Copyright 2020 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The East Walker River
The East Walker River is one of California's and Nevada's
better trout streams. It's a tailwater that flows from
Bridgeport Reservoir into the state of Nevada. Highway
#182 flows along the river where you will find several
access points. Special regulations help protect its trophy
trout from the dam to the state line. The river is known for
its huge brown trout that can grow up to 30 inches long. It
also has some huge rainbows.
There are numerous species of aquatic insects that
provide the trout plenty of food and hatch in big quantities
for the dry fly angler. There's also a good population of
bait fish that provide a substantial diet for the large trout.
Steamer fishing is excellent in this tailwater.
The releases from the dam provide water at a fairly
constant temperature and makes it possible for anglers to
fish the river during the coldest weather. Midges and
Blue-winged Olives provide some excellent action.
The East Walker River has had its ups and downs, but for
the last few years it has been mostly ups. During low
water years, the river is hurt by reservoir levels and
consequent, low streams flows in its tailwater. When the
river's bottom discharge of lake water first leaves the
dam, it flows through an almost flat section. Not far
downstream, it drops into a canyon. State highway #182
follows the river through the canyon. The river in this
section has a lot of different types of water. It has
relatively low decline sections where the river slows down
and sections where the streambed steeply declines. This
creates pocket water with the typical pool, runs and riffles.
The special regulation area extends from the dam down
to the California/Nevada state line.
The East Walker River flows about 75 miles overall. The
headwaters from the California Sierra Nevada Range
flows all the way into Walker Lake in Nevada. It joins the
West Walker River on the way there.
Although less than half of the river is in the state of
California, that's where the most and largest trout exist.
There is a good eight or nine miles of water in the state of
The East Walker River begins from melting snow.
Normally, it is about as clear as water can get in its
freestone section above the lake. Agricultural influence
and effluents increases the pH of the water, once it
reaches the Bridgeport Valley. Bridgeport Lake is
rightfully a good still water fishery. It is a good area to use
a float tube.
The reservoir also contributes by helping control the flow
of water from heavy snowmelt and runoff. Unlike what
many may think, Bridgeport Reservoir is relatively shallow.
The lake tends to warm the water a good bit during the
hot summer months. That written, the mixture of cold and
hot water helps increase the overall chemistry of the
water. More insects and baitfish are present below the
dam than above the reservoir. Baitfish are very plentiful
and grow fast. This is the primary reason for the trout's
growth rate which results in some large trout. There are
plenty of chubs and dace minnows for the trout to eat.
East Walker River
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Photo Courtesy of Gary Paepke
Photo Courtesy of Gary Paepke
Recommended Tackle & Gear
5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 & 12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Superb Five or Ultimate Six
For 5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
The release of water from the bottom of
Bridgeport Lake makes it possible for fly
fishing the East Walker River any time.
Springtime can be tough when a lot of water
is being released in late Spring, but is great
provided the flows are acceptable.
The flows are rather high during the summer
and fluctuate up and down. The fishing is
Fly Fishing Guide to East Walker
The methods and strategies you use for fly
fishing the East Walker River strictly depends
on the releases from the dam. The Nevada
water consist of two sections, one a private
ranch. The other is U. S. Forest Service land
and open to the public for fishing. It consist
mostly of low decline, smooth flowing water
with long, deep pools and some low gradient
riffles and runs. There's a special regulation
section at this location.
The second Nevada section begins at the
start of another canyon section. At the end of
the canyon, the river flows through meadows.
This part of the river, called the Elbow, has
undercut banks and a few shallow runs and
riffles. It is on private land but open to the
public for fishing.
You have to use a variety of methods and
techniques to fish the East Walker River. With
the different types of water and constantly
changing water levels, you must be willing to
change strategies very often.
There are times dry fly fishing is good but
most of the time, nymphs and streamers
outperform the dry flies.
The better section of the stream is
considered by most anglers to be the
California sections. Be certain to keep up
with the discharges and stream levels. It
will set the stage for the type of water and
places you should fish. Be prepared to fish
anything from midge imitations to large
streamers. If you have a choice as to when
to fish the river, we would suggest the fall
About forty percent of the river’s trout are
rainbow trout. They too, grow to large
sizes. There are also plenty of Mountain
Whitefish. They can add to the pleasure of
fly fishing the East Walker River.
East Walker River Hatches and Trout
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and nymphs,
not guess work. We base fly suggestions on
imitating the most plentiful and most available
insects and other foods at the particular time
you are fishing. Unlike the generic fly shop
trout flies, we have specific imitations of all the
insects in the East Walker River and in all
stages of life that are applicable to fishing. If
you want to fish better, more realistic trout
flies, have a much higher degree of success,
give us a call. We not only will help you
with selections, you will learn why, after trying
Perfect Flies, 92% of the thousands of our
customers will use nothing else.
The river has a large number of different
species of forage fish that contributes to the
growth rate of the trout n the East Walker
River. It is a slick river because it contains a
lot of algae, which also accounts for its huge
net-spinning caddisfly population.
MIdges are one of the most important insects
to imitate. They are especially important when
nothing else is hatching, and considering the
season is open year-round, that is much of
the time. Make sure you have imitations of the
larvae, puape and adults. Winter is the prime
midge fishing season.
Little Yellow Stoneflies hatch from June
through August. These are called Yellow
Sallies by most anglers. Golden Stoneflies are
fairly plentiful in the river. The nymphs can be
active anywhere from the first of April to May
first. The hatch usually occurs during June.
Blue-winged Olives hatch in March and April.
These are bi-brooded and hatch again in
September and October. The Spring hatch is
off and on and not very reliable, but if it
occurs while you are there fishing, you would
want to be able to imitate the insects.
Caddisflies are very plentiful on the river.
They hatch just from April all the way to
October, depending on the particular species.
The most abundant ones are species of
Spotted Sedges, which are net-spinning
caddisflies.These caddisflies hatch from
about the end of May through September.
There's some Short-horned Sedges and
Green Sedges that hatch in June and July,
but remember, the water levels are usually
very high during the summer due to
irrigation needs, so you are usually fishing
this hatch and other aquatic insect
hatches from the banks around the edges
of the stream. Several other minor hatches
of caddisflies occur during the year.
Tricos are one of the major mayfly hatches
that takes place on the East Walker. It
occurs in the late summer and early fall,
usually starting about the middle of August
and lasting through September. This hatch
can provide some excellent dry fly fishing,
provided you can manage the little flies
necessary to imitate them.
July, August and September is terrestrial
season. High winds and lots of grass along
the banks provide the excellent setup for
the land based insects to get into the
water. Imitations of grasshoppers, ants
and beetles all produce. You are mostly
confined to bank fishing, but the flies can
produce some good catches even in high
Crayfish and baitfish streamer fly imitations
work great for much of the year. They
usually account for the largest trout
caught, so make certain you have plenty
streamers with you.
If you haven't done so already, please try
our "Perfect Fly" trout flies and especially
our great selection of streamers. We are
certain you will be happy you did.
Fall can be an excellent time. The Brown
Trout spawn during the fall months. The
water levels drop and waders have their fair
share of fishing.
Winter is mostly limited to Nevada. Fishing
is usually good.
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge:
Property of Gary Paepke
Fishing Report Updated 01/21/20
(Bottom Of Page)
East Walker River Fishing Report - 01/21/21
The tailwater discharges are near a normal level. Try our new articulated streamer
patterns. Tandem rigged midge larva and pupa work good. We now have those pre-rigged.
7 Day Weather Forecast: A chance of snow today and sunny the rest of the week. Highs
will range from 40 to 46 and lows from 28 to 31 degrees.
Recommended Trout Flies:
Blue-winged Olives, size 20 and 18, nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners
Midges: Blood (Red), sizes 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Light Green, size 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Cream, size 20/22, larva pupa and adults
Aquatic Worms, size 12, pink, red, and others
Black Matuka and Olive Matuka Sculpin, size 4/6
Brown Sculpin, White Belly Sculpin, Articulated streamers, size 6/4
Aquatic Worms, size 12, pink, red, and others.
Winter Stoneflies, size 16/18, nymphs and adults.
Black Flies, size 18,20, larva, pupa and adults.
Strategies, Techniques and Tips:
Different species of Blue-winged Olive nymphs are plentiful and the main insect we
recommend imitation at this time. Some BWO hatches have taken place. The
Black Matuka Sculpin and Olive Matuka Sculpin are good flies to use for the larger
trout. So are the Brown Sculpin, and White Belly Sculpin streamers and articulated
streamer patterns. .
We still think a good strategy is fishing a tandem Midge rig under a small strike indicator
with the midge lava as the bottom fly and the midge pupa as the top fly. Fish the adult
midge only when you observe trout feeding on the surface.
Aquatic worms are also working good.
Aquatic worms are working.
Winter stoneflies are hatching.
Black Flies are hatching.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
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