California Fly Fishing 4 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the East Walker River in California

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

June 18, 2020

East Walker River in California

The East Walker River is famous for its large rainbow and brown trout, with the fish caught in these waters measuring upwards of 20 inches. Even though much of the River flows through Nevada, the best angling occurs in eastern California.

While the East Walker River has had its share of problems over the years, it is still a great fishery, with clear water and a rich aquatic insect population.

Find the best places to fish the East Walker River with our handy DIY guide.

About East Walker River

Fly Fishing in the East Walker River

The East Walker River is a 90 mile long tributary of the Walker River. It flows through western Nevada and eastern California. The River rises near the northeast boundary of Yosemite National Park.

From the south tip of the Bridgeport Valley, the River flows north past Bridgeport into the Bridgeport Reservoir. Below the Reservoir, the River flows northeast through Sweetwater Mountains and crosses the state line into Lyons County, Nevada.

From there, the River flows south of Pine Grove Hills and then turns north to join with the West Walker River. The branches form Walker River about seven miles south of Yerington. 

The reason the trout are so large in this River is because of the thriving aquatic insect population, in particular in the tailwater below Bridgeport Reservoir. Baitfish are plentiful at this River, particularly below the Reservoir. You’ll also see plenty of Midges, Stoneflies, and Blue Winged Olives. 

The River is open year round and access is easy. With the right patterns, fly fishing the East Walker River can be a rewarding and exciting experience.

East Walker River Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of East Walker River fishing access spots

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Places to Fish the East Walker River

The best fishing occurs in the tailwater below the dam, where the baitfish and insects are plentiful. The first mile of river below the dam and the Highway 182 Bridge is known as the Miracle Mile.

In the Miracle Mile the water is characterized by deep pools, long runs and flats. Some of the largest trout are caught here, many on dry flies during the evening hatch.

The Bridgeport Lake is also a good place to angle, as there is clear and shallow water, though you will have to be careful not to spook the trout. You can access the fishery from Highway 182, which has several access points along the East Walker River.

There is a special regulation section from the dam to the California/Nevada border.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish the East Walker River. The USGS stream gauge near Bridgeport, CA provides a good indication of current conditions.

The graph below shows the stream flow (discharge) for the past 7-days. If flows are considerably above or below historical norms (yellow triangles on the chart) then fishing conditions ma not be ideal.


  • Streamflow: 192 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 3.44 ft
Streamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish the East Walker River

The best time to visit the East Walker River is arguably in the fall, when flows are relatively stable. Fishing in the winter can be successful if you fish the Nevada sections. In the spring and summer, the quality of fishing is dependent on the flow conditions.

Midges are an important hatch to imitate year round. The Little Yellow Stonefly hatch starts in June, and the Blue Winged Olives hatch in March and April, and then again in October through November.

Caddisflies and Tricos are also significant hatches. The Caddisflies hatch from June to October, and the Tricos appear in late summer and early fall. 

You’ll also see Spotted Sedges, Short horned Sedges, and Green Sedges that hatch in the summer. In July, August, and September, you can find success using terrestrials. Streamers and crayfish patterns produce all year. The streamers yield the best results, so make sure you have plenty of them ready for your visit.

Best Flies for the East Walker River

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for the East Walker River:

  • Blue Winged Olive (#18-20)
  • Brown Stonefly (#10-14)
  • Golden Stonefly (#4-10)
  • Little Yellow Stonefly (#10-12)
  • Olive Stonefly (#10-16)
  • Caddis (various) (#12-18)
  • Yellow Quill (#14-18)
  • Zebra Midge (#18-20)
  • Streamers (Various) (#6-12)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on East Walker River. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

East Walker River Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide an East Walker River fly fishing report are listed below:

Fishing Regulations

The state of California requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available. You can purchase a one-year, 10-day, two-day, or one-day license. Some areas also require a permit. You can purchase the license and learn about the most current regulations through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to the East Walker River is the Reno Tahoe International Airport. You can travel to any major or municipal airport in Eastern California and arrive at your destination after a few hours of scenic driving.

The Bridgeport Reservoir Marina & Campground is a favorite choice among anglers looking for lodging in the area. You won’t have to travel far to catch large brown trout and you’ll be treated to breathtaking views you’ll never forget.

Paradise Shores Campground is another nearby option if you are looking for a more serene environment. The campground is a great place to unwind and unplug from the world.

The East Walker River is teeming with large trout, ready for an intrepid angler to enjoy. With the right patterns, you can find much success on this River.

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing California

Feature image by Ixfd64