June News and Fish Report

Brown Trout
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sierra Drifters

by Doug Rodricks
(760) 935-4250

Coming out of winter with a bang! We have experienced a record winter once again and just in the month of May, we have beaten the previous record for late season snowfall. Finally, the last snowfall of the season in the high country has come and gone, and we can finally start to enjoy the warm summer days that bring major aquatic insect hatches and excellent fishing with it. We will continue to experience some afternoon thundershower activity through the next week, with temperatures beginning to get more seasonal for this time of year. Clearing of the passes has been a major task this year for Caltrans, but they continue to push through and have made some great progress on 120 all the way to the Yosemite west entrance. Most of the other passes are now open or will be shortly.

Crowley Lake has continued to shine and the fishing continues to get better as the midges start to really take off in numbers with their hatches. We are still finding the best fishing to be in the 13-20’ depth. The algae bloom is starting earlier this season but it may not materialize to its peak bloom until later in the month. The brown trout this year are really nice and thick, as are the rainbows and the cutthroat. Crowley has also received some trophy trout this year from the Desert Springs Trout Farm in Oregon. There are already some low growing weeds starting to form in the shallower sections of the lake and around the shallow drop off areas. This will form the foundation for the damselflies, perch fry, and callibaetis nymphs to shelter in as they “try” and hide themselves from the large predators that lurk around here during the summer months.

Last season was one of the longest callibaetis hatches I can remember seeing. These mayflies were sticking around all the way through late September and provided a solid food source for the trout. With the plethora of perch we were catching earlier in the season, you can expect a large hatch of perch fry this year, which equates to pure protein and body mass for the Crowley trout.  

Crowley does experience a bit of a slow down for a week or so in June, depending on conditions and the year, and it is at this time that we start taking a closer look at Bridgeport Reservoir. We are definitely going to be fishing here this season and will start our first trips there in another week or so, though it is hard to pull away from Crowley Lake if it continues to fish as well as it has been.

The cutthroat trout are enjoying their migration into the creeks and rivers (Upper Owens River and McGee). They continue to enter McGee Creek in good numbers and seem to prefer it here, rather than the Upper Owens this year. There is still plenty of time left for them to move into the Upper Owens as they did get a later start than usual due to the erratic winter weather that was hanging around. Unfortunately, we have only seen a fish or two on the Upper so far. We have been getting them to take our Level Leech pattern, SD Crawler in red and crystal eggs on McGee Creek. It has been an aggression and annoyance strike when they do hit, as they are not interested in feeding when they move up for the spawn. There are some fish we have been seeing here that are hitting the 25” mark and they can test your tackle as you try and pull them away from the group once you get them to take your offering. Sight fishing for big fish is always a real thrill as you watch them take your fly. The run-off should start to get going pretty good next week as the daytime temperatures begin to climb.

The real “hero river” this spring has been the East Walker in Bridgeport. When the flows come down, this place has been giving up some “monster fish”. The browns and rainbows here really respond to the flow drops and are really starting to fall into their spring/summer feeding patterns. The flows are kind of in a fluctuation mode as they rise and hold for a week or so, and then drop for the same timeframe. It can get really fun here with dry flies when the large midges come off Bridgeport Reservoir and start depositing their eggs on the river. You will definitely have to visit our website here and check out the huge fish that have been coming out of this place lately.

The road to the San Joaquin River is not open as of yet and there is still quite a bit of snow at the top and leading down to the river. We expect fishing to be very good here this season, as there will be plenty of water throughout the summer months. The run-off, later this month will have water rushing through here at a high level, but as mid-July and August approach, we will have lots of opportunities at some solid dry fly fishing. This is a great place to hone your dry fly fishing skills, as the takes from the resident wild trout are fast and furious in the riffle sections, but also soft and subtle in the slow water. We will update on this area when access is available.

Hot Creek is another water that should be on your radar this summer. The fish continue to grow at a steady pace here, and when you mix in some of the big rainbows and browns that are lurking in the shadows, you’ve got yourself a real spring creek fishery. This place can get quite crowded in the summer months so early starts can get you into the morning midge hatches and then switching over to nymph rigs when the fish feed lower can be a really effective and fun way to fish. Mammoth Creek is already starting to swell with the hot weather, so earlier is also better for fishing the Upper section of Hot Creek.

Silver Lake and Grant Lake will definitely be getting a look from our fish magnet flats boats this year as well. The higher water levels are good news for the bigger browns in Grant and the large rainbows in Silver will have a longer feeding season too.

We have received a lot of questions about the snowpack and access to upper elevation waters recently. Most higher elevation lakes will not be accessible for the month of June and many waters are still under ice. The best fishing for the month will be found on the stillwaters at lower elevations until the snow melts out. This is a great time to try your hand fishing at some of our trophy trout lakes. Some of our biggest fish of the season are caught out of Crowley and Bridgeport Reservoirs each year. When the action is hot, it is hot, and even if you are more of a river rat when it comes to fly fishing, you can’t deny the thrill of a 5-7lb trout tearing the fly line off your reel at full run and getting you down to your backing. Click here to fill out one of our trip request forms for the trip of your choice and come up and enjoy some of the best trout fishing in the state.

We hope all of you can join us, for what looks to be an epic fishing summer. As we get into the month of June we get ready for some of our favorite trips, which entail teaching the many young kids on summer break how to fly fish. All of our staff enjoys the smiles on the youngsters’ faces when they hook and land their first trout on a fly rod. It really makes our jobs special and they are the future stewards of the waters that we cherish. Looking forward to fishing with all of you and your families this season.

Be sure to visit our online fly sales page where you can order our flies individually or by the dozen. We ship them priority mail right to your door so you have one less thing to worry about prior to your trip. Of course, we still provide all the gear and flies at no additional charge on all of our guide trips and all that you need to provide is a fishing license for the day.

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More Reports

Sierra Drifters Reports
for Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

: Eastern Sierra Fish'N Conditions
Walker River - East Fork (CA): Fishing Will Pick Back Up Again Soon
Hot Creek: Fishing Has Been Fun Here
Owens River - Section 3 - Upper (above Crowley): Conditions Are Changing Daily
Owens River - Middle: Flows Jumped Up A Few Days Ago
Crowley Lake: Solid Numbers of Fish On The Daily

Sierra Drifters Reports
for Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

: Eastern Sierra Fish’N Conditions
Crowley Lake: Continues To Be Good At Crowley
Owens River - Middle: Fishing Edges Can Yield Some Takes
Owens River - Section 3 - Upper (above Crowley): Cutts Will Be Making Their Run Soon
Hot Creek: Spring Can Be The Best Days on The Creek
Walker River - East Fork (CA): Flows Have Dropped