Mid July News and Fish Report

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sierra Drifters

by Doug Rodricks
(760) 935-4250

Hello, anglers! 

When I moved to the eastern sierra 14 years ago, I realized my dream had finally become a reality. I never imagined I would be able to live and work in a place that I truly loved. Growing up in southern California, I never wasted an opportunity to go fishing. Whether it was for bass in the local lakes, chasing calicos along the coast, or driving up highway 395 for some of the best trout fishing our state has to offer, I would fish as often as I was able to.

Today, I find myself in a unique position. I own and operate one of the best guide services in the area, and I have had the pleasure of working with some really great people. The guides that makeup Sierra Drifters, not only excel at what they do but they have become very good friends of mine. They have helped build us up to what we have become today. 

I owe almost everything I have learned about guiding and fly fishing to Tom Loe, who many of you are very familiar with. Tom taught me so much when I first started out as a young guide, and he became a very close friend of mine and still is. Tom was a true innovator when it came to fishing and guiding, and I plan on continuing on with the same standards that he has set. My wife Jenny and I were very fortunate to be able to continue running this guide service where Tom and Michele left off, and we have really enjoyed fine-tuning it to the ever-changing challenges and rewards that this business comes with.

Although every business needs good people that stand behind it, our customers are just as important. It has been a pleasure over the years to guide and meet some really terrific people while working in this industry. All of you have supported us through times of good and bad and we cannot thank you enough for that. We have had one of the busiest summers on record and we owe that 100 percent to you.

I hope to continue on in this business for many years to come, and we look forward to our continued efforts in bringing you the best information through our reports and newsletters. Our mission is to not only give our customers the best quality experience possible but to teach each individual the deeper side of fly fishing. We want everyone to leave with a better understanding of the sport and have the mystique of fly fishing eliminated after spending a day with us. 

Our new website is very close to being launched now and will have a fresh look and feel to it. We are excited to bring our new updated site online and make your browsing experience more user friendly. Thanks again for being the best part of Sierra Drifters. 

The month of July has been very good for fishing in most of our frequented areas. We had undergone a bit of a transitional period about a week ago as Crowley Lake turned over and the algae bloom came on fairly strong. The fish continued to feed in deeper water on most days, but some days had us moving around a bit to locate some good concentrations of trout. Most of these fish had to be extracted off of the lake bottom and occasionally we would find fish coming up a couple of feet to feed. 

As the lake level continues to drop and the weed lines are starting to be exposed, we are now seeing fish in shallower water along the weed edges and right inside the weed beds. The mud transitions are well defined this year, so this makes for the perfect feeding habitat for the fish. Conditions like this are also well suited for the fly angler, as there are now many different ways to present multiple fly patterns which the fish are looking for. 

There have been some major damselfly hatches this month and they are now combining with the callibaetis mayfly hatches. Add some midges in the mix along with the newly hatched perch fry and you have a Crowley stew that is getting better with each day. This is a fun time for fishing the lake as we can now cut off our long leaders and fish in shallow water. 

Most of the creek channels are full of weeds this year so there is not much room for fishing inside here. With plenty of weed growth to shelter the insects and perch fry, the lake is primed for some wide open fishing on BIG fish. 

The San Joaquin River has also been a precious little gem this month. Flows are ideal currently and you can spend hours down there with nothing more than a few dry flies and a 2, 3, or 4 weight rod. These are not large trout, but on a light weight rod, they are a blast to catch, and they display some extremely vibrant coloration. There has been limited fishing pressure down here due to the fact that the shuttles are not running, and it is drive in only.

The Upper Owens River is littered with grasshoppers. Much like last season, the hoppers have taken over as the main food item for the trout. It is a good idea to have a variety of patterns that imitate the grasshopper this time of year. The fish are pretty aggressive now, but they will become more selective as the month goes on. Calm days without wind will require a slightly longer leader with a pattern that matches the natural insect. On windier days, you can get away with a pattern that is similar in size and shape to the natural. Color selection can be important as well. On some days, when your fly hits the water, it will not drift for more than 5 feet before being attacked by a trout. Water is very clear above the Hot Creek confluence and some larger trout are hiding under the banks. Hopper patterns are a great way to locate where fish are holding in the summer months and you can learn a lot about reading the water that can be applied to a variety of other rivers and creeks.

The Lower Owens River is rising in flows which is common for this time of the year. Weather has become very hot, so fishing is best and most comfortable during the early morning and late evening hours. There are some decent dry fly fishing opportunities especially in the Wild Trout section. Crossing and wading will be difficult until the water levels start to drop.

Hot Creek has been very fun this year. The fish here are starting to take notice of the grasshoppers, so casting larger patterns along the banks can get some very aggressive takes. On the opposite side of the spectrum are extremely small midges and trico mayflies. I have observed fish inhaling large clumps of moss that have been drifting in the creek. They are chock full of small mayfly nymphs that the fish seem to chew on and then try to spit out once they filter through it. The fish here continue to grow at a fast pace and there are a variety of sizes currently in the creek. You will see fish ranging from 10” in size all the way up to 23” plus. Pretty fun stuff if you can be stealthy and sneak up on a targeted fish. Hot Creek is a great place for skill honing as you try to fool these larger trout into taking your offering.

The East Walker River has been on our radar now that the flows have increased some. There are some large midges coming off the reservoir and dropping their eggs on the surface of the river. If you can catch them on the right day, you will be rewarded with quite a few rising fish taking advantage of this. Nymphing has still been best for larger fish throughout the river, and the usual holding spots are producing. Streamers are great for plying the deeper water in the evenings as some large fish are usually fooled around these low light periods. 

Do not forget to visit our friends who carry our flies, as they would appreciate your business very much during this different season.

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More Reports

Sierra Drifters Reports
for Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

East Walker River (CA): Flows Have Increased
Owens River - Section 3 - Upper (above Crowley): Hoppers, hoppers, and did I mention hoppers?
San Joaquin River: The road to Red’s Meadow is now open
Hot Creek: Some great dry fly fishing has been taking place daily
Owens River - Lower: Flows Have Risen Again
Crowley Lake: Most Consistent Fishery This Summer

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