“It’s hard to believe that we’re winding down towards the end of the traditional fishing season” Leonard Fish Report 10-28-21

Hello, anglers!
MountainsHappy Halloween! It’s hard to believe that we’re winding down towards the end of the traditional fishing season, but November is upon us. Big changes this weekend in the Eastern Sierra. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area opens up lift operations on Friday, and Crowley Lake Fish Camp shuts its doors on Sunday. It’s time to wax the skis for sliding around the mountain, and knock the ice out of the eyelets of the fly rod for those souls hardy enough to fish the Upper Owens River the next few months. The changes are here, but there is still fishing to be had. The Eastern Sierra is home to year round fishing opportunities. You’ve either gotta layer up to fish the upper elevations, or spend time down in the lower valley if you’re like me and like hanging in the warming weather winter fishing venues.
Crowley is legally fishable until November 15. While boat access closes this Sunday, you can definitely fish from the shore or walk a float tube in. I’ve seen photos of anglers successfully wading the shallower waters on the North Arm, and sticking fish while midge fishing. Those fish are in shallower water right now. Choose your wading access wisely. Some of the lake shore is terra firma and other parts of it are mud. While the mud is frozen and hard in the early morning, as the day warms up that frozen mud turns soft. I’ve seen more than one car get towed out because the car sinks into the mud during the course of the morning. In short, don’t be “that guy.” Fish smart. As for the actual fishing on Crowley, I think fishing midges off the bottom in the shallower waters will result in strikes. I’d fish at least a depth of six feet. Big red midges a few inches off the bottom will likely result in strikes. This is also a really fun time of year to cast Thomas Bouyants and hook fish that are on the move looking for protein. Fishing lures in Crowley the first two weeks of November can be super productive.
This is also a good time of year to take another shot at the lakes in the June Lake Loop, while there is time left. I’ve recently seen photos of trophy trout coming out of Gull Lake. Gull always produces quality fish. I think that casting lures from around the cabins or the farside towards the ski area is a great idea. Those fish are also going to chase down protein right now. You can fish June Lake from the beach or Silver Lake from the shore using the same method. Kicking around in a float tube during the middle of the day sounds glorious. Fly anglers will hook fish slow-stripping an Olive Matuka or Woolly Bugger on an intermediate sink line.
We gotta give a shout out to Intake Two above Bishop while there is still time left this season to fish this gem of a fishery. You can fish this small lake the same way you would any of the lakes in the June Lake Loop. It is a super friendly place to kick a tube around as it is small and unintimidating.
FishFor those of you looking to fish some moving waters, I think the Lower Owens River is the place to be. LADWP has dropped the flows to 122 cfs. I’ve heard very positive reports of fly anglers nailing trout in the Wild Trout Section. This is a very fun river to Czech-nymph. I enjoy fishing it with my 11-foot, 3-weight rod. I can reach out and touch them with such a long stick. Drifting any of your standard flies past these hungry fish will likely result in strikes. I keep it fairly simple with a natural or black Pheasant Tail, and the appropriate sized split shot. Proper split shot size selection is critical to getting your flies down into the zone to drift right by the fish. If the split shot is too light, it doesn’t get down to the bottom where the fish are. If it’s too heavy, it’s just going to snag the bottom. Be strategic per how and where you weigh your flies to show the trout the decoy food. Fish don’t eat what fish don’t see. This fishery is a technically challenging place. But, that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? It’s also a great place to get your winter tan going, when the upper regions are buried in snow.
That’s your short and sweet fish report for this week. There are too many fisheries to list. Chris Leonard will be giving us our weekly fish report, and will mix it up every week talking about different places to get fishy. Chris Leonard guides for Kittredge Sports in Mammoth Lakes.
Have fun. Be safe. Go get ’em!
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Chris Leonard

TIP JAR Chris Leonard is a longstanding teacher at Mammoth High School, and experienced fly fishing guide. He guides both rivers and lakes in the Eastern Sierra. His understanding of teaching and fly fishing makes him a choice guide in the region.
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