Location and Overview
Looking for year-round trout action in the scenic eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California? Then look no further than Pleasant Valley Reservoir, located just a few miles north of Bishop, CA along U.S. 395 (check out the map). In an area renowned for its phenomenal fishing, Pleasant Valley Reservoir has long been an old standby for anglers who want some quality early or late season trout fishing. The reservoir is also home to the Blake Jones Trout Derby, held each year in March.
To get to Pleasant Valley Reservoir, take U.S. 395 about 6 miles north from Bishop and turn off on Pleasant Valley Rd. Follow the road about a mile and a half to a parking area near the dam. Alternatively, you can go another 3 miles north and turn onto Gorge Road, which will take you to the north end of the lake near the inlet.
Fishermen rate Pleasant Valley Reservoir:
Fishin’ Pleasant Valley Reservoir
Compared to many reservoirs, Pleasant Valley is little more than a wide spot in the Owens River, with about 115 surface acres. Don’t let its small size fool you, though! Anglers have known for years that it is full of trout. The California Department of Fish and Game stocks the reservoir rainbows all winter long, and there is also a plentiful population of browns. Click here for the latest DFG stocking information.
Fishing is permitted from shore or float tube only. A popular place to fish is right off the face of the dam, where the trout tend to congregate. Try tossing lures here such Kastmasters, Super Dupers, Thomas Buoyants, or spinners. Fly and bubble combos produce well in the morning and evening hours when the fish come to the surface to feed. A variety of natural baits work well, too, including salmon eggs, nightcrawlers, and crickets or grasshoppers. Those who prefer processed baits should try Power Bait or Yum Troutkrilla.
The inlet area is another popular spot for serious fishermen. A series of access trails make getting around the reservoir easy, although there are no other amenities for anglers here.
Pleasant Valley Reservoir 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.
Click here to see current weather conditions and forecasts for the town of Bishop.
Lodging and Camping
The closest campground to Pleasant Valley Reservoir is the Pleasant Valley Campground (aka “Pleasant Valley Pit”) administered by the Bureau of Land Management. It is conveniently close to the dam at the south end of the lake, and also gives good access to that stretch of the Owens River immediately below the dam. Other campgrounds in the Bishop area 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). For those willing to go a little farther away to camp, Tuff Campground, French Camp, and Holiday are all U.S. Forest Service campgrounds located farther north near Tom’s Place and Crowley Lake.
The closest hotel and motel accomodations are available in the town of Bishop.
Licensing and Regulations
All anglers age 16 or older must have a valid California fishing license. There is a five-fish daily trout limit at Pleasant Valley Reservoir, with a maximum possession limit of 10 fish from March 1 through October 31. The rest of the year the bag and possession limit is five fish.
Be aware that if you go above or below the reservoir to fish the Owens River, a number of special regulations apply to different areas. For more information check out our Owens River page, or see all the latest CA fishing regulations at the Department of Fish and Game website.