As a fly fishing guide, I need up to date information on the waters I fish. I get this information from other anglers, from trolling the internet, and by getting out to fly fish. I keep tabs on the lower Owens river this time of year, anticipating a drop in the flows. It’s been flowing at 490 cfs (cubic feet per second) for awhile now and these are good flows for cleaning up silt and debris in the river, but not so good for fishing.
You can check the real time aqueduct data here: http://wsoweb.ladwp.com/Aqueduct/realtime/norealtime.htm.
When the river gets down to about 250 cfs it is worth fishing, and anything under 200 cfs is great. When flows drop to about 100 cfs, the river is experiencing drought type conditions and fishing opportunities can be excellent.
Last year about this time I checked the flows and headed out to fish the wild trout section with a couple of fellow fishing guides. I was pumped to get back to the exciting fishing I’d experiences before the river went up. I hit the water with complete confidence that I would slay the fish that day. The river looked good. Wading was a bit tough, but I managed to get across in an area I’d never been to before and that few anglers fished. I worked the water hard looking for fish to take the trio of Czech flies I was casting.
Slowly I moved upstream deliberately fishing every possible tout-holding water I could cast to. I kept moving upstream working my way along the river bank. I left no water untouched, but the fishing was hard. After about an hour I landed one fish on a hot spot pheasant tail nymph.
I had wanted to work the far side of the river knowing that few anglers fish it. I know now why – I boxed myself in at the top end of the run and it took some work and some help from my fellow guide to find a safe place to get back across the river. While the far bank looked good; it was not the greener pastures I was seeking.
This is all in the day of being a guide; we’ve got to know what is going on, what’s good fishing, and what’s not. What is safe, and what isn’t. Getting out on the water is how we ensure that our clients have the best possible fishing day. I learned a lot getting out on this potentially fantastic fishing day and getting more of an education on the river than landing a lot of fish.
The river flows will be dropping and I’ll continue to make trips out the to river to determine when it is fishing great and when I can take a client out with confidence that he or she will catch fish. The advantages of living here and being a guide are the opportunities to explore all the waters of the eastern Sierra. When one water is off it is time to check another. Be sure to call a local guide when you come up to fish; we do the scouting for you so that you can concentrate on the fishing.