Directions to Kirman Lake

From Bridgeport

From Bridgeport, head north on Highway 395 for about 17 miles. Turn left onto Highway 108 heading west toward Sonora Pass. Drive approximately 1 to 2 miles west and look for a long, dirt shoulder on the south side of 108. The the small parking area will be signed for Kirman access but you'll not be able to see it from the road. (Note: if you reach the entrance to the Sonora Bridge Campground YOU HAVE PASSED THE TRAILHEAD).


Kirman Lake

Healthy brook trout caught in  Kirman Lake

California's Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) classifies Kirman Lake as one of the best trophy brook trout fisheries in the state. Located in the eastern Sierra near the West Walker River, Kirman Lake is a walk-in lake (3 miles one way). Access to the lake is on a road through a private ranch so please be courteous. Special regulations apply here - Artificial flies or lures only, barbless hooks, 2 fish limit, 16 inch minimum. Also note that nearby Junction Reservoir is closed to all fishing year round.

Sun rises in the east as we get our float tubes set up to fly fish Kirman.

If you go to Kirman, I recommend packing in a light-weight float tube. It's a moderate 3 mile hike to the lake, and by taking a float tube you can get over the fish. Also, be prepared to fish near the surface or down deep. I like to start with a type-three sinking line and work between four to eight feet. With the streamer style patterns I fish, I'm also a fan of a little quicker, agressive strip technique. I have seem small damsel hatches, so also consider Jay Fair's Wiggle Tail in a burnt orange. You'll want to slow retrieve this guy.

Fishing near the edges of aquatic plants on Kirman Lake can be productive.

Fishing Kirman can be rewarding with either brook trout or Lahontan's running north of 16 inches. The trout in Kirman can also be tough to hook. One, they enjoy protection along the tall reeds. Getting a streamer (or any pattern) close while they are sitting in the reeds is a big challenge. Two, they have shown (at least to me) they are selective eaters. All the food sources available to most Eastern Sierra Lakes can be found here. I've mentioned a couple already, but come prepared to fish scuds. Scuds are a primary source of protein for this fish.

A mayfly spinner finds a resting spot on my float tube at Kirman Lake off Highway 108.

Lahontan Cutthroats

Besides the remote location and some outstanding high country scenery, Kirman offers the angler the chance to catch a few wild Lahontan cutthroat.

CDFW plants brook trout into Kirman Lake.

But as evident in the pictures above, CDFG manages Kirman - not as a wild Lahontan fishey - but as a brook trout fishery. As I kicked along the south edge of the lake, a couple of CDFG guys backed their truck down a fairly muddy hillside. I continued to fish and watched as they unleashed thousands of juvenile brook trout.

Hundreds of juvenile brook trout at Kirman Lake north of Bridgeport California.