Golden Trout Guiding Co. Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report – January 23

Welcome to our Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report. The storms have passed for now and we are having a run of sunny days. Fishing is picking up on the Upper and Lower Owens. We do our best at Golden Trout Guiding Co. to offer the most detailed and accurate fly fishing report out there. We are currently booking for Now-April, with availability left! To book a guided trip please email us [email protected] or call us (858) 750 9820. We have a few spots left for our Spring Fly Fishing Clinic taking place March 25th and 26th. Our clinics our two full immersive days covering a multitude of disciplines and a whole lot of fun. We encourage any angler looking to take their skills and knowledge to the next level to sign up for our clinic. Hope everyone is having a great winter and staying warm out there.

-Luke Kinney (Owner)

Lower Owens River; The Lower Owens is cleaning up as we speak and fish are being caught, mostly while nymphing. The Current CFS is perfect at 140. This means most of the river is accessible to wading, with some areas on the river being too deep to get into. Wade with caution, and be careful getting close to the banks, which have been falling in after this recent storm. Right now nymphing deep is the name of the game and with these cold temperatures we are having casting more in the same location will pay off. Just like in the summer trout get lethargic with warm temps, the same thing happens during winter. Placing that fly, especially in front of stubborn brown trout, multiple times will help you land more fish. Our air temps in the morning are slightly above freezing so there is no rush to get on the river at dawn. Ive been getting on the Lower Owens around 10am and fishing till 2pm finding that time period to be the most effective. Small baetis (Mayfly) nymphs and midges are the fly right now on the Lower Owens. Im running a 7-10ft leader with two bugs, either Euro Nymphing or under a foam bobber. Soft Hackles and emergers are producing trout mid day, I recommend picking up a few (Duracell, Size 18) flies to your box for mid day. As far as rising fish, few and far between with light midge hatches happening sporadically throughout the system. For the avid dry fly angler, I recommend a (Blue Wing Olive, Size 20). Getting away from the bank and working the tail waters and deeper runs where there is more oxygen and moving water will also get you into the action. Sometimes places that seem counter intuitive to holding trout are where you should be casting. Go out there and experiment! On that note don’t be afraid to throw some streamers, any streamer that is olive, black, or brown (Wolly Bugger) in the size range from 10-14 will attract trout. I like to dead drift my streamers into holes that are too big to wade into, it allows me to ver way more water. Streamer takes are my guilty pleasure haha. There is still some huge puddles on the chalk bluff road so be aware with low clearance vehicles while traveling through. Good luck out there, and reach out if you would like to line up a guided trip on the Lower Owens.

Wade with caution, and with a buddy when available! Beautiful shot of the Lower Owens River.

A healthy Lower Owens Brown Trout. Hungry for a small baetis nymph.

Central Gorge (Canyon Section)– The central gorge has been fishing very well, our head guide Rob Hrabik lost count of how many fish he put in the net while Euro Nymphing the upper central gorge. Right now doing the middle approach down the narrow and steep dirt trail is icy and dangerous. I recommend taking the easy DWP road down to the Upper Section or Lower Section. You can still access the central area from the Lower approach. Fishing in the sun with these cold temps is much more pleasant, I recommend getting down there from 10am-2pm with the Lower section holding the most sunlight. Fish are taking a multitude of flies, from Czech Nymphs, Pedigons, Midges, and Baetis Nymphs. My recommend flies for the central gorge, olive zebra midge size 18, olive perdigon size 16-18, or small prince nymph size 18. I like to get in the stream and rock hop working my way up river and nymphing pocket water and small runs. Fish hold in ever nook and cranny down there, casting can be a challenge so watch you’re positioning. Top water takes are happening mid day, as trout are rising to midges but will take a variety of small dry flies including, parachute adam’s size 18-20, blue wing olive size 18-20, elk hair caddis size 18-20, purple haze size 18. This section of the Owens takes local knowledge and time to get to know, we would love to put together a trip plan for you to fly fish in the central gorge with success. By far some of the best fly fishing to be had in the Eastern Sierra.

Lower Central Gorge post storm, there is much less snow down there now. The beautiful canyon section allows for solitude and incredible fly fishing.

A wild rainbow caught in the Central Gorge, trout sizes range from 6-18 inches down there.

Upper Owens River; The Upper Owens River is settling from the recent storms and the big fish have moved in! Right now there is 4-5 ft of snow on the Upper Owens, requiring snow shoes, ski’s, or snowmobiles. I have been guiding clients out there with snow shoes and getting into some beautiful rainbow trout. The road is not open and you must park at the bridge to hike in to fish. I prefer snow shoeing as it adds yet another awesome activity to fly fishing this time of year. It is my favorite time of year to hunt after the big pre spawning rainbows, and some of the trout we have netted this year have been very healthy. There is fewer fish in the system compared to last year but I have noticed more and more trout moving up stream. Right now weather is sunny and clear, with below freezing temps in the morning but by 10am I’m already shedding layers. Parking is limited on the weekends so make room for folks coming to fish and practice good ethics on the water by spreading out and allowing at least two bends between anglers. Right now fish are LOVING the squirmy worm, in pink, or light red. They are also taking larger prince nymphs size 14, perdigons in various colors size 16-18, and midges. When fishing midges I definitely recommend using a stronger hook as some of these trophy’s will easily bend a lightweight midge hook, I’m speaking from experience here haha. Give yourself plenty of time to cover water and scout for trophy’s, and don’t get too bummed if you get skunked up there. It takes a lot of work and time to hook up on the Upper Owens, especially without a guide. Knowing the good holes and where the fish stage will give you a more productive day on the water. If you have limited time, I strongly recommend hiring a guide to help you maximize you fly fishing up there. While nymphing make sure your getting down deep and casting more then you’re use to, especially earlier in the morning. These trout will hold position with little movement, so getting that fly in front of them multiple times is key. There is little to no top water action up there, and very few midges. I have seen one or two risers but it would be legendary to land one on a dry fly right now. Thats what spring is for!! haha. Cant Wait! We are having success getting our clients on to fish right now, reach out to line up a guided trophy trout hunt. (PLEASE KEEP THE FISH WET WHEN TAKING A PHOTO) we all love a good grip and grin, but it’s so cold this time of year that playing with the fish, dropping em on the bank, taking too long to get the shot, or letting them freeze WILL KILL THEM. Even if you see it swim away chances are five minutes later it’s floating down river. Ive seen it time and time again and breaks my heart. Protect the fish, they look just as food wet.

Southern California ocean angler John M. made a trip up to the Eastern Sierra to test his skills on some big rainbows and earned himself a beautiful 22’ hen.

Majestic views all day on the Upper Owens. Its a special place, time of year, and fishery.

Angler Joey M. with a 18’ rainbow trout caught on the Upper Owens with an Olive/Orange Perdigon size 18.

Thanks for stopping by for our Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing report of the Owens River. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or would like to chat about the fishing report. We are a community of anglers and I encourage good conversation and the sharing of ideas! Good luck out there, be safe, and have fun.

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