Fly Fishing the Sierra

Mt. Whitney Backcountry

Online Store

Maps

Fly Box

Fish

Tackle Box

tactics

Fly Swaps
Mt. Whitney Backcountry
Suggested Flies for Mt. Whitney Backcountry:
Southern Sierra Hatch Selection
Other Local Favorites:


Dry Flies:
Parachute Adams #12
Elk Hair Caddis #14-16
Stimulator #12
Madam X #10-12
Royal Wulff #12

Nymph Flies:
Pheasant Tail Nymph #12-14
Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear #12-14
Prince Nymph #12-14
Bird's Nest #12-14
Zug Bug #12-14

Directions:

Mt. Whitney Portal Directions

Access to the Whitney Backcountry is turning left on Whitney Portal Road within the town of Lone Pine. Whitney Portal (elevation 8,200 feet) is about 12 miles from Lone Pine. You can access the Whitney Trail from there. At 3 miles from Lone Pine on Whitney Portal Road, Horseshoe Meadow Road connects from the south. Take Horseshoe Meadow Road 18 miles up to the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead (10,000' elevation) going over New Army Pass.

Notes: Mt. Whitney
This region has a number of excellent lakes and streams to fish for Goldens, Rainbows, Brookies, and Browns. Generally, the fish are small but healthy and active. Most of the Rainbows and Brooks reside in the lakes below 11,000 feet. You can make a loop hike from either Portal or Cottonwood Lakes. There are two passes to climb traversing this area, New Army Pass (12,300) and Trail Crest (13,480) always with the mandatory stop at the top of Mt Whitney (14,496). The loop trip will result in about a 13,000 feet gain/loss of hiking if you take the entire 45 mile trek. A shuttle can be arranged to pick you up at either trailhead and back to your origin. In 1996, Mt. Randy Morgenson (13,927') was named in honor of the USFS Backcountry Ranger who was believed to have died falling through a snow bridge in July, 1996. His remains were found 5 years later.

Whitney Portal Road follows Lone Pine Creek up to the Whitney Portal Trailhead.
Lone Pine Creek is heavily stocked with both Browns and Rainbows just downstream of Movie Road. Many of these fish are in the 10-12 inch range. The creek has substantial bush cover and pocket water for nymphing with some larger pools where streamers will work.
From the Whitney Portal campground just below the Portal is another trailhead following Meysan Creek up to three lakes. Each of these lakes have plenty of Brookies. The lakes are about 5 miles from the trailhead with a 4000 foot climb.
Grass Lake: Contain Brookies, 5-7 inches
Camp Lake: Contains Brookies, 5-7 inches
Meysan Lake: (25 acres at 11,480 feet) Contains Brookies, 5-7 inches

Whitney Trail from Whitney Portal will take you to the North Fork Lone Pine Trail (aka Mountaineer Route) which follows the North Fork Lone Pine Creek and heads up to Upper Boy Scout Lake (6.3 acres at 11,316 feet) which consists of Rainbow trout. Iceburg Lake is fishless. Some continue to Mt Whitney following the Mountaineer Route.
Continuing on Whitney Trail past the North Fork turnoff, the trail heads southwest and reaches three lakes before going over the crest.
Lone Pine Lake: Consists of Rainbows and Brookies. About 2.5 miles from trailhead at 9,925 feet.
Mirror Lake: (2.4 acres at 10,660') Consists of Brookies
Consultation Lake: (33 acres at 11,667') Consists of Rainbows.

Guitar Lake: Consists of Goldens. About 8.5 miles from trailhead at 11,480 feet.
Hitchcock Lakes: Consists of Goldens. About 9.5 miles from trailhead at 11,600 feet
Timberline Lake: Consists of Goldens. About 9.5 miles from trailhead at 11,100 feet.
Crabtree Lakes: Consists of Goldens. About 11.5 miles from trailhead at 11,300 feet. Renowned for large Goldens, the lakes were a favorite of test pilot, Chuck Yeager. One of his Goldens are on display at Lone Pine Outfitters.
Whitney Creek: Flows down from Guitar Lake to the Kern River below Crabtree Ranger Station at 10.5 miles from trailhead. Generally a freestone stream with pocket waters and deep pools except around Crabtree Meadow where it slows down for some good dry fly action. Consists of Goldens, up to 10 inches.
Wallace Creek: The Sierra Club planted Goldens in Wallace Creek in 1909. Most of these fish are in the 6-8 inch class. Wallace is about 15 miles from Whitney Portal Trailhead. It flows from Wallace Lake to the Kern River. The High Sierra Trail meets up with PCT at Wallace and can provide good access to the creek for 2 miles before entering the Kern.


Trailhead from Cottonwood Lakes will take you to the following:
Rock Creek: Consists of Rainbows. About 9 miles from Cottonwood Trailhead over New Army Pass. The trail follows the creek for 3 miles. The creek goes another 4 miles to the Kern River, although the last mile is too steep to fish.
Sky Blue Lakes: Consists of Goldens. Follow Rock Creek upstream about 2.5 miles from the trail over New Army Pass. The lakes are at 11,600 feet.

 

Fishing Regulations (Effective March 1st, 2021)

Inyo County, Southwestern portion, in all waters bounded by the Inyo County line on the south and west, Independence Creek on the north (open to fishing), and Highway 395 on the east:

From the last Saturday in April through November 15, 5 trout daily bag limit, 10 trout in possession; and, from November 16 through the Friday preceding the last Saturday in April, 0 trout bag limit, artificial lures with barbless hooks only and trout must be released unharmed and not removed from the water.

Cottonwood Lakes 1, 2, 3 and 4 and their tributaries.:

July 1 through Nov. 15. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. 0 trout.

Other Rivers and Streams outside of Inyo County:

From the last Saturday in April through November 15, 5 trout daily bag limit, 10 trout in possession; and, from November 16 through the Friday preceding the last Saturday in April, 0 trout bag limit, artificial lures with barbless hooks only and trout must be released unharmed and not removed from the water.

Other Lakes outside of Inyo County:

Open all year. No restrictions. 5 trout per day. 10 trout in possession.

 

© 2021 Steve Schalla
This page is not to be copied without my explicit permission.

 

Amphitheatre Lake Upper Funston Meadow Little Claire Lake Rattlesnake Creek Funston Meadow Volcano Falls Kern Canyon Ranger Station Kern River Primrose Lake Sequoia National Park Wright Lakes George Creek Cottonwood Lakes Cottonwood Lakes Sky Blue Lake Crabtree Lakes Meysan Lake Stone House Timberline Lake Guitar Lake Consultation Lake Mt Whitney Lone Pine Lake