California’s Eastern Sierra

East Walker River

East Walker River with Joanne

East Walker River

There are a lot of ways to describe the East Walker River, but the most important one is “resilient.”

Yes, the East Walker is beautiful, challenging, rewarding, important, controversial, fickle, and, ultimately, a classic tailwater fishery.  But its most impressive quality is that even when it gets knocked down by things like drought or carp infestations or oil spills, sooner or later it always returns to being a world-class fly fishery.

The East Walker River runs from the Bridgeport Reservoir into Nevada before emptying into Walker Lake. When conditions are right, the eight-mile stretch from the reservoir to the California/Nevada border is considered to be some of the best fly fishing in the Golden State. There are also a couple popular fishing sections just across the border in Nevada.

Sweetwater Road, better known as Highway 182, follows the river, offering great access and making it any easy excursion from the fun and frivolity in Bridgeport. Much of the river north of the reservoir is also part of the East Walker River Wildlife Area and is home to not just trout, but to bald and golden eagles, prairie falcons, river otter, mink, black bear and migratory mule deer.

Directions: Follow Highway 182 north from Bridgeport Reservoir.  The river parallels the highway and offers numerous access points and parking spots.

East Walker River with Joanne

Camping on the East Walker River

There are no designated campgrounds along the East Walker in California, but the Bridgeport RV Park and Marina and Paradise Shores RV Park just above the river offers camping and the town of Bridgeport offers a variety of hotels. There are also a large variety of camping options beginning about 10 miles west of Bridgeport in the Twin Lakes Basin.

East Walker Brown

Fishing the East Walker River

One of just a few year-round fisheries in Mono County, the East Walker is primarily managed as a catch-and-release river. When all is right and flows are solid, tales of landing 20 inch-plus browns on the East Walker are almost as prevalent as tales of getting skunked by a river that carries the motto: “Loved by some and feared by others.”

The East Walker is all about water levels. On good snowpack years, it’s one of the best tailwater fisheries in the West. During low water years, most anglers will leave the river alone so its fish can save their energy for when the snow flies and water rips again.

The rather narrow river feels and fishes more like a small mountain stream, making it rather challenging. Anglers are advised to bring their “A Game” to the East Walker. The brown and rainbow trout of the river are very wary and can be rather picky, although that does make landing a nice rainbow or a big brown all the more rewarding.

The best fishing is just below the Bridgeport Reservoir in a stretch known as the “Miracle Mile” and the best place to find out more about the East Walker is Ken’s Sporting Goods in the middle of Bridgeport (760.932.7707).

Directions: Follow Highway 182 north from Bridgeport Reservoir.  The river parallels the highway and offers numerous access points and parking spots.

East Walker Brown