Upper Owens River
LET US BOOK YOU A GUIDE BEFORE YOU GO
WEST SLOPE NORTHERN SIERRA
North Yuba River
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Tours of Local Waters
Updated - 5/23/22
Scroll down for links to information about Lodging,
Maps and up to the minute Stream Flows.
Current River Conditions: Flows are at approximately 51 CFS (scroll down for up to the minute flow report).
Fishing is Poor to Fair: Otis at the Troutfitter in Mammoth reports that the annual migration of green slime is still creating annoyance to fishermen who would rather not have to clean off their flies every other cast. Slime gets worse once you get below Benton Crossing. He says that their are a fair number big fish in the system as they are returning to Crowley. The water upstream from the Hot Creek confluence is very skinny right now due to diversion to pasture irrigation. If you do go attractor flies will do best as there are no hatches to speak of right now.
Click here https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishPlants/ to see the CDFW fish planting schedule
Recommended General All Around Patterns
Click here to go to our Fly Catalog
Adams Parachute #14-#16, Split Wing Adams #16, Elk Hair Caddis #14-#16, EC Caddis #16-#18, Dave's Hopper #10, Fat Albert #10
Pheasant Tail #12, #14 & #16, San Juan Worm/passionate pink, Kiene's Golden Brown Stone Nymph #8,, #10, & #12, Copper John/red or copper #14, #16, Prince Nymph (various sizes), Wooly Bugger/rusty, black, Glow Bug/red. Zebra Midge/black, brown, red, Fox's Poopah, Vinci's Depth Charge Bird's Nest #16 & #18
About the Upper Owens River
Historically the Owens watershed was never home to anything that we would consider as sport fish. The southern range of the prolific Lahontan Cutthroat of the west’s Great Basin ended just a few miles north of the Owens headwaters. The only indigenous fish in the Owens were the tiny Owens Valley Pupfish and the Tui Chub. It was man that introduced the Rainbows, Browns and Cutthroat that proliferate today.
Though the Owens stretches for about 100 miles along the east Slope of the Sierra’s, the section that is known as the Upper Owens, is about 20 miles long and is located upstream from Crowley Lake to its headwater springs. One of the best features of the Upper Owens, is that it is very easily accessible by most vehicles and is located very close to the resort town of Mammoth Lakes where lodging, food and sporting goods shops abound. It is also close to one of the Sierra’s most famous waters, Hot Creek.
Upper Owens Headwaters Section-Big Springs
The Owens gushes out of a honeycomb of lava tubes near the obsidian peaks just south of resort of June Lakes, CA. It is reached by turning east off on Owens River Road which is about fifteen miles north of Mammoth Lakes, CA or the same distance south of Lee Vining, CA. If you travel for about two miles you will come to Big Springs Rd. and if you turn left you will shortly come to a campground and bridge over the Owens headwater. Upstream of the campground several year round springs flow into the river with the result being that water temperatures and the resulting aquatic habitat stays excellent all year round. Downstream from the bridge the river tumbles into a small canyon, from pocket to pocket to eventually level out into Long Valley and then on to empty into Crowley Lake.
Upper Owens-Meadow Section
In most peoples minds this is the section that they think about when name upper Owens is mentioned. Once the freestone headwaters section reaches the valley floor it takes on the classic serpentine spring creek persona as it winds through the sagebrush flats of Long Valley to end at Crowley Lake. Access to the Owens is good as roads parallel it and much of the land is open to the public. There are several areas where you can park within fifty yards of the river.
Though roads are gravel and dirt, 4 wheel drives are not necessary during the summer months but in the spring the roads can be muddy in areas. The Lower Owens can be reached by turning east off of Hwy 395 about six miles south of the junction of Hwy 203 (Mammoth Lakes turn off) and Hwy 395. Proceed north east about seven miles to the bridge. Dirt and gravel roads parallel the east side of the river.
The Owens gets regular trout plants during the summer so there are always lots of fish. There are a good population of wild fish too that are the progeny of spawners that come into the Owens from Crowley Lake in the spring and fall and of course during those times of the year you have a chance to catch some really large fish. Most of the fish in the Owens are Rainbows and Brown Trout and an occasional Cutthroat.