California's Wild Trout

Wild Trout California's Top 10 Streams Hot Creek is featured in the new ebook, Wild Trout.

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From Mammoth Lakes

From the town of Mammoth Lakes, take Highway 395 south. It's about 2 miles to the School Road exit. You'll need to be in the left lane before you see the sign for School Road / Hot Creek Hatchery. Go east on School Road. Turn right on Hot Creek Hatchery road and proceed past the Hot Creek Hatchery and the Hot Creek Ranch. The paved road becomes a dirt road and heads up a slight incline. Public parking and trail access to Hot Creek are available in a couple of spots off Hot Creek Hatchery Road.


Fly Fishing Hot Creek

Hot Creek is one of the most productive wild trout fisheries in California. Hot Creek is a spring-fed stream and supports populations of rainbow and brown trout. The aquatic insects and invertebrates that form the trout's food base are the engine which drive this special fishery.

Hot Creek in the Eastern Sierra Nevada is a poster for the fly fishing world.

Color Print of Hot Creek - Eastern Sierras available for purchase here.

Fly fishing the Eastern Sierra most anytime results in a good experience. But, toss in multiple blooming hatches and it will quicken any angler's heart. On this warm and bright morning, I observed a dull-gray winged caddisfly and possibly a smaller hatch of PMD's. I settled a ways from the creek bank and drank it in -- reminding myself to watch the water for signs of surface feeding. OK, remember my pulse ran high, so it was tough to sit with rod in hand and just observe. Without seeing any rising trout, I decided to tie on an attractor pattern with a nymph dropper.

Adult Caddis fly

Drag free drifts are critical on Hot Creek to enticing these pressured trout to even look at your offering. Achieving an enticing drift when the flows are slightly stronger calls for a good reach-cast and attentive mends. The drifts and tackle were not impressive. Nor for that matter were all the real bugs covering the water - at least to the trout. Time for a change. Snipped off the dry fly and tied on a flashback pheasant-tail nymph (pictured here) with a caddisfly sparkle pupa dropper (pictured here).

Brown trout caught and released

I started nymphing in the water just in front of me. I'm a strong believer that trout can hold within a few feet of where you kneel and the current softened near my side of the creek to boot. Dropped the flies in the water and they quickly grabbed bottom. I moved the drift out a few feet with each cast and within six feet of the bank I got my first stop which wasn't caused by a rock. A large brown trout took the very small pheasant-tail nymph.

Hot Creek California is lush with aquatic plants

Continuing to cover more water, the indicator rolled smoothly down the creek the rest of the morning - never stopping again for a hungry or aggressive brown.