December Fishing Report

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sierra Drifters

by Doug Rodricks
(760) 935-4250

Hello friends.

December is here, and after the nice holiday weekend we have been left with a hefty amount of snow in the eastern sierra. We hope all of you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. With an early winter underway, the base snowpack has been established and fishing conditions have been excellent. There are more snowstorms lined up for the week which should bring more snow to the Upper Owens River and allow us to launch the snowmobiles and navigate the river. All major passes in the area are now closed for the winter.

Currently, there is still drive in access to most areas on the Upper Owens, but caution must be taken where the snow has covered up the ruts and ditches. It is a good idea to get out and check the area before you drive into it to avoid getting stuck. 4 wheel drive is a good option, but it can get you in, but not always get you out. Also, please be very careful when driving here during winter conditions. We see a lot of mishaps every year from motorists driving too fast. The fish and the skiing are not going anywhere, so a little more caution should be exercised to get everyone to where they are going safely.

The East Walker River has now dropped to its winter release rates at around 20 cfs and fishing remains good here, especially with the new fallen snow. This condition usually triggers the bigger brown trout to go on the chew. The fish will now collect in the deepest pools along the river until the flows start to climb again or the water begins to warm. We will fish here throughout the winter along with the other open waters in Mono and Inyo counties.

The Upper Owens River has slid right into winter, as if someone has flipped a switch. This was a major winter storm that brought feet of snow to the higher elevations along with measurable snowfall to the Owens Valley. The big rainbows and browns are moving up early this year and we are happy to see some truly large wild rainbows make their way upriver already. We have been steadily working our best flies in this area and coming up with some real monster fish. Most years the fish seem to arrive later, but the jump start into winter this season, coupled with higher than normal water years for Crowley Lake have triggered an early migration of fish. For those of you that have been awaiting these trophy trout, the wait is now over. We will be running trips here for these beautiful fish through March and possibly into April this year. Give us a call or fill out one of our trip request forms here if you would like us to guide you on the Upper Owens.

The Lower Owens River is back this year with perfect flows making drifting exceptional this fall and winter. Higher than normal flows over the summer and most of the fall months kept angling pressure away and scoured out the river bottom to create better spawning habitat and new holding areas for the fish. We have been fishing the river with our sink tip lines and streamer flies and getting into some nice fish. The river has been fishing better down here than the last few years, as it seems it is returning to its solid status of good winter fishing. 

Our drift boat trips are a customer favorite, as we often do not see another angler on the water on most days. Our boats are 17’ aluminum vessels that can hold up to 3 anglers comfortably while your guide rows you down the river and puts you in the best areas that are normally inaccessible by foot. In the afternoons, we can be treated to some major Blue Wing Olive hatches. These give us great opportunities at casting dry flies to rising fish from the boat while using light weight rods. Throw in some bigger fish that are caught in deeper water, and you’ve got the perfect days for winter fishing. 

Hot Creek has also been shining strong this winter. Access is still open for vehicles in the Interpretive Site. A few more storms through the area will cut that off and it will be walk in only for the rest of the winter. The midge and Blue Wing Olive mayfly hatches have been going very strong here, and egg imitations are now working extremely well as the fish have now fully transitioned into spawn mode. This time of year is great for targeting the bigger fish of the creek, and as we get further into winter, the fishing will get even better. Most fish will be extremely opportunistic and take flies very well. Since winter does not offer up an abundance of food like the summer months, the fish do not seem to be as choosy. 

With Christmas and the holidays right around the corner, you are probably locking in those gift ideas for family and friends. We have gift certificates available that can be loaded with the dollar amount of your choice. They make great stocking stuffers and they never expire. We also have fly boxes available for purchase, containing 1 dozen of our top fly patterns. These gifts can be paired together or purchased separately. Give us a call or send us an email if you would like to purchase these. 

We hope to see all of you this winter for some great fishing and fun! You can visit our website for more information and the latest report updates here.  Check us out on FacebookYouTube, and Instagram as well.

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More Reports

Sierra Drifters Reports
for Friday, November 15th, 2019

: Fish N' Conditions
East Walker River (CA): Flows Are Down to Winter Release
Owens River - Lower: Flows Are Coming Down
Hot Creek: Hot Creek Fishing Report
Owens River - Section 3 - Upper (above Crowley): Upper Owens River Fishing Report

Sierra Drifters Reports
for Thursday, November 7th, 2019

: November News and Fish Report
Bridgeport Reservoir: Bridgeport Will Remain Open To Fishing Until Mid-November
East Walker River (CA): The East Has Dropped to Winter Release Flows
Hot Creek: Hot Creek Will Fish Very Well This Fall & Winter
Owens River - Section 3 - Upper (above Crowley): Crowley Steelhead Moving Into The River
Owens River - Lower: Lower Owens Flows Have Finally Come Down