It’s the middle of March and it looks like we are not getting a miracle March to boost the Eastern Sierra snowpack. Storms are moving through, but unfortunately we are getting 10 feet of wind not ten feet of snow. The mountains are getting snow measured in inches not in feet. Spring is coming and in between storms the days are warmer and the amount of daylight is increasing every day. With daylight savings in effect the hatches are coming of early afternoon not mid-day. Blue wing olive mayflies, midges, and caddis are hatching and the trout are feeding on them. Some of the newly opened winter fishing waters are becoming fishable as snow and ice are receding allowing fly fishers to explore new areas as spring approaches.
Lower Owens River:
Wild Trout Section:
Early morning is the time to nymph fish with midges. I’m using midge patterns and pupae patterns in tiger, and zebra colors. These flies work great tell late morning or noon when the trout start feeding on the blue wing olive nymphs that are becoming active prior to the early afternoon emergence. I’m fishing with olive quilldigons and bead head flash back pheasant tail nymphs. Early afternoon is when the blue wing olive hatch begins and I’m fishing with dries in the pools and runs that have lots of trout feeding on the surface. I’m using a size 18 blue wing olive parachute, olive sparkle dun or olive compara dun. As the blue wing olive hatch dissipates there is a gray caddis hatch coming off on the lower section gate 13 to Five Bridges Road, of the wild trout section. I’m fishing with a size 18 gray elk hair caddis, gray X-caddis, and a gray partridge spent caddis.
Spring is trying to come to the upper altitudes and Hot Creek is slowly edging towards being snow free. Midges are active in the mornings. Mid-day the blue wing olives are active and the trout are rising to them when the winds are not blowing. I’m fishing with midge nymphs and midge pupae patterns in size 20 to 22 in zebra and tiger colors. I’m nymphing with blue wing olive nymphs like the bead head flash back pheasant tail nymph and olive quilldigon. When the hatch is in full swing I’m switching to a blue wing olive parachute, olive sparkle dun or olive compara dun. The water is clear and the trout are skittish.
The road to the canyon section parking lots is still full of snow and not vehicle accessible. It takes a little more effort to get into the canyon section, but there is less fly fishing pressure. The canyon has more riffle water which lends its self to better nymph fishing opportunities. I’m fishing with midge nymphs, midge pupae, and blue wing olive nymphs. With the low flows of winter I find commercial nymph indicators to spook the wary trout. I like to fish a dry and dropper rig. I’m using a size 16 Adams parachute with a size 20 to 22 midge nymph or pupae in the mornings. Late morning I switch to a blue wing olive nymph pattern like a size 16 olive quilldigon or size 18 bead head flash back pheasant tail nymph. Once the hatch is in full swing and the trout are selectively feeding on the surface I switch to a size 18 or 20 blue wing olive parachute, olive sparkle dun, or olive compara dun. I carry a few gray size 20 caddis patterns with me for those days when the caddis are hatching.
Upper Owens River:
Above Benton Crossing Bridge:
The snow is melting but the dirt road paralleling the river is still not drivable past the first couple of turnouts. It’s a 30 to 50 minute walk into the best fly fishing spots. Trophy trout are still in the system taking nymphs and streamers. Most anglers are finding success with San Juan worms and egg patterns. I’m using green/gold Prince nymphs, stoner nymphs, and gold ribbed hare’s ears tied on size 12 competition jig hooks. Standard streamers like Hornbergs, wooly buggers, and muddlers in sizes 6 and 10 are producing fish for fly fishers covering lots of water. I’m fishing these flies in the area of the Hot Creek forks in the deep holes, pools, and undercut banks. These trophy trout are taking flies as they rest and feed on their migration in and out of the upper Owens River from Crowley Lake.
Bishop Creek Canal:
Behind the Ford Dealer:
The flows coming out of Bishop Creek are at their lowest of the season. The trout are extremely spooky and require longer casts, light tippets, and a stealthy approach. I find indicators and Euro nymphing to be spooking to many trout. I’m fishing a dry and dropper rig for nymphing and fishing with dry flies during the hatch. The trout are taking midge nymphs, midge pupae, and blue wing olive nymphs in the mornings. Mid-day to early afternoon the trout are feeding on the surface to the hatching blue wing olive mayflies. I’m using size 18 zebra, and tiger midges followed by size 16 olive quilldigons and size 18 bead head flash back pheasant tail nymphs. During the hatch I’m fishing with a size 18 blue wing olive parachute or olive sparkle dun. Windy days is making it impossible to fly fish Bishop Creek Canal.
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