Owen Gorge-Eastern Sierra

Owens Gorge and Lower Rock Creek

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Owens Gorge

Suggested Flies for Owen Gorge area:
Eastern Sierra Hatch Selection
Other Local Favorites:

Dry Flies:
Parachute Adams #16-18
Olive Caddis #16-18
Royal Wulff #16-18
Yellow Humpy #14
Griffith's Gnat #16-18
Henrys Fork Hopper #14
Chernobyl Ant #16
Orange or Yellow Stimulator #16

Nymph Flies:
Pheasant Tail Nymph #16-18
Prince Nymph #16-18
Copper John #16-18
Zebra Midge #16-18
WD 40 #20


Owen Gorge Directions

Access to the gorge is difficult. The gorge is 300-700 feet deep. many of the paths to the water are gully scrambles. There are a couple of service roads from which you can park your car and walk along the gated road. Access is from Gorge Road of Hwy 395. At the T, take a left and drive 6.3 miles to the gate of the Upper Gorge Power Plant access road. Park the car near the gate and walk down into the canyon. Taking the service road toward the Surge Tank about 2.3 miles is another trailhead that will take you into the canyon above the gaging station about a mile hike. Near the Middle Gorge Power Plant are three access trails that rock climbers use with a scramble down nearby gullies. This area can be somewhat crowded. Another access point is the parking lot of the Pleasant Valley Power House. A trail is marked with access upstream.

Notes:Owen Gorge
The Owens Gorge, sometimes referred to as the Middle Owens, is a 20 mile stretch from Lake Crowley to Pleasant Valley Reservoir. The section of water from Crowley Lake Dam to Upper Gorge Plant is about 8.5 miles. The section between the Upper Gorge Plant and the Middle Gorge Plant is about 3 miles. It is a tailwater stream that fishes like a freestone with riffles and runs and plenty of boulders. It holds classic pocket water and some nice pools. There is plentiful insect life of caddis, midges, and mayflies. On windy days, many terrestrials get blown into the gorge and fall into the water. Usually fished with dry flies and short droppers. Preferred dries are Blue Wing Olive's, Parachute Adams, Royal Wulff's, and Yellow Humpy's. Stimulators with a nymph dropper such as a Zebra Midge or WD 40 work well.
Large numbers of wild Brown Trout exist averaging 8 to 10 inches. It is also the habitat of the Owens Tui Cub and Owens Sucker. Water flow is maintained at 35 to 85 cfs with the rest of the water being diverted by the penstock to the power plants. Fishing on this section of river is open all year. Fall is the preferred time of the year when temperatures are mild. Stinging Nettles are prevalent within the gorge during the Summer but are dead by Fall. The regular California Fish and Game regulations for the Inyo District apply ( 5 trout limit and 10 trout in possession), first Saturday of March to Oct. 31st. From Nov 1st through the Friday preceeding the first Saturday of March the regulation is a 5 trout limit and possesson. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power constructed the Long Valley Dam at the head of the Owens River Gorge as part of a hydropower project in 1941. The 10 mile long Owens Gorge from Lake Crowley to the Upper Gorge Power House was completely dry from 1953 to 1991. Beginning in1991, a limited flow has been released to rewater the gorge. This has been enough water to recreate a riparian habitat, and reestablish a brown trout sport fishery. In 2015, a new agreement was reached to increase periodic flows through the lower 10 miles of the gorge over a three year period. Higher seasonal flows will expand the habitat for the brown trout by scouring sediments that currently choke the pools and gravels. These flows are also conducive to enhance riparian habitat. The flows within the 10 mile long Upper Gorge below Crowley Dam will remain unchanged for the protection of the Owens Tui Chub.

Lower Rock Creek is a small, brushy stream below Tom's Place and runs along Rock Creek Road into Round Valley. It is stocked with hatchery rainbows throughout the season on a weekly basis. A 7.6 mile trail is along the creek from Hwy 395 to Paradise Camp Resort. This is a popular mountain bike route.

Fishing Regulations (Effective March 1st, 2021)

Owens River , Gorge:

Open all year. 5 trout.

All other creeks and tributaries:

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.


© 2021 Steve Schalla
This page is not to be copied without my explicit permission.
Horseshoe Bend Downstream of Horseshoe Owens Gorge pool Adams Main Powerplant Adams Aux Plant Owens Gorge looking SE Owens Gorge Owens Gorge below Dam Owens below Pinnacles Owens River Gorge Owens River Gorge Lower Rock Creek Crowley Lake To Rock Creek Pine Creek Canyon Pleasant Valley