Having fished on highly pressured waters before, I know the feeling of coming around the bend of a river and seeing angler after angler set up on the likely holding water. At times it can be a challenge to find a little solitude, especially with fly fishing becoming ever more popular these days.
When Aaron and I found ourselves fishing the Eastern Sierra, we were hoping to find some good fish and avoid the crowds. Unfortunately, we spent the first few days finding pockets of water between other angers, After a day of sharing water with strangers, we sat under the stars and planned our next day's adventure. We decided to get of the beaten path and head for the Owens Gorge.
When standing on the lip of the gorge, peering down it's boulder strewn walls you can see little strips of green flanking the river. With our car being the only one in the lot, we knew we had made the right choice. For whatever reason, this section of river gets a lot less pressure than the others in the area. It could be the hike down, or the more challenging hike out. It could be the smaller fish or the thick riparian zone making the river hard to navigate. Any way you cut it, the crowds go else where.
Once in the depths of the canyon, we laced up our little glass 3wt rods. I decided to put on a small bright dry fly with an even smaller dropper. After a few slow claps of the glass rod, I was into my first brown of the day. As is usually the case when you've got to do a little hiking, the fish were pretty eager. The real challenge, was not spooking them. Aaron and I both started working on our stealth and tucking our flies up against the banks and in likely seams. Cast after cast we were met with the pull of healthy wild trout that put a serious bend in our light weight tackle. The river isn't much wider that a one lane road but it's full of complex structure and little buckets and runs that brown trout love.
As our time on the river wore on, we started being more selective with our casts. Accuracy and stealth paid off, especially on the first cast into a run, when the biggest fish would usually take the dropper. Subsequent casts, would still result in fish, they just tended to be the smaller ones.
With such a small river, we kept swapping runs. While one of us fished the other would spot productive water or take in the beauty, heads tilted to the sky watching the canyon walls. There were a few times I found myself taking a seat on a downed tree, slowing down and taking solace in the fact that we were the only ones fishing this area. In all, we spent two full days plying the waters of the gorge and found the trout and isolation from the crowds to be just what we had been searching for.