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Sierra Bright Dot Fly Fishing Report  – September 17, 2021

The first storm of the winter season, even though it’s Fall, is headed to the Eastern Sierra this weekend. We need all the precipitation we can get. Eastern Sierra streams and lakes are at their lowest levels of the year. Hatches are moving to more of a midday time frame. You do not need to be in a hurry to get on the water.

Fall in the west is now the fire season. Smoke could be a problem on any given day. When the winds blow right, or is that wrong, the Eastern Sierra fills with smoke. If you’re lucky you will be here on a day when the skies are blue and we are reminded that there are mountains on the horizon. The Aberdeen Fire south of Big Pine is being mopped up and should not present any problems. Cold nights are turning the leaves yellow. Now is the time to enjoy the turning leaves of Fall while you enjoy fly fishing on one of the Eastern Sierra waters. 

Inyo National Forest is now OPEN:

Lower Owens River: Near Bishop, CA

Wild Trout Section: Water flows are at 400 CFS as DWP sends water to Los Angeles. Once water holding reservoirs south of the Owens Valley are filled back up the river should go to winter flows of between 100 CFS and 200 CFS. For now, the flows are too high to fly fish. You can put lots of lead on your leader to get your flies down and catch a few fish. Working the banks with heavy nymph outfits produce fish, but the loss of tackle is not worth the return for me. I will fish the river again when the flows go below 300 CFS and I can wade the river.

The Owens River Gorge: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in conjunction with California Department of Fish and Wildlife completed flushing flows in the Owens River Gorge. I don’t start fishing the Owens River Gorge until October. This will give this area a couple of weeks to stabilize after the flushing flows. With temperatures back in the 80’s this will become a spot to explore with the fly rod all day long.

Hot Creek: Near Mammoth Lakes, CA

Interpretive Site: Morning hatches of mayflies, and caddis are offering fly fishers good dry fly action each day. The morning starts off with trico mayflies hatching around 10:00 A.M. Then gray caddis show up and the morning hatch finishes in the early afternoon with blue wing olive mayflies hatching. The trico hatch is present, but the fish are not feeding on it aggressively. Size 22 female parachute tricos, size 22 trico parachutes, and size 22 trico spinners are fooling the wary trout. Size 20 gray caddis patterns like X-caddis, elk hair caddis, EC caddis, and partridge spent caddis are producing trout mid-morning. Late morning into early afternoon is when the blue wing olive may flies begin to hatch. The trout are keying in on this hatch until it ends in the early afternoon.

Afternoon thunderstorms was the catalyst for some great afternoon
caddis hatches on the middles section of Hot Creek Canyon.

The Canyon Section: Cool weather has thinned out the fly fishers in the canyon. It is still crowded, but not elbow to elbow anglers like in the middle of summer. Gray caddis and blue wing olive mayflies are providing morning hatches that fly fishers can imitate. A dry and dropper in the morning before the hatch gets going is producing wild trout. The trico hatch is not very abundant in the faster water sections of Hot Creek Canyon. Dark winged caddis in size 20 are hard to see on the water. I’m using a dry and dry to make the flies more visible. I use a size 16 parachute Adams with a size 20 gray partridge spent caddis tied onto a three feet tippet of 6X. If I lose sight of the caddis, I can see the Adams and use it like an indicator. I also set to any rising trout that is within three of the Adams. Trout are taking gray size 20 X-caddis, elk hair caddis, EC caddis, and partridge spent caddis

Hot Creek Ranch: The ranch is private property and the guests of the ranch are allowed to fish on the section of Hot Creek on their property. Best fly fishing has been in the mornings when the trico mayflies, caddis, and blue wing olive mayflies are hatching. Anglers need to approach the creek with new eyes each time they get on the creek and pattern the trout’s eating habits. On Sunday the trout did not want anything to do with the mass of caddis buzzing above the creek. On Tuesday the trout ignored the trico mayflies and attacked the caddis. Both days as the first hatch subsided the blue wing olive mayfly hatch kept the trout active to almost 1:00 P.M. I’ve been fishing with size 24 female trico parachutes, trico spinner parachutes, and trico spinners. A size 20 gray partridge spent caddis has been fooling the caddis eating trout. A size 20 blue wing olive was the perfect fly mid-morning. Being prepared for changes in the trout’s selection of insects to eat is how to be successful.


Upper Owens River: Near Mammoth Lakes, CA

Above Benton Crossing Bridge: While most streams and lakes in the Eastern Sierra are at their lowest levels of the year, the upper Owens River flows were increased to 120 CFS this week. I find the river fishes best at 100 CFS. This influx of water should get the trophy trout of Crowley Lake to start migration up the river. Fishing with nymphs and streamers in the deep holes and runs is producing trophy trout for anglers willing to cover water looking for pods of trophy trout. Fly patterns need to be fished right on the bottom and this requires lots of weight in the flies or on the leader. Size 12 stoner nymphs and size 12 green/gold Prince nymphs are productive trophy trout producers. Leeches, matukas, wooly buggers, and muddler minnows are producing trophy trout for fly fishers pulling streamers.


A dead drifted nymph next to a cut bank can produce trophy browns like this one in the upper Owens River.

Bishop Creek Canal Behind the Ford Dealer: In Bishop, CA

Trico mayflies in the morning continue to offer fly fishers great dry fly fishing opportunities. A drag free drift is necessary to fool the wild and stocked trout. The fish are keying in on the spinner fall and a size 24 hackle tip spinner with a drag free drift is fooling the trout. After the trico hatch is a good time to fish a size 16 bead head flash back gold ribbed hare’s ear three feet under a size 16 parachute Adams. There are a few grasshoppers lurking around the banks offering an opportunity to throw hopper patterns in the afternoon.

Bishop CanalCasting a dry and dropper rig into Bishop Creek right above the outflow of
Bishop Creek Canal first thing in the morning produced lots of wild brown trout and stocker rainbows.


Sierra Bright Dot Fly Fishing Guide Service is hosting Tuesday Talks with Fred at Mahogany Smoked Meats every Tuesday from 9:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. This is an opportunity to chat with Fred Rowe of Sierra Bright Dot about any Eastern Sierra fly fishing opportunities, fly fishing techniques, or fly tying patterns.

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