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Golden Trout Guiding Co. Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report – January 26

golden trout guiding co

Welcome to our Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing report for the end of January. We have been getting into some amazing fly fishing on the Owens River, from Mammoth Lakes down to Bishop. Winter fly fishing allows for less anglers on the water, great nymphing, and trophy trout opportunities. We have had a warmer than usual winter so far, allowing for plenty of access in areas that are usually snowed in by now at higher elevations. Plenty of insect life happening as well and water temps staying at nice levels for trout to be actively feeding.

We are in the middle of our winter season and spring is just around the corner. We will be holding our 2024 Spring Fly Fishing Clinic the weekend of April 13th and 14th. Our two day clinics are the highlight of our guiding season and offer each angler a chance to develop new skills with the focus of maximizing thier time on the water. We still have some available spots left for our Spring Clinic, reach out to reserve one for yourself or you and a friend today!

The journey of fly fishing is a life long endeavor of learning, passion and fun. Everyday is different and we are constantly adapting. It’s what brings us back to the water time and time again. Give us a call or email to line up a guided trip. All levels of experience are welcomed and all gear is provided.

-Luke Kinney (Owner, Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide)

Call us- (858) 750 9820

Email us- [email protected]

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Join us this Spring for an incredible weekend on the Owens River!


Fly Fishing Report

Bishop Canal– The Bishop Canal runs behind the town of Bishop CA and is a solid place to get your flies wet. Those with limited mobility can access the canal easily. Its also a great place if you have limited time and want to get your flies wet, or if your passing through town and need to catch just one more fish. Right now the canal is low and clear meaning trout are spooky and hard to fish for. With our warmer days getting into the mid 60’s in January running a single dry fly or dry dropper is a great way to approach the canal. We are seeing very light hatches of Caddis around 11am and lasting through the afternoon, usually until the sun goes behind Mt. Tom. There have also been some sparse hatches of BWO mayflies and midges. My go to set up for the canal is an Olive Foam Caddis (Size 14) to a Copper/Black Zebra Midge (Size 20). I like to keep my drop from my dry fly about two feet, using 5X or 6X. Until flows come up you should plan on casting far away from the bank in hopes of not spooking the fish and be ready to cover some water. I like to do 5 or 6 cast in one spot, then walk 10 feet down or upstream and repeat the process. Don’t expect numbers on the canal right now until flows come up or bugs really start hatching. Its a great local spot and we are lucky with a nice mix of stocked and wild trout ranging from 6-20 Inches.


Lower Owens– The flows on the Lower Owens is 148 CFS, which is close to perfect for winter fly fishing. These flows are great for allowing more accessibility to areas that are near impossible to reach at higher levels. We have been guiding and fishing from the Campground at Pleasant Valley Reservoir south through the Wild Trout Section and getting into some nice fish. A healthy mixed of wild brown trout and the occasional rainbow have been the majority of our catches. Fish range from 8-20 inches, and you never know what you might hook into. Both Rob @sierraflyguy and I have had consistent double digit days with our clients while working the Lower Owens, averaging 10-20 fish. We love taking advantage of the Lower O when the flows come down, the water cools and the bite heats up. Obviously some days are better then other, and these fish like to hold in certain waters so having a guide will substantially maximize your time. Water is temping around 44 degrees, not much top water action going on right now. Nymphing is the name of the game, either Euro Style or under the Indicator depending on the type of water you are fishing. Look for well oxygenated pools with lots of riffles, as trout will be holding and actively feeding in those areas. The big slow bends seem to be less productive than the faster moving pocket water. The bite seems to be turning on like clockwork around 9:30/10am so no need to start at the crack of dawn, although if that’s your thing then by all means… get after it! Recommended nymphs for the Lower Owens are staying about the same as the last report, Duracell (size 16-18), Flashback Pheasant Tail (Size 16), Bead Head Hare’s Ears (Size 16-18), Perdigon in various colors (Size 16-18) are all good choices. Getting those nymphs down is even more important than fly selection as fish are holding position on the bottom especially in the morning as the day is yet to heat up. Trout will start feeding higher up in the water column mid day and fishing more emerging style patterns is a good option. Even though flows are low the river is still fast and at some points deep, so use caution while wading and exploring new areas. Give us a call to line up a guided trip on the Lower Owens, this is our backyard river and we know it well, let us show you around!

Book the Lower Owens

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Angler Roger Backlar tucked into a tight zone that would be impossible to reach with higher flows.

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Angler Billy Taylor caught this chunky and perfect rainbow trout while Euro Nymphing a deep run.

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Angler Steve Luczy had himself a 17 fish half day with Lead Guide Rob Hrabik. So much fun, and one for the books!

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New Fly Angler Suzan got skunked the last few trips to the Eastern Sierra so we made sure she landed some fish on this one!

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Emiliano wanted to try out the Lower Owens and brought his 10ft 2W Euro Set Up and proceeded to rope some beautiful wild browns landing around 20 fish in a half day! A 12” Wild Brown on a 2 weight is a GOOD TIME.

Central Gorge– The Central Gorge is fishing very well right now and is best when the sun is out and directly above the canyon from around 10am-2pm. The Central Gorge is one of the only places that you can fish dry flies most of the year and still have a productive day. Some of the trout down there have never seen a fly and if you find yourself in a good pool you might just catch one after another and find yourself giggling with joy. I always carry two rods down there, my Euro Nymphing 10ft 4W, and my dry fly 9ft. 4W rod. I spent most of my time Euro Nymphing the pocket water and pools, and once I see trout rising for a midge or the occasional caddis Im going for top water takes. Access to the central gorge can be tricky as it is a further hike and if you get off the beaten path having a guide is highly recommended. You will most likely see more rock climbers than anglers, and its pretty cool to watch them scale the walls while you’re putting fish in the net. If you are the more adventurous angler then I recommend carving out a day to go explore the canyon. Recommended nymphs for the Central Gorge, Hare’s Ears (Size 16-18), Copper John (Size 16-20), Mini Prince Nymph (Size 16-18), Duracell (Size 16-18), Zebra Midge (Size 16-20), TF Midge (Size 18-20), and the classic Frenchie (Size 16-18). For dry flies I recommend Elk Hair Caddis (Size 18), Purple Haze (Size 18), Blue Wing Olive (Size 16-18), and the ultimate of all dry flies Parachute Adams (Size 16-18). Good luck down there, use good judgement while approaching the canyon and give us a call if you want to line up a guided trip for the gorge!

Book the Central Gorge

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The Central Gorge is a unique and memorable place to fly fish!

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This picture sums it up well, Rob is bent in the background and Nate is showing off his catch.

Upper Owens– The Upper Owens has been fishing well with trophy trout being caught daily. The fish are spread out on the river holding in some of their usual spots and other times in less assuming water. Flows have come up slightly with the recent snow/rain and more predicted in the forecast but still very fishable. Trophy trout fishing on the Upper Owens is a patience game, do not expect to go out there and have a numbers day. Getting 1-5 fish in a full day up there is about average, especially if you have a guide with you. The Upper Owens is beautiful right now with snow capped mountains and nice flows. Those with four wheel drive are pushing further upstream, use extreme caution while trying to drive up towards the private section as the roads are MUDDY and getting stuck is very easy. I like parking near the bridge and walking in, plenty of water to cover and a great way to spend the day. Weekends have been crowded, making is hard to get into water that hasn’t been fished yet. Everyone wants their shot at these beautiful migrating lake fish, so be make sure to give other anglers plenty of room. My personal rule is at least 1-2 bends between anglers. It’s also cool to communicate with other anglers and ask what direction they are headed and work out a game plan. Morning’s are cold and potentially freezing so keep those fish wet and in the net, if your gonna take the hero shot make it quick, keeping that fish in the air no longer then 5-7 seconds. Take your time to revive those fish after a long fight by keeping them in the water fully submerged until their energy returns, usually its about 1-2 minutes for me. We have had some epic battles this last month on the Upper Owens with some fish giving us a full on aerial show jumping multiple times then running us down river, its classic! The Upper Owens is a special place and rewards those with good attitudes, giving you back what you put out there. Stay positive and keep casting, enjoy the view and it will happen. Recommended flies for the Upper Owens right now, Large Prince Nymph (Size 12), Squirmy Worm (Size 12-14), Egg Patterns in Orange or Pink, Large Hare’s Ears (Size 12-14) are all good options as of now. Don’t count out fishing streamers like the Wolly Bugger, black or Olive (Size 8-12), and other various baitfish imitations. Streamer fishing can lead you into some vary sizable trout if you are willing to grind. We love meat eaters! Reach out to line up a guided trip to catch the fish of a lifetime on the Upper Owens.

Book the Upper Owens

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Angler Dylan Depres with a 22” Buck, one of the finest of the season so far. It was an epic fight and experience.

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Angler Billy Taylor got 3 trophy trout to the net, look at the colors on this one! Beautiful.

Thanks for stopping to read our report, I hope that it helps y’all put some nice trout in the net! Wishing you all bent rods and big smiles going into the rest of this winter season. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or comments on the report. I am happy to do my best to answer.

-Luke Kinney

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Luke Kinney, Owner and Fly Fishing Guide.
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