Flows in the Middle Owens River east of Bishop continue to drop, creating ideal fishing for both drift boats and shore anglers.
Sierra Drifters guide Tom Loe said the river is lowering to fishable levels, but is still a bit high for wading in the wild trout section.
There are daily Blue Winged Olive hatches, so Loe suggests staying with #18 Mayfly patterns.
“The trout truly focus on this cold weather mayfly. You will also observe some fish sipping midge clusters in the softer water, and larger pools and eddies,” Loe said.
Look for conditions to improve on the Middle Owens.
Pleasant Valley Reservoir has also been fishing very well for both bait and lure anglers. Browns and rainbows are being caught with PowerBait, nightcrawlers, and Thomas Buoyants.
Michael Mireles from Long Beach pulled in a 3.39-pound rainbow he caught at Pleasant Valley with a nightcrawler on a drop-shot with the split shot.
The lack of winter storms has also kept access to Hot Creek open and conditions there are excellent.
Trout Fitter guide Kent Rianda said he is seeing lots of midges and a fair amount of BWOs early- to mid-morning.
“Caddis are done for the season unless we go back into a big warm spell,” Rianda said.
Conditions on the Upper Owens are also excellent, with good access and plenty of migratory fish that have moved up from Crowley Lake. The good access also means fishing pressure has been high.
Guide Loe said the fish have spread out and are holding in deeper pools and the undercut banks.
“You will observe smaller resident trout rising on tiny midge clusters throughout the warmer days, rising in the eddies, and slower moving water sections,” Loe said. “The big fish have been tight to the bottom and on the move every few days.”
Crystal Eggs have been getting the best results, but Loe said to try a few others such as a Drifters Crawler, Crystal Leech, or Assassin.
The East Walker River out of Bridgeport Reservoir is still running at 50 cfs, and Jim Reid at Ken’s Sporting Goods said anglers have been reporting a decent bite. Both rainbows and browns are being caught.
Reid said some of the best patterns have been Zebra Midge, Flashback Emerger, San Juan Worm, Pheasant Tail, Copper John, Micro Mayfly, Zuddler, Moal Leech, Double Bunny, and Sculpzilla.
Despite the relatively mild winter weather, Sierra anglers should be prepared for sudden and severe weather changes.
Ernie Cowan is a veteran outdoor writer and photographer who focuses on the Eastern High Sierra. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.