Very Good Fishing In San Joaquin River

2006-08-30 19:07:52
Eastern Sierra, California - Freshwater Fishing Report
San Joaquin River

Howdy friends and Sierra Drifters. Best fishes to all for this Labor Day 2006 fish report from the Eastern High Sierra.

Some big changes have occurred in a few key fisheries since our prior report. A very stable weather pattern has ascended upon this region but those who have been observing the subtle changes all agree it may be an early and substantial winter and we may experience a cooler than normal fall if the trend continues. Being said, prepare for “shifty weather” with warm and mild days and some frosty conditions in the mornings especially in the upper elevations. This has been the norm, but with this type of late summer pattern we could have a winter like storm parade through the area soon and you should have clothing and gear to be prepared for this condition.

Some of the deciduous trees are beginning to turn various shades of yellow and there is a brisk feel to the air as the long lazy days of August come to a close and the fall season approaches. The fall colors of “aught six” may turn out to be the most spectacular ever seen and even if fly fishing is not your passion a scenic trip to this area will be well worth the effort in the coming weeks. The heavy snowfalls of last winter have left the freestone creeks and tailwaters in excellent condition and the lakes and reservoirs at maximum levels. This fall has all the earmarks of being the “Indian summer to remember” and we would really like to assist you in making some special memories in your fly fishing notebooks. Please call or email us if we can assist you in any way while visiting the fisheries of the Eastern High Sierra.

For those of you who do not have convenient or reasonable access to the great fly shops and locations that carry our time tested and popular guide flies and merchandise we have some great news! Sierra Drifters has teamed up with

and the dynamic fishing duo of Captain Bruce Smith (long range sport fishing legend and master of the SHOGUN) and Shelly “Sharkey” Ehmers, (fish along side her and you will see why she is called sharkey). They have established a website and vehicle to purchase not only our time tested guide flies but other novel and unique fly patterns these “fly fishing-a-holics” are currently fishing and promoting. When you visit their website and order flies directly from the internet they can be shipped directly to your door. Small or custom orders are invited as well as flies by the dozen. Straight scoop from these kids folks, trust them like your mamma!

Crowley Lake: Poor-excellent

In a matter of four days I witnessed the mother of all algae blooms occur over the entire lake. The unprecedented winter of “aught six” has left the lake at record levels and coupled with a major surface temperature cooling, increased nitrate levels from the Upper Owens River and a spike of really hot phosphate rich water emanating from the geological site at Hot Creek we are having a severe algae bloom that has put a damper on some potentially great conditions on Crowley. The stagnate weather pattern with an easterly wind each day has not helped out much either. The algae has pushed into the westerly inlet sections of McGee and Hilton Bays and is reaching into the prominent weed lines of the North Arm near the inlet to the Owens.

That is the bad news. If Crowley gets a west wind and the area you are fishing clears out you will have a great day while stillwater nymphing. We had incredible fishing during this condition recently and this trend could continue through this week. The fish continue to stack near the inlets and you must evaluate the conditions on a day to day basis until this algae bloom recedes.

Tubers fishing perch fry and damsel nymph patterns are fairing better most days than stillwater nymph fishers especially in McGee and Hilton Bays where the green goo is moderate to heavy recently. Keeping your flies clean is tough and although the fish can be observed “rolling” and crashing on the surface it is near impossible to keep a fly presentation clean enough to get grabbed. The kick into McGee is long and arduous but if you are into trolling and casting a streamer it is a far superior choice than attempting to keep your imitation in the Owens Channel in the north arm of the lake where stillwater fly fishers are doing better hanging chironomid and perch fry imitations under a “Sunjicator” in the weed free channel.

Fishing streamer patterns like our Loebergs, Punk Perch, Vanderleeches and the hot new Agent Orange will more than likely get better results until the algae once again dies off. A moderate to heavy sink tip line or a moderate full sink line will be best suited for streamer fishers at this time.

The “Mighty Osprey” Bill Stroud owner with wife Eileen of Stroud’s Tackle in San Diego once again established himself as a standout fly fisher and master of the larger more educated strain of trout in this premier fishery. The San Diego Fly Fishers were well represented with the tandem of Jim Reeg and the “Osprey” casting to rolling fish recently on Crowley Lake. No fluttering I observed here Willy! Click on to view all the great pictures for this report.

“Seeing a little girl hook set like a grown man is a LOT prettier than seeing a grown man hook set like a little girl’’! This pearl of wisdom from her father, Bill. Eden Amans from Long Beach, CA did some serious spanking on some really nice trout while on a guided trip with us recently. Check out the brown this first time fly fisher bested. Way to go Eden!

Stay in school, become a doctor, (or fly fishing guide) and you may one day land a great fish on the fly. Doctors Gordon Sasaki and Steve Soldo both hit some very nice fish on a recent trip to Crowley while stillwater nymphing from our custom flats boats. Surgical precision in those hook sets guys, thanks a bunch!

West Walker River: Excellent

This freestone river is peaking right now and is well worth the effort to fish with a fly. My personal choice is a dry/dropper bead head nymph rig with a crystal tiger or olive zebra. You may have opportunities to fish it with dry/dry combos as there are plenty of caddis and hoppers around currently. If you do not want company go hike into the canyon sections upstream from the Hwy 395 Bridge or park at Pikel Meadows off the Sonora Pass exit and walk upstream from the improved parking area here.

East Walker River: Very Good

Flows have dropped a bunch and are currently being released at 313 cfs. There is a link to the water flows at At this release the average fly fisher can get into fish consistently with moderately weighted nymph rigs. A bunch of small browns have been planted this season with no small effort by some quality folks in the area. You may get into these from time to time. The big fish are what makes the EW special and at this release rate they are now vulnerable to experienced fly fishers. PT’s, birds nests and small tigers or olive and black zebras will get you grabs. The grasshoppers are showing here so have some larger dry patterns and cast them to eddy’s along the banks. Streamers are also a good choice at this time during the lower light periods. Cast our Spruce-a-Bu with a light to moderate sinking tip of 10-15 feet in the big hole below the dam or some of the other larger pools in the meadow section and be ready for battle. Have a BIG catch and release net here folks.

Bridgeport Reservoir: Fair-good

The lake level is at last lowering and the weed beds are taking that “Everglades” look that the lake gets this time of year. Working the channels with streamer patterns that imitate perch fry, callibaetis nymphs, and damsel fly nymphs are your best bet. Stillwater nymphing is still a good option if you can locate a large hole in the weeds. Buckeye Bay towards Rainbow Pt. and the drop-off have some limited open water. Fall is going to be great here! Sheep Meister and resort owner Jefferrrreee Wenger will shuttle you out to the open spots and set you up with his select private stock of holistic fly patterns…Bring him some oats and he may give you a discount on our flies! “My son, Evan, and I fished with Brad McLain at Bridgeport Reservoir and I thought you'd like a copy of the attached picture. Evan caught the fish, a 23", 5.5lb Rainbow. Nary a bite from 8am until noon but from noon until 3pm I experienced some of the best trout fishing of my life. Brad was great when things were slow and was even better when the fish started biting. As the commercial says the time was "Priceless". Thanks to you and to Brad for a most excellent experience.” Mike Wright from Bakersfield, CA. Click on to view the pic...

News from the Bridgeport Fisheries Enhancement Program:

The East Walker Wild Trout

Fly Fishing Trout Tournament

Sunday, October 8th 2006

Come out to an exciting fly fishing event sponsored by the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce. There are two divisions for you to enter. The starting time for both divisions is 7 a.m. The cut-off time is 2:30 p.m. sharp!

Hey guys…Go to and and check out our website updates that include online entry forms, donations and Program information. Thanks, Skip Baker

Lower Owens River: Major improvement

Flows have dropped to 400 cfs this week and if it holds you will have a great time on this tailwater. There is a link to the flows at

The Owens Valley Floor is still on the warm side in the late mornings through late afternoons, but with the early fall season forecast we expect a better than average fall and winter drift boat season to occur starting in October. This is going to be hot friends, book your drift trips early this season.

The wild trout section will see some good surface activity with caddis and midge activity in the slower water or larger pool sections.

Hot Creek: Very Good

This is perhaps the best time of year to fish dries with the water levels being just about perfect. Keep your leaders longer than usual and your tippets 6X or less and you will get into fish. The hoppers are showing here as well, fish these terrestrial patterns along the banks and undercuts and you may get “Brownzilla” to come out for a snack!

Upper Owens: Good

You will find a larger average fish in the lower sections below the Benton Crossing Bridge downstream towards the lake and more than likely more numbers and better dry fly activity above the confluence of Hot Creek. Hoppers, mayflies and caddis in the afternoons. Pt’s and our olive dubbed crystal zebras work well here.

Rock Creek Lake, Mammoth Lakes Basin, June Lake Loop, Convict Lake, Lundy, Virginia Lake: Goo

This is the peak of the season and all of these alpine lakes are fishing well. Heavy plantings of both DFG and Alpers trout will insure you success if you put in the time. Full sinking or heavy sinking tip lines used in conjunction with flashy streamer patterns like crystal buggers, Matukas or our Blood Sucking Vanderleeches, Spruce-a-bu’s and Loebergs will get you STRUCK DOWN! The key in all these areas is to locate transition zones like drop-offs, inlets of creeks or springs and underwater structure like tree stumps or submerged logs. Even hatchery fish will instinctively seek these locations after a while in a natural environment. Work wind lines or scum lines when trolling from a tube and you will have results locating fish in these high altitude stillwaters.

San Joaquin River: Very Good

Conditions are getting pretty juicy here especially for those who like to get into smaller wild trout on dries. The raging waters are calming and the riffles are in great shape for extended drifts. Attractor patterns likes Trudes, Coachman’s, Para Wolfe’s, and Stimulators #12-16 work well this time of year. May fly patterns like Adams and PMD’s are also solid choices #14-18. Bring along copious amounts of repellant!

Remember the special regs about driving down to this can check with the Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau

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, Buz's Fly Shop Too in Bakersfield and online at

. 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


Fish Species: Trout
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About The Author: Captain Tom Loe

Company: Sierra Drifters Guide Service

Area Reporting: Eastern Sierras - Lower Owens River

Bio: Tom Loe grew up in Thousand Oaks Ca. and married his high school sweetheart Michele after attending Moorpark Jr. College.

The next 20 years Tom spent harpooning broadbill swordfish as the owner/operator of offshore commercial fishing vessels on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. He is currently a licensed Coast Guard captain and year round fly-fishing guide residing full time with Michele on McGee Creek overlooking Crowley Lake in the Eastern Sierra. Tom has had a maniacal fascination with trout his entire life. He began tying flies at 12 years to assist him in financial support of his addiction to fishing. The truant officers had no problems locating Tom if he turned up absent at school, find trout, you found Tom!

During extended periods his sword boats would be tied up in port Tom would spend large blocks of time fishing the Eastern Sierra developing and perfecting unique methods of fly-fishing for trout in the area. Tom pioneered guided drift boat trips down the Lower Owens River and the “dip and strip technique” in 1998 after selling the swordfish boat “Bandido” that same year. Sierra Drifters Guide Service was founded and has been in operation since 1998 and to date has assisted thousands of fly-fishers in pursuit of trout in the Eastern Sierra.

Click Here For Past Fishing Reports by Captain Tom Loe