Welcome to my Eastern Sierra fly fishing report going into August! We have made it past peak melt, conditions are really starting to clean up and fishing is solid right now. Lakes are full, rivers are stabilizing, water is staying cold, and there’s good fly fishing to be had. Now is the time to start planning a trip going into fall. I am booking for our local rivers and Crowley Lake, we have some incredible options depending on what you are looking to get after. Ive been waiting a while to say this on the report…. its go time! Currently booking August-October.
Lower Owens– The Lower Owens is flowing between 341 near the “Wild Trout” section and 600+ below bishop. Flows are starting to stabilize and certain parts of the river are fishable. Temps are still very warm, 100+ degrees on some days so fishing early and late are the best options. The Lower took a lot of water this summer so banks are still collapsing, use caution while moving around the bends. Use extra caution while wading, crossing the river is not recommended. Once things get around 300 CFS the Lower starts to turn on, as wading more sections become available. I have a feeling this fall is going to be outstanding on the Lower Owens, Im very excited. Good hatches of Caddis and small mayflies are happening in the morning and evenings, fishing outside the current lane near the reeds for risers is really fun around sunset. I recommend the classic size (16-18 Elk or Deer Hair Caddis). Emerger patterns are a great option as well to fish just on/under the surface film, when the adult hatch slows down. Nymphing with a dry dropper is a good option I like using on larger Caddis Fly (Size 10/12) to a small Zebra midge with about a 3ft/4 drop to my midge. Nymphing under an indicator or Euro Nymphing with some heavier flies is also producing takes. Perdigons, Quilldigons, Various Czech Nymphs, and FB Pheasant Tails are all great options (Size 14-18). For those heavier nymphs I like using natural colors this time of year olive, brown, black… all good colors. I haven’t been guiding on the Lower Owens and I will wait for flows to lower and temps to cool down before we start getting after it.
Bishop Creek– Bishop creek is still high and mighty between 140-246 at certain areas. Use extra cation while fishing and navigating this area. I would recommend heading up towards the lakes as of now where there is some slower moving water and safer locations to fly fish. The south fork of BC has been fishing very well with a nice blend of wild and stocked fish being caught. Now is prime time for dry fly fishing or running a dry dropper. Hard to beat a Parachute Adams (Size 16-18) as it imitates multiple insects and will fool the best of em. The hopper dropper is a fun combination on Bishop Creek. I like fishing a Para Hopper (Size 14) to a small Copper John, Baetis Nymph, or Midge (Size 18-20). Weir Pond is great location to fish dries all day, I put 30+ fish in the net in 2 hrs up there the other day on a single dry fly. Good times! Have fun up there, and please be safe.
Rock Creek– I could almost write the exact same report for RC as BC with conditions/flies right now. I would focus on locating the slower pools and oxbows. The lake has been fishing well with trophy trout being caught daily. Trolling a streamer (Black or Olive Wolly Bugger, Size 12-14) on the float tube or doing some deeper nymphing is producing fish on the still water. Use extra caution while on the creek.
Crowley Lake– Crowley Lake continues to provide some exceptional still water fly fishing this year. Some days are better then others but fish are being caught everyday. Bait season is over which means crowds will thin and less fish will be killed. Most of the trout have moved into McGee Bay and are spread out between 9-30ft deep. There have been trophy trout from 6-10lbs being caught daily on Crowley, you just never know what kind of fish you might get into when that bobber goes down, its a good time! I like to fish blood midges (Size 16-20) in the early morning, especially in the shallower water and switch out to darker midges like the Albino Barron (Size 16-20) as things heat up or I move to fish out deeper. Perch fry patterns are producing some nice trout near the weed beds (Punk Perch, Size 12-16) in olive is the fly of choice to fool fish. Float tubers have have success slow trolling leeches and small streamers, and nymphing a few midges under a Bobber is still the primary choice. Giving your flies some movement when things slow down will help intrigue a strike, little jigs and mends are a good idea. Im currently booking Crowley Lake and can guide up 2 anglers max on my boat. Give me a call to get after some of the finest fish on the Eastern Sierra!
Upper Owens– The Upper Owens has turned on and fishing well. The CFS above the Hot Creek confluence is 97, and below around 200 CFS. These flows are perfect for the Upper Owens. Sections that are generally too low and hot to fish well during the drought years are now flowing and holding willing trout. Plenty of cool water and nutrients for trout to feed on on the Upper Owens. I have been guiding on the Upper Owens and catching fish on both top water and subsurface flies. The banks are all overgrown and marshy from the previous higher flows, which means mosquitos are savage right now. I recommend wearing waders as its a muddy mess and will help the mosquitos from attacking your whole body. Bug Spray is a must if you want to put in a solid session on the Upper Owens. Hatches of Caddis have been the most prolific. I like fishing a size 16 (Olive Foam Caddis) as the foam allows the fly to float better, more fishing and less applying floatant (fly-Agra, my personal favorite). Small hatches of mayflies, BWO and PMD’s are happening on the Upper Owens as well. Having some mayflies is a good idea if you’re planning on fishing the Upper Owens, Sizes 16-20 will all work. Hatches come and go quickly on the Upper Owens so if you like to fish top water I recommend fishing through the slow periods until the trout start rising again. Look to the seams and shallower water for trout feeding on adults. If you see a rising trout keep your drift short and key in on the area they are feeding getting as many accurate cast you can in the area. There are plenty of juvenile trout in the system (6-10 inches) willing to take a dry fly with a few trophy trout in the deeper holes or hiding in the cut banks. Euro Nymphing and Bobber fishing will help you get your flies down to fish feeding off the bottom or seeking shelter. Recommended nymphs, Bead Head Hares Ears (Size 16-18), Duracell (Size 16-18), Prince Nymph (Size 14-18), FB Pheasant Tail (Size 14-18), Perdigon’s (Size 16-18) Assassin Nymph (Size 16-20) are all good subsurface options. I love teaching new anglers how to be effective on Dry Flies and Nymphs and the Upper Owens is the perfect place for both! Give me a call to line up a trip.
East Walker River– The flows on the EW are high but fishable, coming in between 560-575 CFS. It has been a good few years since this fishery has been looking and fishing this good. Optimal flows for wading are around 300 CFS so be extra careful when getting into the water on the EW as it can be dangerous. With the higher flows there are limited areas to fly fish and once things drop even more the river will continue to improve. Right now is a great time to fish medium to large streamers, leeches, as the EW is full of forage fish. I love drifting streamers across large deep runs on this river for the biggest and baddest meat eaters in CA. As far as streamers I like fishing olive or black leech patterns, or Wolly Bugger variations (Size 6-10). Euro Nymphing is an effective way to get your flies down deep in the fast flows. Having the appropriate amount of weight is necessary to get a solid drift and present your flies to fish holding deep. I recommend using heavier tippit or fluorocarbon, 6lb or 3X as it is not uncommon to hook into a 20+ inch fish. Keeping the big ones close to you with this heavy current is the real challenge right now, once they get into the current or two far below you chances are slim of getting it to the net. Plenty of fun sized rainbows and browns to be caught on the E Walker. Recommended nymphs on the EW, try using a larger Prince Nymph (Size 12-14) Heavy Perdigon’s or Czech Nymphs and stonefly nymphs, including the classic Pats Rubber Legs. There is a decent mount of hopper hatching on the EW so running a dry dropper through the deeper pools and slow eddies can lead to some nice hook ups. Be patient when fishing dries and allow your fly to hang out longer than your use to especially in the larger pools. The EW is notoriously technical and challenging and having a guide with knowledge of the river is beneficial. I spend as much time on the EW possible and would love to help you find success! Give me a call to line up a guided trip, this is the year for the EW.
Thanks for stopping by for my Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report for 8/1/2023. It has been an amazing summer so far and continues to improve. Keep those fish wet and those releases quick! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the report or would like to let me know what you are seeing. We are all a community of anglers so let’s help each other on and off the water.
-Luke Kinney, Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide.