February News and Fish Report

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

by Doug Rodricks
(760) 935-4250

We are well into February now and have experienced a few snowstorms here and there. There is another decent storm slated for early this coming week which is forecasted to drop a few feet around the Mammoth area and the higher elevations around the crest. A bit of snow fell on the Upper Owens River, but only a few inches. It was a bit deceiving the day after the storm as I hit the river with a couple of clients, thinking we can drive wherever we would like to. Being cautious, I had my clients stay put while I drove in to check out road conditions. I decided to go for it in an area I thought I could drive through only to get  stuck in the snow. I decided to leave my truck where it stood for the time being and figured I would deal with it after our guide trip. After all, there were big fish waiting to be fooled by our flies, and the truck wasn’t going anywhere. It turned out to be a great day of fishing and catching some really big fish. After the smoke cleared, a simple tow strap and a quick yank out with another vehicle had me back on the road in no time. So 2 inches of snow can still get you to where your tires are spinning and you’re not really going anywhere. Something to keep in mind even thoug it looks passable. Mud is the other issue we have to deal with out here, especially during these low snow years. Once the light amounts of snow starts to melt, it will saturate the ground and create some thick mud at times. Tire chains can add some traction, but tricks like airing down your tires also helps to get out of some sticky situations.

I have to say that the fishing pressure on the Upper Owens River is the lightest I have seen in many years. It has been nice to be able to fish and guide with less pressure this year. Also, the fish have not been in their usual holding areas. We have had to move around the river a bit to find these rascals. When you do locate them though, there may be 1 or many in one area. The flows have risen in the last 3 weeks, which has allowed the larger fish to move to different areas around the river. The standard flies and egg patterns are still working very well. There are some decent BWO hatches going off daily now in the afternoons. Overnight temperatures have gotten down to the single digits at times, but overall, it has been a milder than usual winter.

Hot Creek access is closed at the gate where the dirt road becomes paved at the canyon sections. The Interpretive Site access is still open, as there has not been enough snow on the ground yet to build up any snow berms. Look for lots of micro midges hatching in the morning with lots of eager trout sipping away at them. This can be a hard hatch to imitate, but a #22 -#24 Griffith’s Gnat can get the job done. Later in the morning and into the early afternoon the Blue Wing Olive hatch starts, and these bugs are a bit easier to fish and present. The larger patterns #16-18 are easier to see, and the fish do not seem to be as picky.

We have been doing lots of drift boat trips on the Lower Owens River and the fishing has been very good. Smaller streamers and mayflies on the surface in the early afternoons have made for some really fun days on the river. I hardly see another soul on the water when we float the river. Flows are holding at the 125 cfs range, which is perfect for drifting and makes wading much easier in the wild trout section.

We are still taking bookings for Pyramid Lake and currently the fish are in the shallows. Some real standout fish have been coming to the net recently over 20lbs.

We will be making a decision on fishing Eagle Lake this June by the beginning of March. I will announce our return to Eagle in this newsletter, on our website, and our social media if we decide to go.

We would like to welcome our newest guide to the Sierra Drifters team, Matt Fitzgerald. Matt has joined us and is going to make a great addition. Matt is excited to be sharing his passion of fly fishing with his clients and has been putting them on some nice fish recently. You can check out his bio for more information our Fishing Guides Page.

We hope you can join us for some amazing fishing this winter. You can fill out our online trip request form if you would like to book a trip with us. Check out our Shop Page to order any flies you may be needing.

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