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Eastern Sierra Fish'N Conditions Updated 2/23/11

Capt. Tom Loe
February 23, 2011
Eastern Sierras - Freshwater Fishing Report

Howdy Friends and Sierra Drifters. Here are the current fish'n conditions for the Eastern Sierra year around waters updated February 23rd 2011.
We have recently joined Facebook and Youtube in 2011 and will be posting updates, pictures, and trip videos more frequently than on the fish'n conditions page of our website. I will also be doing "on the spot" video fish reports with instructional tips. Click on the links or go to www.sierradrifters.com/fish.htm to check out videos/pictures and utilize the links. Thanks in advance for reading our report, please take the time to check out all the great pictures of clients with trophy Sierra trout on our website.
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sierra-Drifters-Guide-Service/124077134323500
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaRiX_QrA-A

Picture: Magic Carpet to incredible fishing on the Upper Owens! We are riding our clients in on snowmobiles to the less trafficked sections of the UO and it has been excellent this winter.
After a prolonged period of dry and warmer weather Old Man Winter returned with a vengeance during the moon in February. The cold winter storms brought feet of snow to the mountains, and the upper valleys received a significant amount of new snow on the ground. The forecast continues to call for some unstable periods for a while, but you will begin to see a change in how the storms affect the region. As the days lengthen this time of year the fronts have a tendency to stay more confined to the mountains. The Owens Valley was spared significant snowfall and received only a dusting with a good amount of rain. The two track roads are once again somewhat of a mess and very muddy. They will be frozen in the mornings, and thaw by afternoon. You may get in easily enough, getting out will be a different story! Hot Creek, the East Walker, and Upper Owens are once again snowshoe worthy to make access easier.
Upper Owens River:
The pictures will speak for themselves, it has been very good friends. We have been nymphing with a variety of patterns and to be honest I would say it is more a question of "the archer-not the arrow" that brings success here. Location is also very important and you will find 90% of the fish holding in less than 10% of the water. Fish midge patterns on the bright sunny days with a high or rising barometer #16-18, select mayfly nymph imitations for flat or falling pressures #16-18. Seeing increasing midge cluster activity on the warmer days, the BWO hatch will be building here as the days lengthen.

Picture: Lee D. and T.Loe with a gorgeous snow bow caught on the Upper Owens River

Picture: Kevin T. & Two Bug Doug with a humongous beast caught and safely released this February.

Picture: Don G. & Doug R. another slammer bites the dust on the Upper Owens this winter.

Picture: Scott H. with an Upper Owens River winter time hog. These are not steelhead, they just think they are!

Picture: Yet another for Scott H. a few casts later. "T. Loe, You're awesome! LD and I just could not keep from talking about the "epic" day you showed us yesterday on the UO. Truly my best day in the year I've been fly fishing and you're tutoring was not only insightful but truly SPOT ON! Can't wait till we do another trip with you and Sierra Drifters later this winter for sure! Thanks again for those "pigs" you put us on for a truly memorable day!"

Picture: Mikey O. & Two Bug with a chunky snow bow. "Doug, THANK YOU again for an amazing day! We will see you again! Regards, Mike"

Picture: Lee D once again. Man was on a mission. How'd you like to get chomped on by those choppers? Nice buck. He's coming back in March… Snow bows beware!

Picture: T. Loe got a major workout chasing down the bigs Lee D. caught on the Upper Owens recently. Incredible day Levi, way to stick em' pal.

Picture: Jon B. showing off a magnificent Upper Owens River snow bow, T. Loe was the gillie.

Picture: Bruce B. & Jon B. taking a lunch break and sipping a little wine to celebrate a great day on the Upper Owens River. Fun times guys, thanks.
Lower Owens River:
The water cooled down some with the last few storms and slowed the bite as well. We are still seeing some bigs most drifts and they are taking streamers fished "dip & strip" style. The bite is definitely tied to the BWO mayfly emergence these days and you will observe the best "catching" just prior & during the hatch. It can then slowdown in the late afternoon. Wading around the WT section of the Lower Owens remains very good most days. Flows remain below 100cfs here. Nymphing with midges #18-22 in the mornings and switching to FB PT's #16-20 just before the afternoon hatch will get positive results. The pinnacle of our sport is fishing dry flies to rising trout. February and March are prime time on the Lower Owens River for this event. Have some blue winged olives #16-18 handy around noon. You should also have a dry shake type desiccant to keep your adults riding high in the suds. Mayflies like to "hide" in the foam as they dry their wings before taking off. You will see the trout focus on these foam lines during a significant emergence. Don't roam from da foam folks!

Picture: Daryl B. with a bodacious drift boat rainbow. Your big fish curse of the Lower Owens has been lifted D! T. Loe performed the exorcism. Hey D, if this fish was human it would be riding on the "short bus" [inside joke]

Picture: Caleb S. got a birthday gift in the form of a huge rainbow while his dad Glen mans the net. Sierra Drifters Guide Fill T. did the rowing for them.

Picture: Santa Lucia Fly Fisher Dave H. got his largest rainbow on the Lower Owens recently-T. Loe was on the paddles.

Picture: Big Man, Big fish! Author Andy Rafkin banged out several bigs while drifting with T. Loe on the Lower Owens River recently. This is an exceptional fish friends.

Picture: Back to back bigs for "the author" Andy Rafkin on the Lower Owens River

Picture: Speaking of having a great day…Frank C. carefully releases one of two bigs he caught in 30 minutes of frenzy feeding during the hatch recently while drifting with T.Loe.

Picture: Franko's second big had serious game and a very rotten disposition! Some fancy rod work brought this one to net. Great day Franko!

Picture: Jeff P. raised the bar on his largest rainbow with this trophy caught on the Lower Owens River. T. Loe had the pleasure of guiding him and his father Dennis.
Hot Creek:
Give it a few days without additional snowfall and the walk in visitors to the geologic site will pack down the snow enough to make it walk able without the use of snowshoes.
Fishing is very good here on the warmer days. Midge clusters, or para-midge adults [#20-22] that ride low in the surface film work well this time of year. The Baetis hatch is gelling so look for some exciting dry fly fishing to begin as soon as the air gets above freezing. First generation adults are #16-18. Nymphing in the deeper pools and pockets using a tandem rig with FB PT's and broken back midges are also good choices currently. March will be excellent here, we have dates available.
East Walker River:
The release rates are almost ideal between 100-150cfs. They are currently running just over 100cfs. It has been very cold since the last winter blast and there is a fair amount of snow in the river basin as of this report. It has not been very good here since the cold set in, but look for the EW to go off as soon as it begins to warm some. Lower in elevation than Hot Creek and the Upper Owens R. The East Walker will thaw much earlier than these areas historically. You will encounter some of the finest mayfly hatches in the state during March and April here. You might also consider some stone fly nymphs #8-12 to ply the deeper pools come March.
Pleasant Valley Reservoir:
The lake level remains on the low side with the transition water between river & lake being much further into the canyon than you may be accustomed to. Dry/dropper bead head nymph rigs still rule in this section and a crystal tiger or zebra midge is very effective here. Look for strong baetis activity just before lunch and switch to PT's or adults BWO patterns then. The mud when it thaws remains an issue, use caution and make sure your boots are tightly laced when it gets sticky in the late morn/early afternoon. The rocky short river section begins just downstream of the powerhouse and can be fantastic this time of year. It looks and feels like a mini-East Walker River to me in this area and you will find good numbers of fish holding in the plentiful pocket water all along this run. Solid steeple casts- over the shoulder- and forehand roll casts are necessary to keep you out of the proverbial "penalty box" in this heavily brush lined section. Freeze tubing has been terrific near the launch ramp if you don't mind the crowds and the cold water. Most streamers in the #8-12 range will work well with a full or heavy sinking tip line. Look for increasing chironomids action in March and bring along your still water nymph rigs to fish the drop-offs. It can be better than Crowley here at times for tubing no doubt, & it remains open year around. We supply float tubes if you are interested in a trip.
The Gorge:
Middle & upper got some snow as of this report. It melts off quickly this time of year when the sun comes out. During periods of heavy traffic in the WT section of the Owens and other areas this is a great option for those willing to do some moderate hiking and rock hopping. The wild browns are plentiful and eager to take most dries in the #16-18 range. I still prefer a #14-16 dry as an indicator or upper fly, and a bead head nymph #16-20 as the dropper. Deadly duo here in the deeper pools and runs.

Be the Fly…
Sierra Drifters Guide Service
Tom Loe, Phil T. , Two Bug Doug D. , Doug-R, Chris B.
Cell 760-937-2015
Email [email protected]

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