Sierra fishing reports on year-round waters sound like summer
LOWER OWENS PRIZE — Sierra fishing guide Pat Jaeger has been enjoying some wide-open action on the Lower Owens River with mild temperatures and good flows keeping the winter fishing action more like early summer.
BISHOP — Guide Pat Jaeger could have dusted off one of his summer Sierra fishing reports and it would have been an accurate account of fishing conditions this past week. From Bishop to Bridgeport, winter anglers enjoying the action on year-round waters open to fishing are basking in mild weather and spectacular fishing action.
“I was fishing today on the lower Owens and it was just going off. I was in shorts under my waders and I was seeing 15 to 20 fish slurping bugs,” said Jaeger, who owns Eastern Sierra Guide Service. “Water temperatures are coming up, the days are getting a little longer and it’s starting to get darn good.”
Flows on the lower Owens remain at excellent levels, offering waders good access to productive areas and a gentle current for drift boat anglers.
In general, the hatch on the Lower O is wide open and Jaeger says midge clusters are showing up as early as 9 a.m. The best technique is to start early with small midge patterns fished sub-surface or Griffith's Gnats on top. About mid morning look for the mayflies to come off and try to match the hatch and switch back to midges in the afternoon.
Mild days mean perfect weather for the steep hike into the Owens River Gorge, but it’s worth it with good action for both rainbows and browns. Nothing big is being reported, but once the action begins, it is steady.
Not many reports from Pleasant Valley Reservoir this week, but the action has been excellent just below the powerhouse. There has been a good hatch of midges and mayflies and steamers are also bringing in some nice fish.
The lack of snow has kept the access road to the upper Owens open, but 4x4 is a good idea and plan on a good wash job when you get home.
Kent Rianda at the Troutfitter in Mammoth Lakes said the action is still good for some of the bigger pigs moving up from Crowley, with the action focused between 10 a.m. and about 3:30 p.m. Nymphing is producing the best results, but look for a midday hatch lasting less than an hour to really open the action.
“Go to very small or pull streamers for the big guys,” Rianda said.
The lack of winter weather has kept the action on Hot Creek alive and well, especially during a four-hour window during the middle of the day. “It’s been so good this past week that I’d almost say it’s better fishing than we see during the summer,” Rianda said.
The little snow that fell a few weeks ago is gone, but the Forest Service has kept the gate to the Hot Creek Parking area closed. But, the short walk from the gate is worth it and smaller midges and baetis patters worked subsurface are working all day.
Jim Reid, owner of Ken’s Sporting Goods in Bridgeport has been able to sneak away for some excellent fishing on the East Walker River, and his reports sound like something you would expect at peak season. River flows are stable at 25 cubic feet per second and the combination of mild temperatures and light overcast and opened the baetis and small midge hatch.
Reid said a Parachute Adams in size 22 has been the go-to fly, but Griffiths Gants or any fly that rides high is working when during the hatch. He’s been pulling in mostly browns between 14 and 17 inches, with a few larger to keep the excitement alive, along with a few rainbows.
“Be prepared with nymphs if it turns sunny and clear, and look for some nicer fish working the surface in the pools,” Reid said.