Upper Owens River Fish Report

Owens River - Section 3 - Upper (above Crowley) - Eastern Sierra, CA (Mono County)

Ron Nobles braved some brutal weather to get his dance with a couple Crowley Steelhead. Doug Dolan netted this one.
Photo Credit: Doug Dolan

by Tom Loe
2-26-2018
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It is forecast to be windy, very cold, with periods of accumulating snowfall for another week.  Numbers of migratory rainbows are down from last season. Water conditions have actually been favorable for a solid run on the UO. After numerous years of planting sterile “triploid” fish, the ramifications of this fisheries management (or lack there of) may finally be taking its toll. Triploids have no instinctual mechanisms to spawn; or migrate upstream. They remain in the lake unlike fertile trout that swim upstream to propagate. Sterile fish have been planted exclusively throughout the Sierra in recent years due to laws implemented in the past decade to protect the genetic integrity of native “west slope steelhead”. Changes in the fisheries management plan this year, mostly specific to this water shed,  are permitting the planting of “diploid” trout once again. Hopefully we will see fish counts improve in the tributaries after a couple years.  There are a few bigs around, covering a lot of water can get you a shot at a few of the elusive ones. Some smaller resident fish are sipping on midge clusters in the pillow water of the larger pools during periods of warmer weather.  Getting your rigs on the bottom with water conditions like this require obscene amounts of weight, lengthy leaders, and aggressive mending tactics to achieve drag free drifts. Crystal Eggs, San Juan Worms, #16-18 Assassins (dark and light), #14-16 Crystal Leeches, and #16-20 Copper Tiger Midge, Zebra Midge, and Gillies have been good patterns fished with plenty of weight below an Under-Cator.  

Hopefully we will see an early run of cutthroat trout moving in March if the weather turns more seasonal.

The section upstream from the Benton Bridge is open year around with special regulations. Seasonal closures, and angling restrictions apply downstream from the bridge, check regulations before fishing in this section. We walk and wade guide here. During winter we will access the UO with snowmobiles.


If you would like to go fly fishing with Sierra Drifters give them a call at (760) 935 4250 and for more information visit their website www.sierradriters.com.



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