns. The numbers (stockers) are to be found in the stretches below the campground and downstream from the bridge. Nymphing has been best here using PT's, tiger or zebra midges and SJ worms. We are still a ways off from the fall migration but it should be a good one this season.

Hot Creek
Grasshoppers in the afternoon rock. Fish small mayfly and midge adults for the morning hatches. Weeds are an issue now, you gotta stay in the wider channels and shorten the drifts, lengthen the leaders. Water conditions remain great for this time of year and will be good throughout September for sure. Pretty fun watching the rascals zoom out from under the weeds to whack a large hopper on the top! This is one time where a splashy presentation does not reduce your chances for a grab. Keep the drag off your drifts & as little fly line on the water as possible on Hot Creek or you ain't getting any love friends.

Alpine Lakes
Tubing Rock Creek Lake has been WFO according to Two Bug Doug. Some 2-3 lbers in the mix as well. Troll near the inlet and south shoreline drop-off with full sinks. Seal buggers, Spruce-a-Bu's, Loebergs are all good choices with a full sinking or heavy sink tip line. Good reports from Twin Lake Mammoth. Still water nymphing with tigers or zebras and callibaetis patterns working very well near the falls.
Silver has also been hot using the still water nymphing technique near the inlet and along the drop-offs. Frank and Eric Carlsen (veteran drifters) told me they out fished the "darkside" 10-1 recently. Zebras whacked them here. Virginia Lakes is awesome this time of year and is enjoying a consistent bite recently. Streamers will get you a shot at the larger fish and still water nymphing will put you in the numbers. The copper tigers and emergers work better here for nymphing.

San Joaquin River
Beautiful down here this time of year. The wild flowers are really stunning. Still running high but very fishable with increasing opportunities to hit the tailouts and slower riffle water. September should be amazing for dry fly if the weather holds. Dry/ dropper bead head combos work great near the campgrounds, while I suggest you fish caddis or mayfly patterns #14-16 for the wild trout that smack them immediately after a well laid out cast. Terrestrials like ants, beetles, and grasshoppers also get aggressive takes here.

Lower Owens River
Still tough to wade and cross in the wild trout section. The flows have been holding around the 400cfs level for a prolonged period of time so the fish have had adequate time to adapt. Early mornings are a must this time of year or then again in the late afternoons due to the heat. Caddis and PMD's for your dries and nymphs. #16-18. Once again, proper weighting is crucial for nymphing.

The drift boat sections have picked up nicely since the debris and weed issue has diminished. The bite can slow mid-day during the summer, however we are just beginning to start drifting and the runs are all fresh with water that has not been hit for almost two months. The higher flows once stabilized are not an issue for drifting this time of year as the water is warm and the fish will charge out of the holes and undercuts to grab a streamer pattern. Loebergs, Punk Perch, and crystal Vanderleeches are good choices. The Drifters guides bring along 4wts. with floating lines in the event we get a shot at some afternon caddis or morning mayfly emergences. Nymphing from the drift boats with high water is not as productive as the "dip & strip" technique we perfected utilizing streamers and heavy sinking tip lines. We will have access to ALL 20 miles of river this fall/winter due to above average release rates and I am looking forward to a very productive fall and winter season. Hope you can drift with us soon.

Adobe Pond
This will be a great fall to fish Dobe. Lots of water means lots of food and the wild browns are fat and happy here. The Drifters guide staff all agree that the fish have a larger average this year as well as the numbers being up. This is one of the best places to sight cast to rising browns on a private piece of water in the Sierra. We use our drift boats to cover the water efficiently and in comfort. Click the http://www.sierradrifters.com/AdobeRanch.html page for booking info please.

Eagle Lake-Now Booking Fall Trips!
Eagle Lake has become my favorite still water destination and has earned its reputation as the best rainbow fishery in California. Eagle's scenic beauty combined with numbers of quality trophy sized rainbows makes it the premier natural lake fishery in the state. The fall trip will take place from September 21st through October 16th. You are invited to join me up at Eagle for some truly memorable fishing. Please click on the http://www.sierradrifters.com/EagleLakeCalifornia.htm for details and booking information.
My friends at Eagle tell me the bite has not stopped since we left this spring and that the water conditions are great. The South Basin and the narrows around Pelican Pt. are still fishing well with solid hatches of caddis, callibaetis, jumbo chironomids, and damsel flies. September will bring schools of chubs migrating into the shallows and the big rainbows will chase them into short water. It is very much like bone fishing for trout in the fall here as we focus on the shallow water structure. I can't wait, hope you can make up!

Thank you for taking the time to read our report.
Tom Loe, Doug-R, Fill T., Two Bug Doug D. and Chris B.

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

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