Copyright 2018 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Lower (Middle) Owens
The Lower Owens River, sometimes called the middle
Owens) consist of two different tailwaters. The
uppermost tailwater lies below Crowley Lake Dam. This
section is known for its high steep walls that are a sight
to see. It's a narrow canyon and the Owens River
flowing through the gorge is relatively small.
The Owens has a huge population of brown trout that
probably average about 10 to 12 inches that are
known to take dry flies well. It consist of pocket water
with lots of riffles and runs with only a few small pools.
You can only get to the water by foot. Fly fishing the
Owens River in this area takes some foot power.
The lower tailwater (with trout) is below Pleasant Valley
Reservoir. It has a designated "Wild Trout" section that
has a huge number of trout and provides year-round
fishing opportunities. It's easy to wade and access.
There are many areas to park and fish along the
stream in the upper area. Due to the almost constant
water temperatures it fishes best during the Fall,
Winter and Spring seasons but Summertime fishing is
The Wild Trout area extends from the dam downstream
to Five Bridges. Below the wild trout section, the river is
difficult to access in many areas. The banks are lined
with willow trees. This section is best fished from a drift
The lower section is heavily stocked with rainbow trout.
The Lower Owens River gets larger the farther you
The Lower Owens River is located at Bishop California.
Highway #395 runs along the river the entire distance.
Access roads extend off the highway to the river at
The river winds its way along through a valley with
undercut banks and aquatic vegetation providing cover
for its wild brown trout. A trip in a drift boat is usually
short, or only about two or three miles because the
flows are usually slow. There are several take out
There are some special regulations at different months
regarding gear restrictions. Some areas are barbless
hooks only, so make sure you check on the current
Remember, the flows can vary greatly. It's based on
the need for water in L. A. For safe wading the flows
should be below 350 cfs.
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Photo Courtesy of Stephen Lamb
Lower Owens River California
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 season is year-round in some areas
and shorter in others.
Springtime is a good time for fly fishing the
Wintertime is also a good time to fish the
Lower Owens River Hatches and
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
Owens 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 most consistent mayfly that hatches on
the Owens River is the Blue-winged Olive.
Of course, the little olives represent several
different species of different genera. Most
of the larger ones are Baetis species in a
hook size 18. They start hatching in March
and hatch off and on throughout the
Spring, Summer and early Fall. Other
hatches can occur during the winter
months depending on the particular
species. You should always have some
imitations along with you. On cloudy,
overcast days they likely to show up.
Pale Morning Duns can hatch from May
through June. Both the duns and spinners
of this mayfly can be important.
Little Black Caddisflies, Brachcentrus
genus species, hatch from about the first of
March on into the middle of May depending
on the section of river and weather.
Spotted Sedge caddisfly hatches occur
from May through the middle of October.
They represent the majority of the
caddisflies and consist of several different
species. Most of the heavy hatches occur
during the Summer months.
There are also plenty of Green Sedges.
The different species hatch from the first
of March until the middle of May. Imitations
of their larvae, called Green Rock Worms,
are effective all year.
Golden Stoneflies hatch from the middle
of March until the middle of May
depending on the section of water you are
fishing. Little Yellow Stoneflies are the
most plentiful stonefly species. They hatch
from April through June. Most anglers call
these Yellow Sallies. You should have
imitations of both the larva and the adults.
October Caddis are very plentiful and are
a fish producing hatch. It occurs according
to its name, during October on the Lower
Terrestrial season on the river starts in
warm months of the year. Beetles can
become important anytime from the first of
May until through the first of September.
Grasshopper usually become large
enough to become important in June and
last through July and August.
Although few anglers fish them, imitations
of midge larvae and pupae will catch
rainbows on this river throughout the year.
They are most important when few other
insects are hatching. Many anglers think
the tiny flies are too little to catch the big
rainbows on the Lower Sac but they are
wrong. They can be very effective fished
Streamers are very important. Imitations of
sculpin, minnows and baitfish will catch
trout all year. They are very important
during low light situations or when the
water is slightly off color.
Summertime is hot, but the water stays
cool and the fishing is good.
Fly fishing the Owens River is great
because the brown trout spawn in the Fall.
|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.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $100 are shipped via
This is still a good option for fly
fishing, as good as any in the
state right now. The wild trout
section is producing some nice
trout. Midges, creams and reds,
winter stonefly nymphs and
adults and Sculpin streamers are
the flies you need. Fish the
midge larva and pupa rigged in
tandem. Check the Lower Owens
River fly fishing report linked
above for stream levels, weather
reports, and other conditions.