Golden Trout Guiding Co. Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report – May 2

Spring 2023 is here, and we are excited about a summer full of water and fly fishing. Right now we are in the heat of high flows and melt with the biggest winter season ever recorded in California. There are very few places to Fly Fish as of now but over the next few months things will settle and we should be in for an incredible summer and fall. I am currently booking for Crowley Lake Trips (as rivers settle). Still water will be the best options for the next few months as the flows continue to rise. Time to break out the float tube, sinking lines, and gas up the boats! Still water Fly Fishing is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the sport, and allows anglers to target other species such as bass or carp. The boat docks on Crowley should be going in this week and I expect to be guiding by the 15th. To book a guided trip for trophy rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout on Crowley give us a call or email! We still have two spots left for our 2023 Spring Fly Fishing Clinic (May 13th/14th) , two full days of immersive leaning from classroom to river hosted by myself and nymphing specialist Rob Hrabik @sierrafly guy. Our clinics are a great way to take your angling to another level, learning fundamentals and building a solid foundation. Our goal is after two days you will walk away feeling confident to fly fish any water you approach. Wishing you all a fantastic spring, we cant wait to get out on the water with you and into the action!

-Luke Kinney

Phone – (858) 750 9820

Email- [email protected]

Our 2023 Spring Fly Fishing Clinic is just around the corner, we have 2 positions available! Reach out to reserve your spot today.

Lower Owens– The Lower Owens is flowing high and mighty around 500 CFS. It is still too high to fly fish effectively. I have not been guiding or fly fishing on the Lower Owens and will most likely wait until fall to start back up again as we are just getting started with this years melt. If you do decide to try your luck please use extra caution while walking the river as the banks are collapsing and being overrun by flows. Chalk Bluff Road is still closed with no expectation of opening any time soon. Best to be patient with the Lower Owens.

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Extreme High Flows on the Lower Owens predicted to run high through the whole summer. We have alot of water coming from the mountain and we are just getting started.

Bishop Canal– The Bishop Canal that runs behind town has been fishing pretty well! Being one of the easiest places to access and with limited water to fly fish be prepared for the masses especially on weekends. Spring hatches of caddis and blue wing olive have been producing top water action, and nymphing has been producing fish throughout the day. I usually carry two rods with me one for nymphing, and one for dry flies as switching out rigs might take just enough time to miss your hatch opportunities. I am guiding on the canal, and its a great place to teach new anglers and get on some wild trout and a few stocked fish here and there. Flows are about as high as they can be on the canal allowing for dry droppers, and bobber rigs. I would recommend two heavier flies under a small indicator (white is the color). Recommended subsurface flies, Perdigons (size 16-18) in Olive and Blue, Zebra Midges (size 16-20) in black, olive, red, Flashback Pheasant Tail (size 16-18), Hares Ear (size 16-18), Duracell (size 16-20) in purple, olive, brown. Using an indicator (bobber) will allow you to adjust your depth easily vs a dry dropper with a set depth. I’ll switch to a dry dropper once I start seeing adults. Recommended dry flies, Elk or Deer Hair Caddis (Size 14-18), Parachute Adams (Size 16-20), Purple Haze (Size 16-20), BWO (Size 18-20), and various types of stimulators. When Im running a dry dropper on the canal I like using a (size 14 stimulator to a size 18 black or olive zebra midge, or small olive baetis nymph).

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The Bishop Canal runs parallel behind the town of bishop. There are multiple entrance points, the main few are from E Line Street, and behind the Bishop Vons where Bishop Creek meets the canal.

Central Gorge (Canyon Section)– I have been primarily fly fishing and guiding the central gorge. Flows are rising and certain sections of the 13 mile long canyon are murky with runoff, we are still managing some amazing fish to the net. Im not sure how long this section of the Owens will hold up as Crowley Lake starts to melt out and they will need to pump water through the canyon. You have to be willing to put in some miles to get to good water, but its more than worth it in my opinion and is always a great adventure. If you decide to go on your own travel with caution as they canyon can be dangerous during high winds with potential rock fall, and the stinging nettle is now starting to grow on the banks. We are also entering rattlesnake season and I have seen my fair share down there. Im not trying to scare anybody but Im just letting you know all of those things are a possibility. Not only do I fish down there often but I have been climbing those walls for close to 8 years and I know the canyon very intimately, a guide is highly recommended. If DWP closes the canyon in the future to run high flows with spring melt, DO NOT GO DOWN THERE, it is dangerous and far away from the car. As of now most of the canyon is open. Euro Nymphing and Dry Fly Fishing are by far the best way to target fish in the central gorge. Ive been Euro Nymphing with two flies and up to 2/3 splitshot to get my flies down deep enough. Recommended wet flies, Perdigons and Czech Nymphs in various colors (size 16-18) Copper John (size 16-18) Prince Nymph (size 14-18) rainbow warrior (size 16-20) Zebra Midges (size 16-20) in various colors. Dry fly action has slowed down and I think has been effected by the amount of water moving through the canyon making slower pools harder to find but still possible. Recommended dry flies, Elk or Deer Hair Caddis (size 14-20) Olive Foam Caddis (size 14-16) Parachute Adams (size 16-18) BWO with para post (size 16-18) Stimulator (size 12-16) Hoppers (size 14-16).

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15 year old Sabrina Sanchez learned how to Euro Nymph for her first time and caught a handful of amazing trout. This is on of the prettiest browns Ive seen in the central gorge. As good as it gets.
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Veronica Sanchez with a beautiful brown trout caught while Euro Nymphing a deep channel between two boulders.
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15 year old local angler Noah learned the basics of Euro Nymphing and had a banner day.

Crowley Lake– Report coming as soon as the lake opens up! Hopefully within the next two weeks. I’ll keep you posted. Book now to reserve a date for some of the finest trout fishing the Eastern Sierra has to offer.

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G.T.G.C 16.5 foot Tracker, ready to get you and a buddy into some epic Brown, Rainbow, and Cutthroat trout.

Upper Owens– The Upper Owens is running high and overflowing below the Hot Creek confluence at around 92 CFS. Snow is quickly melting into the river and discoloring the water. There is a large amount of debris and algae flowing through the Upper Owens especially under the confluence. I have not heard many success stories from the Upper and will be waiting patiently for things to settle. The snow will melt away quickly leading to a dangerous and muddy road situation when trying to make it up river. There is no amount of 4 wheel drive vehicle that will save you if you get too far in so use extreme caution. Hiking in is the best approach as of now and post-holing though soft snow will be a nightmare. The big winter rainbows have moved out as we await the cutthroat trout to make their way in the system which should be starting from now until just after memorial day weekend. It is a short run and we’ll see if we even get a good crack at fishing it. I’ll be up there checking conditions this week and will report a more accurate assessment on our IG page (follow us here). Browns Town Campground is currently closed due to flooding so there is very limited parking available. The road is closed for through traffic at the campground, but will allow you to get to the river. This video is from a few weeks ago, it is mostly mud now but it gives you a good idea of how much water we are getting.

Hot Creek– Hot Creek and the interpretive sight is very similar to the Upper Owens as far as logistics to get to the river. Hiking in is required as there is still soft snow on the path in and the road is open to the Ranch. Parking is extremely limited, please do not block the road or you will most likely get a ticket or towed out of there. The canyon is flowing at 42 CFS and rising. Streamers, and nymphing are producing some fish to the net. With these rising flows the river will go through periods where even achieving a few fish or bites will increasingly become more difficult. Wolly Buggers (size 12-14) black or olive are always a great fly down there! Work the deep bends and pools and allow those flies to swing. Small leeches (size 12-16) in black or olive do well in the canyon add it to the mix. More detailed report to come soon as things are changing by the day! Let me know how your day goes if you decide to venture to Hot Creek.

East Walker River– The East Walker river is getting much needed water and flowing at 1100 CFS, way too high and dangerous to possibly consider fly fishing. We will be keeping an eye on flows and crossing our fingers for middle-late summer action on the EW.

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Thanks for stopping by for our Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report! If you have any questions on the report or would like to let us know about what you’re seeing/fish stories don’t be shy to reach out.

Luke Kinney (Owner, Orvis Endorsed Guide) licensed, bonded, and insured.

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