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Fish'n Conditions February 16th 2014

Capt. Tom Loe
February 17, 2014
Eastern Sierras - Freshwater Fishing Report

Weather settled down nicely by afternoon in the Upper Valley's and Owens Valley, 2/16/14. Pretty dang nice on the mighty MO today, left the river with calm winds and a high of 73. A continuing series of "maybe" storms will be parading through the region all week. Air temps will begin to fall and highs are forecast to be 20-25 degrees cooler by the end of the week with 20/30% chances of precipitation. Winds are also in the forecast.

Upper Owens River (2-15-14)

We are having to deal with the wind the last few days & it has made presentations difficult. You will also encounter some very heavy pressure for the holiday weekend here. Numbers were very good today; however the bigs are really thinning out and getting multiple trophy fish out of the larger pools is not easy. The fish are spreading out and moving to hard to reach locations along the cut banks. This is expected, and we anticipated this for guiding as the water warms and the fish no longer need the insulation properties that deeper water provides. Assassin bird's nest, broken back zebra midges, crystal leeches #14-18 all got more hits than the attractor patterns like SJ worms and eggs today. Definite change in feeding behavior as the metabolic rates increased and feeding began. Good surface activity late afternoon on midge adults. These "evil" midges are tiny and a #24 is close to the profile. A #20 parachute Adams will suffice during the peak of the hatch. No significant storms forecast for the next seven days, just wind & cooler temps.

A good tactic is to go full ninja and spot fish holding in the runs, then position to make a good presentation. Midge hatch is picking up as the days lengthen & I am seeing good mayfly emergences on the warmer days. A variety of imitations will get looks. I like tandem nymph rigs using Assassins, crystal leeches, flashback PT's, San Juan Worms as your upper. Stick to #12-16 as your top flies. Hang glow bugs/eggs, broken back midges, smaller assassins and PT's, tiger and zebra midges, olive crystal zebras & Killa baetis nymphs as the lower. These can be #14-22. Use a para high-vis BWO, or mayfly adult #14/16/18 and one of the aforementioned bead head nymphs for a dry/dropper rig if you observe sipping fish. This is an excellent way to fool spooky fish and one can stay downstream of the feeders for casting. It is crucial that you keep your flies near the bottom and alter your depth/weighting with each location and section of any given pool you fish. It is the "little" things that separate those who get these bigs, & those who do not. The forecast is calling for some unstable weather moving in for a week. Good news if it actually snows! The UO is very prone to gusty winds so have a plan B like the Middle Owens near Bishop for the next week.

GUIDE TIP: Winter time takes are as soft as a butterflies kiss, so set on anything. If your Under-cator stops, shimmies, hovers, or plunges, SET IT! I tell clients look for reasons to set the hook, not excuses why you didn't! Swings are free, and you can't strike out while fly fishing. Try to set the hook moving your rod the direction your indicator is moving. This establishes ANGLE & insures you pull the hook INTO the fish, not out of it's mouth. Anything 4 feet or deeper may hold a fish or two.

You can pick up our flies and Under-cators at Reagan's Sporting goods in Bishop & the Crowley General Store in Crowley if you are in the area and need the hot flies we use on this report. They are also sold on my online store at the top of this page.

Middle Owens River 2/16/14

The LADWP realtime gauge that registers release rates from Pleasant Valley Reservoir is back in operation. Currently at 102 cfs. I have a link to their site on the resources page of my website located at the top of any page. Just saw the first stone flies of the year! I have not done due diligence on the exact species; however I do believe them to be "slender winter stones" Dark bodies, by no means a significant hatch, but something to consider if you like fishing larger nymphs. Also an increasing number of yellow stones, smaller & more prevalent. Very early to see these on the Middle Owens friends. Good adult imitations are Stimulators/sofa pillows for adults and larger birds nest patterns as nymphs.The BWO mayfly hatch is in full swing and the wild fish are moving into the riffle water and tail outs to feed mid-day. The trout are really keying in on this hatch & you will see a decline in grabs after the emergence most days. 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 hi-vis adults #20/22 are best for dry fly enthusiasts. The BWO or baetis mayfly hatch is also a hot ticket now. 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. The adults have upright wings, twin tails, and ride high in the foam lines. Streamer fishing using the "dip & strip" is also productive & will fool larger trout more often. 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.

*The Lower Owens River is now being designated as the "Middle Owens" due to 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.

Pleasant Valley Reservoir/The Gorge 2/15/14

Levels have fallen considerably since my last update here which has improved access to the "transition" section near the inlet to the Rez proper. Still plenty of weed but with the lower levels you can now get to the elbow area which has better conditions. Watch for the mud! It will be frozen in the morning, and can thaw rapidly. I know of a few wading boots buried in the muck due to this common error. The DFG planted a bunch of big brood stock here and some catchables recently. Not the prettiest fishery, but it can kick out Fifty fish days if you know how to fish it. The short creek section is fishing well in the deeper pools & runs. 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. Still water nymphing can be productive along the drop-offs on the west side in 9-12 feet. The rainbows and browns here on the chew by late morning. 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.

"Freeze Tubing" can be very productive during the cooler months on PV Rez. This is the "elbow" and it is typically a very good location to fish a streamer or use a still water nymph rig (midge'N) Crowley style. Key is to locate 7-12 feet that is weed free. Not easy this winter as the lake has well above normal weed growth everywhere.

The Gorge has very low flows due to work being on the hydro plants. The wild browns are holding in the deepest holes and significant dry fly action has been dropped off the last couple weeks even though the weather has been near perfect for this area. Dry/dry, or dry dropper bead head rigs using small mayfly and crystal olive caddis nymphs are good choices. Fish are small and scrappy here, but plentiful in the middle and upper area of the lower sections. You need to be able to hike and rock hop. Waders are a must, studs & a staff will help immensely.

Hot Creek (2/15/14)

Fish are far more active this week (less the hurricane winds) and you will see good hatches of midges and mayflies so long as this pattern remains entrenched. The recent snows have put some run-off into the crick which will improve some sections in the canyon. Access remains good, no snow here. Look for the deepest pools-check out the area just below the hatchery called the "interpretive" site. Not a place you want to spend a day on, and it becomes crowded with 4 anglers. Keep driving if you see a few cars by the kiosk. The bulk of HC's fish winter here and DFG survey's show this is the most densely populated section of HC. Dry/dropper's, streamers, swinging soft hackles, all will get grabs. You can't fish Mammoth Creek this time of year so I suggest you do not cross and stay on the HC side of the river. Hit the deep holes and slots in the canyon, weeds & low flows are unfortunately still an issue in the prime riffles. Midges and mayflies-smaller sizes are the standard. Try a crystal scud, or a SJ worm and roe pattern to spice it up on the cooler days.

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

East Walker River (2/13/14)

Same old story here. Low flows have the fish in limited water. The warmer weather has improved conditions for sure and you see some good baetis activity in the late mornings on warmer days-after noon on the cooler. Midges are always here, let's hope we get more water to spread the fish out. I find dry/dropper combos to be the best rigs during low water conditions & warmer weather, Assassin bird's nest, flashback Pt's, broken back tiger and zebra midges, crystal olive zebras and chironomid pupa patterns are all good calls for nymphs in the deeper pools and runs. BWO adults like hi-vis para bwo's & para Adams, blue & sparkle duns will get looks.

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!

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

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