Owens River

Mammoth Lakes, California

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1 Review
5 out of 5
Two big runs of spawners on the upper mileage and lots of greedy juveniles in the lower gorge make this as fine a piece of trout water as there is in California. Like so many streams, there’s a big difference whether you’re above or below. Above Crowley Lake, the Owens is one kind of river, a gentle stream that meanders through a wide and shallow glacial valley between mountains that brush 9,000 feet or more. Below Crowley Lake is the 16-mile gorge, one of the greatest restoration projects in the annals of coldwater fisheries. Some history: In 1913, the first Los Angeles aqueduct diverted water from the Owens River to the city some 300 miles to the south. Forty years later, the water from the gorge section—a 3,000 foot drop in 20 miles—was diverted into penstocks to generate power leaving thousands of brown trout to suffocate in pools of stagnant water. Three decades later in 1985, John Sullivan, a TU member who remembered the gorge in its days as wild trout fishery, wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times calling for the rewatering of the gorge. The work of scores of volunteers was rewarded in 1991 when water, albeit a mere trickle, began again to flow into the channel of the gorge. Species: Brown, rainbow. Angling methods: spin, and fly-fishing.

Owens River Professional Review and Guide

"Two big runs of spawners on the upper mileage and lots of greedy juveniles in the lower gorge make this as fine a piece of trout water as there is in California. Like so many streams, there’s a big difference whether you’re above or below. Above Crowley Lake, the Owens is one kind of river, a gentle stream that meanders through a wide and shallow glacial valley between mountains that brush 9,000 feet or more. Below Crowley Lake is the 16-mile gorge, one of the greatest restoration projects in the annals of coldwater fisheries. Some history: In 1913, the first Los Angeles aqueduct diverted water from the Owens River to the city some 300 miles to the south. Forty years later, the water from the gorge section—a 3,000 foot drop in 20 miles—was diverted into penstocks to generate power leaving thousands of brown trout to suffocate in pools of stagnant water. Three decades later in 1985, John Sullivan, a TU member who remembered the gorge in its days as wild trout fishery, wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times calling for the rewatering of the gorge. The work of scores of volunteers was rewarded in 1991 when water, albeit a mere trickle, began again to flow into the channel of the gorge. Species: Brown, rainbow. Angling methods: spin, and fly-fishing."

Activity Type: Fly-Fishing
Nearby City: Mammoth Lakes
Access: Moderate
Season & Limits: Late April through mid-November; gorge is open all year
Accessibility: Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Local Maps: Northern California DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer
Driving Directions: Directions to Owens River

Recent Trail Reviews

3/21/2009
0

Great spring fishing on the Lower section out of Bishop--look forward to clear low flows & indicator nymphing. Lots of cheap motels & restaurants in town, good river access.



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May 2018