The East Walker River flows from Bridgeport Reservoir in California and continues eastward into Nevada. This stretch of the river is now open to fishing all year in both states. The reservoir stores water for irrigation downstream in Nevada, thus flows vary from season to season. In spring, summer and early fall the flows can jump up and down almost daily. Best flows for fishing are 50 cfs to 300 cfs. You can fish above 300 cfs, but it gets difficult to cross the river above this flow. Big drops or rises in the flow (50+ cfs) seem to put the fish down until the flow stabilizes. The bigger the change, the longer the fish seem to be affected. In the winter months flows are a stable 25 – 50 cfs and do not vary much. Check the flows before you go!
California side – Below Bridgeport reservoir, California Hwy 182 parallels the entire California side for about 8-10 miles. Lots of public access in the upper part, but watch for private land as you get closer to Nevada border. You can breakdown the California side into 2 sections. The upper section is often referred to as the Miracle Mile and is very short. In this area, the river flows through meadows and doesn’t have a lot of gradient. It has nice runs and riffles with some deep holes. In the lower section below the Hwy 182 bridge, the gradient picks up and this section is mostly pocket water fishing to the Nevada border with some holes and runs. The California side sees the most pressure, mainly spring through fall.
Nevada side – The old Rosachi Ranch makes up the first 7 miles of public water on the Nevada side. There are alpine thickets and meadows in the upper stretches and a steep canyon at the bottom of this section. This area is some of the best trout water in Nevada. Below the Rosachi and the area known as the “Elbow” the river runs for miles through sagebrush and fairly barren country. The population of trout in this stretch is not as high as it is upstream but it is seldom fished and holds some outstanding specimens. The Nevada side sees less pressure in the summer and early fall months and more pressure in the winter and early spring.
Dry Fly Fishing – Use 4x if fishing big flies, otherwise 5x or 6x will cover most situations. Spring, fall and winter you’ll want Para Adams 14-22, a variety of BWO patterns 16-20, variety of midge patterns 16-22 and skawala stones 6-8. In late spring and summer, the caddis and little yellow stoneflies dominate the dry fly action with the trico hatch building through the summer. E/C caddis 14-20, elkhair caddis 14-20, small stimulators 14-18 and tricos 18-22 are all good patterns to have. When the hoppers begin to appear in late July try orange and yellow stimulators 4-8, orange and red Turck’s tarantulas 6-8, big attractor dries and your favorite hopper patterns 6-12. Carry ant and beetle patterns in 10-18 as well. Hoppers usually last late into September. Dry-dropper rigs are a good option on this river. Use 5x or 6x to your dropper. Dropper can be smaller dry or nymph. Don’t be afraid to drown a dry fly. Drowning trico’s during a trico hatch can be very effective, as well as drowning hoppers, beetles and ants.
Nymphs – For leader in high flows, use 3x or 4x. In lower flows generally 5x – 6x works best. Stoneflies are present in a variety of sizes 6-16, san juan worms 14-18 in a variety of colors, rainbow warriors 18, juju baetis 18-20, pheasant tails, hares ears, prince nymphs, any small bwo nymphs 16-22, copper johns 14-20, caddis rockworms 12-18, caddis emergers/pupas 14-18, zebra midges (any midge patterns in general) 16-24, birds nests (olive and tan) 14-18 and WD40s 16-22.
Streamers – Close to Bridgeport Reservoir try patterns that imitate the sacramento perch that get sucked from the lake into the river. In higher flows (200 cfs to 400 cfs) work big streamers on sink tip lines with short, stout leader (1x – 3x flouro) and fish the edges and seams hard. Try black, yellow, white, olive or any combo. Stanley Streamers, zonkers, meat whistles, madonnas, zoo cougars, buggers and similar streamers all work. In lower flows, go with smaller patterns and dredge deeper areas and seams. There are crayfish in the river so try these patterns on sinktips or under an indicator.