If you’ve fished around Mammoth Lakes (or really anywhere in the Eastern Sierras,) then you can understand why people are counting down the days until Mono County fishing season’s opening day on April 27th.
Fortunately, you can stop counting because Mono County has several bodies of water that are open year-round for fishing. We know that seeing unused fishing gear hurts outdoorsmen and women just as badly as seeing unused ski and snowboard gear hurts us, so the team at ASO Mammoth has put together a list of Mammoth Lakes’ year-round fishing spots to help you break out of the off-season blues.
Before you head out the door for one of these year-round fishing spots, be aware that all of these waters are catch-and-release fishing only and the water is open for fishing from an hour before sunrise to an hour after sunset. As long as you have your fishing license, barbless artificial flies and lures only, and obey the other regulations mentioned, you’re ready to fish!
Hot Creek is one of the most popular fishing spots because of the nutrient dense, warm water that supports bugs and the trout that feed on them all year long.
There is a private section of the creek owned by Hot Creek Ranch where you’ll find furnished cabins for rent next to the water, but there are also plenty of public places to fish as well. The most popular public fishing area is the canyon which is accessible by steep but manageable trails.
East Walker River
While Hot Creek is great for experts and novices alike, East Walker is a more technical body of water that will challenge even experts. East Walker River is affected by the flow of the dam at Bridgeport reservoir, snow pack melt, and seasonal conditions, so check the water reports before you visit to know what you’re getting into. The best area to fish on East Walker is in the calm waters just beneath the dam, but don’t be afraid to explore to find the fish.
West Walker River
West Walker River runs along highway 395 with several different places to access it from the road. While West Walker River is open year-round, in spring the snow melt results in fast and muddy water that hurts your chances of catching the brook, rainbow, and brown trout in West Walker’s waters. The water near the parking areas is often crowded, so if you explore the area to find calm waters you’ll be rewarded.
Upper Owens River
Upper Owens River is one of the best places to fish in the spring thanks to a spring spawn and brief snow melt runoff period that leaves the waters clear for most of the spring. In the fall, you’ll also be able to catch the large and colorful Crowley Steelhead as they migrate north from the lake they take their name from. Along with the Crowley Steelhead, you’ll also find excellent brown trout in Upper Owens River.
There are certain areas of Upper Owens River that are not opened to the public year-round, so check Mono County’s fishing rules and regulations page to see where you can fish on the Upper Owens.
Although these waters are catch-and-release only, you can do more to support the fish in the area. Avoid removing fish from the water, especially to lay them on dry land as the dirt and sand on the riverbank can damage trout skin. Remove all hooks that are visible, and if a fish is hooked deep cut your line near the mouth before releasing. Lastly, only touch the fish with wet hands, and avoid squeezing while handlining it.