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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kayak Fishing the Lower Owens River

The serpentine course of the Lower Owens flows in continuous brush covered bends. This river will lull you into a splendid soothing stupor only to turn around 180 degrees, literally and figuratively as you round the bend in the river and it narrows and picks up speed. It will keep you on your toes and get your heart racing as you dodge the undercut banks with their thick growth of brush. The adventure, the scenery and the camaraderie will keep us coming back, but we sure would not mind pulling our share of trout from these icy edged waters.  The Owens River has a native population of browns as well as being stocked with rainbow and brown trout.

As the voluntary outfitter with a large inventory of kayaks at my disposal, I loaded up most of the kayaks for this trip in my truck. The river seemed better suited for shorter kayaks than what most of the ocean fishing models the majority of our group owned. The Malibu Mini X seemed like a great choice for its ease of maneuverability as well as leaving little bow in front of you.  I also brought the new Malibu Kayaks X Caliber along to see how well it would perform. I found the 12.5 foot length to easily maintain control over the areas of increased river current.  The size surprisingly seemed better suited than the smaller 9’3” counterpart. The large hatches the Malibu Kayaks are well known for came in very handy in keeping items stowed and uncluttered yet close at hand. I found it to be very comfortable, stable and an incredibly dry ride.  This seems to be a midsized kayak that will fit perfectly in many applications.

Temperatures dip below freezing here on a regular basis throughout the winter and at around 4000 feet it occasionally snows. Day time temperatures can still get up to “t shirt” weather and this weekend had temperatures starting at 25 degrees at first light warming to the upper 60s mid-day.  This was the second year of our group converging on the small town of Bishop and we had plotted out a couple sections of the river to put in and take out. We would unload all our kayaks and gear and shuttle a couple vehicles down river at a point where the road crossed, we would know we had arrived when we saw the bridge.  We would make ready after loading up on the best small town cafĂ© breakfast and endless cups of hot coffee.  
As we launched one by one we would slowly disperse finding our own “fishy” waters, usually this would be an area with a hole or area of swirling back eddy. Occasionally we would see fish that did not shoot off like rocket and they were worth making a cast at before moving on.  I think we get to know the river a little better every trip and allotting appropriate time along the way to not have to hurry through prime spots toward the end in racing the setting sun. This was our learned from our experience on our first trip up together.

In line spinners like Panther Martin and  small spoons like Thomas Buoyant can work very well here and for us is preferred over the “bait and wait” tactics of worms, crickets, power bait or salmon eggs. We do not come all that way to harvest dinner; the catching of these colorful scrappy fish for a quick photo is reward enough for our long commute through the middle of the night.

On this trip, I believe the perfect blue bird weather made for a very enjoyable venture but seemed to cripple our fish catching abilities. There were catches made to envy and applaud, igniting that passion for one more cast. The fish are only part of what draws us together to make this 5 hour road trip. I hope to make that long straight incline up the 395 a regular annual event for many years to come.

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and we would like to thank OEX for the review and story!

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