Hello Fellow Anglers,
Happy Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and the official start to summer! This year, we went from winter weather to summer weather with no real spring-time. Warm temps have arrived in the high country over the past two weeks. The three major trans-sierra roads are open. Both the 89 (Monitor Pass) and 108 (Sonora Pass) are currently open with no restrictions. Yosemite National Park announces there will be limited access to the 120 (Tioga Pass) for visitors interested in crossing the Sierras. All passes are subject to closures during bad weather; checking road conditions before traveling is always recommended.
“Tioga Road will be open to all vehicles, including bicycles, from 10:00 am to 11:00 am and from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm. No parking will be allowed on Tioga Road and day use recreation is not permitted. There is no visitor parking available at either end of the road closure. There are no visitor services available along Tioga Road. The Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, Wilderness Center, and the Tuolumne Meadows Campground remain closed. Opening dates for the 2019 season have not been determined. Restroom facilities will be available 5 miles east of Crane Flat Junction and at Tioga Pass. Visitors are encouraged to plan their trips over Tioga Road in advance and to prepare for the restricted access and no access to visitor services. The road will remain closed outside of these times to allow for continued roadwork and snow clearing.”
The runoff has started in earnest. The major reservoirs in the area have started rising. Some 30 inches of water still remains locked up in the high country above 9000ft. Mammoth Mountain will be open for skiing until August! It was an unusually cold and wet May and snowpack percentages for this time of year are around 200% above normal. You can expect runoff likely into the first few weeks of July. Runoff conditions can change daily as temperatures fluctuate. Lately, night time lows are still hovering in the mid to upper 30s in the higher elevation. Most of the streams in the area are “bank full” if not over their banks for a brief period for at least 3-4 weeks. This will surely make stream fishing more difficult and wading difficult. At some point it might be time to hone up your still-water tactics and skills as there may be a period where there will still be some limited stream fishing and the clarity may be off color. It was a significant winter by standards but much less than 2017 (some 16 plus inches less of water) which was the wettest in recent times. Best to keep an eye on the forecast and remember to check the stream flows before embarking on your adventures as release can change overnight. LADWP and USGS have most of the streams and reservoirs in our area graphed charted and monitored.
Currently fishing in the area rates 5 out of 10 and crowds are light to moderate mid-week and obviously increase on the weekends. Hot Creek, Upper and Lower Owens all have opportunities and the East Walker flows might drop back into shape; Flows are still a little high holding just under 600 cfs but that could change if recent trends continue. The Lower Owens is fishable at this time but flows remain on the high side under 400 CFS and the water is dirty coming out of Pleasant Valley Reservoir. Crowley Lake has been hit and miss, but hopefully things will become more consistent on the big lake as we near July. Bridgeport Reservoir has been producing big trout.
The weather is calling for a little cool down leading into the weekend then a warming trend leading into the new week. Thunderstorms and lightening are always possible this time of year, so if you’re boating or out in the open and you hear the roar, get off the lake and seek shelter. Strong out flow winds can accompany these storms so be prepared to move if you see one in the distance. It is best to seek a cove or move to the leeward side but don’t challenge the lake when it has been whipped up and white capping from a thunderstorm. If it looks suspect, move before it is too late or be prepared to ride it out! The wind can come up and surprise you on the area lakes. It can be life threating in a smaller boat, canoe, float tube, kayak or stand up paddle board. Use good judgement as water temps are cold and hypothermia is a great concern this time of year.
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-OPEN YEAR ROUND
June 21st, 2019 –
Flows are holding near 180 CFS which is well above the season average but not as high as 2017.There are still bugs hatching; some action on the surface mid-morning and some large pale infrequent Mayflies hatching along with the morning Caddis migration and later morning the small Yellow Sally Stoneflies. Hoppers are starting to bounce around in the grass. The best results are still coming to those fishing the nymph. It’s a mixed bag size-wise, but for the most part 10”- 14” and some larger. Those skilled in the art of fishing subsurface have been doing well with Scuds, worm patterns and nymphs with a little flash working best. The clarity is slightly off but not bad and can change throughout the day. Peak water temps are later in the day now that the majority of (snow melt) water is coming down Mammoth Creek. Mammoth Creek is up and over its’ bank near Hwy. 395 and flowing into the secondary channel up by where Hwy. 395 crosses near the off ramp leading into Mammoth. Keep an eye on it. As you see it increase, you will know the flows have increased below in the canyon section or if you see it decrease you know the flows have dropped.
June 21st, 2019 –
The Road to Devils Postpile is closed; no changes here. There has been no real firm word from the USFS on when they plan to open the road. It will really depend on Mother Nature and how much work will be necessary to make repairs. Between the “normal” heavy winter and the spring runoff it is possible this has negatively impacted the roads integrity. There could also be downed trees. “The Reds Meadow Road remains closed due to deep snow. Access to Devils Postpile National Monument depends on snowmelt and road conditions. An opening date is unlikely before early-mid July.”
June 21st, 2019 –
Crowley Lake -OPEN
Lake level is rising rapidly due to the heavy runoff; there is about 700 cfs entering the lake from all the different tributaries and little to none being exported at this time. Water temps are in the upper 60s on the surface depending on where you’re fishing. The fish are spread out and feeding on the upper water column. The Daphnia hatch is on and the fish seem to be keying on them. The trout filter feed through the massive swarms. The midge hatch has subsided from the abundant early spring bonanza. Fish are spread all over the lake and the recently planted fish are up by the Marina and Hilton Bays making their way towards McGee. The current lake elevation is 6772.1. On the 7th of June it was at 6768 elevation so it is up 4ft and rising 2-3” a day. Water levels continue to rise rapidly in June. Best guess, it will come up another 6-9 ft. by mid-July. Fly-wise try placing them in the mid column. Try hanging a leech or Damsel fly pattern also. Fish holding in a variety of depths from 8-25’ and remember the lake is rising daily.
June 21st, 2019 –
The flows have bounced up peaking just less than 800 cfs but have fallen just below 600 cfs in the last week. The reservoir is holding water to just shy of the airport runway and well above the private upper boat ramp for those that like launching there; the lake level is rising fast. The runoff will surely fill the lake to capacity and a larger release may be necessary later in the month and into July. The fishing on the East Walker is rewarding for those who are persistent but flows over 500 cfs make it much more difficult to get around. The water temperature continues to warm but is still on the cooler side for this time of year. The fish are spread out after being held captive during the low flows of winter where it was 30CFS and is now running more than 20x times greater than the winter flow. The water clarity is good with minimal weed growth. There is some algae on the rocks in the slower water. Hatch-wise there are Midges and Mayflies and more Caddis and the little Yellow Sally Stoneflies. A few fish rise but very sporadically and inconsistently for the most part. Haven’t seen many bait fish up near the dam yet, but I’m sure that will change. The number of crayfish isn’t like two years ago but there’s evidence they’re around. The river is still holding true trophies. Those trophy fish might tangle with you and landing them might be a different story, but if you are willing to put in the time the story will be a good one. Generally the fish range from 14” -17” (and some much bigger) with both Rainbow and Browns. Wading at the current flows is considerably much more difficult and a wading stick is recommended in the more boulder filled runs. There are a few opportunities to take a fish on the surface but the nymph and streamer seem to be more productive methods! Nymphing is still the 1# method; nothing new for those who fish the Walker regularly. Second method would be stripping or swinging streamers. I would recommend using the appropriate tippet, size 5x isn’t going to cut it!
June 21st, 2019 –
Crowley Tribs, Convict, McGee, Hilton and Crooked Creeks -OPEN
Flows are very high and currently fishing has become difficult so it is a roll of the dice to make the trek. There are a few Caddis and Mayflies. Hoppers are starting to bounce around in the grass and it looks like it will be another epic season of hopper fishing. It is probably best to wait until the flows drop before making it a spot to fish.
June 21st, 2019 –
Mammoth Lakes Basin -Partially Open
The campgrounds will be closed during the July fourth holiday and the road may also remain closed. It will be quite some time before it is worth an outing up in the Lakes Basin, as there is considerable snow and ice on the upper lakes. Walking on the snow and ice is highly discouraged and can be life threatening. Use good judgement. Best to wait until the lakes are thawed out and the road opens!
June 21st, 2019 –
Not much new to report; water temps should be falling as Rock Creek and Pine Creek are running cold and high leading into the Pleasant Valley Reservoir. Flows out of the Pleasant Valley Reservoir remain at 350 CFS. This flow is fishable but wading is challenging. Clarity has change as Rock Creek and Pine Creek will dirty up and the reservoir water will be a little off color. Currently the clarity is colored coming out of the reservoir. Flows should hold for a while as the aqueduct system to the South is taking water in from runoff and Crowley Lake still hasn’t started retaining water with limited outflow. Hatch wise: Midges Caddis, Mayflies, Crane Flies and little Yellow Sally Stoneflies will start to appear as the weather warms up. As flows have dropped you might have some opportunities on the surface during the peak of the hatch on the quiet seams. Look for the fish to hold where there is some relief from the current or on the ledges and drop-offs. It will take a fair amount of weight to get your fly down and a little more distance from your fly to your indicator. Always best to check the flows before you embark on your journey. Once flows reach over 400 CFS you might want to reconsider your options. Also read your regulations as there are different sections that fall under special regulations i.e. the wild trout section falls under barbless artificial flies or lures no bait.
June 21st, 2019 –
Section ABOVE Bridge to Private property: – OPEN YEAR ROUND Under Special Regulations
Section below the Bridge to the Monument: – OPEN
From the Monument to Crowley Lake: – OPEN Under Special Regulations
Open upstream from the bridge to the private property. This section is open year round and falls under special regulations. Read your regulations and understand them as a ticket can be very costly. Basically it artificial barbless flies or lures; No Bait! The area from the Monument to Crowley Lake falls under special regulations also. From below the bridge to the Monument is now open. Water levels are on the increase; flows below the Hot Creek tributaries near 200 CFS and flows above near 140 CFS. About 12 CFS coming out of the tunnel (East portal) and water clarity decreased below the Hot Creek Tributaries and clearer above. Below the Hot Creek Tributaries it is tea stained. Hatch wise: a few Midges, Caddis and Baetis. Some fish are rising, but as flows increase and the water temperatures retreat, the fish will feed subsurface primarily. There are migratory fish, with both Rainbow and Cutthroat entering and exiting the system. Be careful where you wade as the wild fish have spawned or are spawning. In the shallow depressions in the riffles are the trout nests or (Redds). If you see fish paired up, please leave them be and let them create future generations of wild trout. Beware some of the areas roads on the eastside of the river are flooded and the ground is soft due to flood irrigating. 4-wheel drive is recommended. If you’re fishing above the bridge and get stuck, a tow truck call will be very costly!