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Lower Owens River, California

The lower Owens River is a blue ribbon tailwater along the eastern side of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. This eastern slope has long been noted as home to some of the nation’s best trout water. With mineral rich water perfect for aquatic plant growth and the aquatic insect life that flourishes with them. And all this means fat, native, hungry trout.

The Lower Owens starts below Pleasant Valley Dam and flows roughly 30 miles to where the Owens turns into Los Angeles’ water supply. Wild trout abound for many miles down to Five Bridges Road. Although there is access roads and numerous spur roads, access can be tough due to heavy brush. But once an opening is found wading is not too difficult when water is low, which almost always fall and winter when water is cold.

During this time nymphing is most productive. Standard two fly rigging with standard flies like Pheasant Tails, Prince, Zebra Midges and Hare’s Ears are steady producers. Surface activity is common for smaller patterns try BWO’s and midge patterns.

High water season is from spring run off to fall. Wading is dangerous during high water. But summer brings hatches of all kinds. No one hatch stands out but they are constant with prevalent mayfly, caddis and salmonfly hatches. High water makes it difficult but success can be had close in.

The real treasure of this river though is its winter fly fishing opportunity, with stretches open year around and a fly fishing only stretch being open from January through September.

Owens River, CA
Hatch Chart
Insect Size Begin End
PMD 16-20 January 1
July 31
Caddis 12-18 January 1

December 31

Baetis 16-18 January 1

May 31

Spotted Sedge 14-18 May 20

August 31

Grannom 14-16 May 20

August 31

PMD 16-18 October 15 December 31

Check out our Sierra Nevada 24 Fly Assortment here:

Sierra Nevada Assortment - 24 Flies

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