The Upper Owens has undergone a few changes since my last report. Weather has changed in the direction of winter, dropping the temperatures around the Mammoth Lakes area extending down to the grassy plains of the Upper Owens River. Hoppers can still be seen, but numbers are diminishing during the coldness of the nights. However, after eating the leggy creatures for a solid few months it seems that they still hold some residual memory of the big insects. The Upper Owens trout will still come up and eat a hopper for the time being, during the warmer parts of the day. Some of the anticipated big boys coming out of the lake have been spotted in the deeper holes of the river. We will have to see what this year holds as these this spectacular run of fish swims up the Upper Owens from Crowley Lake from now and forward. Stay tuned!
Just down from the town of Mammoth Lakes, CA the banks of the Lower Owens river are still overflowing and water surges down its path at around 700cfs. This is way too much cubic feet per second of water to enter, and it is actually a sight to behold. The Lower Owens is hardly containing the water in its banks. The good news for the Trout of the Lower Owens is that this huge flow volume brings that level of food with it as well. When the river recedes to its normal level, and fly fisherman are able to enter, we will see the benefits in the mass of the fish. Lizards and small mammals are in trouble as the trout leave the river bed to roam the newly flooded areas for a real satisfying protein snack. (its a cool thought!)
The Lower Owens River has been raised to a crazy rate of 700+ cfs. This is pretty much a high flow rate that can not be fished for the moment. This can only last so long and we will be the first on the Lower Owens as soon as it drops. The good news is that this magnitude of water of water volume for the Lower Owens brings an incredible amount of food to the fish in there. When the water does come down us Fly Anglers reap the benefits!
Hopper movement is still happening on the Upper Owens within the famous Mammoth caldera just below the town of Mammoth Lakes. Flows are moderate and clear, or slightly tinted depending on where you access the river. The entire system has been turned on to the Hopper protein snacks entering the water. Rarely to they enter the water and live for more than a couple of bends without being consumed by predators below. From below the Browns Campground and up to the border fence the action has been pretty much nonstop on hoppers, nymphs, and streamers ! The only thing that could inhibit the grasshopper action too soon is if we have a few cold freezes. But those cold Autumn nights also bring in the Crowley fish. this should last a while longer as the Big Trout enter the river from the lake…
Typically, in the west, we see some of the biggest fish come out to feed before winter conditions arrive. That means the next two months on Crowley Lake! Already the amazing fishery nestled in between the mountains of Long Valley, just below Mammoth Lakes, has shown us some amazing Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Lahonton Cutthroats just these past couple of weeks. McGee bay and the north end of the Lake are where the action has mostly been happening. 10-20′ of water has typically been where the fish have been found throughout this season. Typical patterns have been taking fish; Chironomids, Perch Fry, streamers ect… Look for the fish to move around and spread out as the overall water temperature of Lake starts to cool down and fish are able to head out and seek out some food. Call the shop for more information and to get in on this amazing fall fishery in out brand new Mako 19′ CPX!
Hoppers! I really do not need to say anything else on this report! The grassy fields of the Upper Owens River near Mammoth Lakes, Ca have been full of the leaping insects and the resident Trout have been taking full advantage of the situation, no doubt putting on some serious yearly mass for the seasons ahead. All sections of the river have been fishing well. Flows are clear and cool and very manageable. Normal bug activity is also noted in seams and foam lines. Nymphing various attractor nymphs as usual is very effective. Crowds have been here and there but usually one can find a place to call their own for the time they are there.
The Lower Owens has been flowing clean and clear for the last month. Up to around 442cfs, this amazing river is still being fished by a select few who know what she has been holding. The Lower Owens has proven itself over and over again to the fact that if the water looks fishy, there is indeed a small or large amount of Trout holding there. The high flows make it more difficult yes, but the water temps are moderate, driving the fishes metabolism to consume protein in the form of aquatic invertebrates. As for flies the standby Midge patterns, Caddis Worms, Split Backs and Soft Hackles in Sizes #14-18. For dries; Elk hair Caddis, Blue Duns, Stalcups Caddis, Yellow Sallies and Terrestrials in sizes #10-18. These are only a few of the patterns we have been using to extract fish in the Lower Owens River recently. (and put them back of course)
Crowley Lake has been giving us fly anglers something unforgettable this year. Big Trout of three different varieties! Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, and the infamous Lahonton Cutthroat, are all growing big and plentiful in Crowley lake this summer of 2019. Our brand new red Mako 19′ CPX has been nothing short of perfect for fishing Crowley Lake delivering us quickly and comfortably with style to our favorite locations . From 10′ to 22′ we have been finding fish and bringing them to the Mako. Always moving around when necessary, the Lake will let you know when it is time to pull up anchor and present your slim offerings at another location. The North Arm, Mcgee, and the other named bays around these areas have been very productive for the STM crew. Nymphs of Damsel and Dragonflies have taken fish recently, of course Chironomids have been the staple overall. Sizes range from #12-16 and in colours from Black to White. Weather is warm and water is prime. Some bays are showing some green algae in the middle of the day near the warmer parts of the shore but not affecting the areas anywhere near where the fish are. Its time to call the shop and see what Crowley has to offer and see how quick you are on the strike!
The Upper Owens has been the recipient of the pending runoff recently. Above Hot Creek flows are lower and water has more clarity. Hot Creek appears to be dumping in around 140cfs of the total 260cfs flow. So above this confluence can be the best choice if water comes up any higher on these systems. Fish are found in the same places as before. Drop-offs, foam lines, dark bottomless holes , ect. Fish attractor patterns at these flows. Large bugs have been spotted around the Upper Owens River system so do not be afraid to go bigger on the sizes chosen. Medium Sized to Smaller Streamers tugged and passed through the right waters will prompt a strike from a fish as well. The size of the fish has returned to somewhat normal when compared to the winter population we find in the Upper Owens, but there is always some of the big ones that do not return to Crowley and give us a big summer surprise when hooked!
The Lower Owens has been fishing very well since my last report! Yellow Sallie Stoneflies, Mayflies and Caddis all have been taking fish! Although, Stoneflies have been the major player in the last couple of weeks. Conditions on the Lower Owens near Bishop are in pre-runoff. Holding Steady at 340cfs for the last couple of weeks it is poised to succumb to the melting snowpack in the near future. Look for rising fish under overhanging river willows. These wild Brown Trout are usually looking for a fallen Yellow Sallie to come up and engulf in a splashy moment of violence. Nymphing has been very effective as well, as it is always in the Lower Owens. Start light then take her deep if needed!