Perhaps the most popular fly fishing area we have in the Eastern Sierra this small geo thermally warmed spring fed creek has the perfect habitat for hosting large numbers of subsidized and wild rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. The Hot Creek Hatchery Facility is located at the headwaters and main feeds to the creek. The confluence of Mammoth Creek (a freestone type creek) flows into Hot Creek just below the hatchery boundaries and provides a cooler more oxygenated source of water along with the advantages of a flushing flow during spring run-off periods that remove silt and provide spawning habitat.
There is a small section of private land (the ranch) along the river that is available to the public for a fee. The majority of the public section is located in a gorgeous canyon that has excellent, however steep trails leading down to the creek. If you have bad “wheels” it may not be for you. There is a small section of Hot Creek that is open to the public just downstream from the hatchery and upstream from a well marked fence line to the ranch.
Hot Creek has a zero limit barbless hook regulation and is currently open year round.
Blanket hatches of caddis flies, mayflies, and midges are common and with the water temperatures remaining on the warmer side due to the geo- thermal heating of the water the trout feed all year and the bugs come off even during winter months.
The majority of the fish in Hot Creek are in the 9-12 inch range but the larger pools will hold huge fish you would not believe could exist in such a small creek. Under ideal conditions the “crick” is a great place for novice and expert fly fishers alike. It has a reputation when the flows of Mammoth Creek begin to recede and the weeds start to protrude above the surface of being a “difficult” place to fish. Truer words have never been spoken. The spring and early summer months are best here especially during average snow pack seasons. The fall and winter months can be extremely challenging to even the most skilled of fly fishers.
The fly patterns and techniques vary greatly with the seasonal flows from Mammoth Creek. You can experience great streamer fishing at times when the flows are higher, and struggle to get a decent presentation with a 14 foot 7X leader during the late summer months. Hot Creek rates as one of the top fly fisheries in the west and is well worth the time to check it out if you are visiting the east side of the Sierra’s.
Take the Hot Creek Airport/Hatchery road exit off Hwy 395 which is a few miles south of the Hwy 203 junction to the town of Mammoth Lakes. Follow the well marked signs. You will have a combination of paved and improved dirt roads after passing the ranch and they are not plowed for snow in the winter. There are several good parking areas located on the top of the “rim”. You may also wish to visit the geologic site which is a major attraction.
***Sierra Drifters Guide Service Tom Loe is under permit from the Inyo National Forest Service.