The Lower Owens is flowing a very low and fishable 82 cfs according to the flow chart at the top of this page. This low flow tends to really hold the fish up in larger areas of water on the river.. And the Lower O is full of places like that! Dry fly activity becomes more prevelant as you get closer up to the PV Dam and the more stable water temps exiting there. Nymphing has been good to great for most fisherman depending on the day and fisherman. Flies that will extract wild brown trout from the Lower O are: #16-20 Miracle Nymphs, Tiger and Zebra Midges of various colours, #18-20 Robo PT’s & BH P-Tails of various sorts and Coppers Johns in Reds and greens, Have a #14-16 Cased or Crawling caddis imitation as one of the flies on your Czech Nymph(I now have a great selection of Bottom Roller Czech nymphs in the Shop! Get your flies down!) or indicator setup. For Dries the fish are taking BWO’s and Midges. Baetis Comparaduns, CDC patterns, Para BWO, and good old adams #18-22 for the BWO’s and #20-24 for the midges…
Hot Creek is a gem of a stream and only gets better in the Winter with limited access leaving the creek to those who have no fear of uphill snow hikes. A 4×4 vehicle will be needed to make it up to the locked gate which is about 3/4 mile from where the plow stops. This puts you at the top of the canyon section at the FS locked gate. You can also walk this 3/4 mile section of unplowed road. From the locked gate it is about 1/4 mile of snowy downhill to fly fishing utopia. Dry fly eating activity can be found with midges in the morning and BWO action happening later morning in certain pools and runs of the creek. Hi-Vis Midge patterns and Griffiths Gnats cover it in sizes #20-24.. For the Baetis(BWO’s) try a #20-22 Para Adams, CDC and comparadun patters or just a Para BWO pattern. I have been fishing these off the RIO suppleflex 6x (nonflouro)with great results. As far as nymphs go it is small as usual. Thin bodied #18-22 Zebra and Tiger patterns get eaten with proper presentations frequently on Hot Creek this time of year. Try small PT’s and Baetis patterns in the same sizes as the midges. Some egg patters are still getting eaten by trout not willing to let anothers genes live on. Fish it light with little or no weight shorter than usual. A dry dropper setup is also a great method for extracting trout on Hot Creek right now.
The East Walker is a snowy and icy edged place right now flowing at a low 23 cfs. Angling pressure is way down and it is still on fire! Midge surface activity can be found happening all over the river mid-morning and some pools boil with surface activity for up to an hour or so. After that the usual Midge patterns will work great: #18-22 Disco Midges, WD-40’s, PT’s, Robo PT’s and Micro Mayflies. Try the infamous SJ worm in the combo. Streamers of your choice can be fished here for a possible trout of a lifetime. Fish your favorite streamer in deeper water… The giant hole at the dam?
The Upper Owens is flowing heavy at 162 cfs… This flow is way up there and somewhat difficult to fish.. If you go pick the slower larger pools and throw some “meat and potatoes”… or heavily nymph some SJuans #6 with tigers and zebras below #18’s. Watch out for wintery conditions! Fishing from the bridge up recommended..
The Lower Owens is now flowing at an even 90 cfs. These are low flows that make for some very decent fly fishing! It can be a little slow in the mornings but things really start happening around 9:30-10:30 am.. I have been seeing more dry fly action every day out there with the fish responding accordingly. Drift trips have been yielding good numbers of fish depending on the day and fishermans skills. Look to the slower deeper water once again in this winter wonderland for holding trout. The usual suspect are; Tiger and Zebras #18-20 in colours of olive with copper or black/silver or gold and also the red/silver combo has been taking fish. #18-20 Copper Bobs in red and copper, Trigger Nymphs, Robos and PT all in like sizes are taking fish as well. What a great river to fish in the winter!
As I was arriving last Friday I was the first one to be shut out as the Forest Service was there locking the gate at lower end of the ranch property. Lots of snow has fallen since then making access even harder.. For the serious fisherman the work to get there is well worth it! Mid morning the water boils with fish taking very small #20 Baetis.. Going on into the afternoon they switch over to the Amiocentrus caddis for their afternoon meals. Use #20 baetis imitations or just the good old P. Adams… For the Caddis try a Partridge, Hemmingway or Hot Creek Caddis, once again in a size #20. Under the water voracious bug eating also occures. Very small midges fished properly here will yield lots of trout with some big guys coming out of the creek!
The East Walker is now up to a more fishable flow of 44 cfs. The fishing remains strong, the only catch in arriving there. Since the last dumping of snow a few days ago the trip over the mountains to the East Walker takes a little while longer. The majority of the fish are holding in the slower water due to a slower metabolism from the colder winter water temperatures. One other thing; you will also be much more likely to have the river to yourself this time of year. For bug to toss at them try the usual small midges in different colours and configurations in sizes #18-22… Silver and Gold on Black TigerZebra is a good place to start. Disco and Biot Midges are also a good choice. WD-40’s and PT’s in the same sizes will also get you fish in the middle of this winter wonderland.
The Upper Owens is up to 121 cfs as this report is being written. Snow covers the banks of the Upper O keeping the fairweather fisherman away for the season. Water temps are obviously down, but the fish really are not. Fish are coming up to midges here and there throughout the day.. Nothing consistent though. Large Crowley Lake fish can still be sighted, fished to, and caught by the patient anger. Use 4×4 or chains to get around here. My Xterra in 4-wheel driver had no problem getting around. Zebra and Tigers are still getting attention here in #’s 18-20.. Try them in red/silver or black/silver. Small baetis imitations and your basic PT in similar sizes will also get you fish here.
Since my last post the Lower Owens has dropped to a perfect flow of 126cfs. The drift boat has been out and roaming the waters of the Lower O. Fish have been more than responsive with many holes holding incredible numbers of fish and some holes having a few.. Overall the fishing has been great! Small baetis and midges are bringing fish up to the surface for some dry fly action. Nymphing small PT’s, Tiger and Zebra Midges and small Soft Hackles will get you into fish all day long #’s 16-20.!! Streamers are also on the menu.. Fish your favorite streamer pattern here to feel many 30+ft handshakes…Also getting many good reports from anglers coming in the shop off the water here… A++ winter trout river!
The East Walker remains at a very cool 19cfs…. The water temps waiver around mid to high forties making it a safe temp for any trout.. The spawning action I have been witnessing has seemed to stop with no spawning action spotted as of 11/20..The nests are not clean looking anymore, although I would not step anywhere near these until the river has filled them in. Very light nymphing is what is needed to be successful here. No lead needed!.. . All small Midge patterns, PT’s and Robos in #18-20 are working well….Lots of midge and small mayfly surface activity for decent sized fish as well. The fish are also obviously eating perch (streamers are getting more attention now)as you can see in the photo of the much over eager brown I came across below. He really makes the phrase “biting off more than you can chew” come to mind…