The Upper Owens continues to pump out nice fish! I was on the water up there the last two days and the fishing is great and very consistent ! With the flows slowly going down lower and lower the approach and stealth is the most important thing anglers can do to have a successful and satisfying day. When one looks down into the river from a high undercut bank with the current water levels you can see lot of trout scurrying to conceal themselves under the bank.The caddis hatch has been coming off late morning from about 9am to 11am with fish hitting the surface here and there. Not all the fish come up though as it seems to be limited to the smaller ones eating the surface caddis… Put on a sparkle pupa or small green soft hackle in sized #16-#18 while the hatch is underway and the trout can not say NO! In some holes the fishing is so good I see fish landed every third cast. As the day rolls on and the winds pick up long strategic casts with a medium sized hopper yields agressive strikes, put on a dropper such as the above mentioned caddis imitations or a large red midge larva in sizes #16-#18 to pick up all the willing fish. Other patterns to try are robo pheasant tails, red lightning bugs, Green Butt Soft Hackle Hares Ear, flashback pheastant tails, and green hares ears. Streamers continue to induce rapid strikes… as I always say “the tug is the drug.” Streamers fishing will also induce some of the larger fish to eat as well as the ever carnivorous brown trout.
Personally one of my favorite streams, the East Walker, is experiencing some warmer water temps right now. Flowing at 91 cfs if you hit it in the early morning and late evening the probability of finding rising fish is more likely. Caddis of all sorts, midges, and parachute adams in sizes #16-22 are doing the trick as far as dries go. Some Tricos hatching has also been noted. Small elk hair and E.C. caddis drifted properly to rising fish will get eaten. Caddis worms, midge larva, and very small mayfly nymphs drifted down in front of fish will conjure up strikes all day. Zebra midges and WD-40’s in black and red sizes #18-22 and robo pheasant tails in the same sizes do the trick. Sparkle pupa and caddis emergers are also necessary to have in the box.
Lets get serious now! We all know that the EW is famous for its very large Brown trout. Streamers are my favorite on this water, grabbing attention from some very large territorial browns. Buggers, zonkers and articulated leaches in any size you want to fish them (BIG) in colours of blacks, browns, olives and rusty oranges and reds are the best choices. Watch the water temps during the hot part of the day as not to harm too many fish.
I have not been on the Lower Owens much recently. The water flows have been at a steady 370-380 cfs, which is just a little high for prime fishing. Temperatures in the lower valley here around Bishop have been hitting 100 degrees almost every day. So the higher elevation streams, lakes and rivers around Mammoth at 7000 ft+ are receiving ten to fifteen degree lower temps makin them more of a destination at the moment. Stay tuned..
Technique, approach and presentation…. This amazing stream continues to pump out some great fish every time I come near it! Water is low and clear with weeds becoming thick making this one of the most technical creeks to fish that we have around. With the current DFG estimate of 11,000 to 12,00 fish per mile expect a fish from under every weed shadow, any weed slot, behind every rock, and stacked nose to tail in every seam.
Recommended flies for this time of year are some very small Tricos usually appearing early to mid morning is sizes #20-24, Caddis are coming off in the middle to late afternoon in sizes #18-20, use the standard Hot Creek Caddis, the E.C. caddis, or a low profile sparsly tied elk hair caddis. Fish have also been taking very small midges (as usual) best imitated by a very very small griffith knat. For the angler that likes to slap down hoppers here and there and then move on if no opportunistic trout are on the feed, try a tan or gray body hopper in sizes #10-12, if you want put a small WD-40 or zebra midge dropper off of it, although I prefer to just use the hopper if you are a hopper fisherman. I prefer the stallcups #12 tan hopper.
For nymphs lots of zebras and WD-40’s have been taking fish all day in sizes #18-22, black has been the colour of late, an olive scud in about a size #16 is also a Hot Creek standby. Caddis are moving in the water before the actual hatch comes off, so a sparkle pupa, caddis emergers and larva in sizes #18 dark cream to tan in colour can take fish.
Streamer fishing, ah streamer fishing. Controversial to some on this water, streamers fished properly can yield some of the largest fish with ferocious strikes, but it takes an excellent streamer fisherman to present properly with the amount of weeds the creek produces this time of year. Water is low and fishing is technical, watch your approach angle, don’t overcast and keep the fly out of the weeds. The fish are used to seeing people but they do not like any disturbance in the water. This creek has something to teach every fly angler.
The Upper Owens continues to be the place to catch a lot of fish on many different flies. Once again though practice stealth! Walking up on the outside elbow and watching the fish scatter will not yield you the finer fish of the bunch. Try approaching the inside curve casting to the opposite side deeper water. Hopper fishing has been good, especially in the afternoon when the strong wind is putting them on the water. Elk Hair and parachute caddis in sized #16-20 have been getting eaten in the back eddies and slower water for most of the day. Bring some small midges and standard parachute style mayflies in you arsenal as well.
Nymphs getting eaten have been #14-18 red lightning bugs, red copper johns in the same sizes, different caddis larva in shades of tan or green #16-18, green and tan soft hackles in similar sizes as well. Attractor nymphs(robo pheasant tails, prince nymphs) in sizes #14-16 up top with the smaller nymphs on bottom definitely do the trick. If you want try dropping a single nymph off of a big ugly foam hopper to cover both bases.
Stripping streamers always gets some sort of action. Try the standard black or olive matuka or wooly buggers for a different sort of strike. Streamers also seem to pull out the few large browns lingering around.