WEST WALKER RIVER
Updated - 12/26/19
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Current River Conditions: Flow are at 51 CFS. Between November 15 and the last Saturday in April 2020 the CDFW regulations require that all fish be returned into river. For detailed regulations click here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations
(scroll down for link to real time flows)
Fishing is poor to fair: Canyon section is cold with ice along the edges. Fish are asleep for the most part, but if you can find where there is sun on the water you might have some luck.
You will do well with basic attractor nymphs under an indicator or by swinging an olive or black Wooly Bugger into the seams. During low flows like this you can't beat a hopper/dropper set up.
Click here https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishPlants/ to see the CDFW fish planting schedule.
Generally Recommended Patterns
Click here to go to our Fly Catalog
Pheasant Tail #12, #14 & #16, San Juan Worm/passionate pink, Golden Stone Nymph #8,, #10, & #12, Copper John/red or copper #14, #16, Prince Nymph (various sizes), Wooly Bugger/rusty, olive or black, Glow Bug/red, Vinci's Depth Charge Bird's Nests in, Black and Natural
About the West Walker River
The West Walker is one of those waters that you speed by at 60 miles per hour on the way to somewhere else. Depending on the time of the year; it sometimes looks inviting with wide runs of pocket water, other times it’s a raging torrent, and late in the fall it can be just a trickle. The West Walker is one of two forks of the Walker River, the other being the East Walker, that flow down from the east slope of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. They actually don’t meet until after flowing for some miles into the state of Nevada near the town of Yerington. From then on the Walker flows for another 70 miles to its terminus at Walker Lake in the middle of the Nevada desert.
The West Walker is un-damed in California and does not benefit from the nutrients found in a tailwater but what it does have, is one of the best fisheries in California for planted fish. The local businesses rely heavily on fishing tourism for their livelihood and making sure that there are fish to catch in the Walker is the best guarantee that the fishermen will come.
The West Walker receives fish plants of Rainbows (triploid) by both the California Dept of Fish & Wildlife and Mono County. Fishing is allowed year round and is a great place to stop and fish for a few hours after fishing the technical waters of Hot Creek, to restore your ego.
The river can be broken up into roughly three sections, each having very different habitat characteristics. The headwater which originates near the Sierra Crest flows roughly parallel to Hwy 108 which is also known as Sonora Pass Road, is the typical Sierra Stream that flows over a granite substrate.
As it descends down the east slope it flows into some meadow sections such as Leavitt Meadows, and then on to the famous Pickel Meadow near the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center. Being that Pickel Meadows is a state wildlife area with easy access, it gets regular trout plants by the California Department of Wildlife (CDFW).
In years past, the fish were stocked at various intervals along the river as it flowed through the meadow but now they are only stocked at only one pool on the river. Eventually they spread out, but it’s good to know that if you aren’t catching fish at the first likely spot, that when you finally reach the “honey hole” you will be well rewarded.
Below the campground at the lower end of Pickel Meadows the river descends rapidly for several miles until it crosses Hwy 395. This section holds mostly hold over hatchery fish that have taken wild characteristics. Access is from the campground as the river moves away from the highway. The river passes through private property so keep that in mind if you decide to fish this stretch. Once the river passes under Hwy 395 it continues into a gorge section for about eight miles.
The Hwy 395 bridge is one of the spots that receives regular trout plants. The first quarter mile is relatively flat riffly water that meanders through a meadow. Then it drops into the gorge and becomes very freestone. There are many turnouts along this section that offer very easy access.