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Golden Trout Guiding Co. Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

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Golden Trout Guiding Co. LLC est. 2021

Welcome to my Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report for April 16th, 2024. We are seeing nice sustained warmer days both in BIshop and the Mammoth Lakes area as we close in on opening day for our general trout season (April 27th). I am getting excited for summer, the boat is prepped and ready for the lake, my dry fly box is filled to the brim, float tubes are out of storage, and looking forward to wet wading some small creeks! As we approach our summer season our opportunities for locations expand, our higher elevation creeks and streams come to life, and our back country opens up to amazing fly fishing adventures.

We now have only 3 spots left for our weeklong Golden Trout Trip (July 27th-August 3rd) hosted by McGee Creek Pack Station, Eastern Sierra Sport Fishing, and Golden Trout Guiding Co. You do not want to miss this once and a lifetime bucket list fly fishing trip for some of the purest strain of Golden Trout on the planet. To sign up or get more detailed information please visit our page HERE.

We had an incredible Spring Fly Fishing Clinic this year with a full group (8 Anglers) participating. We spent two full days from the classroom to the river working on foundational skills to carry into their future fly fishing endeavours. Conditions with wind were suboptimal for Saturday and our casting clinic, but with everyone’s attitude towards learning by the time we hit the river fish were on the line non-stop. We were rewarded on Sunday with perfect temperatures and conditions on the Upper Owens where all of our participants found success. We are constantly learning as anglers, one thing that I keep coming back to as a guide is to always GO. Unless conditions are unsafe and your putting yourself at risk, with the right presentation, attitude, and willingness you might find yourself having one of the best days ever on the water when you least expect it. Big shout out to everyone who joined us this year, we hope you stay fishy! Our fall clinic dates will be announced this coming May so standby if you wish to join. Below are some highlights from the 2024 Spring Fly Fishing Clinic.

-Luke Kinney, Owner and Orvis Endorsed Guide.

2024 Spring Fly Fishing Clinic

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Our participating anglers from L-R, Big Rob, John, Moto Rob, Brian, Sema, Susanna, Courtney, and Shelby. The start of Day 2 on the Upper Owens.

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Head Guide Rob Hrabik leading in Sunday mornings “Nymphing” presentation.

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Angler Shelby Mathis learning how to find the seam and maintain a tight line while nymphing the Upper Owens.

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We spent some quality time learning some key knots, clinch knot, blood knot, triple surgeon, non-slip mono loop and more.

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Angler Susanna Ieng put it all together, rigging on her own, reading the water and successfully landing this 23” Rainbow.

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Lower Owens– The Lower Owens this spring was one of the best years I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing and guiding. Flows are currently holding between 170-175 CFS for the time being. We are looking at the last few days, potentially week/weeks of good flows before DWP makes way for Spring run off. This is usually the time when water starts getting pumped through the Lower Owens with flows eventually getting to 400+ CFS. Anglers are taking advantage of these fishable flows while they can, we sure are! Keep an eye on the flows before making your way up to fish the Lower Owens, you can check flows HERE on our website. Once flows get to 300 CFS wading and fly fishing become extremely limited, and can be quite dangerous. Outside of the higher flows the temperatures in the valley (Bishop Area) start getting warm eventually into the 90’s/100 degrees as summer creeps in. This warming also brings the water temperatures up significantly eventually reaching the 70 degree range, too warm to responsibly fish for trout as they are working their hardest to survive the heat of summer. Right now the water is temping between 54-56 degrees midday and the bite is exceptional. The hatches of adult insects and dry fly action has slowed down but nymphing and subsurface fly fishing is still producing some nice fish. Fishing under an Indicator or Euro Nymphing are both great ways to target feeding trout. The mid morning bite is the best from 9am-2pm trout are keying in on well presented nymphs like the Duracell 16-18 (Olive, Purple), Perdigon 16-18 (Olive w/ Orange Hotspot), Frenchie 16-18, Bead Head Hare’s Ears 16-18, Flashback Pheasant Tail 14-18, and heavier Czech Nymphs 16-18. Fish are liking a slimmer profile midge or nymph in the early morning and by mid morning will be feeding higher up in the water column. Running a two fly set up with your buggier fly further off the bottom will help you match the hatch as the morning warms up. The Duracell Nymph 16 (purple) is hands down the fly of choice right now and has been consistently producing hook up’s all Spring. If you are patient and willing to lower your numbers game fishing dry flies and looking for sipping trout is still possible. The Caddis hatch has slowed down giving way to more mayflies like Pale Morning Dun and Blue Wing Olive mid morning and throughout the day into the evening. If you are focused on dry fly fishing I would size down those flies to 18’s and get that tippet size lighter 5X/6X as feeding trout are pickier with the lack of hatching adults. Recommended dry flies for the Lower Owens right now are Olive Foam Caddis 16-18, Pale Morning Dun 16-18, Blue Wing Olive 16-20 all classic patterns and each just as likely to get some takes with the right attitude and presentation. We are winding down our guiding season on the Lower Owens and looking to get higher up in elevation as summer approaches, Hot Creek, Upper Owens, Crowley Lake, and eventually our smaller mountain tributaries that run into the Owens like Rock Creek, Bishop Creek, and Convict Creek. I hope you all get a chance to get a good day on the Lower Owens again before it all changes, looking back we couldn’t have asked for a better season on the Lower!

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Angler Cory Olis made the trip to fly fish the Lower with his Dad and brothers, hooking up with some beautiful wild brown trout!

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Angler Scott Turner found success while learning how to Euro Nymph, the stoke is real friends! The word is out fly fishing is a blast.

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The Rousso family came out to enjoy a half day together on the Lower Owens and Mom caught the fish of the day!

Hot Creek– Hot Creek has been fishing great the last few weeks outside of some of the intense winds and the occasional cold snap as winter loses its grip up high and gives way to spring. Hot Creek is flowing at 12 CFS and its officially dry dropper season, my favorite time of year to fish Hot Creek. Unlike some of our other spring fed tributaries Hot Creek fishes well with Spring Run off giving more room for those fish to move around and feed on vulnerable insects. Both the canyon section and the interpretive site are producing productive days on the water. There are some great spots to streamer fish or Euro Nymph on Hot Creek but most of the water being quite shallow I like the dry dropper. My go to dry dropper rig is a medium sized dry fly like the Elk Hair Caddis 14 to a smaller nymph Chartreuse Copper John, 18. I’m typically running about 2-3 feet of tippit to my nymph from my dry fly allowing that nymph to cover water during the drift. Fishing thinner tippit will help lead you into more hook up’s on Hot Creek 5-7X with 5X being my preference just in case you find yourself getting into a bigger fish. A good tip while fishing hot creek is to fish anywhere there is a current break or places fish can hide in those established weed beds throughout the system. Don’t leave any water untouched as good fish will nestle in the weed beds and you might walk past some decent fish thinking there’s nothing there. The beauty of the dry dropper when rigged correctly is its all fishable, not to mention exciting never knowing whether that trout will take the dry of smash the nymph tailing along. Another great tip for Hot Creek especially while fishing a Caddis it to let those flies swing across the stream at the end of your drift, I can’t tell you many takes I’ve seen/had while while that dry fly swings at the end of my drift. I call it the 5 second rule, after your drift when the flies are directly downstream of you usually closer to the bank count to 5 before lifting to start your cast, you might have a brown or rainbow stalking your fly and waiting for the last second to ambush and attack. Recommended flies for Hot Creek as of now, Elk Hair Caddis 14-18, Parachute Adams 16-18, Purple Haze 16-18, Stimulator 14-16, Blue Wing Olive 16-20. As far as nymphs I recommend Small Baetis Nymph 18-20, Duracell 16-18, Copper John 16-18, Zebra Midge 16-20. Don’t expect to get Hot Creek to yourself this time of year especially with opening day right around the corner, Hot Creek can be shoulder to shoulder fly fishing so If you find yourself in some nice looking water really take your time to fish it well and get those flies in every each of the trout freeway! Hot Creek is the perfect place for new anglers looking for a beautiful day experiencing all of the beauty and fly fishing opportunities the Eastern Sierra has to offer. Let us show you around!

Book Hot Creek

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Tightlining a nymph between some weed beds on a beautiful day in Hot Creek Canyon.

Be careful to pass up good trout holding water while working Hot Creek. Check out all the current breaks, riffles and small boulders in the stream most if not all of those areas are holding trout.

Upper Owens– The Upper Owens in currently flowing at 84 CFS below the Hot Creek Confluence and around 73 CFS above. Most of the trophy rainbow trout have made their way back into the the lake, but there are still a few big fish and residential’s hanging around in the system. We will soon see our trophy cutthroat trout making their way upstream and into the Upper Owens. As far as fly fishing the Upper Owens has been fun, not as epic as the Lower in terms of numbers but fish are still being caught, and the river has become more accessible. The road is now fairly drivable with some mud patches but if you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle you should be good to drive the entirety of river. Small hatches of blue wing olive, caddis and pale morning dun are present throughout the morning, nymphing under an indicator, euro style, or streamer fishing are the best ways to target trout on the Upper Owens as of now. I am doing a mix of both tight lining and fishing under an Indicator depending on the water and depth. For those bigger slow moving pools I prefer using a indicator so I can get a long drift and those flies further away from me and at times even into those swirling back eddies. For fishing the faster runs or under the cut banks I like to tightline a few heavier nymphs. Recommended nymphs for the Upper Owens right are Flashback Pheasant Tail 16-18, Prince Nymph 14-16, Duracell 16-18 (olive/purple), Pheasant Tail with pink hot spot 14-18, and Perdigon 16-18 (Various Colors). Trout tend to be a little pickier on the Upper Owens so give yourself a good amount of time working a spot, especially if it feels fishy. Experiment with your depth and your flies, some of those bigger fish especially those browns will be glued to the bottom and might need 20-30 cast before taking a nymph. The Upper is the land of 1,000 hooksets, if you are fishing the Upper Owens right you should be tired of setting the hook, but eventually you will catch a nice fish. Those times when you think you might be hitting the bottom could be a bigger trout, set the hook! Not much top water action as of late but that could change anytime with these warmer days, I would expect to see more Pale Morning Duns and Blue Wing Olives hatching throughout the morning going into Spring. I like fishing a single dry fly as our temps warm up picking off fish as I cover water working upstream. It’s usually that first cast, when presented well, where you might get a solid take! Most of the dry fly eaters on the Upper Owens are going to be very small juveniles trying to get all the nutrients they can to survive, but you never know! The Upper Owens will get higher as the Spring run off begins but I have a feeling this year it will totally fishable and fun all spring, might just need to add some more weight or get those streamers out. Dry Fly recommendations for the Upper Owens as of now, Parachute Adams 16-18, Pale Morning Dun, 14-18, Blue Wing Olive 16-18, Elk Hair Caddis 16-18, Stimulator 12-16. Running a dry dropper is also a great call for the Upper Owens although some of those bigger trout will be deeper in the water column so getting those flies deep enough can be challenging. I love being on the Upper Owens in Spring, snow on the mountains, some big holdover trout, cutthroats moving in, and warmer temps. The Upper Owens has great accessibility and a perfect place to do a morning half day trip! Reach out to get on the water.

BOOK Upper Owens

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Angler Rob K. from our Spring Clinic was working under a cut bank while tightlinine a Flashback Pheasant tail with a pink hotspot.

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Angler Sema Ieng with a big smile and a big rainbow! Find the seam and fish it well.

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Angler Courtney C. working some excellent moving water with a distinct drop off leading into a deeper cut bank.

East Walker River– I will be guiding on the East Walker opening day this year, and I am psyched. Flows have come up to 157 CFS which is getting into absolutely primo flow range. Anywhere between 150-200 is where you can access most of the river and trout have plenty of water to move. My full EW report will be coming soon! Standby.

Thanks for stopping by for my Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report for 4/16/2024. We are all a community of anglers, lets make sure we share the water, stoke and knowledge. Life can be challenging enough and the river and time spent on it is a healthy and healing escape, let’s keep it that way.


Luke Kinney, Owner and Guide.

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