BY ERNIE COWAN
BISHOP — Winter anglers fishing open Eastern Sierra waters are getting a taste of what opening day of the general season will be like in a few weeks.The bite is on!
At this point, heavy spring flows have not drastically affected creek waters, and both the arrival of warmer weather and bugs has started a feeding frenzy.
Weather on the Lower Owens has been downright warm, and the fish seem to like it. Guides are calling conditions good to very good. Trout have turned on and traditional bait and lure anglers are getting limits, and DFW has even stocked rainbows at major bridge crossings.
For fly chuckers, there is also good news as baetis hatches are picking up and the bite window has now expanded to several hours between 1 and 4 p.m. Fish are also on the prowl for the bigger stoneflies that have begun to hatch, so come prepared.
The lack of storms has also brought early spring weather to Pleasant Valley
Reservoir, Hot Creek and the Upper Owens River. Maybe warmer is a relative term, because when Scott Lee from Duarte arrived at Pleasant Valley Reservoir last week it was a chilly 15 degrees at first light, but it did thaw out and warm up, especially when he hooked into a nice brown.
Traditional baits and lures are working well at PV, but there have been few reports yet from fly-fishermen.
Hot Creek is now free of snow, and is also seeing more pressure with easier access, but that so far has not slowed down the action.
Guides at The Trout Fitter in Mammoth Lakes said the water is still free of weeds and anglers are connecting with midges early and late, along with a sporadic mayfly and cad- dis hatch midday.
“There are days when the mayfly hatches are stronger, especially on cloudy days,” they said.
Hot Creek still has a window from about 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the best bite but look for that window to open wider as tem- peratures continue to rise.
Flows on the Upper Owens have been reduced and that has cleared up the water, with only a bit of clouding below Hot Creek.
That means anglers who want to connect need to be invisible, approach slowly, avoid a shadow on the water, and cast well ahead into your target area.
There are good numbers of spring spawners in the Upper O, but they are widely spread out, so anglers should keep moving until they connect since there are not concentrations.
Fish are also moving more into a spring pattern of moving out of the pools and actively feeding in faster water.
Trout Fitter guides report that resident fish have been keying on micro Mayflies and midges, “so we suggest trailing a midge or mayfly in size 20-26 behind an attractor nymph.”
Anglers on the open West Walker River had a little bonus added last week, with the planting of 1,200 pounds of larger rainbows, thanks to the efforts of the Twin Lakes Fish Foundation.
Ice is gone from the river now, but water is still cold, so anglers should works slower and concentrate on deeper pools where fish are holding in warmer water.