BISHOP — Weather forecasts are for warming weather and blue skies for at least a week, and that’s good news for winter anglers who have been struggling with below zero temperatures in many areas open to fishing.
Guide Tom Loe said it best in his weekly fishing report.
“If it sucks, I will tell you. Today was the coldest day I have ever seen on the Upper Owens and I am advising you to leave it be for a few days,” Loe said after discovering minus 21-degree temperatures at 9 a.m.
UPPER OWENS BROWN — Not very many big browns have been caught on the Upper Owens lately, but Rob Wilding got this beauty using a Broken Back Tiger Midge while fishing with Sierra Drifters Guide Tom Loe.
But temperatures are starting to rise. Rick Gieser at Ken’s Sporting Goods in Bridgeport said things have warmed up to a “balmy minus 11 in the mornings,” which is quite an improvement from the string of minus 25-degree days in the past weeks.
The few hardy anglers who have fished the Upper Owens have been rewarded with some nice fish, with a few tipping 6 pounds.
Loe said without a doubt the most effective method for winter fishing on the Upper Owens, Hot Creek, and the East Walker River is nymphing, with or without an indicator.
“Fish will not move far to take a fly when it is cold and there is little food around so redundant drifts near the bottom using larger, more visible patterns that can trigger a hit more from aggression than hunger,” he said.
Best results are coming from Flashback Bead Heads, Bird’s Nest, San Juan worms and egg imitations. Streamers are also a very good choice to provoke a hit. Stick to the deeper water along the cut banks, allowing the fly to “hover” or pause momentarily in an area of your presentation where you may believe a fish is holding.
The Lower Owens continues to be the best location for numbers of fish and anglers will find much better weather due to lower elevation. Be prepared for temperatures in the low teens or even single digits at times, but midday temperatures are normally rising to above freezing.
Flows on the Lower Owens are very low and have dipped below 100 cubic feet per second at Pleasant Valley Dam. Nymphing and streamer fishing are the best methods currently. Midges and smaller mayfly patterns fished in tandem on the deeper runs and pools will get results.
Anglers fishing at Pleasant Valley Reservoir are finding fish at 20 feet near the launch ramp and dam area.
While drifting the Lower O has been slower because of the cold, anglers are still reporting good action on 12 to 16-inch trout. Streamers are best and the Agent Orange was the hot fly last week with repeated casts into the deeper pools, then allowing the fly to hover in front of their nose.