John Muir Wilderness

Fishing season runs from the last Saturday in June through November 15 unless otherwise restricted. Peak angling activiy happens in July, August, and September. The ice-out period (e.g., late June to early July) is optimal for actively feeding trout and fewer people. The first big snow typically closes the area by late October.



Wilderness Permits

Permits are required for all overnight trips into the John Muir Wilderness. For more information about entering the John Muir Wilderness go here.

Bears & Your Food

The Inyo National Forest has a forest order which is effective within the John Muir Wilderness. It prohibits storing any food or refuse unless stored in a bear-proof container or in another manner designed to keep bears from gaining access to the food or refuse.

The National Forests recommend bear-resistant canisters and panniers as the best methods of food storage in the John Muir Wilderness.



From Bishop

From Bishop go north on Hwy 395 to Tom's Place. Follow Rock Creek Road to Mosquito Flat, and the end of the road where there is paved hiker parking.


Fly Fishing the Pioneer Lakes Basin

Fly Fishing for Trout in the Pioneer Lakes Basin takes you to High Sierra Lakes

Pioneer Basin rests in the High Sierra Nevada at over 10,000 feet. Running roughly four miles north to south, the basin is surrounded by mountain peaks well over 12,000 feet in elevation. These peaks include - Mount Stanford and Mount Huntington to the east and Mount Crocker and Mount Hopkins to the west.The jewels of the Pioneer Basin are the six glaciated lakes that cascade down the length of this watershed.

Pioneer Lakes Basin in the Sierra Nevada contain Brook Trout

Many of the lakes in the Mono Creek drainage had no trout populations including each of the lakes in the Pioneer Basin. California Department of Fish and Wildlife planted non-native trout throughout this extensive drainage. Pioneer Lakes received plants of brook trout.

Fly Fishing in the High Sierra Nevada with Pioneer Lake in the foreground.

Reaching the Pioneer Lakes Basin requires a strenuous eight mile hike including an ascent of over 2000 feet to reach Mono Pass. Starting from Mosquito Flat at the end of Rock Creek Road, the Mono Pass trail climbs out of the Little Lakes Valley and goes to Ruby Lake, where sheer granite walls tower above the emerald waters. Crossing over Mono Pass the trail descends down Mono Creek with side trails to Pioneer Basin and the Recesses. The trail along Mono Creek eventually connects with the John Muir Trail near Quail Meadows and Lake Thomas A Edison.

Brook Trout underwater in Pioneer Lake Basin of the John Muir Wilderness

Pioneer Lakes Trout Survey

Pioneer Lake No. 1 - also know as Mud Lake sits at 10,360 feet in elevation. The lake is five acres and roughly 21 feet deep. The lake is surrounded by a large alpine meadow and holds large numbers of eastern brook trout.

Pioneer Lake No. 2 - sits at 10,820 feet in elevation. The lake is ten acres and roughly 25 feet deep. The lake resides in a glaciated granite bowl with a rocky margin near timberline. Plentiful eastern brook trout present averaging ten inches in length.

Sierra Nevada Mountain peaks glow after thunder shower in the John Muir Wilderness

Pioneer Lake No. 3 - sits at 10,860 feet in elevation. The lake is 48.5 acres and roughly 52 feet deep. The lake occupies a shallow glaciated granite basin with a boulder and turf margin near timberline. Good numbers of eastern brook trout present with a possible rainbow / golden hybrid in the mix.

Pioneer Lake No. 4 - sits at 10,900 feet in elevation. The lake is 7 acres and roughly 40 feet deep. Lake number 4 rests inside a deep glaciated alpine pocket surrounded by white bark pines, boulders and turf. Eastern brook trout present in the twelve inch range.

Fly Fishing Pioneer Lakes for Brook Trout in California

Pioneer Lake No. 5 - sits at 11,050 feet in elevation. The lake is 15 acres and roughly 40 feet deep. The lake occupies an open shallow glaciated granite basin with a turf margin near timberline. Abundant eastern brook trout present with a possible golden trout. Larger brook trout also possible in this lake.

Pioneer Lake No. 6 - sits at 11,160 feet in elevation. The lake is eight acres and roughly 30 feet deep. The lake occupies an glaciated granite basin above timberline. This lake is home to golden trout. Historically, CDFW planted this lake with golden trout. However, the habitat is not ideal for spawning and may not sustain a planted population.

Pioneer Lakes Basin accessed from Mono Pass in the John Muir Wilderness