September News and Fish Report

Doug Rodricks

Report Date:

September is upon us in the high country! The weather has been quite different this year. Usually July is our hottest month, but this time around it turned out to be August. Some monsoon thundershowers have reappeared for the month of September but will dry out shortly and we will start to see a more seasonal fall pattern start to take hold. 

The Springs Fire has now burned a total of 4,800 acres and is 73% contained. It was started by lightning, and the containment lines have been set up and maintained along with the help of rain. This has been the only source of smoky skies on some days when the wind direction comes from the north of Crowley Lake. Other than that it has been nothing but clear and sunny weather.

Bridgeport Reservoir has been slowly lowering as the East Walker River was running at moderate to high flows for most of the month. We have seen a drop in flows as of yesterday to the 250 cfs level, which is much better for fishing in most areas of the river. This will allow for slightly more access to some of the best holding areas in the miracle mile section and below the bridge. The best bite times have been in the early mornings and late evenings. If this downward trend in flows continues, we should have an excellent month; river-wide, for fishing.

The Reservoir in Bridgeport has been giving up some decent fish along the partial open water in the creek channels. There is heavy weed growth in most areas except for the deepest sections of the lake. The kokanee salmon have been a nice surprise this year and they are thriving in the reservoir with all the bug and baitfish life milling around this summer. The midge hatch here has been much better than Crowley Lake this year, and using our larger patterns like our #12 Copper Tiger Midges are fair game for the larger trout in this place. You can find our full selection of flies, boat rentals, and other small item needs at the marina.

Venturing to higher altitudes near Mono Village where the Upper and Lower Twin Lakes lie, have been giving up some bigger browns and rainbows. These are high alpine lakes that are super clear and hold some large fish. It is popular with trollers and bait fisherman, but fly anglers can really get into that fish of a lifetime. The best approach is by boat or float tube pulling full sink lines with streamer patterns when the sun is highest. In the early mornings and late evenings, the fish tend to come shallower and near the surface, as they feed on smaller midges and mosquitoes. Larger fish will target the smaller fish just below the surface, so pulling and stripping some larger streamers is a good strategy. Our Spruce-a-bu, Agent Orange, Punk Perch, and Leech patterns in sizes 6 -10 are good go to flies for this area and other alpine lakes too.

Robinson and Buckeye creek have produced some good fishing through the campgrounds as the higher water levels this year have kept the fishing season alive much longer. Smaller nymphs here have been working well for school-sized fish with the occasional larger ones showing now and then. Smaller pheasant tails, midges, and assassins have been great flies this time of year here. You can view our full selection of the Eastern Sierra’s best fly patterns here.

Moving to the June Lake area, Grant and Silver Lakes will start to transition to the fall season as we dive deeper into this month. The fishing at Silver Lake has been good closer to the inlet side while fishing close to or over the weeds. Best bites have occurred with a little breeze out of the south as this condition provides a steady supply of fish toward the inlet. The fish are drawn upwind as the drift provides a “chum line” coming off the weeds. The inlet at Grant Lake also is a good area to spot up on. Some of the bigger browns and rainbows will start making their way in this direction as the cooler water and food coming in from Rush Creek provides a comfortable environment.

The Upper Owens River has fish moving around and feeding throughout the river. The grasshoppers continue to provide the largest meals and highest protein sources for the fish. Please note that special regulations are now in place from the fishing monument downstream to Crowley Lake. These regulations follow the same ones as the lake ( Artificials only with barbless hooks) may be used. Please refer to your fishing regulations provided by The California Department of Fish and Wildlife here. Smaller nymphs throughout the day have been working well in various deeper sections of the river. You can mix it up with some different selections of hoppers, especially during windy conditions. Find the right imitation in your fly box, and you can have some endless fun, with fish after fish gobbling up your top water presentation. With the fish consuming and inspecting natural grasshoppers all summer long, you must present your fly with “zero” drag or they will not take it. The real hoppers display a slight twitching movement when they hit the water, so if you can imitate that, you have mastered the hopper hatch!

The San Joaquin River is down to more than fishable flows now and running at the 50 cfs range. It has been dropping daily, as the snowmelt begins to dwindle. A little bit of rain every now and then has the river fluctuating slightly and dry fly fishing has been a lot of fun down here. These fish have been anything but selective this season, and size and silhouette are more important than pattern. Smaller mayfly, caddis, and midge patterns are always on the menu here and these are some of the most opportunistic feeding trout. This is a great place to hone your dry fly fishing skills, as the gin clear water allows you to closely observe how the fish react to your drifted fly.

Hot Creek has not changed too much from last month. There has been a very consistent feeding pattern taking place here daily. The smallest of midges and trico mayflies have started the party off in the mornings as mayfly emergers will get you into fish just prior to the hatch. After the fish fall back below the surface, smaller caddis, mayfly, midge and hopper patterns will get looks by the trout and you’ll get takes if you select the right one. The riffle areas have been the best producers and you can observe many trout holding and feeding here. The canyon section has been fishing well while drifting the open lanes between the weed lanes. 

Crowley Lake has been producing some nice fish last month and the shallower water in and along both of the dominant creek and river channels have brought the fish in. There is some heavy feeding on the schools of perch fry, damselfly nymphs, callibaetis, and midges. The midge hatch has been very sparse this summer season, but the fish have much higher protein food sources to feed on. Despite the lack of the medium sized midges that are usually so prevalent this time of year, on some days the best bite is still on midges fished over the mud bottoms. The channels are not holding large numbers of fish throughout, and you will have to do some looking around before anchoring up. Some areas are holding large numbers of fish, and these have been the best areas to stay into the bite throughout the day. The afternoon winds prior to and during the thunderstorms can produce some solid bites where the fish start to feed on any and everything. Deep and shallow water has been very consistent, and as the lake level drops the fishing will only get better.

We hope you can join us for some pre-fall fishing in the eastern sierra! Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter and be sure to check out our website. Fill out one of our trip request forms here to book your trip.

More Reports

Sierra Drifters Reports
for Thursday, August 29th, 2019
: Sierra Drifters Fish N' Conditions
East Walker River (CA): Flows Have Come Down Slighty
Owens River - Section 3 - Upper (above Crowley): Lots of Grasshoppers All Over
Hot Creek: Fishing Continues To Shine
Owens River - Middle: Flows Are Bumping Up Fast
Crowley Lake: Find The Weeds And You'll Find The Fish
Sierra Drifters Reports
for Monday, August 19th, 2019


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