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Fish'n Conditions March 5th 2014

Capt. Tom Loe
March 6, 2014
Eastern Sierras - Freshwater Fishing Report

The Upper and Middle Owens Rivers located near Mammoth and Bishop Ca. are fishing fantastic right now. Fly fishers are enjoying some excellent numbers and quality rainbows while being guided to these locations by snow mobiles and drift boats. Ben Kauffman and Ron Peters will vouch for the incredible fly fishing action occurring on the Upper Owens 3/3/14.

Snow is melting rapidly along the Upper Owens and Hot Creek. It has been very warm with no further precipitation dang it! Owens Valley also drying out and pleasant. Watch those two track dirt roads in the upper valleys, especially the UO which is frozen in the morning and a muddy mess as it warms. Fishing has been good/excellent overall in all the year around fisheries except the East Walker which has limited water to fish.

Upper Owens 3/2/14

The Drifters guide staff would like to thank our clients for their business this winter. We CRUSHED past bookings. We have just had the best December through February in seventeen seasons as the longest standing group of guides in the Mammoth region. Thank you!!! John Morgan, "hands down the most respected guide service in the Sierras! I'm also glad they are getting the much needed moisture!!!! :) "

Another fun day hunting snow bows using my snow mobile to access the area. It melted so much today that we will not be able to bring them in unless it snows again soon. It was an absolute ghost town here today and I never saw a single angler the entire day from 6am until 3 pm when I loaded the war wagon. Access is tricky here. There is currently 0-4 inches of very wet snow in the area with mud & ice in the ruts. Just remember…four wheel drives take you further in to get stuck! You will see a fair amount of debris and weed floating by after these wet storms. The water will also be a couple shades off color due to the tannin leaching in from the banks. We are seeing good midge and mayfly (BWO #16) activity daily if the wind does not hook up. The school sized fish are active and feeding. Have some mayfly nymphs like flashback PT's, assassins, hares ear, #14/20. You will also want broken-back articulated or regular crystal tiger and zebra midges, crystal olive zebras and caddis larva patterns #14/18 for tandem nymph rigs fished beneath an Under-cator. On bright sunny days use the yellow or clear 3/4 inch Under-cator. It will not be as obtrusive to the wily trout. Hi-vis para BWO adults are good to use as an indicator on a dry/dropper bead head rig. Parachute midge patterns #20/22 are also hot surface flies for the sipping trout late morning. #18/16 BWO adults are also on the menu, I really believe in the quill wing ones I sell and use, check them out at the least. The hot rig during off hatch periods is a crystal leech, dark assassin, or SJ worm as your upper fly. Use the Otter egg patterns we sell at Reagan's, and Crowley General store as the lower. This set-up is just flat deadly, and we have perfected how to rig and present it to fool those Crowley Steelhead. Streamer fishing can also be productive using a light or clear sinking tip. This is a good option if the wicked witch of the west blows in. Use Loebergs, punk perch, agent orange, or crystal leeches working the deeper cut banks & pools from an upstream position. Book a trip with us and you will obtain the keys to the castle & learn how to catch these incredible fish. The run lasts through March so get up here before it's over.

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.

Middle Owens River:

Be careful navigating some of the dirt roads around the Middle Owens, they are very soggy from all the wonderful rain the OV received. Fishing is as good as it gets in the wild trout section currently. 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 may experience a decline in grabs after the emergence some 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 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. First generation adults are larger-#14/18 will get looks if you 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. And did I mention the first little yellow stoneflies are poppping? It be true! Stimulators are great representations for the adults #14/16. Larger PT's and assassin birds nest are great as nymph clones #14/12.

Flows are currently at 106 cfs and stable. The LADWP real time gauge at the Pleasant Valley outlet is currently functioning (I have a link to it on my resources page of this site) The "Middle Owens" near Bishop was once named the "Lower Owens "and was changed since the LORP project re-watered the section of river down from Tinemaha Reservoir a few years back.

The rez level is yo-yoing and is currently up making the transition area not so accessible. Fishing has been excellent in 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. With the warmer weather no access issues except for the high water near the tree line at the inlet.

The Gorge is fishing well in the deeper pools & pocket water. Late winter & fall are excellent periods to visit this area as the dense foliage and brambles are not so much a factor. You will see huge midge and mayfly emergence's on the good weather days. Dry/dropper bead head rigs are deadly here. I like flashback PT's in #18/20, assassins in #16/18, & crystal olive caddis larva in #18/20 as nymphs. Dry fly action is also good for better casters who can turn a leader over in compromising areas. It is wise to fish downstream of your target water here, don't expect to get across from the wild browns here-they will spook instantly when they get a shadow on them. Tie on a #16/18 BWO adult, or parachute midge #20 for consistent surface takes during the hatch. Midges in the morns-mayflies at noon.

"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.
Hot Creek (3/1/14)

Access has become more difficult hiking into the canyon. Ice & snow will be around for a week or so on the trails. The road to the gate is fine if you have an all drive wheel vehicle. Additional water from recent storms coupled with warmer weather have spread the fish out and opened some riffle water. Strong midge & mayfly activity occur daily. Dry dropper rigs using para midge or hi-vis para BWO patterns 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. 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. Access remains good as of 2/26/14 however the forecast calls for some snow to hit on the weekend.

*Tom Loe is under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service to guide Hot Creek.
East Walker River (2/26/14)

Flows remain very low at 22cfs. This is pretty much the minimum. Historically late winter and early spring are great times to fly fish the EW. Not true so far this year. The EW has had a tough time the last couple of years due to extended low flows from dry winters causing poor overall conditions. Fish counts are not what they were several seasons ago and what remains are concentrated in the deepest pools and runs. Some significant storms in March could improve conditions greatly for Bridgeport Reservoir and the EW. We are keeping our fingers crossed!

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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