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Eastern Sierra Fishing Report

Winter anglers continue to enjoy snow free Sierra

BY ERNIE COWAN/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Jan 04, 2012

MAMMOTH LAKES — Winter fishing in the open waters of the Eastern Sierra continues to be excellent as anglers enjoy easy access to waters free of seasonal snow. Some are wondering if winter has been canceled.

“If it weren’t for the Christmas decorations up in town, you'd think it was October,” said Kent Rianda at the Trout Fitter.

Not only is the mild weather allowing better fishing access, it has continued the growing season which means bigger fish when the general season opens in April.

Guide Tom Loe at Sierra Drifters said several factors are pointing to 2012 being one of the best fishing seasons in years.

“The fall spawn has been fantastic due to higher water levels and ideal conditions in wild trout fisheries like the East Walker, Hot Creek and Upper Owens,” Loe said.

Air temperatures on the Lower Owens River have been the warmest along with good numbers of trout being caught and released. Loe said the “bigs” have been a bit shy, but good fish numbers are being caught each trip along with a few monsters.

Streamers like Spruce-A-Bu’s, Loebergs and Punk Perch #8-12 have been working well with a moderate sinking tip line and the "dip and strip" method. Loe suggests working the deeper pools.

The wild trout section is also fishing well and there is some surface action around 1 p.m. each day.

The Upper Owens is the current sweet spot with veteran winter anglers calling the action here some of the best in decades, with a steady stream of 20-inch or larger trout being caught. Best results are coming with San Juan worms, Assassins, FB Pt’s, broken back midges and egg patterns heavily weighted to go deep.

“The thicker the ice gets on Crowley, the more fish move up the river and I believe we have not peaked yet,” Loe said.

Pleasant Valley Reservoir has been really good in the small creek section just below the powerhouse for anglers using dry/dropper bead head combo. Use a Para BWO or Stimulator as the upper and a FB PT or crystal tiger midge or crystal caddis larva as the dropper.

Reports from the Gorge sound like mid-fall instead of winter. Mornings are cold, but the action heats up between 10 and 2 with surface action on midges and #18 BWO patterns. Once again, work the deeper pools holding more fish using a bead head nymph below a dry fly.

Flown on Hot Creek are low at 25 cubic feet per second and the water can be off color from the increased runoff from melting snow. Bur Rianda reports the gates to the creek are still open and the area is free of snow, allowing anglers to drive right to the parking area above the productive canyon section.

Start about 9 a.m. with midges then go to baetis nymphs and dries as surface action picks up. When the midday feeding frenzy kicks in, go big and buggy because the fish are not particular.

There is no snow, but temperatures on the East Walker out of Bridgeport Reservoir are downright nippy, nudging zero degrees in the mornings. Flows are also down to 25 cubic feet per second, so concentrate on deeper channels and pools. Check in at Ken’s Sporting Goods in Bridgeport before heading out for the latest information what’s working.

Temperatures in the Owens River Gorge are chilly in the mornings, but the action comes alive after 10 a.m. on midges and #18 BWO patterns.

Pleasant Valley Reservoir is good in the small creek section just below the powerhouse. Try using dry/dropper bead head combo. Use a Para BWO or Stimulator as the upper and a FB PT or crystal tiger midge or crystal caddis larva as the dropper.


his best ever

HIS BEST EVER — Mammoth Lakes resident John Balestra fished the Upper Owens with guide Doug “Two Bug” Dolan from Sierra Drifters Guide Service to catch and release the stunning rainbow trout. Mild winter weather has big trout feeding and moving upstream from Crowley Lake.




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