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Ides of March 2011 Fish'n Conditions

Capt. Tom Loe
March 16, 2011
Eastern Sierras - Freshwater Fishing Report

Howdy friends and Sierra Drifters. Best fishes to all for the "Ides of March" fishing conditions here in the Eastern High Sierra. March is perhaps the most transitional and unpredictable month of the year with regards to weather and conditions. You may experience cold/wet periods spaced with very mild and warm days in this region. In addition, you will witness cycles of high & off colored water due to run-off & rain instead of snow. This season we will have extended high water in the freestone & spring creeks and the tailwaters of the East Walker and Owens Rivers-bank on this!
Join us on Facebook and Youtube as we shall be updating the fishing conditions more frequently from these locations with daily and weekly blogs as well as "on the spot" video fish reports. You can view the great photos of the fortunate clients, and the not so fortunate fish-by visiting our website at www.sierradrifters.com/fish.htm

[photo] Radio personality, all around great guy & the namesake of the "blood sucking Vanderleech" fly- Sierra Drifters insurance broker Stan Vanderburg shows off a beast of a rainbow he caught while drifting with me recently. Great fish Stanley!

[photo] A few bends later Stan's pretty wife (and damn good fly fisher) Margaret landed this awesome hook jawed bow to even the score. We had a truly memorable day drifting the Lower Owens together.

Lower Owens River:
I hate to say it but the party will soon be over here. The flows have been creeping upwards since the beginning of March and with Crowley Lake near capacity the water lords will unleash the hounds very soon. There is a real-time link to the LADWP website at the top of our website Fishing Conditions page to view flows on the Owens. Wading & crossing will become tough above 300cfs, at 450cfs and above, forget it! After the levels stabilize for a week, the drift boat fishing will be fine and it will be business as usual again.
There has been some fine fishing in most sections recently and you will see solid hatches of spring caddis, little yellow stone flies, some huge drakes, midges, & the last of the BWO emergences. A variety of nymphs and winged adults with associated profiles will get you grabs. Quite frankly, it will be more location & the archer-not the arrow that will lead to catching as flows climb. Streamer fishing with heavy sinking tips and practicing the "dip & strip method" has been productive. This has been a great season for larger fish. Punk Perch #10-14, Loebergs #10, and the deadly Spruce-a-Bu have been fooling the bigs daily.

[photo] One of a group of thirteen great San Diego Fly Fishers… Paul Woolery displays a nice brown he fooled on a BWO during the clubs annual outing with the Drifters gang recently. Thank you SDFF! See you for the "Healing Waters" trophy pond session for these courageous wounded warriors in May.

[photo] Jeff W. is all smiles after he landed this large colored up bow on a recent drift with his pal Jimmy D. The two firefighters had a great day on numbers as well.

[photo] Bruce L. and Two Bug Doug with a jumbo sized bow that "hit at the buzzer" Bruce hooked the big un on the last stop of the day!

[photo] Independence local Jerry C. took his first drift with me a short time back, and looky what he caught for his very first fish! The thick bodied rainbow had a beautiful paintjob.

Upper Owens River:
What a great winter! I will remember the 2010/11 snow bow season for a long time to come. The winter strain fish are returning back to the lake and conditions on the UO are less than perfect as the snow begins melting tainting the water and increasing flows. The thawing roads are an absolute mess and even our snowmobiles can't safely access the roads until they freeze, or thaw and dry out. Hiking in is the only way right now and with the lack of fish present I would say it is NOT worth the effort. Nymphing the deeper pools has been the silver bullet here most of the winter however, If you decide to make the trek up and fish under the current conditions I suggest you use streamers and a moderate sinking tip line. Keep them in the #6-10 range with some red, orange, and flash built in to make the profile stand out against the tannin colored water.
Spring this year in the Crowley tributaries will be challenging due to the low snow line & early run-off. Crowley is thawing and will have an earlier ice out than last year for certain. McGee Bay is already showing clear water near the inlet, as is the Upper Owens inlet area. Just recently I am beginning to see fish moving upstream and stage on the redds here at McGee Creek where I reside. In another month most of these tribs will be washed out and unfishable unless the weather turns cold again for an extended period. Quite possible this year, check out my Facebook updates for these changes.

[photo] Matt S. always wanted to hold a "super model"-here ya go dude! This fish could be a "cover girl" anywhere. What an amazing fishery the Upper Owens has become in the winter-can't wait until next year!

[photo] Big fish Rocky T. and one of his gorgeous "snow leopards". Magnificent fish Rock.

[photo] Another Upper Owens super model for Matt. He dated a few of these beauties this day-and I got to be the camera man!

[photo] Brett B. is now a believer in the legendary abominable snow monsters of the Upper Owens! He nailed this awesome hen a short time back with Two Bug pointing out the caves.

[photo] Jeff Cardenas and yours truly- " old scar face" posing with an exceptional Upper Owens River snow bow. I recall this fish pulled so hard Jeff had cramps in his arms before finally whup'n it. Check out the width of that tail!

Hot Creek:
Timing will be everything here this spring. The run-off influences Mammoth Creek making it swell-so this shall establish conditions on HC proper which stays for the most part very stable in flows and clarity. It can be epic on the crick in March and it is by far my favorite time of year to fish here save maybe the blanket caddis hatches in the fall. BWO's are still the main course on the trout's diet but they snack on midges all day here. I also suggest you go "rogue" and toss a streamer or two if the water gets off colored, especially in the larger pools and holes. Road in remains closed to vehicles and will be a mess for a while.

East Walker River:
Blown out as of 3-11-11. 700cfs currently; 200 or below is excellent here. Bridgeport Reservoir is full pool and there is a ton of snow in this watershed. I believe flows will remain high for a while but will come back down to reasonable levels before opener unless it gets unseasonably warm, or rains a bunch.

Pleasant Valley Reservoir & the Gorge:
PV is fishing very well right now and will continue to do so until full time power generation begins in the future. The lake level is way up from this winter and tubing near the launch ramp and dam will be your best options when the turbines begin turning.
The gorge is going to be one of the best options this spring because of the consistent flows with no influence from run-off along its rocky banks. It requires some legwork to get into the better areas here. The numbers of wild browns are plentiful, although they are on the small side. Have a selection of mayfly and caddis fly adult imitations #14-18, as well as some yellow stone fly look-a-likes #14-16. Drop a bead head nymph a couple feet below the dry for deeper pools & runs. I find it crucial to fish from a downstream approach-casting up and working further with each presentation here. The fish are spooky and conventional approaches will not get it done in most instances. Break out those 2-4wts in this area.

Trophy Pond Fly Fishing Classes:
[photo] If you or someone you know wants to learn the basics of fly casting, knot tying, and the fundamentals of wet and dry fly fishing from full time fly fishing professionals, here is a great opportunity!
We will be conducting casting and knot tying clinics located at Sierra Drifters beautiful private trophy pond overlooking Crowley Lake at McGee Creek. You may enroll for an on the water instructional seminar in addition to the pond session for the second day.
These clinics were a big hit last year and we had high marks from those who attended the classes. The four hour clinics cost $100.00 per person/day.
Day one will focus on rigging your fly rod and essential knot tying, emphasis for day one clinics will be hands on instruction of several basic casts. It is intended for entry level fly fishers, but the instructors can tailor your individual needs. You will not need a license at the Drifter's trophy pond. Bring your 4-6wt fly rod and reel with a floating line and we supply the rest!
Day two will take place on the water and covers basic rigging methods, how to read water and "entomology made easy" so you can figure out what flies to use and when. Instruction on how to properly fight and safely release a fish will also be covered. Emphasis will be on presentations and location along a stream or river. A license is required for this class and is not covered in the cost. You will also need a fly rod and reel, a vest with some basic tools, strike indicators and leader material, we supply the flies. We can supply all you need for both classes for an additional minimal fee.
You may choose a single day if you wish, and we will limit the classes to five students per guide to insure you get excellent personal instruction. These classes are a great way to learn the basics of fly fishing by pros at a very affordable cost. Classes will be conducted on May 20, 21 & 27, 28. In June we will have classes on the 3rd, 4th, 17th & 18th.Please contact us by phone or email for more details and enrollment; we can customize family or group clinics to suit your needs.

Eagle Lake:
[photo] Doug and I are chomping at the bit to get back here this spring. Eagle will be in great shape and it promises to be the best spring we have ever experienced. We have limited booking dates available in June and July so get back to us soon. Please click on www.sierradrifters.com/EagleLakeCalifornia.htm

Thank you for taking the time to read our report.
Be the Fly Friends…
Tom Loe, Doug-R, Fill T., Two Bug Doug D. and Chris B.
Sierra Drifters Guide Service
Cell 760-937-2015
Email [email protected]

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