Howdy friends and Sierra Drifters. May the moon in May find you all healthy
Big changes to report here in the Eastern Sierra since our prior update.
The weather has been horrid since the opener but has recently become more
seasonal and is influencing the fishing greatly. Record snowfall in April
for Mammoth Mountain and a significant amount of the white stuff already in
May have altered the mild and dry weather that prevailed over much of spring
here in the Eastern Sierra. Conditions have changed dramatically in the
last several days with warm, seasonal weather kicking in and the trout
responding to the altered conditions with exuberant feeding behavior.
Wipe the cobwebs off those fly rods and bring the skis up for a great
experience here in the Eastern Sierra this spring. It is happening on all
Best fishes to all, go Lakers!!!
Crowley Lake: Good
The initial part of the season was a huge disappointment to fly-fishers this
season but has since turned for the better. Very cold water and bizarre
weather attributed to the slow fishing. The lake level is disturbingly low
for this time of year and this did not help out the situation for us long
If you are planning a trip to Crowley in the near future stick to the north
arm between Sandy Point and Leighton Springs. We have had some good fishing
in these locations while stillwater nymphing the last several days as the
air and surface water temperatures have warmed. The fishing is extremely
spotty in most other locations. Look for the fish to hold in deeper water
than usual, we have got good readings in over 11 feet most days with the
bulk of them running the drop-offs in the 11-13 foot range. Stick to larva
patterns in the morning and late afternoon. Our Tiger and Zebra midges will
get you grabs during this time frame. The chironomid hatch has been
starting around 10 a.m. and we tie on our emerger patterns like the “gillie”
and copper crystal pupa. Use a 2 fly rig and get those bugs down at least
10 feet. Visibility is excellent thus far with an insignificant amount of
algae present. Use fluorocarbon in the 5X range for best results.
Do not be surprised if you hook up some Sacramento Perch. They are staging
for the spawn in most areas in water depths of 10-14 feet.
Barry Quarles from San Diego, CA is credited with the first trout caught on
Crowley while fishing with us this year. Check out his thick bodied “Eagle
Lake” rainbow on our website at http://sierradrifters.com/fish.html
Mike “Mac” McIntire gets credit for landing one of the first trout on the
new “fish magnet” launched on Crowley Lake during a blustery May day
recently. Mac avoided hypothermia and frostbite by setting the hook while
stillwater nymphing off our new 24’ custom flats boat.
Bridgeport Reservoir: Very good
Reports from this area are excellent with few exceptions. The weather has
been a factor here early on as with most regions in the Eastern Sierra,
however as the conditions improve this is a must stop while in this region.
You may encounter significant algae bloom if the wind stacks the green goo
along the windward shorelines, especially along the dam. Stillwater
nymphing in 10 feet of water using chironomid larva and pupa patterns will
get you grabs as will tugging a streamer with a full or heavy sinking tip
line using olive patterns while trolling along the drop-offs. Hang a midge
trailer off the streamer back 12-16 inches for a different look. The launch
ramp and dam sections are your best bet when conditions allow.
Robinson Creek: Fair-good
Reports have this creek fishing well for planted fish when the water is not
being released from Lower Twin Lake. Tie on a #14 stimulator with a #16
copper crystal tiger midge as a dropper. 24-36 inches will be fine for your
drop tippet. Locate fish around the campgrounds and you will have fun with
East Walker River: Poor
This blue ribbon fishery has been a victim of low water flows for 3 seasons
now and it has taken its toll. Reports here are not good and conditions
continue to compromise trout habitat. Flows are 60 c.f.s and the trout are
concentrated in the deeper holes, which are not abundant at this release
The good news is that a series of late spring storms will bring much-needed
run-off to this watershed and perhaps the foundations of increased flows
during the summer. Please use extra care while fishing and releasing trout
caught in this area.
West Walker River: Fair
Flows are still low as run-off is not significant as of this report. Warmer
weather will stimulate the trout to become more active soon and plantings
from the Cal D.F.G. will help make this a fun area to fish especially in the
Pickle Meadows section located near the Sonora Pass. The dry/dry, dry
dropper combo rig with most bead heads #16 will get you some grabs.
Lower Owens River: Poor-good
Flows have done the yo-yo during the last week combined with releases from
irrigation canals and it has been tough on the lower sections of the river.
The release rate is currently at 300 c.f.s but may change soon due to
increased snowmelt. Wading can be difficult in the wild trout section at
this flow so use caution. In addition the warm weather has made a late
spring feeding pattern in this area with mornings and late afternoons best.
The mid-day lulls are very apparent here. Nymphing with plenty of weight to
get those bugs down is a must. Pheasant tails and caddis imitations will
get grabs if your presentations get down to the trout. Prior to the flow
increases we had some excellent fishing in the drift boat sections and Ken
Pulskamp and Robert Newman will attest to this. The duo netted almost 100
fish in two days of drifting with us in April with several chunky bows
coming to net. Check out Ken and Rob’s fatties by visiting our website.
The river has been a mess recently and we are avoiding it due to weed
choked, off colored water in the lower sections.
Upper Owens River: Fair
There are still enough late season stragglers to make this interesting in
the Long Years section above Benton Crossing. San Juan worms, Roe patterns
and streamers fished along the undercuts will work if you cover a lot of
water. Keep a low profile while in “search mode” and concentrate on the
more difficult to reach holes. A 2-foot trench along a riffle will hold
some nice fish that may be overlooked by many.
Big Springs: Fair
This is a small piece of water that from time to time holds some very good
sized trout that migrate up from Crowley and the Upper Owens River to spawn.
You can fish down stream from the bridge to the boundary of Alpers Owens
River Ranch. There is a well-marked fence line here, please respect the
property line! Dry/dropper combos work well in this area. Use #18-20 bead
head mayfly or midge patterns below a large caddis or Stimulator as an
McGee Creek, Hilton Creek, Crooked Creek: Poor
The tribs to the lake have pretty slim pickings and not worth the walk as
far as fishing is concerned. A few spawners remain in all areas but with
the runoff still not started it will be tough to get near them in the
Rock Creek Lake, Mammoth Lakes, San Joaquin River: Iced up or closed.
Rock Creek: Good (lower sections)
Stick below Iris Meadows campground and you will stay out of the snow and
enjoy some consistent fly-fishing for planted trout. I have got reports of
the planters attacking elk caddis on the surface with gusto. Trick here is
to find an area that has been planted. Stockers will hold in the slower,
deeper water that imitates the flow in the hatchery penstocks.
June Lake Loop: Fair
The weather has improved here greatly and so has the fishing. The cold
weather has made the early season tough for tubers and Rush Creek has
increased flows making the water higher and difficult to fish. Silver is a
good bet near the inlet to Rush if you get a nice day. #8-12 streamers
trolled with a full sinking line will get the stocked and holdover trout in
Hot Creek: Good
Steady reports here. Not worth taking extra “personal days off” however,
when the wind is not flapping your ear lobes it is consistent and the flows
are still early spring like. This may change soon as the snow begins to
melt. Stay small here for best results. A #20 nymph or emerger will get
far more looks than its # 18 counterpart. A #22 will put you in the
“highline category” when fishing next to another who is chucking an entire
chicken wing at em’. Crowds have not been monstrous for this area except on
weekends. Keep your tippet sections 6x and your leaders at least 9 feet in
Pleasant Valley Reservoir: Good
Tubers escaping the “ice ages” as of late have reported steady fishing in
this area around the dam and launch ramp sections while fishing full sink
and heavy sinking tip lines with a variety of streamers #8-12. The river
inlet has been very spotty due to power generation and water releases.
The Gorge: Very good
A little to warm for my liking this time of year, but if it cools down a bit
this is a good place to get away from the masses and get into some nice
little wild browns. Most mayfly patterns will do the trick here #16-20. A
dry/dry or dry dropper combo is always deadly in this region.
The big flushing flow in this area has been postponed until late May? We
will let you know when it goes off.
You may purchase our time tested guide flies at the following fine fly
The Troutfitter in Mammoth Lakes, Crowley Lake Fish Camp, Malibu Fish’n
Tackle in Thousand Oaks, and Stroud’s Tackle in San Diego. There are links
to all shops at www.sierradrifters.com/resources.htm