Golden Trout Guiding Co. Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report – February 21
Welcome to my Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report, thanks for stopping by. I do my best to give the most accurate fishing reports possible, and have really enjoyed connecting with all of our newsletter subscribers. We are coming off a run of amazing weather and fly fishing as a new cold front moves in this week. Spring is peeking its face around the corner, and this year is going to be beautiful. The Sierra is on track for a record snow pack year, meaning rivers will be high for spring and the back country season will be late. It also means that we will have colder water temps throughout summer and lots of bug life providing a healthy eco-system for our beautiful trout. I am very excited let’s keep it coming. As of now we have 2 spots left for our 2023 Spring Fly Fishing Clinic coming up on the weekend of March 25th and 26th. Any angler looking to learn a solid foundation of fly fishing from casting, knot tying, reading the water, rigging, sub-surface techniques, top water techniques, and much more I recommend this clinic. I am currently booking through April, all levels of experience are welcomed and all gear is provided. Call (858) 750 9820 or email [email protected] to start planning a guided trip.
Some moments from our 2022 Fall Fishing Clinic
Lower Owens– DWP has been increasing the flows seizing the opportunity for anticipated spring run off this year. This changes everything on the Lower, how it fishes, where they hold, everything gets moved around. CFS is around 200+ and will be raised to 300 within the next few weeks. Wading the river becomes very difficult/impossible to cross, not to mention dangerous. Right now bank fishing is the the best way to target trout. Until things warm up and we start seeing spring hatches of Mayflies and Caddis, we are fishing deep under an Indicator. I am fishing the Lower Owens between 4-6 ft of leader from the bobber to my indicator. I do not like using split shot so at this time I am primarily fishing multiple Czech nymphs (heavy tungsten headed flies) to get my flies deep enough. I have started tying flies again, after being too busy guiding to get to the table and creating versions of more traditional nymphs with an oversized bead head. For those fly tying fanatics out there I recommend oversizing the head of your nymphs for the lower to get them deeper if you wish to ovoid adding split shot. When working the banks target the channels and tail end of runs as fish are currently holding on the seams and tail-waters. Getting a good drift is difficult right now without being in the right position on the water, as crossing the stream and allowing your flies to drift the bends becomes more difficult with higher flows. Wild browns and rainbows are still being caught but in fewer numbers, the Lower Owens is tough so if you have a slow day out there don’t be discouraged everyone is! Patience and persistence, casting more than usual, setting on subtle takes and changing depths will lead fish to the net. I am patiently waiting for our spring hatches to pop off, to start getting more hook ups, even with high flows trout will raise on the seams of the foam line and wider shallower water. Recommended flies for the Lower Owens (Peridgon in Various Colors Size 16-18) (Rainbow Warrior Size 16-18) (Copper John Size 16-18) (Flash Back Pheasant Tail Size 14-16) (Prince Nymph Size 16-18) (Zebra Midge Black/Olive Size 14-18). Lastly don’t count out your classic Wolly Bugger Streamer (Size 8-14). I am a streamer junkie and love working higher flows with bigger bait fish patterns. When the bite is already slow why not target the MEAT EATERS! Good luck out there.
Central Gorge (Canyon Section)– The Central Gorge picked up last week big time with warmer temps bringing the canyon section to life. Flows are remaining stable and the water color has cleaned up significantly from the last few big storms. I have started guiding more and more anglers down there, as the Lower’s higher flows makes hooking up more difficult right now. Flows might be Lower in the Central Gorge but that doesn’t mean its any less technical. The central gorge has tight casting positions, reeds and down logs, and small pocket water, if you can get fish to the net down there you can fish anywhere. I consider the Central Canyon a perfect place to work on ALL TECHNIQUES dry flies, dry dropper, streamer, euro nymphing, and bobber fishing. The central gorge will challenge any angler, especially while targeting wild trout on top water, forcing the angler to have a precise cast and you usually only get one to two chances before you catch a bush or tule haha. It reminds me of small creek fishing in Alaska or New Zealand, usually sighting and hunting your fish. I have two main styles of fly fishing I use down there, either my Euro Rod with two flies, or the dry dropper. For my dry dropper I like using a size 14 Olive Foam Caddis to a size 18-20 black zebra midge with a copper head. Chances are the trout will take the midge but every so often a fiery brown will smash the Caddis on top water. We have a storm moving in as we speak which will slow things down in the canyon, good news is most of the weather will stay at higher elevations so chances of the river blowing out are slim. When I find myself in a deep pool, I am having fun fishing small streamers like a size 12 black leech, size 12 olive/brown Wolly Bugger, size 12 Goldy Locks, or a size 12-14 punk perch. Right now is the time to get down to the central gorge moving into spring, once things start warming up the stinging nettle will grow rapidly on the banks and come summer it’s extremely difficult to access good water. I have been exploring the canyon weekly and so have some of my clients on their own, we are consistently hooking up on 16-18 inch browns and rainbows. Reach out to line up a guided trip into the Canyon Section for a full day of adventure with no-one else in sight!
Upper Owens River- The Upper Owens river has been on FIRE this last week. We had warmer temperatures with minimal wind creating active feeding trophy trout and some incredible snow bows landed. Fish are being caught from the bridge all the water to the private water. Thats around 10 miles of fishable river, that being said if you’re willing to put in the miles and get above the 2 mile mark chances are high you’re going to get into some quality fly fishing. Weekends have been busy at the word is out and we are in peak trophy season. Let’s practice good river ethics by allowing anglers at least two to 3 bends to fish, especially if they are there first. I like to ask anglers how they are doing as I pass the up or downstream, as an Eastern Sierra angling community we have the ability to create a welcoming and respectful environment. There are plenty of holes, and plenty of fish so if you favorite hole is taken go adventure to a new one! I have been guiding a lot on the Upper Owens, as this is the time of year I am primarily hunting for the biggest and baddest fish in the river. Working ALL the cut banks like a grid will eventually lead you into fish. Having the right weight, depth, leader length, and flies all come into play. Right now I am fishing a short mono leader to a tippet ring with 6lb fluorocarbon to my two flies. My whole leader in length comes in around 8-9ft. The 6lb allows me to fight the bigger fish well, and land them as quick as possible. Streamer fishing has been incredible last week, attracting MEAT EATERS to come and play. I am tying custom Wolly Buggers, a pattern I call the Space Bugger using Orvis Olive Polar Chenille as my body, one of my favorite materials to tie streamers with. I highly recommend. There are many large holes on the Upper Owens where getting a drag free drift into the back eddy in near to impossible. I like casting streamers in those zones letting them sink and stripping the back through the feeding lane. Streamer takes on the Upper Owens are exhilarating and addicting. As far as nymphing under an indicator I recommend a size 12-14 squirmy worm, size 12-18 prince nymph, size 16-18 quildigon/perdigon, size 14-16 rainbow warrior/pink/or purple. I don’t stray too far from those flies as they have all been producing. Make sure you are using strong hooks when fishing smaller sizes. The Orvis tactical jig hook has never let me down. I have availability going into spring and am currently booking for the Upper Owens, give me a call to line up a guided trophy hunt. We got another month of good fishing before things usually slow down. Then its cutthroat season! Very excited for spring.
Thanks for stopping by for my Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report. I wish you all a great rest of the month and tight lines. I love teaching new anglers and people from all walks of life the joy and art of fly fishing. Please don’t be shy to reach out if you have any questions on the report or to line up a guided trip. All gear is provided, all you need to show up with is a current CA fishing license.