Eastern Sierra Fish'N Conditions

Drifters newest guide Hanzo Grotewold showing why he is going to be a top pro on the lake. Hanzo has lots of energy, is super friendly, and very skilled in teaching you how to get on fish like this in the Sierra.

by Tom Loe

Fish’N Conditions

Crowley Lake is fulfilling expectations. Good numbers, big fish, excellent conditions. Sandy, Hilton, and McGee are the place to be. East Walker has had heavy pressure; but continues to kick out quality browns and bows. Flows are very good at 235cfs. Middle Owens has been better with the stable flows. (Currently 200cfs) Wading good in the wild trout section. Drifting secluded sections of the river has been productive for planted bows, and wild browns. Upper Owens and McGee Creek remain slow/poor. There are a few cutthroat that have moved up along with some catchable rainbows; but numbers are disappointing. Water conditions are excellent in both locations. Hot Creek has heavy pressure; but is providing consistent surface action during good weather. Conditions are excellent. Bridgeport Reservoir having a great start to the season. Some really nice rainbows showing up here during the nicer weather. BPR has the best water conditions to begin the season in many years. Silver/Grant Lakes kicking out good numbers of stockers, with a few quality browns. The long range forecast indicates no significant storms, & stable weather for an extended period. Gusty afternoon winds are typical this time of year, set those alarms for an early start. 

Crowley Lake

Good news for this early in the season. The fish are concentrated in several areas of the lake, & feeding on midge larva in less than 15 feet. Stage up on a clean mud bottom in 12-15 feet, and you will get that Under-Cator dunking! Sandy Pt., McGee Bay, & Hilton Bay have been the best locations. The Crowley slam, (rainbow, brown, &  cutthroat) is likely for proficient still water nymphers as all species are on the chew. The Sacramento Perch are currently spawning on the sandy bottoms. If you plan on still water nymphing- I suggest using copper/dark tigers, dark- long shank crystal zebras, 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/zebra 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 been relatively stable for a the previous week. 200-250cfs is a good release to wade the wild trout section. Drift boat trips have been better with the lower flows. Bite picks up with the mayfly hatch, & warmer water temps afternoon. 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. Properly 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

Far more anglers than fish present for sure. Still waiting for the cutthroat to arrive in numbers. There are a few, & I mean a few, cutty’s below the monument; however it is skinny overall. Some catchable rainbows, and smaller browns  in the riffles, and deeper slots. No pods, or concentrations all the way to the Long Years section.  Water clarity is great, although it remains higher than normal. Use extra weight to get those nymphs down below your Under-Cators. 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 

Recent scouting trips show scattered catchable rainbows in the riffles, with a few straggler cutty’s on the gravel. No concentrations, or “pods” here yet. This can change in a day, and we see the run begin in force by mid-May most seasons. Run-off is light, with good water clarity.  

Hot Creek

Water conditions and flows are great here.  Numbers are good 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

The levels are really nice right now-currently at 235cfs.  Flows can vacillate frequently throughout the spring/summer as irrigation demands on pastures in Nevada change.  It has been crowded here; but the “catching” remains consistent overall. Look downstream from the Miracle Mile to get less pressured, fresh water. 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

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. JP is in terrific shape after the mild winter, and the fish are the largest average we have EVER seen. We fish streamers, nymphs, & dries for these monsters. We can guide up to four anglers at once here for a 4-5 hour session. To insure JP remains world class, we only allow fishing with a pro SD guide. JP is not fished more than four days a week to rest these amazing trout. Come test your skills with the largest trout in the Sierra.

Grant/Silver Lakes

Look for the bite to really pick up as the air temps get more seasonal. 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. Hot patterns here include Crystal leeches/level leeches, Loebergs, Agent Orange/level AO’s, & light Spruce-A-Bu’s. Hang a Killa-baetis, or Assassin nymph as a trail fly while trolling from your tube. 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.



More Reports

Eastern Sierra Fish'N Conditions
Eastern Sierra Fishing Report

Fish’N Conditions Flows have moved significantly higher on the East Walker (235cfs), this may slow the bite down until the...... Read More

Eastern Sierra Fishing Report
Eastern Sierra Fishing Report

Hi friends. Flows have moved significantly higher on the East Walker (256cfs), this may slow the bite down until the...... Read More