Eastern Sierra Report


Jun 12, 2001
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July 29, 2004

Howdy friends and Sierra Drifters. Best fishes to you all for this late July fish report from the Eastern High Sierra.

We have some significant changes in several of the more popular fisheries to inform you of with the “catching” being pretty darn good for most of the areas mentioned.

The weather has settled into a mid-summer pattern with hot daytime temps in the Owens Valley and very warm afternoons with no morning frost in the upper valleys and even into the elevations above 10,000 feet this week. Look for continuing warm summer like weather with an increasing chance of T-storm activity by the weekend.

The mosquito situation is becoming less of an issue in most regions here, but bring repellant along to be on the safe side.

Fire danger is severe in many areas due to the prolonged drought here in the Eastern Sierra. Please use extra caution when camping or smoking and keep those vehicles on the approved roads and trails.

Lower Owens River: Go elsewhere

Flows have been increased to 360 cfs this week and at this release fly fishers will have a tough time getting those nymphs down to the wild trout. You may have some surface opportunities in the late afternoons when the air temperature gets tolerable in the Owens Valley. Caddis flies will be the bug de’jour #16-18 dark bodies.

Crowley Lake: Excellent-good

The fishing regulations will change as of 8-1-04 on Crowley. Bait is NOT allowed to be used and only BARBLESS artificial lures or flies are permitted as terminal gear. The bag limit for trout is also reduced to 2 fish in POSSESION with an 18 inch minimum. Please help out the DFG wardens and true sportsman by reporting poachers if you witness any violations.

McGee Bay has been the most consistent area with the Hiltons a good choice if you do not want to kick 30 minutes from the launch area of McGee. Hilton has been very crowded this week and if you are not here early you will be a spectator as opposed to a player in the game of stillwater nymphing. The chironomid hatches have been huge with the best bites coming from 9-11 a.m. The wind is always a factor on Crowley and it will shut down a good snap if it starts to white cap from the south or west.

The tubers stripping streamers along the diminishing weed lines in McGee, Hiltons, Sandy Pt. and Green Banks are all getting some low light action on the larger model trout looking for damsel fly nymphs and very small perch fry (our punk perch #12 is kicking trout caboose) seeking refuge in the weeds.

We have found the most consistent “catching” to be in at least 10 feet of water. Emerger patterns like our gray and black crystal emergers and gilled chironomid or “gillies” #18-20 have proven to be deadly this week. Drifter’s crystal tiger and zebra midges and pupa patterns #16-20 have been hot fished 8-12 inches off the bottom during the mornings and evenings.

The algae situation is still upon us at times and it can shut down a bite. Keep your fly clean and if you are stillwater nymphing clean your rig every 3-4 minutes if the goo is present.

Kyle Daniels from San Bernardino, CA got bragging rights over his dad recently when the father and son team got into some big fish while stillwater nymphing with us recently. Look this one up on our website for sure!

The browns and cutts are showing up to feast on the small perch fry and chironomid pupa in the deeper water on the flats in McGee and Hilton Bays recently and Decker Warner from Thousand Oaks, CA was here to greet them. Check out Deck’s & Kyle’s photos by visiting our website at http://www.sierradrifters.com/fish.html

Hot Creek: Good, but getting tougher

As water levels decrease the weeds will begin to protrude above the surface making longer drifts more difficult here. The trout have become skeptical to many flies and weak presentations and have received their PhD’s in “snobbism” recently. Those who have issues casting or dead drifting a small caddis emerger or may fly should avoid this area if you are not with an experienced “hottie” or a local guide.

The caddis fly is a staple food source as an adult and nymph during the summer months for the trout that inhabit Hot Creek and many other spring fed, freestone or tailwaters in the Eastern Sierra. Splashy takes are customary for trout feeding on adult or emerging caddis as they swim to the surface. Look for the best caddis activity to be in the very late afternoons when the shadows are long or gone. You will also see plenty of grasshoppers this time of year here and in other fisheries. Use a hopper or stimulator pattern as a lead fly in assisting you in seeing your smaller primary dry or emerger pattern fished in back of or below the big dry. Hopper and a dropper is the nick name given to this type of rig.

West Walker: Very good

The flows are ideal in this freestone river right now and there are a plethora of aquatic insects that you may choose to imitate as a pattern to fool these trout. The above mentioned hopper and dropper is spanking them in the Pikel Meadow section of the river. Hang a Drifters crystal tiger or olive zebra #16-18 under the dry 2-3 feet and you may end up with a trout on both flies! Fish here can be on the small side but are eager to take well presented surface patterns. There are numerous planted fish here also in the area just downstream of the parking lot and along the many campgrounds located close to Hwy 395.

Rock Creek Lake: Good

Head to the inlet and along the south shore if you tube the lake. Get your streamers like our Loebergs #10 and crystal leech #10-12 down 10 feet with a full or heavy sink tip and you should have no trouble getting into some stockers. Be courteous to the shore anglers and give them some room. You do not want to get tangled up with their bait rigs and “ring their rod tip bell alarms” inadvertently.

San Joaquin: Good

Flows are excellent here for wading and the wild trout are eager to hit most dry fly presentations most mornings and then after the shadows get long. You will not find good fishing near the campgrounds as the stocking program has been cancelled this summer due to lack of funds by the DFG. Plan on hiking 20 minutes from the campgrounds and you can find fish in all the larger pocket water and larger pools. Dry/dropper combos with tigers and zebras are deadly #16-20, as are dry/dry rigs with a stimulator and caddis or Adams pattern as the trail fly.

East Walker River/Bridgeport Reservoir: Poor/Fair

The flows are up to 215 cfs right now. This is well below average for this time of year and once again the river will be faced with the potential of a fish kill due to high temps and low oxygen. The reservoir is very low also and is choked with weed and algae in most areas especially along the dam. The reservoir is not a great place for tubers right now and if you wish to check this area out look for the best location to be straight across from the first marina towards Rainbow Pt. There will be a narrow path cut in the thick weeds to get into open water. Damsel flies work well here and if you do find some clean water a big brown is not out of the equation.

The river fishes best early in the day and then again very late afternoons. Small tiger and zebra midge’s #18-22 always work here and you will see plenty of afternoon caddis as well.

Upper Owens River: Fair

We get a lot of weed and not a lot of larger trout here this time of year especially in the water below the confluence of Hot Creek. If the wind is not hooting in the late afternoon, put on a caddis imitation and look for a larger pool in the Long Years section or the corals and you can have fun with the smaller wild browns after the shadows get long. These fish are spooky here so keep the “ninja” attitude when approaching!

Bishop South Lake/Intake 2: Very Good

Reports here have some guys wearing out our Loebergs#10 and still getting bit on just some thread and a little flash! Veteran Sierra Drifter Larry Daniels showed me the fly to prove it. Keep those bugs down to the 10 foot depth for best results. Find the “green wave” of stocked fish and you will have some fun.

Convict Lake: Very Good

You will not get many wild trout here but if you are just looking for some “bendo” and a cool place to spend the late mornings in a tube this is the hot ticket. I am told the seagulls are having a feast picking up the unsuspecting hatchery rainbows that circulate around the lakes edge. The birds will tell you where the school is located. Find the “green wave” and stay within casting range with just about any streamer #8-14 and you will have some fun with these stockers. Our Loebergs #10 and crystal leeches #10-14 whack the greenbacks here while using a moderate to light sinking tip. Thanks to Sierra Drifters veteran Joe Mallinger for the tip here.

Mammoth Lakes Basin: Good

Very good reports coming from Lake Mamie & Lake Mary from those trolling with a full sinking line using a streamer and a bead head midge or hares ear as a trail fly. If you want to get into some of the big Alpers trout that are planted on a regular basis in the lakes basin area, locate the submerged trees stumps along the shorelines and inlets and concentrate here.

2004 Alpers Trout and Mono County Dept. of Fish and Game fish stocking schedules http://www.visitmammoth.com/stockschedule/stockschedule.html

June Lake/Rush Creek: Good

Do some walking with your polarized glasses and locate the “pods” of stockers that have held over from the heavy plantings over the 4th weekend and you can have some fun with these planters on Rush. Silver and Gull continue to be the best for tubers using full sink lines and a tandem rig with a streamer and dropper nymph at least 2 sizes down from the point fly.

Kirman Lake: Good

The weed and algae are becoming a factor and the fish get “attitudes” after mid-morning but stillwater nymphers using scud patterns #18-20 and hares ear imitations #18-20 are fooling some nice cutts and chunky brookies along the tulles during the low light periods and cloudy days. You will have company on the weekends here.

You may purchase our time tested guide flies at the following fine fly shops near you:

Look for the “osprey” Bill Stroud of Stroud’s Tackle in San Diego, see Peter Piconi at the San Diego Fly Shop, ask for trout master Jimmy Toy at Malibu Fish’N Tackle in Thousand Oaks, Talk to Lane “I never get to fish” Garrett at the Crowley Lake Fish Camp, and any of the top notch personnel at the Troutfitter/Trout Fly in Mammoth Lakes.

There are links to all shops at www.sierradrifters.com/resources.htm

Be the fly…Tom Loe, Sierra Drifters Guide Service

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