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Mid-May Fish'N Conditions Update

Capt. Tom Loe
May 12, 2011
Eastern Sierras - Freshwater Fishing Report

[picture] Lee "big fish" Deminski with the finest kind of Crowley Lake Rainbow caught at Alligator Point. What a beautiful fish pal!

Howdy friends and Sierra Drifters. Here is the mid-May fish'N conditions from the Eastern High Sierras brought to you by Tom Loe of Sierra Drifters Guide Service.
The weather has really played a major role this season with regards to the "catching". We are finally beginning to experience pleasant and seasonable conditions in the upper valleys. However, the continuation of the winter from hell is still upon us. We remain to have forecasts indicating winter conditions may still be upon us well into the middle of the month. On the bright side, the cooler weather is preventing the runoff from being excessive which in turn is keeping the tributaries and freestone creeks fishable early on. Even the tail waters have begun to back off on release rates recently. I would not expect this to hold for an extended period of time, especially during the warmer summer months, but it is making conditions much easier to fish in these locations.
Historically wet seasons such as this one lead to very memorable and excellent conditions in the summer and fall. This one is shaping up to be one of the best!

[picture] Alex Corsaro is "bendo" at Sandy Pt. on Crowley Lake. The scenery is spectacular in the spring on Crowley.

[picture] Lee Deminski with a nice "broken back midge" brownie caught in 15 feet at Sandy Pt.
Crowley Lake
It has been a slow start here no doubt. Tough weather, the results of more "taking than putting" over the last several seasons and; the lake level has been dropping like there is a hole in the bottom and it is really influencing where the fish usually hold during this time of year. Water conditions are very good and the temps are beginning to creep upward despite the cooler than normal days. The chironomid hatches are strong and begin their emergence around 9-10 each day. You will find warmer water and more concentrations of fish north of Sandy Pt. towards Six Bays and into the North Arm in 14 feet or more. Alligator Pt. is also holding fish during the mornings.
Fishing is improving as we roll into the second week of the season and many of the dinkers planted last fall are venturing onto the flats from the deeper water to feed on the emerging midges. Some Sacramento Perch are also pulling those Under-cators down as they are staging on the gravel to spawn. There are no weed beds, and very little weed forming on the bottom yet, so concentrate your efforts on transitional zones along drop-offs and ledges, or substantial points along the shoreline.

As is usually the case under these circumstances, I do best with bright bead head midge patterns #16-20. Copper or black nickel seem to work best in the deeper, clear water. The broken back gillie #18 has also been an excellent choice as the upper fly recently. Crystal emerger patterns in gray #18-20 are also getting grabs. As the level begins to stabilize and warm up some you will see improved catching for sure. June should be an excellent month this year, with August one of the best ever. I am hoping to see the level at, or near the McGee Creek lower fence line once again this summer.

[picture] All the way from Scotland… Walter Bevridge got this trophy Upper Owens rainbow with T.Loe on a blustery day recently. Sound those bag pipes Walt!
Upper Owens/McGee Creek

[picture] Jay Preston with a lit up hook jaw caught on McGee while nymphing. Nice fish Jay!

The tributaries flowing into Crowley are all holding rainbows and some cuts. Conditions are very good and the run-off has not blown out these areas which are just now peaking in numbers of migrating trout. These fish are actively spawning so please take care not to disturb the redds that are obvious at the base of the deeper pools and in all the gravel sections. San Juan worms, egg patterns, FB Pt's, crystal midges, all seem to work. The key is to not spook the fish prior to your initial casts. Easier said than done I must admit. The average fish is noticeably smaller this year, but there are some 20 inch models holding in the prime runs.

[picture] Pretty girl with a pretty fish! Two bug Doug assisted newlywed bride Sabrina Mellinger & husband Kevin to some nice fish on Hot Creek recently.

[picture] The groom Kevin Mellinger, with a nice HC brown. Truly a lucky guy!
Hot Creek
Business as usual. The flows are really nice here right now. Not too high, not too low. Look for them to begin a steady rise when the weather warms. May flies and midges are the bug's de'jour. The seams in the weeds are easier to fish with the higher water levels, this opens up more fishable water.

[picture] Dr. John Hayes and one of his patients he examined recently on the East Walker with Two Bug.
East Walker River
What a fantastic year! The flows have dropped back to very fishable levels and it has been good. Anything below 300cfs this time of year is great. Mornings have been best while nymphing as it has been very crowded most days. The best combo for me has been twin broken back midges (copper heads) or a FB Pt # 18-20 after lunch.
GUIDE TIP: I can't emphasize enough how crucial it is to utilize ample weight respective to the run you are fishing. You must get your imitations down along the bottoms contour, and it requires adjustment for each piece of water you fish. Proper weighting far outweighs what fly you select within reason, and is the single most important factor for successful nymphing.
The EW can be a technical piece of water due to the breadth and diversity of currents along the river channel. It requires accurate and aggressive mends to properly fish the transitions where the majority of the fish hold. If you have been stymied here give us a call and we will show you how to fish the EW. One guide trip with a Sierra Drifters pro will pay huge dividends for you in the future.

[picture] Franko Carlsen with a chunky EW rainbow caught while nymphing a fast seam.

[picture] Aaron Shelley shows off a "dip and strip" brown caught on a drift boat ride with T. Loe recently. His dad Glenn looks on.

Lower Owens River
The mighty Mississippi has nothing on the LO these days! Just kidding. The flows have been very high most of May. They have even crested the banks in some areas and flooded some access roads. Despite the high releases we are still "catching" with a good amount of effort. As of this report the flows (440cfs) are beginning to drop substantially, and as the snow begins to melt off in the southern Sierra you will see continuing decreases in the wild trout section as the creeks and drainages swell with run-off. Look for some JUICY conditions in early June people. Concentrate your efforts on the soft water along the reeds and willows. Don't bother with the larger pools; the fish are just too difficult to reach at flows above 350cfs. The Spruce-A Bu has been my best pattern by far recently fished with a heavy 24 foot sinking tip line. There are some caddis flies (#18) showing up on a regular basis, as well as PMD mayflies #18-20. Be careful along those cut banks folks, it is deep & steep and can be dangerous with breathable waders on if you take a spill.

Glenn Shelley with a feisty rainbow caught along the tulles in slow water. Nice strip set Glenn!

Isiah Loy with his first drift boat bow. "I.L" was on fire despite the high flows and spanked the majority of fish on his float with dad and friend.
Bridgeport Reservoir
The early reports are good from the Bridge. His "royal sheepness" Jeffery @ the marina is saying it has been very good for numbers with some jumbo browns showing up on a regular basis. Tubing near the marina and launch ramp has been productive for some on the nicer weather days. The Bridge has also had its share of wind and cooler weather this May. The Bridge is lower in elevation thus has warmer water temps than Crowley. The callibaetis mayflies are already appearing near the inlets and the chironomid hatches are going strong daily. Weeds are beginning to show in the flats so you must use a meter to identify the channels. Still water nymphing is best in 12 feet or more, streamer patterns fished with a full sink line along the channels in the weeds will also work well. With the huge amount of water this area will be great this summer and into fall.

Alpine Lakes:
The June Lake Loop has been good for DFG stockers and some IAG planted trophy fish on the nicer weather days. Tubers using full sinks and trolling streamers are doing well along the drop-offs and ledges. Convict Lake and Lower Twin in Bridgeport have good reports as well. There is still a whole bunch of snow and ice above 8500 feet so call the resort you plan to visit before making the trip.

Be the fly friends…Tom Loe, Sierra Drifters Guide Service
[email protected]

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