Fly Fishing California’s Sierra Nevada

In route to Orange Country where a week long fishing trip on the Sea of Cortez was about to began 36 hours later, my friend Lenny and I flew in to Sacramento where Blake, my Semester at Sea roommate picked us up. We then made a road trip from Sacramento up through Eldorado National Forest towards Lake Tahoe and down across the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range. We were in search of what the Golden State’s streams and rivers had to offer. But first things first… we had to make a stop at the infamous In and Out. A burger joint only found in the far west.
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They say all their ingredients are fresh but the worst thing about In and Out is the wait. Maybe this is why their food is so good. Picture 12While waiting I got a chance to watch a young nor-cal punk do some tricks on his razor

Picture 10Grease burgers… yum… I still haven’t figured out why In and Out hasn’t made it to Colorado? If you get a chance to go to an In and Out make sure to order your burger “Animal Style.”

That night we stayed in Walker CA. The next morning we woke up early and hit up a local breakfast joint. The waitress kept talking about fishing on the West Walker river in her favorite honey hole using power bait, she kindly gave us specific directions to her hole down the road. We nodded and agreed to check it out. We soon found that the West Walker river near the town of Walker was nothing but fast moving water and bait fishermen, which lead us to immediately head up stream in search of some more pristine waters. About 20 miles up to road the terrain turned from the lower arid landscape to as Blake calls it “high desert.”
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After examining miles of the West Walker while driving down route 395 the river disappeared into the high pines and aspens as the beautiful rolling hills and mountains were covered by a blanket of sage brush. The high desert scenery and clear flowing creek finally enticed us to stop and fish the Little Walker River.

So we did…
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This small free stone stream is filled with brookies and rainbows…
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…who were taking dry flies all morning
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The area was quite phenomenal
Picture 13 These huge pine trees sky scraping over the aspen trees made this a unique experience for us Coloradans. Sure we have big loge pole and ponderosa pines in our state but I’ve never seen a pine cone this big in Colorado.

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Solid, it was only 9 in the morning and we had already had a days worth of fishing in.
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Next stop… the East Walker River near the town of Bridgeport

The East Walker River below Bridgeport reservoir offers some excellent tailwater fishing. But like any good public tailwater with big trout in it asses and elbows are always apparent on a consistent basis. Sure enough, when we drove by big hole, East Walker’s famous fishing spot, we saw a number of anglers fishing. So we ventured down river. The flows were must faster but the crouds were far less.

We managed to pull a couple wild browns out of the fast moving water.
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We tried a couple different spots all requiring wading through swift strong currents. We kept moving down stream on the look out for new spots then all of sudden…
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We were in Nevada… whoops…

We fished a couple more spots and decided to head to our next destination… Hot Creek

The trip down 395 provided some fine scenery.
Picture 23 Looking west… at the east side of Yosemite National Park. Eagles Peak I believe, correct me if I’m wrong.

After lunch in Mammoth Lakes and a stop into the The Trout Fly we headed over to Hot Creek. After reading about this place in the guide book we thought, damn. This place sounds amazing. A creek that literally comes out of the ground and boasts numerous hot springs that change from year to year. Not to mention its one of the most trout rich streams in the west. Meaning there are more trout per mile in hot creek than most rivers. At least that’s what the guide book said… something like 4,000 trout per mile.

When we arrived we saw a small creek that meanders into a small canyon. It looked as good as any creek I’ve seen. But one thing was different, weeds. Hot creek is filled with weeds. As we stood on top of the canyon looking down at the creek, I stared closely at the creek looking for fish. Sure enough there were a some rises and a few pretty decent looking fish, but at 60 cfs these weeds were guaranteed to be a problem.

Hot Creek

First, we threw some streamers and immediately nailed a couple 12-14 inchers, but the big boys visible in the crystal clear water continued to reject our flies. One in particular was hanging out behind a big conglomeration of weeds. I couldn’t seem to get my fly down to him while my fly kept getting stuck on the weeds. So I threw on a small split shot and sure enough he nailed my size 20 rs2. The nice size rainbow immediately shot up into the weeds and I thought for sure my 6x tippet was going to break.

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Somehow I managed to pull him out of the mossy mess. He then shot over to the other side of the creek heading down stream into another set of weeds. Then back into the original weeds, this fish was taking me on a ride! While this continued over and over for a couple minutes I finally brought him in. He was still a little hot, so when I went in to grab him he thrashed vigorously shaking the fly. No grip in grin for this guy but he was definitely the highlight of the day for me.

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The day ended with a gorgeous sunset over Inyo National Forest. The only thing was now we had to drive 8 hours to Orange County to catch our bus to the Sea of Cortez… Next stop: I’M ON A BOAT!

Stay tuned

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~ by Nick Clement on August 11, 2009.

3 Responses to “Fly Fishing California’s Sierra Nevada”

  1. Good Work buddy. Cant wait to be on a boat again!

  2. Nice pictures and sweet report! Sounds like another good trip once again, too bad you’re not able to join us for Alaska next month. From all the fishing reports you’ve had lately sounds like you’re definitely not hurting in the fishing dept though!

  3. Next time you are in that region consider a trip to the truckee river or the canyon stretch on the east carson. More and bigger fish.

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