upper owens image

Spring fishing along the Upper Owens River near the Benton Crossing Bridge.

Ski the morning, fish the afternoon

Spring has sprung and this warm weather is melting snow quick in a number of areas. Upper elevations to the 7,000 foot range are pretty much snow free with vehicle access in most spots. There are still some snow drifts and wet muddy roads to avoid. Drive with caution in wet and snowy areas. This warm weather has the mayflies, midges, and caddis hatching. Looks like we have a third year of below normal water for the Eastern Sierra. Plan your trips accordingly. August through October is now fire season and fly fishers should be prepared for smoky days in this time frame. Streams will be at their lowest levels in the fall. Plan your Eastern Sierra fly fishing trips accordingly.

Lower Owens River Wild Trout Section: Water flows are at 85 CFS which allows wading fly fishers access to the entire river. Midges, mayflies and caddis are hatching during the day. I start the day off with midge nymphs and or midge pupae patterns. An hour or two before the blue wing olive may fly hatch the trout start keying in on the blue wing olive nymphs. After the blue wing olive may fly hatch the caddis hatch in the lower third of the wild trout section, from gate 13 to Five Bridges

Hot Creek, Canyon Section: The snow has melted allowing fly fishers to access the canyon section with their vehicles. The steeper gradient in the canyon section lends its self to nymphing. Nymphing under a dry fly like a size 16 Adams Parachute with a midge or blue wing olive nymph is producing wild trout. For the nymphs I’m using size 20 to 22 tiger midge or zebra midge in nymph or pupae style. To imitate the blue wing olive nymphs I’m fishing with size 18 bead head flash back pheasant tail nymphs or size 16 olive quilldigons. In the right spots of the canyon the hatch comes off with enough intensity to get the trout feeding on the surface. I’m using blue wing olive parachutes and olive sparkle duns in size 20.

Hot Creek, Interpretive Site: Anglers can access the creek with their vehicles. The warm weather has the blue wing olive may flies hatching. The trout are keying in on the hatching adults. A size 20 blue wing olive parachute or a size 20 olive sparkle dun is producing trout on the surface for dry fly fishers. There are still a lot of midges around and they are worth fishing as nymphs and adults. A size 20 to 22 tiger midge or zebra midge in nymph or pupae style is producing. 

Upper Owens River, Above Benton Crossing Bridge: Fly fishers are driving in on the main road to the upper Owens River. I would drive with caution on the spur roads out to the river. Some of these roads are still sloppy and getting stuck is a real possibility. There are still decent numbers of trophy trout in the system. These fish are resting and feeding in the deeper channels, holes and cutbanks. Successful fly fishers are covering lots of ground to find the spots that are holding trout. I’m Euro nymphing these spots with size 12 stoner nymphs and size 12 green/gold Prince nymphs on competition jig hooks. The key to success is having the right beads on the flies to get the patterns working down deep on the substrate where the trout are feeding

(Fred Rowe owns Sierra Bright Dot Fly Fishing Specialty. He teaches fly fishing and fly tying, is one of the original fly fishing guides in the Eastern Sierra. When he’s not out fishing the waters of the Eastern Sierra from Bishop to Bridgeport, he is an avid hunter who loves to hunt birds, especially waterfowl. Fred can be reached at 760-920-8325 or at roweboat5@verizon.net. His webpage is at sierrabrightdot.com.

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