Golden Trout Guiding Co. Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report – December 13
I hope everyone is having a great holiday season! We are going into the colder season on the Eastern Sierra with shorter days and shorter feeding periods but the trout are still biting with the right flies and presentation! I am booking for Jan-March and would love to get out on the water with you. My passion for fly fishing is teaching the fundamentals so that you can go out on your own and be an effective angler. The journey is life long. To book a guided trip for you or a small group please feel free to reach out, happy holidays and tight lines!
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Lower Owens~ The Lower Owens is currently at its Lowest CFS of the year fluctuating from 70-90 CFS. This means most of the river is wadable, especially in the wild trout section. This also means that spooking fish is very easy, and with low and clear flows extra stealth and good presentation is key to having success on the river. Our incredible fall and late fall hatches of blue wing olive mayflies have slowed down, making this time of year a nymphing game. We are still getting small hatches of BWO’S and midges around 11am and throughout the day, but getting fish to rise to a dry fly takes extra patience. On top water Ive sized down my dry flies to a (Size 20, BWO) and a (Size 20, Parachute Adams). Im also using thinner tippit 5x or at times 6x to get the perfect presentation needed to provoke a top water eat. I always carry two rods this time of year, as hatches can last 5-10 mins and by the time you switch rigs its already over. As far as nymphing I recommend using 5x fluorocarbon, and nothing bigger then a size 16. Big bulky flies in this low and clear water can spook the fish, even with my perdigons Ive been downsizing to a size 18 or 20 and using smaller tungsten heads then usual. Small soft hackles are working well as the days heats up, this years go to fly is an (olive/cream, Duracell size 18) usually as my top fly and a small perdigon as my point fly or bottom fly. With these colder temps, being persistent and giving yourself room to cast before trudging through the run will lead you into more fish. I was having 20-40 fish days in Oct/Nov and now its more around 10-15 when the bite is on. It’s just that time of year, but you can still have a killer day if you play your cards right. If you’re not tight lining or Euro Nymphing, I would be using the most low key indicator you can find that will float your flies. Dropping a big pink airlock in a hole will spook the fish! Use the smallest airlock or foam indicators you can find, and white is the color. Lastly the Lower Owens is much bigger the the Wild Trout Section. If your willing to do some bushwhacking and exploring, chances are you’ll find some nice runs and bends holding fish. The section from below five bridges to bishop is good water 😉 and holds some big dawgs if you know where to look.
Central Gorge (Canyon Section)~ The Central Gorge has been cold and slow. Right now finding the right time to go into the canyon is everything. The Lower Gorge entrance is recommended, and fishing the wider sections of the Canyon will have more hours of sunlight. With the clear and low flows tight lining a single midge or nymph is the call. Indicators will spook the fish and the top water game has slowed way down. Dry flies will still produce with persistence, and a dry dropper is always a good call down there if you want to fish two flies. Id recommend a (size 16 parachute adam’s) to a (size 20-22 black/olive zebra midge). Casting down there is technical and narrow, and a great place to test your skills! Although its not fishing as good as it does on the shoulder seasons, if you want to see no one and have water to yourself then its always worth the journey. Travel with caution as ice/snow is a real factor when approaching the central gorge entrance.
Upper Owens- The Upper Owens got slammed with snow over the last few days. Snow Mobiles, Snow Shoes, Cross Country Skis, and hiking in are the smartest ways to travel upstream from Benton Crossing Rd. Every year I see cars go too far up the road and get stuck, even the most decked out 4X4 trucks. My bit of advice if you don’t want an expensive tow out of the snow, just hike in 🙂 I like to snow shoe in and I find it to be easier on my knees as I travel up river. Once the snow is more packed I’ll just boot it in. If you don’t own a pair of snow shoes you can rent or buy a pair from East Side Sports in Bishop or Mac’s Sporting Goods and various places in Mammoth. The river has been through many changes of temperature and weather, and needs to settle a few days to have an accurate assessment of how its fishing. I’ll be fishing up there this week exclusively to see how it’s currently doing. Before this last storm there were only a few trophy trout in the system and only by covering water and staying patient was anyone hooking up. Every year is different as far as the migrating rainbows and browns and it’s too early to tell what type of year we are gonna have. Last year I was already getting into plenty of beautiful 20+ inch rainbows and the occasional brown trout. This year seems to be off to a slower start but that can change at any point, as more fish can move into the system. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, then eventually you will be rewarded. Having local knowledge of this river will absolutely help you get into fish, hiring a guide is a smart choice if you want to maximize your chances of catching a personal best. Right now is a total nymphing/streamer game, with little to no top water action. Focusing on the cut banks and deep holes and runs are key. I like to Euro Nymph up there allowing me to cover every single bit of water possible. Fishing under an indicator is also effective. Recommended flies for the Upper Owens, San Juan Gummy Worm in pink or red (size 10-12), Prince Nymph (Size 12-16), Egg Patterns (Size 14-16), Heavy Tungsten Headed Midges or Baetis Nymphs (Size 14-18), and Peridgons in various colors (Size 16-18). More then the fly is finding the fish to run the fly past! If you find what feels like good water, spend more time casting then your use to! Set on all subtle takes, your next one could be a big trout.
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