Eastern Sierra Fish'N Conditions

Eastern Sierra Fishing Report

The “catch’n” Poore bros with an awesome double on Doug Dolans fish magnet
Photo Credit: Doug Dolan

by Tom Loe

Fish’N Conditions

Weather is warming up, & it is looking to be a pleasant opener, with the possibility of some gusty winds.  Run-off has slowed considerably, and flows have dropped slightly; or stabilized on the year around moving waters. The West Walker is the only freestone that is running high. The general trout opener is on 4/28/18. Crowley Lake, Bridgeport Reservoir, Twin Lakes Bridgeport, Convict Lake, & the June Lake Loop will all have ice-free conditions and good access. Road closures for locations above 8000 remain likely due to heavy March snows, and a wet April. 

McGee Creek cutthroat are not present at this time. Water conditions are very good; with moderate run-off. Historically they show around mid-May.

East Walker continues to fish well during good weather. Take advantage of the lower/stable flows while you can. BWO and midge hatches daily. Lots of eager chunky rainbows in the deeper riffles!

The Middle Owens hovering around 300cfs. Wading can be difficult, but drift boat conditions have improved considerably with these stable levels. The “catching” is slow due to cooler weather.

Hot Creek can be a good option for moving water enthusiasts, thanks to a decrease in water levels. The windy weather has impacted hatches during the stormy periods; but solid BWO, & midge activity will give you dry fly opportunities afternoon during warmer/calm days.

Upper Owens has improved water conditions recently. Levels are on the high side, but nothing heavier weights can’t solve. A few large Crowley migrants are holding over, with decent numbers of smaller rainbows, & browns around as filler fish. Good BWO and midge pops on the nicer days. Cutty’s are still scarce due to cooler conditions. Roads have dried out, for the most part, making vehicle access safer.

Grant/Silver Lake have very good conditions and should be on the bite for the opener. Use streamers with full sinks near the edges, & ledges.

We anticipate good early season “catching” on Crowley & Bridgeport Reservoirs. I have seen some large chironomids (midges) emerging already. The lakes have remained ice-free for most of the winter, & water levels are nearing capacity.

Crowley Lake

The lake is at full pool to begin the season, with good water clarity. The chironomids (midges) are emerging during warmer periods. Historically the water temps will be higher around Sandy Pt., Alligator Pt., & the North Arm. Look for the trout to be relatively deep through May. The aquatic weeds will begin growing by mid-May pushing the fish to the ever deepening mud lines. We typically string our still water rigs to hang in the 16-22 foot range this time of year. Hilton Bay, and McGee Bay will hold fish deeper due to colder water temps. If you plan on still water nymphing- I suggest using copper/dark tigers, BB (broken back) tiger midges, BB gillies, standard gillies, crystal emergers/midge pupa, crystal leeches, & dark assassins. My choice for first casts would be a standard #18 gillie as the upper, with a #18/16 copper tiger midge as the dropper. BB patterns will fish better if the surface is textured due to wind. You can periodically “twitch” your Under-Cator to give some animation to the flies if it is glassy; or calm.

 Bridgeport Reservoir

It has been a number of seasons since BPR has been in such great shape to kick-off the opener. We are excited to see how this fishery has come back from the drought. Water clarity is great, & the lake near capacity with all the ramps, & boat docks operating. BPR will fish much like its big brother Crowley with respect to locating trout in deeper water, as opposed to cruising the submerged creek channels during the heat of summer. Rainbow Pt, the drop-off in front of the BPL Marina and RV Park, & the ledge around the public boat launch near the dam are historically where the trout congregate during the opening weeks of the season. Chironomids are not as prevalent on BPR; however they are a main food source until the callibaetis mayflies begin to pop in late May. The key to finding trout here is locating a weed free, mud bottom in the 15-20 foot range. I suggest you use the same still water nymph patterns as you might try on Crowley. There are also opportunities to troll streamers with a full sinking line around the marina. Fish are planted at least bi-weelky, and these rascals are more opportunistic than the holdovers on CL. Spruce-A-Bu’s, Loebergs, Punk Perch, Agent Orange, & Crystal Leeches will get grabs. Use the darker colors in low light periods.

Middle Owens River (Bishop Area)

Flows have leveled off at 300cfs. making for much better water conditions on the drift boat runs.  Wading the wild trout section remains difficult at this level. Still a decent BWO hatch coming off with a few stoneflies showing. Streamers like Spruce-A-Bu’s, Loebegrs, and Crystal Leeches used with a heavy sinking tip line are the right call under these conditions. Heavily weighted nymph rigs with standard; or parallel Assassins, flashback pheasant tails, and parallel punk perch can get you grabs below an Under-Cator.

Upper Owens River

Still waiting for the cutthroat to arrive in numbers. The warmer weather will be the catalyst to get the fish moving up soon. Water clarity is good, although it remains higher than normal. Use extra weight to get those nymphs down below your Under-Cators.  Access is currently better as the roads have dried out. The cutthroat numbers remain low. There are a few husky spring rainbows holding over, with decent numbers of catchable bows and browns on the warmer days.  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.  

McGee Creek 

Run-off is moderate, with good water clarity. The cutthroat run has not begun; but historically occurs by mid-May. 

Hot Creek

Water conditions and flows are great here.  Numbers are decent here during warmer periods; with fish holding in the deeper slots and pools. Best bite occurs during early afternoon when the BWO’s are emerging. Large midge hatches coming off during a high barometer. Dry dropper rigs with a #16-18  Para Hi-Vis BWO and a #22 Gillie dropper 12″-18″ below is a consistent rig currently. When you observe those noses sipping the adults in the suds, remove the dropper, and dope up those high wings so they ride high on the surface.  Longer leaders, & light tippet in the 5-6x class is best. During off hatch periods try attractor patterns fished with/without an Under-cator. You can get into some of the larger fish using this method during the spring months.

East Walker River

Best game in the region. Water releases are fluctuating between 105-140cfs. with good water clarity. Last falls planted rainbows are amazingly “rotund”, & very healthy. At these release rates, you can find pods of rainbows in the deeper riffles especially during the emergencies. Warmer weather can trigger some solid midge, & mayfly activity. Assassins, Drifters Crawlers, crystal eggs, broken back midges. Tugging streamers like Spruce-A-Bu’s and Loebergs in the larger pools can get a bad Leroy brown to come out and attack.

Jurassic Pond

The “Pond” opens 4/28/18 this year.

Jurassic Pond has no equal in the Eastern Sierra. This private water holds the largest rainbow and brown trout to be found anywhere in the region. Sierra Drifters Guides have exclusive access to these amazing fish. Book your trip for next season and see for yourself how fantastic Jurassic Pond truly is!

Grant/Silver Lakes

Both fisheries are in great shape to begin the season. Along with an aggressive rainbow stocking program to provide consistent “catching”, these lakes have a reputation for kicking out large wild browns that spawn in Rush Creek and grow to trophy sizes. The spring period has concentrations of fish in deeper water near the inlets and drop-offs; but not on the flats. Streamers with full sinking lines are good calls for these alpine jewels. Water temps are much cooler in both locations due to higher elevations, so anticipate midge/mayfly activity to be later than their high valley cousins CL, & BPR.

We use our state of the art center console “fish magnets” to guide Grant & Silver Lakes.

Balanced patterns are the new rage for nymphing, & streamer fishing. Parallel Punk Perch has been the hottest fly on Crowley Lake recently.  We have been guide testing these patterns for several years, & I can honestly say they are the most significant improvement in fly design in over a decade. They are truly superior to conventional fly designs. The flies ride “parallel”; or “level” to the bottom giving them a far more realistic profile. The jig style hook becomes more effective as it seldom gets snagged on the bottom, & sets efficiently in the fishes mouth. These flies are intended to fish as your bottom fly in a multi fly; or tandem rig. They are deadly fished solo as a streamer. Add these patterns to your quiver for all fisheries that you still water nymph; or cast streamers.   Click on “fly sales” on the nav bar above, hit “menu” first from a mobile device to access the nav bar.


More Reports

Sierra Drifters Reports
for Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Eastern Sierra Fishing Report: Eastern Sierra Fish'N Conditions
Owens River - Middle: Middle Owens River Fishing Report
Owens River - Section 3 - Upper (above Crowley): Upper Owens Fishing Report
Hot Creek: Hot Creek Fishing Report
Pleasant Valley Reservoir: Pleaseant Valley Reservoir Fishing Report
Owens River - Gorge: The Gorge Fishing Report
East Walker River (CA): East Fork Walker River Fishing Report

Sierra Drifters Reports
for Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

: Eastern Sierra Fish'N Conditions
Owens River - Middle: Middle Owens River Fishing Report
Owens River - Section 3 - Upper (above Crowley): Upper Owens Fishing Report
Hot Creek: Hot Creek Fishing Report
Pleasant Valley Reservoir: Pleaseant Valley Reservoir Fishing Report
Owens River - Gorge: The Gorge Fishing Report
East Walker River (CA): East Fork Walker River Fishing Report