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  • California

    July 23, 2006

    Howdy friends and Sierra Drifters. Best fishes to all for this mid July fish report from the Eastern High Sierra.

    The overall fishing has been very good to excellent in most areas with the only exceptions being the larger tailwaters. The immense snow pack this winter is melting off big time and Crowley Lake and Bridgeport Reservoirs are absolutely full to the spillways. The East Walker and Lower Owens Rivers are at very high release rates and will remain so for quite a while. Fly fishing and wading these locations can be very difficult and not on the “must do” list at this time in our opinion.

    The weather has been whacko with a mixture of very warm to hot days and the constant threat of moderate to severe thunderstorms on most afternoons. If you are planning to be on open water in a float tube or boat especially in the alpine lakes be prepared to exit pronto during these types of conditions.

    The Sierra Drifters Guide Service staff welcomes one of Mammoth Lakes finest fly fisherman, Doug Dolan to the crew. We have been recruiting “Two Bug Doug” for quite some time and his fly fishing prowess and people skills are going to be a great addition to our excellent staff. Doug will be a full time, year round guide that will offer his expertise and services with a 23 foot custom Ranger flats boat for trips on the larger lakes and a 17 foot Willie drift boat for Lower Owens float trips. In addition “Two Bug Doug” will be fully licensed and permitted to take you to all the prime walk and wade waters the Eastern Sierra has to offer. This guide has got serious “game” in the moving water department and his extensive local knowledge of the regions waters has given him an excellent reputation with local fly fishers and guides. He is currently listed as fishy enemy #1 on the “most wanted” list by the local trout and has a huge reward posted for his subsequent capture!

    You can read a bio on “Two Bug” Doug Dolan together with resumes’ on all the other excellent and friendly Sierra Drifters Guides by going to

    Crowley Lake and Bridgeport Reservoir: Excellent

    Reminder…The special regulation season at Lake Crowley starts August 1st and the lake closes for the season on November 15th, 2006…although the marina & boat rentals will close October 31, 2006.

    Both of these fine stillwaters are reaping the advantages of plentiful water the last two seasons. There have been several “epic” days recently in both locations with our clients enjoying continuous and plentiful action while using the stillwater nymphing technique. One hundred fish catch & release days are not out of reach and this is hooking and landing about half your grabs on the right day.

    The major inlet areas are keys to your success, as well as being able to identify the submerged river channels and weed beds. McGee Bay and Buckeye Bays respective to their locations are without a doubt the places to be. You will find large concentrations of trout from 8-13 feet of water in both lakes. The chironomid hatches are large on Crowley with some very dinky perch fry beginning to show in the weeds. The key hatch on Bridgeport along with the chironomids is the callibaetis mayfly emergence and the damsel fly nymph migration. There is a lot weed at Bridgeport and it is essential to find the creek channels or weed free flats for consistent fly fishing. Tugging a streamer from a tube at this time can be difficult in either location due to the lack of open water; too many boats or heavy weed. Stationary casting is the best bet if you wish to get your grabs with a steamer like our Punk Perch, Loeberg, Damsels and Blood sucking Vanderleeches #10-14. Use one of our pupa patterns as a trail fly 24 inches behind the larger streamer.

    From a boat or anchored tube stillwater nymphing has been a slam dunk in the late mornings running twin Gillies and crystal emergers #18 and 20. Tie a crystal tiger or zebra as the dropper during the off hatch periods.

    The browns and cutts are showing on a regular basis and they are on the deeper side most days until the clouds darken it up. Drifters guide “Fill” Therrien put Lord Matt Conrad and Lady Allison Conrad from Coto de Caza, CA……on some really nice fish with the exclamation being this gorgeous 20” brown.

    The curse of Joe Mallinger from Escondido, CA was exorcised at long last due to the Herculean efforts of Mickey “the turtle” Baron in a two day rip lipping clinic put on by Smoke’n Joe and the turtle. This was no small task and we are all breathing a sigh of relief. Fun times Joe!

    Veteran Sierra Drifter Bruce Blumenthal from Agoura Hills, CA wanted his son Jefferson to experience his first trout on the fly. Piece of cake!!! Bruce pretty much got schooled by Jeffy in the big fish department and the lad came up with the largest cutt we have caught and released to date on Crowley. Check out the shots of these outstanding fish by visiting our website at

    News From the Bridgeport Fisheries Enhancement Program:

    From: Quick update....we have stocked about 3,000 browns in the 3-4 inch range recently in the rez.

    The East Walker will get about 5k in the next two weeks. We are selecting high water spots with plenty of cover and the little buggers are eating whatever moves as soon as they hit the water. There are still several thousand in the bin. The browns are aggressive and showing thier red spots. Bright colored beauties.

    Our Virginia Creek Project will be operational by the end of the weekend and we will have some rainbows for a trial phase in the bin very soon. This is a spring fed flow-through bin that has even better potential than Paradise Shores.

    Best fishes and hey, keep slayin' em.


    Hot Creek:

    Tis’ the time of year when you will prevail on the surface here. The afternoon caddis snap is a good choice if the wind is not ripping. Dark bodied #18-20’s. I suggest tying one size smaller than the naturals for best results. The morning mayfly event is also a daily occurrence, more anglers at this time and location below a substantial riffle is paramount to your success. 6X is a must, no short leaders. Water clarity has been good except after a major overnight T-storm. Give it a few hours to clear up.

    San Joaquin River:

    Very high water here making the popular plunge pools and riffle water difficult and downright dicey to wade and fly fish. The clarity remains very good overall and there are ample meadow sections throughout the middle fork region to get you into fish. Have some larger dry attractor patterns like Trudes, parawolfes and stimulators #12-16. Caddis or Adams patterns will also work as a trail fly or the point bug #14-16. Remember the special regs about driving down to this can check with the Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau

    West Walker River:

    The T-storms have a negative impact on this fishery but overall conditions have improved a bunch since our last update. There is still a bunch of current in the canyon section and wading is tricky to suicidal in some spots but the prudent fly fisher can hike to some slower water and find some co-operative trout eager to hit both dries and moderately weighted nymph rigs. Our crystal tigers rock em’ #16-18. I enjoy the seclusion of the canyon sections here, avoid the drive up locations. There is a link to the water flows at

    Alpine Lakes: Excellent!

    The hatchery trucks have apparently been keeping up with the pressure cause’ we ain’t hearing no complaints from anyone fishing the Mammoth Lakes Basin, June Lake Loop, Rock Creek and Convict Lakes, South Lake and Sabrina region. Streamers with a full or heavy sinking tip line will get you into fish. Find the tree stumps, drop-offs and inlets, you will find those larger Alpers. Spruce-a-bu’s #8 whack these opportunistic trout.

    Upper Owens River:

    Stick to the section above the confluence of Hot Creek for the best water conditions at this time. Blanket caddis on the calm afternoons will get those wild fish looking to “pop” that dark bodied #18 with exuberance. Flashback pt’s, crystal olive zebras and wd-40’s are a good choice for indicator nymph fishers. Bring along insect repellant by the gallon here, trust me!

    Rush Creek:

    Want a challenge? Like to sight fish? Can you cast at least 50 feet with a 4wt. and turn over an eleven foot leader? This is your huckleberry! Venture immediately below Grant Lake into the slower canal section of this tailwater and you will find some incredible fish lurking in the soft gin clear water here. They are not easy to fool, be forewarned. If you have a buddy with good eyes trade off and take turns spotting for each other from atop the levy. Forget the mid-day here, stick to the last couple hours of light. Go small on the top- #20 or less, the fly is not nearly as crucial as the presentation. 3 feet of 6X is a must at the tip.

    Rock Creek

    She’s still a tad high but clarity is excellent on the dry days and the fishing has been very good all over. Dry dropper combos in the softer meadow sections work well, as do caddis dries #16-18 in the afternoons.

    East Walker and Lower Owens Rivers:

    Both are running very high and are difficult to wade. There are links to the river flows at The Lower O pretty much sucks and it is way too hot down in the valley right now for my liking. The EW is your best bet if you enjoy extreme nymphing and are a very strong wader. The rewards can be great if you get lucky and manage to swing that potential jumbo brown into some soft water for a proper release. No less than 3X here if you want to take a quick picture baby!

    If you are new to the sport of fly fishing or need a jump start as to some of the hot patterns that work in this area, stop by and visit our good friends at the following great fly shops and locations and ask for our “Killer kits” These kits are composed of our most popular and deadly streamer and midge patterns and have been arranged in a good quality ripple foam box for your convenience. They make great starter boxes and perfect gifts for the fly fisher.

    You can pick up our Authentic & Improved Sierra Drifters Guide Flies, Sungicators & Killer Kits only at the following stand out locations (don’t be fooled by any of the imitations out there!): Crowley Lake Fish Camp & Crowley Lake General Store/Deli in Crowley, Kittredge Sports in Mammoth Lakes, Bridgeport Reservoir Marina in Bridgeport, Malibu Fish’n Tackle in Thousand Oaks, The San Diego Fly Shop and Stroud’s Tackle in San Diego, The Fishermen’s Spot in Van Nuys, Bob Marriott’s in Fullerton and Buz's Fly Shop Too in Bakersfield. There are links to these locations at We pride our Guide Service & Products on Innovation not Imitation!


    California Dept. of Fish & Game Regs…

    Or you can also call the Mono County Sheriffs Dept.

    760-932-7549 / 760-935-4066

    Be the fly my friends,

    Tom Loe

    Sierra Drifters Guide Service