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WEST SLOPE NORTHERN SIERRA
North Yuba River
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Tours of Local Waters
Updated - 4/6/21
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Maps and up to the minute stream flows.
Current River Conditions : Flows approximately 9 CFS. The Troutfitter in Mammoth reports that you can easily get in with a 4x4 and the trails to the water are clear. Could be icy early on.
Fishing Report - Very good: The Troutfitter reports that fish are spooky so dry/droppers are best. Lots of BWOs after 11am but beware that the spinner fall sometimes coincides with the hatch so you need patterns to cover both. Various #14 & $16 Mayflies are hatching too. With the new regulations going in to effect on March 1st, Mammoth Creek and it's tributaries are already open.
For detailed regulations click here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations
San Joaquin: CLOSED
Recommended General All Around Hot Creek Patterns
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Vinci's Depth Charge Bird's Nest #18, Bead Head Pheasant Tail #16 &, #18 #20, San Juan Worm/passionate pink, Copper John/red or copper #18, #16, Prince Nymph (various sizes), Wooly Bugger/rusty, black, Glow Bug/red. Zebra Midge/black, brown, red, Fox's Poopah #18. Scud/pink #14, WD-40/black, chocolate, gray, olive #18, #20, Disco Midge/red,pearl #18, #20
Splayed Elk Hair Caddis #18, #20, Tent Caddis #18, #20, EC Caddis #18, #20, Griffiths Gnat #18, #20, Para Midge #18, #20, CDC Loop Winged Emerger #18, #20
Brooks Sprout Midge/black, cream, gray, olive #18, #20, #24, Brooks Sprout Baetis #18, #20, #24, Brooks Sprout PMD #18, Brooks Sprout Trico #20, Quill Body Parachute/olive, tan, black #18, #20, Quigley Cripple/gray #18, CDC Floating Nymph Emerger/Baetis, PMD #18, Rusty Spinner #18, Black Spinner #20, Lawson's Thorax/PMD, Baetis #18, #20
About Hot Creek
I don’t think there is anything like Hot Creek anywhere in the USA, with the exception of some of the waters in Yellowstone NP. The geothermal characteristic of Hot Creek’s geology keep its water temperature warm enough in the winter so it never freezes even though it is located in one of the coldest sections of California, and its aquatic life takes full advantage of it.
Hot Creek begins as Mammoth Creek, which drains the alpine lakes that give the town of Mammoth Lakes its name. It flows out of the east side of the Sierras through town and after a couple of miles reaches Long Valley, a flat expanse of scenic Sagebrush covered flats and low hills.
Once the creek transcends from freestone to a more placid spring creek demeanor (after passing under Hwy 395) in the more level ground of the valley it enters the geothermal section where the cold freestone water is tempered by the infusion of warm springs heated by the volcanic caldera where its name changes to Hot Creek. The creek then passes by the Hot Creek Fish Hatchery operated by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (in partnership with the Hot Creek Hatchery Foundation).
Just past the hatchery property, the creek slowly meanders through a meadow section that is known as the Interpretive center or just the Kiosk (local name) named for, you guessed it, the kiosk located in the adjacent parking lot where educational information about Hot Creek is provided for visitors. This one hundred and fifty yard section is where some of Hot Creek’s largest fish are located. Special regulations are in effect, that allow only single barbless hooks on artificial lures and flies, and all fish must be released.
The downstream boundary of this public section is where the famous Hot Creek Ranch property begins and continues for about a quarter of a mile. The downstream boundary of Hot Creek Ranch is where the public water resumes and is also where the creek begins to descend into a gorge. There are several parking areas along the rim of the gorge with trails that will take you to the creek below.
The creek maintains its relatively slow spring creek like current though it now moves a little faster than it does in the upstream section. There are also a couple of very short freestone sections. The last parking lot which is close to the geothermal cauldrons mentioned earlier in this article, has bathrooms. From here to where it converges with the Owens River, the water is just too hot for trout to survive.
Success on Hot Creek is dependent on technique-technique-technique! Line handling technique is important so that you can present the fly by means of a downstream drift to assure the fish sees the fly first before the leader floats over its head. The fish are smart. It is imperative that your flies are small as most bugs are what you could tie size #18 or smaller hook. In some cases you need to fish #20 and #24s. Adult patterns don’t work as well as those that imitate transitional life stages, so you need to have a fly box full of cripples and emergers.