September 19, 2020

Mammoth Lakes Area

Weather Report

Don't forget your water bottles and sunscreen as you hit the lakes, rivers and creeks. The water's reflection seems to like to help the sun in its constant attempts to turn us all bright red and leave us sadly remembering the trip. Don't forget life jackets for the kids if you are fishing from a boat!

REPORT AS OF 9/17/2020

All US Forest Service lands are currently closed due to fire hazards. This includes the Mammoth Lakes Basin, San Joaquin River, Hot Creek and Rock Creek in our immediate area. No access is allowed and has been extended to at least September 20th. Campgrounds, hiking, fishing, biking, businesses and more are closed.

The last 4 days the smoke has been unbearable, as in you can't see Crowley Lake from the highway. I'm not sure what it's like around Bridgeport but down here even if it's open, it's not worth the damage to your lungs. There is talk that it might clear up some for the weekend but....

Smoke comes and goes. We cannot answer the question "how smoky will it be this weekend" but you should expect it to be smoky until we get some rain.

Mammoth Lakes Basin

Water Conditions: No report as of 9/3

Fishing Conditions and Hatches:

No report as of 9/3

Recommended Flies:




Guide's Hint:

Hot Creek

Water Conditions: Fair, showing 6 cfs as of 9/11

Fishing Conditions and Hatches: Good


There are still a few PMDs around. The Tiny BWO has started to emerge, starting about noon until 1:00 and the egg laying starts about 2:00. The name tiny is accurate, size 24. The Hoppers are still around, not like the Owens but still plentiful. The Tricos are definitely taking center stage with the female emergence around 8 and the spinner fall 1-2 hours later. With the increase in Hoppers early afternoon has been getting better. Late afternoon into evening has been good especially if the wind stays down. Caddis migration starts about 8 a.m. with the emergence starting late afternoon. The Caddis can range from a #14 to a #30 (no that's not a typo) so don't be afraid to experiment, including "skating" the bigger ones. The # 30's are generally at first light. Also, male Tricos emerging from about 5:00 until dark.

Recommended Flies:

DRIES: R.P. Emerger #22 | Stillborn Midge #20-22 | Extended Body PMD #16-18 | Para Caddis #16-22 | Thunder Thighs Hopper #10-14 | Elk hair Caddis #14-!8 | Spring Creek Hopper #12-14 | Spider Variant #18-20 | Sparkle Flag Black #18-20 | Hi-Vis Baetis #20-24

NYMPHS: Bottom Roller Phsyco Rycho #10-14 | T Midge #24 | Zebra Midge #18-22 | Grey/Olive Scud #16-18 | Translucent Pupa #16-18 | Nori Caddis #18-20 | Tailwater Scud Tungsten #14-18 | Two Bit Hooker drk/ol #18 | Drowned Trico Spinner #18-20

STREAMERS: BH Bopp Leech Olive & Brown #12-10 | Wooly Bugger Olive & Brown #12-10 | Baby Fat Minnow #8

Guide's Hint:

San Joaquin River

Water Conditions:

No report as of 9/17

Fishing Conditions and Hatches:

No report as of 9/17

Recommended Flies:



Guide's Hint:

Crowley Lake

Water Conditions: Fair to Good

Algae has returned, it's getting a little worse but still manageable, worse in the north end

ATTENTION: The outflow is still summer normal so the lake is dropping about 2" per day.

Fishing Conditions and Hatches: Fair to Good

Not much new to report, last weekend was excellent but unless you have a full-blown respirator, I wouldn't fish it. There is talk about possible improvement this weekend, but they've shown it's almost impossible to predict the smoke.

Sorry but after a 2 day break the outflow came right back up, it must still be hot down south. More bad news, the Daphnia is back, not as bad as it was and still mainly in the north arm. Usually when the trout are keying on them you can tell because the fish will be suspended but with the warm water everything is happening on the bottom so it's hard to tell, all the more reason to keep moving.

The perch are now a definite part of the food chain. The good thing is that they're spread out all along the weed beds and in the pockets so if you're willing to put in the time you will be rewarded by having the fishing all to yourself. You can still find fish in 25' to 35' but they're now showing in 6' to 15'. Remember that unless you are ready to immediately cast to a boil there's no point in worrying about it, those fish are flushing Perch fry off the bottom and then going right back down. One technique for combating this is to suspend perch fry up above your bottom flies. This CAN be a good technique but so far this year it hasn't been very successful.

McGee Bay has picked back up but the fish seemed to have moved further east. The north end has picked back up but the algae is worse in the arm. Big and Little Hilton have had their moments as well as Crooked Creek. The damsels and callibaetis are slowing down.

Recommended Flies:

Dries: Horny Damsel #10

Nymphs: Shaft Emerger #14-16 | Albino Baron #14-16 | G/B Opti Tiger #16-18 | Optimidge Olive/Dun #16-18 | Double Bead Zebra slvr/blk small | Dainty Damsel #12 | Dreaded Damsel # 12 | Poxyback Calibaetis #16-18 | Bubbas Calibaetis #14-16

Streamers: Crystal Bugger Black #8 | Marabou Leech Burgundy or Brown #12 | Punk Perch #14-16 | Baby Fat Minnow #6

Guide's Hint:

Upper Owens River

Water Conditions: Good

Flows are at 60 cfs as of 9/17

Water temperatures are dropping fast.

Fishing Conditions and Hatches: Fair

It may be open but we don't recommend it unless the smoke lessens.

It's getting a little less crowded but still busy, we'll see what happens now that it's one of the few streams still open. Look for the open gates and talk to the people that are already out there. The Trico emergence is starting to wind down but they're still around. If you get out there early the female Trico emergence is getting a little later, around 8 with the spinner fall 9-10. The hopper action is getting more sporadic, good one day slow the next. On the slow hopper days do NOT fish hopper-dropper, the fish will be shying away from anything under the hopper.

The Caddis are becoming more and more prevalent throughout the day with some good surface action in the first hours of light. PMDs are done but the Tiny BWO is still around midday, #22-24 more on nymphs than dries.

Recommended Flies:

DRIES: Stimulator #12-16 | Griffiths Gnat #20-24 | EC Caddis #16-18 | Spider Variant #18-22 | Hatchmatcher PMD #16-18 | Thunder Thighs Hopper #10-14 CDC Spring Creek Hopper Tan or Yellow #10-16

NYMPHS: Zebra Midge #18-22 | Tung Stud Black #18-20 | Prince Nymph #12-16 | Copper John #14-16 | San Juan Worm #12-14 | Harrop's Surface Emerger #20 Barr's Trico Emerger #20-22

STREAMERS: Shock Collar Leech #10 | Woolly Bugger White, Olive & Brown #6-14

Guide's Hint:

Lower Owens River

Water Conditions: Tough

Flows are still at 604 cfs as of 9/17

Water temperature low 60s midday

Fishing Conditions and Hatches: ?????

High, dirty and warm, it doesn't get any better. Now for the other bad news, because of the flooding and all the standing water the Mosquitos are HORRENDOUS.

Recommended Flies:

DRIES: Large dry with #22-26 midge emergers and adults | Hi Vis PMD #16-18 | Stimulator #12-16 | Spider Variant #18-20 | Elk Hair Caddis #14-20 behind the Stimulator, lots of skating

NYMPH: Pheasant Tail #14-22 | Hares Ear #16-22 | Zebra Midge #18-22 | Olive Hot Spot Jig #18 |Micro Stone #14-16 | Jigged hares ear #12 | B/H Prince #10-14 | Drowned Trico #18-22

STREAMERS: Wooly Bugger Olive & Black #10-12 | Mini Sculpin Olive & Black #10-12

Guide's Hint:

East Walker River

Water Conditions: Fair to Good

Flows are down, currently at 72 cfs as of 9/17

Water temperatures are dropping, we may have seen the last of the high temperatures.

Fishing Conditions and Hatches: Fair to Good

Once again I don't know how bad the smoke is up here but I wouldn't get my hopes up. A lot of webcams are down but all the way to Conway Summit is bad.

If you want to hide from the crowds and are willing to leave early, it would be a great place to hide. Nighttime temperatures are in the low 30's all week. Midday air temperatures are expected to be in the 70's and 80's. The flows have dropped back down so the faster water should be more oxygenated, but the water temperatures have gone up so take lots of temperature readings and be aware of the fish's speed of recovery. Also leave the fish in the water if you're taking pictures.

The hatches have been sporadic with midges and small mayflies mid-morning being the strongest but also some Caddis. Both the mayflies and the midges are extremely small. Not a lot of surface activity, but early morning crane fly action can be good. Perch fry patterns should be working as well as daphnia patterns. Don't laugh, in the fall I've seen good BWO hatches where the fish will ignore them to eat a #32 Daphnia pattern, volume of food is the key.

Recommended Flies:

DRIES: REALLY big Chernobylly Mousey looking stuff | Mother Shucker #22-24 | E/C Caddis #14-18 | Banshee Caddis #16-18 | Sparkle Flag Black #20-22 | Para Crane Fly #14-16

NYMPHS: Prince Nymph #12-16| Dead Drift Crayfish #8 | Bottom Roller Psycho #10-12 | Copper Zebra #16-18 | T's Stone Drummond Light #8-10 | T J Hooker #6-10 | JuJu Baetis #22-24 | Para Cranefly #14-16 | Pheasant Tail Midge Pupa #12-14 | Blood Midge #12-16 | Barr's Trico Emerger #20-22

STREAMERS: Meat Whistle | Sculpzilla | Hornberg #10-14 | Belly Scratcher Minnow Chub #2 | Bank Robber Sculpin #2 | Playbate Chartreuse #1/0

Guide's Hint:

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