and Overview California's
Owens River loosely parallels the path of U.S. Highway 395
as it runs along the eastern side of the scenic Sierra Nevada
mountains (check out the map).
Along with the often breathtaking scenery, this area also
boasts some excellent trout fishing during most of the year.
The nearby towns of Mammoth Lakes, Bishop and Big Pine offer
lodging and other amenities to anglers who want to try their
luck in the area.
Fishermen rate the Owens River:
The Owens River
River is home to both rainbow and brown trout, and a number
of different baits and techniques can be productive depending
on which stretch of the river you choose to fish. Bear in
mind that various pieces of the Owens are subject to special
fishing regulations (summarized below),
so make sure you do your homework prior to fishing here.
Crowley Lake downstream to Pleasant Valley Reservoir, German
browns in the 8 to 12 inch range abound, and are best taken
on small spinners or natural bait. Worms, crickets, and salmon
eggs all do well. Fly fishermen should consider using #16-#18
midges (both dries and emergers work) or soft hackles here.
Pleasant Valley Reservoir itself, many fishermen like to throw
medium-size lures along the face of the dam at the lower end.
Try using Rooster Tails, Mepps Aglias, Panther Martins, red
and gold Krocodiles, Super Dupers, and gold or silver Kastmasters.
Natural baits work well here, too, as do fly and casting bubble
combinations. No boats are allowed within the reservoir, but
float tubes are permitted. Pleasant Valley Reservoir is also
home to the annual Blake
Jones Trout Derby, held every year in March.
from Pleasant Valley Dam to the Five Bridges area adjacent
to the town of Bishop, expect to see larger browns and rainbows.
A variety of artificial lures will work here, including spinners,
spoons, and flies such as tiger midges, Copper Johns, gold-ribbed
hare's ear patterns, caddis flies, and soft hackles.
those parts of the lower Owens that are not restricted to
artificial lures, you can use standbys such as salmon eggs
and nightcrawlers to take home a limit of tasty trout. For
more information on other baits and techniques that might
be working, stop by Culver's Sporting Goods in Bishop or Rick's
Sporting Goods in Mammoth Lakes and get the lowdown from their
here for the latest fish planting information from the
Department of Fish and Game.
Owens River Weather
The weather along the Owens River is milder than farther up
in the Sierras, allowing for comfortable fishing all year
round. At an average elevation of about 4000 feet, it can
still get pretty cold in wintertime, with low temperatures
falling to freezing some mornings, but daytime winter and
spring highs are usually comfortably mild. Summertime high
temperatures can get up in the 90 to 100 degree range during
July and August. Although the weather here is more predictable
than higher up in the mountains, you should still check the
weather forecast before heading out and plan accordingly.
to see current weather conditions and forecasts for the town
Lodging is available at several motels in the towns of Bishop,
Mammoth Lakes and Big Pine, and numerous campgrounds in the
area make it easy to find a place to stay. Campgrounds administered
by the U.S. Forest Service and other government agencies include
Creek Campground, and Glacier
View (formerly known as Big Pine Triangle). Privately
run campgrounds and RV parks include Highlands RV Park, Brown's
Millpond Campground, the J-Diamond Mobile Home Park, the Shady
Rest Trailer Park, and Brown's Town (click
here for more info on all of these).
the map shows only those
campgrounds located in close proximity to the river, keep
in mind that there are numerous others in the area. The U.S.
Forest Service website has an all-inclusive list of area
All anglers must have a valid California fishing license in
their possession while fishing. Only one pole per fisherman
may be used.
on which stretch of the Owens you're fishing, assorted special
regulations may apply. These can be found on the DFG website (follow
the link below), and are summarized as follows:
Except as noted below, the Owens River is open to fishing
year round. The bag limit is five fish in possession, although
from the first Saturday in March through October 31 five fish
may be taken per day with a total of 10 in possession.
Along that stretch of the Owens River from the Benton Bridge
Road crossing upstream to where U.S. 395 crosses the river,
fishing is allowed from the last Saturday in April through
November 15. Maximum size limit is 16 inches total length,
with a bag limit of 2 fish in possession. Only artificial
lures with barbless hooks may be used.
From the Benton Bridge Road crossing downstream to the Owens
River fishing monument (located about 1/4 mile above the maximum
lake level for Crowley Lake), fishing is allowed from the
Saturday preceding Memorial Day through September 30. Five
fish may be taken per day, with a maximum of 10 fish in possession.
From the fishing monument downstream to Crowley Lake, including
the lake itself, fishing is allowed from the last Saturday
in April through November 15. Five fish may be taken per day
for a total of 10 fish in possession up through July 31. From
August 1 through November 15, a minimum size limit of 18 inches
total length applies, with a bag limit of 2 fish in possession.
During this time period only artificial lures with barbless
hooks may be used.
From Pleasant Valley Dam downstream to the footbridge at the
lower end of Pleasant Valley Campground, fishing is allowed
year round. From January 1 through September 30, the bag limit
is two fish in possession. From October 1 through December
31, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used,
and no fish may be kept.
the footbridge at Pleasant Valley Campground to the redwood
fishing regulations sign located 3.3 miles downstream, fishing
is permitted all year. Only artificial lures with barbless
hooks may be used, and no fish may be kept.
California Department of Fish and Game has the complete, current
on their website.