Location and Overview
Nestled in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains just west of Bishop, CA up state highway 168, Bishop Creek is a top destination for trout fishing enthusiasts. Two separate forks of the creek present nearly unlimited opportunities for hard-core stream fishermen, while the area also offers easy access to nearby South Lake and Lake Sabrina (check out the map).
Fishermen rate Bishop Creek:
Fishin’ Bishop Creek
Both the South and Middle Forks of Bishop Creek are stocked throughout the season with rainbow trout, and anglers will occasionally take native brook trout as well. Fish planting is conducted by the California Department of Fish and Game, and also by Adopt-A-Creek. Alpers trout in the 3-pound plus range are planted periodically, too.
While a number of fishing techniques can be productive, most fishermen opt to fish with bait using ultralight spinning outfits. Fly fishing is also popular. The top baits year after year are salmon eggs and various flavors of PowerBait. Drifted downstream with just enough weight to keep the bait down, either one of these can consistently produce limits of pan-sized trout as well as an occasional lunker. Small spinners (such as a size 0 Mepps Aglia with a gold-colored blade) often do well in calm pools during the morning and evening. For a change of pace, try using a spinner or small rubber-skirted jig at Intake 2 or any of the other, smaller intake ponds scattered along the length of the stream. A green beadhead fly twitched across the surface behind a small casting bubble is another consistent producer in any of the intake ponds. The folks in the store at Bishop Creek Lodge or at Culver’s Sporting goods down in town will gladly give you more tips on the best baits and lures if you ask.
While you can fish effectively from the banks of the stream in many places, waders are a handy piece of gear that will allow you to get into some areas that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible to access. We prefer the felt-bottom type, as they give better footing on the mostly rocky bottom.
Fish cleaning facilities are available at all of the lodges in the area.
Bishop Creek Weather
The weather in the eastern Sierras can change rapidly, so no matter what the forecast says it never hurts to be prepared for the possibility of rain. Summertime thunderstorms are not uncommon, although they seldom last long. Depending on conditions during the preceding winter, some snow may still be present at higher elevations well into the summer fishing season. Daytime highs during summer can range from the 70’s into the high 80’s or low 90’s near the creek, depending on altitude, and up to 100 degrees plus in the town of Bishop. Low temperatures at night can range anywhere from freezing or below, up into the mid-40’s. Make sure you have rain gear and plenty of warm clothing just in case.
Click here to see current weather conditions and forecasts for the town of Bishop.
Lodging and Camping
Lodging is available at several motels in the town of Bishop, and three lodges near the creek also offer small housekeeping cabins for rent. Bishop Creek Lodge is located on South Lake Road, and in addition to rental cabins features a small general store where fishing tackle, bait, and a limited selection of camping gear and food can be purchased. They also have a restaurant and pay-for-use public showers. Farther up the road near South Lake is Parcher’s Resort, with a number of rental cabins, a store, and a café, and on SR 168 on the way to Lake Sabrina is Cardinal Village Resort, which also has a restaurant (open for breakfast and lunch only), a store, and rental cabins. Creekside RV Park, located across the road from Bishop Creek Lodge, features RV spots with full hookups as well as a small general store.
Several U.S. Forest Service campgrounds located throughout the area offer a less expensive alternative for those who enjoy sleeping in a tent or RV. The U.S. Forest Service website has information on campground locations, fees, and dates of operation. Campsite reservations may be made online through Recreation.gov.
Licensing and Regulations
The fishing season for Bishop Creek runs from the last Saturday in April through November 15 each year. All anglers must have a valid California fishing license in their possession while fishing. The bag limit for trout is five per day, with a maximum total of ten trout in possession. Only one pole per fisherman may be used.
The California Department of Fish and Game has the complete, current fishing regulations on their website.