Four Popular Eastern Sierra
Copyright 2019 James Marsh
August, 2019 Issue
by James Marsh
August, 2019 Issue
Great Destination Streams
There are a lot of fine trout stream and lakes that hold trout in the high elevations of California's Eastern Sierra
Mountains. In this article, we are feathuring four streams that are in close proximity to each other - Hot Creek, a
spring creek; the Upper Owens River, a meadow stream; the East Fork of Walker River, a tailwater; and the West
Fork of Walker River, a freestone stream.
This little spring-fed creek boasts unparalleled beauty. It is located near the town of Mammoth Lakes and
surrounded by mountains you may have thought only exist in fine oil paintings. It's catch and release regulations
insures that it will only be enjoyed by those who want to experience the enjoyment of fooling one of its trout into
taking a fly. It boast a population of brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout. The stream is open for fishing year-round
and has a zero limit, catch and release only, restriction. It requires barbless hooks but does allow anglers to mash
down the barbs of regular fly hooks to in essence make them barbless.
There is the Hot Creek Fish Hatchery located at the headwaters of the stream. Mommath Creek, a freestone
stream, flows into Hot Creek just a little ways below the hatchery. There is a small piece of private land called the
“the ranch” that lies between the canyon section and what is called the Interpretive Site. It is closed to the general
public. Most of the open public section is located in a beautiful canyon that has well maintained but steep trails
leading down to the creek. There's alos a short section of Hot Creek that is open to the public just downstream
from the hatchery.The "Interpretive Site" is marked by a gazebo with a CDFW fishing regulation sign.
The stream levels and flows vary greatly with the various seasonal flows from Mammoth Creek. The stream has a
relatively high pH and weeds can become a problem at times. http://www.perfectflystore.com/whotc.html
Upper Owens River:
The Upper Owens, a large tributary of Crowley Lake, is the longest river in the Eastern Sierras. It is most famous
for its spring runs of large, spawning rainbow trout from the lake and its fall runs of large, brown trout. The river is
spring fed and that means it has a high pH and plenty of food to sustain a good trout population. The river flows
its way through Long Valley Caldera providing spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada on one side, and the Glass
Mountains on the other side. The river provides year-round fly fishing opportunities.The true spring creek flows
from groun d water near Big Springs. About two-thirds of its way to Crowley Lake, Hot Creek flows into it.
You can access the river from a dirt road that follow along the river from Big Springs to Crowley Lake. It is
relatively narrow and open, making it easy to cast from the banks. It is accessible to the public at the upper end of
Long Valley called "Long Years". It flows slowly through open meadows with oxbows, pools and deep runs.
East Walker River:
The East Walker is a tailwater beginning at the dam on Bridgeport Reservoir and flowing North into Nevada and
finally into Walker Lake near Hawthorne, NV. The East Walker is considered a technical trout stream by many
anglers. Its wild brown and rainbow trout aren't exactly pushovers. It is located just 5 miles North of Bridgeport on
Highway 182. The river crosses into Nevada and provides another ten miles of good fishing opportunity on the
Nevada side of the border.
The stream has special regulations - artificial flies or lures only, and barbless hooks. You can mash the barbs
down on barbed hooks. The river begins from melting snow. Normally, it is about as clear as water can get in its
freestone section above the lake. Agricultural influence and effluents increases the pH of the water, once it
reaches the Bridgeport Valley. Bridgeport Lake is rightfully a good still water fishery. It is a good area to use
a float tube. http://www.perfectflystore.com/wewalkerr.html
West Walker River:
The headwaters of the West Walker River form in the Sierra Nevada (California) at greater elevation than 11,000
feet. Lahontan cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish were the native salmonids, but currently rainbow and brown
trout. It's headwaters lie in the mountains south of Sonora Pass, on the eastern crest. The water flows down to
Leavitt Meadows at Highway 108. This section of the river has lots of riffles with large boulders and pools. Pickle
Meadows is in this area and has a population of brooks, rainbows, browns, and mountain whitefish. It is a classic
freestone stream with easy wading. The West Walker turns northward through a canyon at the juction of Hwy 108
and 395. It flows along Hwy 395 through this canyon.
The river usually clears by late June. Fishing and wading is best when flows reach 150 cfs or less. The river is
generally wadeable from November through early April. Flows are high during mid- to late spring and summer
resulting from spring runoff and irrigation demands. Primitive camping is allowed at the BLM Wilson Canyon
Recreation Area and a restroom is available.
Hot Creek, California
East Walker River, California/Nevada
West Walker River, California/Nevada