Fly Fishing Report: Eastern Sierra and East Walker Edition

Summer is holding on for now, but there’s no doubt that fall is on its way. The leaves are starting to change up high. September is upon us and October will be here before you know it. Fall doesn’t officially start until the 4th week of September, but this time of year always seems to fly by with water temperatures dropping on our local waters, hunting season starting up, school back in session, and of course the rapidly closing window to get into the high country.

In short, this is prime time to get out in the Eastern Sierras. I fished with a couple good friends and it was pretty good out there over the long Labor Day weekend. Besides the expected mid-afternoon thunderstorms it was sunny, Smokey, and definitely fishy. Lots of people out there too-but a short walk usually seems to fix that problem.
Terrestrials appear to be the name of the game above the tree line right now. Ants and Hoppers. Hoppers in the creeks and ants in most of the lakes we visited. Not many other bugs up there other than that besides hordes of mosquitos at night and a few moths that we couldn’t quite identify. Of course we fooled a few with the stand-by Wulffs, Adams, and Humpy’s as well.

Always a nice change of pace to fish big dry flies to aggressive fish. On the first afternoon found brookies and rainbows in this small creek and the lake pictured above.

On the second morning we headed up and over into the next basin in search of Golden Trout. We were surprised to find that the lake was full of rising fish. We tried everything from size 20 midge dun patterns to the biggest hoppers in our boxes. While we got at least a couple rises on most flies, the best was a standard black ant. Our hook setting ability left a lot to be desired, but by the end of the day a few fish hit the net. I was surprised to see how much snow was left above the tree line where these little guys live and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most of what’s left up there now will be there when the first snow flies this Fall. Even saw a couple people hike up and ski down in a few areas at the top!

On the way back to Reno we made the last minute call to fish the East Walker. Flows were just below 300 CFS under the dam and even though I got the impression that it was fished hard over the weekend the fish were pretty active over there. I saw plenty of PED’s (Pale Evening Dun’s) flying around and even a few rising fish in tight to the banks. In general most of the fish seemed to be holding in the softest water possible against the banks. I tried a bunch of different things to try and fool those and had the best luck with indicators set about 4 feet to the split shot. Any small caddis, mayfly, or midge in size 20-16 produced fish if it was in the right spot. This should be a great option as water temps decrease into Late summer and Early Fall.

All is well over here in Reno, should be hot for the rest of this week and then hopefully some cooler weather in store for the Pyramid Opener October 1st and beyond. Enjoy your last bit of summer before the snow flies!


Matt Needs is a staff member and guide at the Reno Fly Shop.  He is also a student at the Univ. of Nevada studying Geological Engineering. When not in class or the shop Matt is fly fishing all of our local waters and the steelhead Rivers of western Oregon.  Early in the summer Matt is a fly fishing guide in Montana and will be found most days on the oars of his drift boat with clients throwing dry flies. Late summer and Fall/Winter Matt is available to share his experience and enthusiasm of the Truckee River as a Reno Shop guide.

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