Golden Trout Guiding Co. Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report – October 17, 2023

golden trout guiding

Welcome to my Eastern Sierra fly fishing report. I do my best to give the most accurate and honest reports I can and I appreciate everyone who subscribes and offers insight and feedback. If you are not yet subscribing to my report you can sign up on the homepage of my website, scroll down and enter your email to join. Subscribers receive automatic updates and reports, its a good deal and its free!

This month has simply been AWESOME. After receiving record snow fall this winter I knew we were looking at having a special fall and it has been everything we anticipated. The high flows of spring made fly fishing near to impossible on most of our streams but provided cold cool water all year to our favorite rivers and creeks leading us to a more stabilized and consistent fall. October/November might just be my favorite month’s to fly fish the Eastern Sierra as the weather cools down, hatches of caddis and mayflies abound, and the vibrant colors offer a stunning landscape while working the water and enjoying the mountains.

We are at the end of General Open Season fishing on the Eastern Sierra and about to move into more special regulations, as some waters and creeks already have. Make sure you check the current regulations as we move into late fall and early winter. Here is a link to regulations for Mono and Inyo county. If you have any questions on regulations feel free to reach out and Ill be happy to do my best to clarify.

Lastly there are 2 spots left for our 2023 Eastern Sierra Fall Fly Fishing Clinic. We are close to having a full group and would love to have you join us for two full days of immersive learning from the classroom to the river (Lower and Upper Owens). The fall clinic is on Oct 28th/29th and conditions and flows are shaping up for an excellent weekend. Build a solid foundation by learning not just how but WHY when you approach the stream. Give me a call or email to reserve a spot today!

Enjoy the fly fishing report for mid October! Wishing everyone bent rods and big smiles.

-Luke Kinney, Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide.

Phone, (858) 750 9820

Email, [email protected]


You still have time to sign up for our 2023 Fall Fly Fishing Clinic! There are only 2 spots left.

We got some killer new merch just in time for fall and hoodie season. All of our merch is made and designed locally right here in Bishop, Ca. CLICK HERE to shop!

Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report

Lower Owens– The Lower Owens has dropped to fishable and wadable levels for the time being coming in today at 270CFS. Anything between 250-300CFS is wadable but still with extreme caution. We are not entirely sure on how long these flows will hold as DWP is planning on increasing flows (400-500+) in Nov and Dec. That being said, get it in while you can! I plan on doing some dry fly fishing after I finish writing this report haha. It might be a very tricky season for the Lower Owens which is usually the spot to be on throughout late fall and winter. I will do my best to keep y’all updated. For day to day updates you can follow me on Instagram @goldentroutguidingco. October is the time to prepare for some dry fly action on the Lower Owens with hatches of Caddis and Mayflies happening mid morning to afternoon. For dry flies I recommend Olive Foam Caddis (14-18), Parachute Adams (16-18), Blue Wing Olive (16-20), Pale Morning Dun (16-20) and even though there aren’t too many hoppers around running a Hopper Dropper is a great option. Ive been doing well on a Para Hopper (Size 14) to a small baetis nymph or Zebra Midge (Size 18-22). When working dry flies look for the wider shallower sections where trout can easily feel. Working the cut banks or edges of the seam is also a great place for trout feeding on adults to sip a dry fly. Euro Nymphing or Nymphing under an indicator will bring more numbers to your net as these trout are feeding sub-surface all day on nymphs and midges. During the mid morning to afternoon I would try using emerging patterns are the hatches increase and fish move higher up in the water column for those developing adults. Recommended Nymphs, CDC Soft Hackle (16-18), Duracell (16-18), Prince Nymph (14-18), Flash Back Pheasant Tail (14-18), Rainbow Warrior (Size 16-18), Perdigon (Size 16-18) Hares Ears (14-20). Have fun on the Lower Owens while it’s good to fish and wade and if it feels sketchy it most likely is so use good judgement while working the stream.

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Tight Lining a straight run on the Lower Owens with two flies. Euro Nymphing allows for us to learn the bottom of the river and reach areas that hold trout.

The Lower Owens has a protected catch and release (wild trout section) It is a healthy stretch of river where having double digit days this time of year is not uncommon.

Bishop Creek/Rock Creek– Our higher elevation streams are bursting with beautiful fall colors and providing some solid fly fishing opportunities. We have had some warmer temps the last couple weeks so fishing mid day has been producing some nice trout on nymphs and dry flies. Flows have stabilized as most of the creeks are crossable and allow for plenty or technical action. Its good to get low and sneaky when approaching these creeks as fish are easily spookable in the gin clear water and have been pestered all season. This is a great time of year to come across some larger brown trout as they move towards the inlets for spawning purposes. It’s hard to beat a dry dropper rig on the higher elevation creeks at the moment. I like running an Elk Hair Caddis (14-16) to a very small baetis Nymph or midge (18-22). Fishing with just a single nymph when trout aren’t rising for dries is also a great option. I like fishing a single Bead Head Prince Nymph (Size 16-18) if I want to be stealthy and still get a fly in front of some nice trout. Using a small nymph like a streamer and swinging it through the holes can be a deadly technique this time of year. Running a thinner tippet size will also help fool fish (5x-7X). Now is a great time to bust out the 7ft 3W and start questing upstream picking off trout along the way and keeping your eyes peeled for the big dawgs. Just talking about small creek fishing in fall gets me amped haha. Have fun out there! Crowds are down, fish are feeding, and the canyons are peeking with fall color.

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My girlfriend Emma working a tight channel on bishop creek for some rising trout!

Bishop Creek is a small stream paradise.

Crowley Lake– Crowley Lake has heated up big time with the fall bite in full swing! I have just a few more trips left on Crowley and it’s been an exciting end to the season. I will be pulling my boat on Oct. 27th and Im already excited for summer trophy trout in 2024. Fish are feeding in the shallow water from 6-12ft deep and both McGee Bay and the North Arm are productive. Trophy Trout from 3-8lbs are being caught daily as they have been feeding and getting large all season. Now is the time to land a personal best on the Lake. Im fishing with smaller midges like the Albino Barron, Copper Tiger, Assassin, or TF Midge (size 18-20) with some perch or leech patterns above. Slow stripping small streamers, leeches, and damsel fly nymphs around the weed beds has been leading to some nice hook ups as well. It’s great to see the lake turn on for the tail end finally of the season. Dress warm when going out early, we have had some frozen/frosty conditions already and its only getting colder.

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A very well fed fall Brown Trout took a size 20 TF Midge

Upper Owens River– The Upper Owens has turned on over the last two weeks with these cold snaps and changing temps. The current CFS below the Hot Creek Confluence is 95CFS and above the confluence around 76CFS. I have seen some incredible hatches of mayflies and caddis on the Upper Owens. Plenty of smaller juvenile rainbows, browns and the occasional cutthroat to be had mixed in with a handful of trophy trout. Yesterday while guiding on the Upper Owens we had a prolific hatch of October Caddis start up around 9am lasting til around 1pm. It was a blast working the shallower water and runs, watching trout come out from the reeds or bank to take a midge or a dry fly and being pleasantly surprised when after catching a handful of small fish an 18 inch rainbow blows up a dry fly. This weather seems to allow for more sustained hatches throughout the day so make sure you bring up a few rods with one, one set up for nymphing, and one ready for the hatch when it gets going. Hopefully we have a couple more weeks of diversified fly fishing on the Upper Owens before it gets too cold and we start primarily nymphing. Recommend dry flies for the Upper Owens as of now, Elk Hair Caddis (14-18), Para Hopper (10-14), Parachute Adams (16-18), Stimulators (12-14), Blue Wing Olive (16-20), Trico (18-22), Purple Haze (16-18). As far as nymphs on the Upper Owens, Perdigon (16-18), San Juan Worm (10-16), Prince Nymph (10-16), Hares Ear (12-18), Baetis Nymphs in Olive or Black (16-20), Midges (18-20). It seems like to common thread of this particular fishing report is to run a Dry Dropper as of now as fish are feeding all over the water column. Weekends are busy so be prepared for crowds, theres plenty of river to fish our there so allow room (2-3 bends) per angler. As we move into November the trophy brown trout will keep filling in and with the right amount of time, patience and knowledge you have a chance at getting a fish of a lifetime. Reach out to line up a guided trip for the Upper Owens, and to target some beautiful trophy fish.

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Angler Courtney had an amazing battle with this 16’ rainbow caught while Euro Nymphing a cut bank.

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Angler Bailey caught this healthy rainbow on a Dry Dropper with the trout taking interest in the well placed Para Hopper!

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Angler Lisa caught a personal best rainbow trout while fishing a dry dropper. The rainbow took a size 20 TF Midge! Nice Job Lisa.

East Walker River– The East Walker river is holding at perfect flows 212CFS as of today. We are getting to the end of our EW season as closing day is Nov 15th! If you want to get a guided trip on the EW, reach out asap as my availability is limited but if I can squeeze it in then I would love to show you around. To put it simply this has been the year of the EW. I’ve had some of the best and most exciting days of guiding in my career so far this season hooking up on beautiful trout from 8-20inches consistently. The dry fly action seems to have slowed down substantially but the nymphing and streamer game has been full on. With flows riding 200CFS most of the EW is fishable but if anyone has spent a good amount of time up there it is one of the most slippery rock bottom streams in CA. I recommend studs for your boots and a wading staff if you plan on going after. I have to share a fishing story with y’all, as it was one of those special moments. My client and I were working our way up a run fishing a dry dropper when 3 feet in front of us one of the largest brown trout Ive ever seen (easily 25+ inches) came up and sipped a mayfly in slow motion. We both stood there breathless and wide eyed as we proceeded to cast at is with no luck whatsoever haha but just watching such a magnificent beast munch a mayfly is something I will never forget. I have seen photos of these oversized brown trout and caught a few this year around 20 inches but folks let me tell you, there are some truly legendary fish in that water, and its what draws us back time and time again! I have been back to that area over four times hoping to catch or at least get a visual of that fish again but at this point it has blurred into legend status. As they say its never the fish we catch but the ones that get away. Ok…. enough of my tall tales, back to the report. As far as flies Ive been having a blast swinging/and stripping larger streamers, Dali Lamas, Leeches, Wolly Buggers, Sex Dungeons, pretty much whatever meat you feel like hucking. For nymphs I recommend, Large Prince Nymph (8-10), Hares Ear (12-14), Perdigon (16-18), Frenchie (14-16), Small Pats Rubber Legs (10-14), Gummy Worm (8-12), and various Czech Nymphs (14-18). There are still a good amount of hoppers on the banks sop running a hopper dropper mid day in the shallower water or the edge of the seams is also a fun and potentially dangerous combo. I feel grateful for this fall on the EW and Im hoping selfishly that we get another decent winter so that we can return to these stable flows and conditions, only time will tell. Have fun out there and best of luck, go get that Brown Trout someone… please.

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Angler Bill admiring the tail and girth of this trophy 20’ rainbow caught while nymphing under an indicator.

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Angler James got a Euro Nymphing 101 crash course and found himself playing some nice trout. Between him and his buddy david we pulled in around 40 fish.

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A nice fall plump little pumpkin! Angler Tom and I had a fantastic day roping plenty of beautiful brown trout together.

Thanks for stopping by for my Eastern Sierra Fly Fishing Report for mid October. I hope you find it useful and that it inspires you to get out on the water. My passion is always to educate and help others succeed in fly fishing. Feel free to send me any questions or things you are seeing on the water. If you would like to line up a guided trip give me a call or email and lets set something excellent up. All levels of experience are welcomed and all gear is provided. Lets keep the good times rollin’

-Luke Kinney, Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide.

Phone, (858) 750 9820

Email, [email protected]

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Luke Kinney, Fly Fishing Guide and Owner or G.T.G.C
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