UPPER OWENS RIVER
Updated - 7/2/20
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Current River Conditions: Flows are at 65 CFS above Hot Creek inflow
Fishing is Good: The Troutfitter in Mammoth reports that there still are still scattered numbers of spawning Cutthroats and Rainbows spread out in the river with most of them sitting in the deeper holes. Lots of planters downstream from the bridge. The immature Grasshoppers along the river are beginning to molt so they will soon become flying adults and the action should be hot.
The Mammoth area is slowly reopening so lodging should start becoming available. Private campgrounds have received the OK to open. Give the Forest Service a call before you go to confirm if their campgrounds have opened yet. If you go, give the locals some space.
Click here https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishPlants/ to see the CDFW fish planting schedule
(A) Upper Owens River from Benton Bridge road crossing upstream to Big Springs:
Above Big Springs: Season is last Saturday in Apr. through Nov. 15.Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. Season: Nov. 16 through the Friday preceding the last Saturday in Apr. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used.
(B) Upper Owens River from Benton Bridge road crossing downstream to Upper Owens River fishing monument: Season is Saturday preceding Memorial Day through Sept. 30.
(C) Upper Owens River from fishing monument (located about 1/4 mile upstream from maximum lake level) to Crowley Lake: Season is last Saturday in Apr. through July 31.
For detailed regulations click here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations
We have guides who are on the Owens every day no matter what the season. Give the shop a call (916)483-1222 or click here and we will set you up.
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.