Photos: Grand Slam in California’s Little Lakes Valley

Written by: Brian La Rue, Orvis Reno

The browns, brookies, and goldens weren’t big, but they were eager.
All photos by Brian La Rue

Sometimes, chasing backcountry trout and a little solitude are more appealing to me than battling for a hog in an easy access, roadside pool. There is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, but once in a while I like to put on my hiking boots and enjoy a high-country golden expedition; and if there are brookies and browns, all the more fun for me.

You simply can’t beat the scenery in the Sierras.

I recently ventured south along Highway 395—passing the East Walker, Owens River, and Lake Crowley—only to turn west past Tom’s Place and Rock Creek Lodge on my way up one of the highest paved roads in the Eastern Sierra. Following the road beyond Rock Creek, James Lawrence and I parked at the Little Lakes Valley/Mosquito Flats trailhead.

The biggest brown was just over a foot long.

We found the weekday hiking crowd to be light, and saw only one other fly fisherman. We fished below the parking lot, instantly hooking a 9-inch golden. What colors on these fiesty little fish! We threw smaller Elk-Hair Caddis patterns, hooking dozens of goldens, browns, and brookies. They weren’t big, but every riffle and pool produced an aggressive strike. We enjoyed some great views and solitude. The top fish was a 13-inch brown, but I did spot a 17-inch brown that unfortunately saw us before we saw him.

The backcountry provides solitude and light angling pressure.

If you are in the Eastern Sierra, the Little Lakes can be a blast for solitude and it also makes for a great place to introduce someone to fly fishing, as the high country fish are not too shy. From Reno, it is about a 3-hour drive to the south. There are many other great backcountry options in the region. Break out a topographical map and plan a trip soon.

Brian La Rue is the Store Manager of Orvis Reno and Sales and Marketing Manager for High Country Angler Magazine. You can also see his writing on (Reno, Denver, and National Fly Fishing Pages).

3 thoughts on “Photos: Grand Slam in California’s Little Lakes Valley”

  1. This sounds like an amazing adventure! I wanted to ask you about the painting that you posted as your second photo in this post. Who is the artist and where did you come across this absolutely stunning painting?


    1. That is actually a photo taken on a cell phone of all things. Just gorgeous light as thunderstorms started to threaten our bright-sun day. My friend, pictured in the last photo, actually took that one…James Lawrence.

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