With thousands of visitors passing through the Bodie Hills each year, many travelers unknowingly drive by some of the best trout fishing in California and Nevada. With their eyes trained on the tight winding roads and their passengers gazing at the mountain tops, it’s hard to know that the small creek that parallels Highway 182 holds Kodak-picture-worthy trout.
The East Walker River flows out of the Bridgeport Reservoir and flows through California for 5 miles before crossing into Nevada and meandering along the Bodie Hills. The river is fed by several spring-fed creeks, including Rough Creek, originating near Bodie Mountain. There are few places in either state like the East Walker, offering such exceptional fishing with mountain views, while a stone’s throw away from a vehicle. The river is home to multiple species of fish, but anglers travel from all over for an opportunity to catch its trout. Brown and Rainbow Trout are the top predators in this stream’s ecosystem.
Fly fishing is the most popular way to chase these fish, but casting spinners and spoons are also highly effective. The East Walker does have special regulations in order to maintain this vital fisherman’s paradise. It is illegal to use bait, and only artificial flies or lures with barbless hooks may be used. Although you can fish the river year-round, from November 16 to the last Saturday in April you are not allowed to keep any of your catch. The remainder of the year, the limit is one fish over 18 inches. [Ed. note: Fishing regulations are being reviewed currently by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.]
Residents of California can purchase a one-year fishing license for $49, a two-day license for $25, or a single-day for $16. Nevada residents can buy a year-long fishing license for $40 or a single-day for $9. In California, there will be two days this year where a license will not be required: July 6 and August 31.
If you are successful in catching a fish, here are a few tips in order to keep the fish alive and healthy:
— Land the fish as quickly as possible.
— Do not pull the fish out of the water, remove the hook while the fish is in the water.
— Avoid pulling the fish to shore and landing it on sand, dirt or gravel, this removes the protective slime the
helps the fish fight disease and infection.
— When handling the fish, make sure your hands are wet, and avoid squeezing the fish’s gills or body.