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Upper Owens River
Updated - 7/19/24

Scroll down for links to information about Lodging,
​Maps and up to the minute Stream Flows

Hatch Chart is at the bottom of the page

  • Inyo County Road Conditions

  • Mono County Road Conditions

  • Inyo National Forest Road Conditions




Flows & Water Conditions: Good Clarity: So-so below Hot Creek, but good above CFS: 75

Fishing Report-Good  

Otis at the Troutfitter in Mammoth Lakes reports "Something to be aware of - They are starting to put cows inside the fences. This is a normal occurrence, as grazing (historically done by Deer and Antelope) is an important part of the ecosystem. They move the cows every week or so, so it can affect water clarity and the amount of drifting weeds - Be on the lookout. The slime weed “migration” worsens the closer you get to the lake.

The migratory Browns and stocked Rainbows are now spread throughout the public water. The Tricos are going strong, with the female emergence and Caddis migration around 7 AM. Around 9:30 AM the PMD hatch is dying, but the Trico egg-laying begins. Evenings are good for male Tricos, Caddis hatches, and Caddis egg-laying." 


Click here to see the CDFW fish planting schedule

Scroll down to bottom of page to see hatch chart

L American River Fall Steelhead Orientation Clinics are Booking Now
Click here for info


About the Upper Owens River


Historically the Owens watershed was never home to anything that we would consider as sport fish.  The southern range of the prolific Lahontan Cutthroat of the west’s Great Basin ended just a few miles north of the Owens headwaters.  The only indigenous fish in the Owens were the tiny Owens Valley Pupfish and the Tui Chub.  It was man that introduced the Rainbows, Browns and Cutthroat that proliferate today.  


Though the Owens stretches for about 100 miles along the east Slope of the Sierra’s, the section that is known as the Upper Owens, is about 20 miles long and is located upstream from Crowley Lake to its headwater springs. One of the best features of the Upper Owens, is that it is very easily accessible by most vehicles and is located very close to the resort town of Mammoth Lakes where lodging, food and sporting goods shops abound.  It is also close to one of the Sierra’s most famous waters, Hot Creek.  


Upper Owens Headwaters Section-Big Springs

The Owens gushes out of a honeycomb of lava tubes near the obsidian peaks just south of resort of June Lakes, CA.  It is reached by turning east off on Owens River Road which is about fifteen miles north of Mammoth Lakes, CA or the same distance south of Lee Vining, CA.  If you travel for about two miles you will come to Big Springs Rd. and if you turn left you will shortly come to a campground and bridge over the Owens headwater.  Upstream of the campground several year round springs flow into the river with the result being that water temperatures and the resulting aquatic habitat stays excellent all year round.  Downstream from the bridge the river tumbles into a small canyon, from pocket to pocket to eventually level out into Long Valley and then on to empty into Crowley Lake.

Upper Owens-Meadow Section

In most peoples minds this is the section that they think about when name upper Owens is mentioned.  Once the freestone headwaters section reaches the valley floor it takes on the classic serpentine spring creek persona as it winds through the sagebrush flats of Long Valley to end at Crowley Lake.  Access to the Owens is good as roads parallel it and much of the land is open to the public.  There are several areas where you can park within fifty yards of the river. 


Though roads are gravel and dirt, 4 wheel drives are not necessary during the summer months but in the spring the roads can be muddy in areas.  The Lower Owens can be reached  by turning east off of Hwy 395 about six miles south of the junction of Hwy 203 (Mammoth Lakes turn off) and Hwy 395.  Proceed north east about seven miles to the bridge.  Dirt and gravel roads parallel the east side of the river. 


The Owens gets regular trout plants during the summer so there are always lots of fish.  There are a good population of wild fish too that are the progeny of spawners that come into the Owens from Crowley Lake in the spring and fall and of course during those times of the year you have a chance to catch some really large fish.  Most of the fish in the Owens are Rainbows and Brown Trout and an occasional Cutthroat. 

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