Directions

From Mammoth Lakes

From Mammoth Lakes, California take Highway 395 south for about five miles. Look for Benton Crossing Road (it will be on the east side of the highway, so be the left lane and look for a small green and white church as a visual clue). After turning left onto Benton Crossing proceed for about 7 miles until you reach the bridge crossing the Owens River. From here turn right and follow Benton Crossing and turn onto any of the dirt roads running west off the road to access the river.

 

Upper Owens River

Upper Owens River in California for fly fishing

Fed by the melting snows from the crest of the high Sierra, the headwaters of the Owens River and its tributaries, Glass Creek, Deadman Creek and Big Springs prvides amazing opportunities for anglers. The headwaters begin at the summit of 11,600-foot San Joaquin Mountain and drain eastward towards scenic Highway 395 in Mono County.

William Mulhollands legacy is present today as evidenced by this sign along the Owens River

The Owens is renowned as one of the West's most popular wild trout streams. The spring fed upper Owens is the source of clear, cold water that sustains the wild trout fishery and the thousands of anglers who travel from all over the world to test its waters and stalk its large browns and rainbows.

Spring fed the upper Owens runs clear and cold and provides excellent habitat for browns and rainbows

A significant stretch of the Upper Owens runs through private property. Big Springs begins the first portion of public water and happens to have a good campground available for over night stays. Access to the river runs about a mile downstream from Big Springs. The Owens then flows through Alper's Ranch (yes, the historic home of the "Alpers Trout" strain of hatchery raised rainbows). Downstream of Alpers is the private Arcularius Ranch. Below this ranch the water enters a publicly accessible section until it flows into Crowley Lake.

This adult brown trout caught in Owens River

Adult rainbows and browns utilize the Upper Owens for spawning habitat. The mature rainbows swim up from Crowley Lake in the spring and browns make their runs in the fall. Visiting the Upper Owens during either of these times will automatically enter you in this big-fish-lottery. But also realize that these fish reached maturity in one of the more pressured fisheries in the state (read: they won't be fooled by lure or fly ). You'll need to find the water they hold in during their upstream run and present a fly they'll want to eat. So, realize timing these spawning runs is difficult and getting them to eat your fly... more difficult.