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Golden Trout Guiding Co. Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report – January 10

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Golden Trout Guiding Co. Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Welcome to our Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report for the beginning of January 2024. It has been a very productive few weeks on the Owens River with more water becoming available by the day as flows stabilize. We are lucky to have incredible water to fish year round’ with productive hatches and feeding trout. Winter fly fishing provides the opportunity to catch bigger fish, see less anglers, and work on nymphing techniques. All the water is in right now, Bishop Canal, Lower Owens, Central Gorge and the Upper Owens for trophy trout. Now’s a great time to plan a guided trip and enjoy the solitude and beauty of winter fly fishing on the Eastern Sierra.

Exciting news for our 2024 spring and summer season! G.T.G.C now has the permits to guide new waters on Inyo/Mono national forest lands. This opens up our a substantial amount of new territory for us to explore and get to higher elevations during the heat of summer where conditions and hatches are primo. We will now be able to guide, Bishop Creek, North Lake (Bishop), Rock Creek, Convict Lake/Creek, Hot Creek, Lake Mary and Twin Lakes (Mammoth). We will be guiding both stream and still water (float tube) trips at all of these potential locations. We always try to meet the expectations of our clients so whether you are looking to enjoy some dry fly fishing on a pristine small creek, or work on your still water game in our lakes we got you covered. We are already taking bookings into summer and would love to chat with you about lining up a guided trip.

Lastly we still have availability for our 2024’ Spring Fly Fishing Clinic. Join us for 2 full days of immersive learning from the classroom to the water. Our clinics help anglers build a solid foundation that can carry over to all of their future fly fishing endeavors. Learn how to maximize your time on the water in a fun group environment. All levels of skill and all walks of life are welcomed to join. Give us a call or email for more information or to reserve a spot for yourself.

-Luke Kinney, Orvis Endorsed Fly FIshing Guide

Call; (858) 750 9820

Email; [email protected]


Fly Fishing Report

Bishop Canal– The Bishop Canal is fishing ok. Flows are low and the water is clear so having a very light presentation on footprint will help you get into some nice fish. Nice mic of stocked and wild trout in the canal so you never know what you might get into. The Bishop Canal runs behind the town of bishop and continues further south, its a great place for those with limited mobility to get your line wet. We are using small flies on the canal right now, mostly midges and small baetis nymphs (18-20). Not much top water action going on but fish will rise to a midge or the occasional mayfly so running a dry dropper is always a good call. I recommend trying a bigger Caddis (Olive Foam Caddis 12-14) to a (Zebra Midge 18-20). It’s usually the first cast where a willing trout will take the dry fly and thats about your only chance so be prepared and make each cast count. Streamer fishing with smaller baitfish patterns is also producing a few fish, keep your retrieve slow and you line tight. Pointing your rod trip into the water while retrieving your flies helps maintain tension and increase your chance of getting a solid hook set. For streamers you could try (Mini Black Leech 10-12) (Perch Fry 10-14) (Wolly Bugger, black or olive, 8-12). With the flows stabilizing on the Lower Owens more anglers are heading that way to fly fish. That being said if you have limited time on your way home or on your lunch break the Bishop Canal is the spot!

Lower Owens– It feels good to be back on the Lower Owens after a much anticipated wait! Flows are fluctuating daily between 215-230 CFS and water temps are between 40-44 degrees. These flows are fishable but still high, so crossing the stream can be dangerous and recommended only for those who feel comfortable with fast water wading. Wading staff is recommended if your planning on getting in. There is plenty of bank access and small beaches to fish from where you do not have to cross. Certain sections of the Lower Owens are fishing better than others, so covering water and being patient is key right now. We are in the coldest months of the year so getting a super early start isn’t necessary. 9am-2pm seems to be the most productive time to be on the water, especially when the sun is high and the insect life picks up. Thinner profile midges and nymphs in the morning and buggier nymphs and soft hackles as the mid day sun appears. We are doing a mixture between Euro Nymphing, and Nymphing under an Indicator depending on our location. Having the right weight while nymphing is gonna make the difference between an ok day and an amazing day. Fish are generally holding position and conserving energy with these colder water temps and conditions so getting those flies right above the substrate is the goal. Be prepared to loose flies this time of year as the bottom of the lower eats flies like a professional with all of the obstructions, downed logs, cut banks, and small rocks. Recommended nymphs for the Lower Owens (Perdigon, 16-18) (Flashback Pheasant Tail, 14-18) (Duracell, 16-18) (Hare’s Ears 14-18) are all excellent options. Make sure your fishing weighted nymphs with a bead head or you simply wont get down where you need to be. The Lower O is our backyard river and having a local guide will absolutely maximize your time on the water. Give us a call to line up a guided trip for you or a small group, we would love to show you around!

Book The Lower Owens River

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Angler Billy Taylor had a banner day landing 23 fish to the net, and finished the day with the gorgeous 17’“ Rainbow.
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Proud moment for young fly angler Thatcher who landed his first wild brown trout on the Wild Trout Section!
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Nymphing under and Indicator from the bank is the safest option until flows get below 200 CFS. Amazing to watch a high elevation storm on the mountains while fishing in the sunlight. Only on the Eastern Sierra!
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There is nothing as beautiful as a wild brown trout and the Lower is full of healthy fish. Well catch these perfect 8-14” wild trout all day.

Upper Owens River– The Upper Owens river is temping around 44 degrees and flowing around 96 CFS below the Hot Creek Confluence. We have had some recent storms bringing snow/rain to the system which has the river slightly off color but totally fishable. I actually prefer when the river is a little off color as its easier to not spook the fish. Road access above benton crossing bridge heading north is still accessible but with caution. The dirt road turns into a mud pit after we get some weather so be cautious as you push further up in your vehicle. No substantial snow is on the ground as of yet so hiking in is very easy and snow shoes are not needed. We are having a very limited winter compared to last year, it is nice to have the access, but we are hoping for more storms to roll through for our summer season. Its cold in the morning, no need to rush to the river. 9-10am start is the best call and usually when the trout start feeding. With freezing air temps we ask that you keep those fish wet from catch to release as their gill plates can freeze over even with limited exposure to the air. The trout are spread out all around the river right now so don’t expect high numbers, you should be stoked if you get a few opportunities and fish to the net throughout your entire day. Look for the deeper water, big bends, and slow pools to target trophy trout. Make sure you keep a keen eye on that bobber… I’m sorry “Strike Indicator” haha, takes can be extremely subtle! Fish are not moving much until things warm up so spend a little more time the you might normally would casting and getting multiple drifts. Fish on the Upper are not leader shy so anything thinner than 4X and you’re playing with fire. Nothings worse then fishing all day for that ONE fish and when you finally hook up it breaks you off because you were under gunned. Recommended nymphs and flies for the Upper Owens as of now, (Egg Patterns) (Squirmy Wormy, Pink or Orange, 10-12) (Large Prince Nymph, 12) (Large Hare’s Ears, 12) (Perdigon, 12-18) (Wolly Bugger, white, black or olive, 8-12) are all good options. These fish can be picky about fly choice this time of year but once you find something thats working don’t over think it and keep it in the water. One of my go-to sayings with my client is “flies in the water catch fish”, especially on the Upper Owens. I see folks get tired, doubt themselves, change flies to often and all that time you could be fishing! We spend our free time keeping a pulse on this river and knowing where those trout are. Reach out to line up a trophy trout trip and let us help you get into a fish of a lifetime.

Book the Upper Owens River

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Sometimes you need to start moving when those fish start running!
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Angler Mary hooked up on a monster rainbow, she had a few heartbreak moments while learning to play these fish. Catching a trophy trout is one thing, getting them to the net is another. It all has to come together!

Thanks for stopping by for our Fly Fishing Report. We do our best to give you the most comprehensive and detailed fly fishing report on the Eastern Sierra. We love hearing how the report has helped you on the water or motivated you to get out there! Fly fishing is a lifetime endeavor and most importantly a real good time. As long as you’re having fun, you are winning. Be kind to each other out there and reach out if you have any questions or want to chat about fly fishing! Cheers and tight lines.

-Luke Kinney (Owner and Guide)

Here I am enjoying a bluebird powder day on the Upper Owens, paradise. Let’s get out there!
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