Walker River and its Tributaries

Walker River above Walker Lake

The Walker River and tributaries take snowmelt from the eastern Sierra to disappearing Walker Lake near Hawthorne, Nevada. The East Walker and West Walker rivers form the main Walker River at their confluence near Yerington, Nevada in the Mason Valley.

The main stem hosts rainbow and brown trout, largemouth bass, white and black crappie, and various catfish species.

See Walker River Basin Still Waters for still waters in this basin.

East Walker River

The East Walker River originates in the Bridgeport Valley where it collects snowmelt from the eastern Sierra into Bridgeport Reservoir. From the reservior, it flows to northeast, where it divides the Sweetwater Mountains from the Bodie Hills.

The East Walker River below Bridgeport Reservoir flows through the East Walker River Wildlife Area for 7 miles before crossing into Nevada. The mile immediately below Bridgeport Reservoir is known as "the miracle mile", as it can offer some great fly fishing. Unfortunately, the drought and fishing pressure on this section taken a toll on this section. But there's still some nice trophy fish in this mile... and the other six. Fish mid-week to avoid the pressure, check for decent stable flows. East Walker below Bridgeport Reservoir to state line is subject to special regulations.

In Nevada, the East Walker there are a number of publically accessible sections worth calling out: Rosaschi Ranch, the Elbow, Flying M Ranch, Rafter 7 Ranch, and Pitchfork Ranch.

Rosaschi Ranch is first publicly accessible land section downstream of the CA/NV state line. It is accessible from NV 338 and Sweetwater Road (NF-028). Like the miracle mile, fishing pressure and the drought have taken its toll... but it's slowily coming back. Rosachi Ranch is a wild trout area and is under special regulations (single barbless hooks, catch and release only). Rosachi Ranch is within the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. High Sierra Fly Casters has adopted Rosaschi Ranch as its home water.

The remainder of East Walker in Nevada is covered by general regulations. Much of the river between Rosaschi Ranch and Yerington runs through the Walker River State Recreation Area (fees required in some areas). The Pitchfork Ranch Water Trail Map provides a good overview of river access within the recreation area.

The Elbow is just downstream of Rosaschi Ranch. It's regularly stocked with rainbows. The Elbow can be accessed using Sweetwater Road (NF-028).  The Big Horn Campground is located at the Elbow.

Downstream of the Elbow is the Flying M Ranch. The river fishes reasonably well in this area. It can be accessed using various 4x4 roads in the area.

Rafter 7 Ranch and Pitchfork Ranch are further downstream and are typically accessed using East Walker Road from the Mason Valley. Pitchfork Ranch is stocked with rainbow trout.

East Walker River at Rosaschi Ranch
East Walker River at the Elbow
East Walker River on the Flying M Ranch

Tributaries of the East Walker River

Fishable tributaries in the East Walker River drainage include Bodie, Buckeye, Green, Robinson, Rough, Summers,  Swauger,  Sweetwater, Tamarack, and Virginia.  So many choices. Generally, these creeks offers brookies in their upper portions and rainbows and browns in lower portions.

Reel Recovery fishing at Buckeye Creek
Deer on Robinson Creek

Buckeye Creek and its tributaries, including Eagle Creeek, bring waters of the eastern sierra down to Bridgeport Reservoir. Rainbows are stocked at and near Buckeye Campground.  Brookies can be found above the campground. Access using Buckeye Road from either US 395 or Twin Lakes Road.

Green Creek and its tributaries comes down from the Green Lake area and eventually into the East Walker in the Bridgeport Valley. It can be accessed from Green Creek Road and camping is available at the Green Creek Campground.

Robinson Creek offers hatchery rainbows and wild browns in the public sections below Lower Twin Lake. Above Upper Twin is mostly brookies... except in the fall when spawning kokanee, and large trout that follow the spawn, are present. Portions of this creek are subject to special regulations.

Rough Creek and Bodie Creek originate in the Bodie Hills and run northeast to the Nine Mile Ranch in Nevada where they met.  Rough Creek then continues to the northwest where it flows into the East Walker River on the Flying M Ranch. Both of these historic ranches are now part of Nevada's Walker River State Recreational Area. Occassionally you might find bowcuts in addition to rainbows and browns in these creeks. Due to mercury contamination from mines in the area, NDOW recommends limited consumption of fish taken from these waters.

Summers Creek and its tributaries comes down Sierras, merging along the way, and eventually running into the East Walker River in the Bridgeport Valley. They are accessed from Summers Meadow Road (4x4 recommended).

Swauger Creek parallels US 395 north of Bridgeport before draining into Buckeye creek near Bridgeport Reservoir.

Sweetwater Creek flows from the Sweetwater Mountains down to the East Walker at Rosaschi Ranch. In addition to rainbows, browns, and brook trout, mountain whitefish can be found in this creek. Lower portion of the creek runs through a number of private ranches and hence has limited access.

Tamarack Creek runs from Monument Ridge to Tamarack Lake and then down to Lower Twin Lake. The creek and Tamarack lake offers some good brookie fishing and can be accessed from Upper Summer Meadow Road (4x4 recommended).

Virginia Creek and its tributaries comes down from Virginia Lakes to the east side of Bridgeport Valley and then it parallels US 395 south to Bridgeport.

Note that some creeks in the area are always closed to fishing (e.g., By-Day Creek). Additionally, Bridgeport Reservoir and its tributaries are generally closed to fishing in the winter.

West Walker River

The West Walker River runs wild from its headwaters on the slopes of Tower and Forsyth peaks down to Antelope Valley near Coleville, CA, where it is diverted into Topaz Lake. From Antelope Valley, it flows throw Hoye Canyon to Smith Valley and then through Wilson Canyon to the Mason Valley.

The West Walker River offers some great fly fishing opportunites. The headwaters, accessable from Leavitt Meadows Trailhead on CA 108, holds brookies. Downstream of confluence of Leavitt Creek, holds rainbow and brown trout. This section can be accessed from CA 108, such as at Leavitt Meadows Trailhead, Pickel Meadow, and Sonora Bridge. Trophy-size rainbow trout can be found in the canyon section along US 395, from the confluence of the Little Walker River down to Mountain Gate Park, just upstream of the town of Walker, CA. The Antelope Valley section, below Mountain Gate Park down to Hoye Canyon in Nevada holds some nice rainbows but public access is limited. Check out Aspen Glen Reserve.

In Nevada, rainbows are stocked in Wilson Canyon area between Smith Valley and Mason Valley. Wild browns can also be found there. While much of the rest of the West Walker in Nevada is private, there's a 1 mile stretch in Hoye Canyon upstream of Wellington, NV that is public and holds mostly rainbows and browns.

Tributaries of the West Walker River

The West Walker River has many fishable tributaries. Note that some tributaries are always closed to fishing (e.g., Silver Creek).

Deep Creek-A small creek that comes down from the Sweetwater Mountains to the West Walker near Shingle Mill Flats (in the canyon section).  Holds brookies above and below Lobdell Lake.

Little Walker River near its confluence with the West Walker River
Leavitt Falls

Desert Creek - The outlet stream of Lobdell Lake, a small lake in the Sweetwater Mountains feed by Deep Creek and a diversion of Deep Creek. It is the home of the Nevada state record artic grayling! The creek is believed to no longer holds graylings.  Instead one can find rainbows, browns, brookies and tigers.

The lower part of the Nevada section can be accessed using Desert Creek Road off of NV 338, while Risue Road, also off NV 338, can be used access to the upper part of the Nevada section. While one can drive between the lower and upper parts using Desert Creek Road, there are multiple water crossings required. Desert Creek in California, which mostly holds brookies, can be accessed via US 395 using various 4x4 roads in the area.

Leavitt Creek and its tributaries - Leavitt Creek orginates at Leavitt Lake up high in the eastern Sierra runs to its confluence with the West Walker at Leavitt Meadows. The lower portion can be accessed from CA 108 and the upper portion can be accessed from Leavitt Lake Road off of CA 108.  Sardine Creek comes down from Sonora Pass area, it collects waters from McKay Creek near Sardine Falls, and then runs into Leavitt Creek. Sardine and McKay creeks can be accessed from CA 108. These creeks are generally regarded as brookie waters but rumor has it that golden trout may be found in the highest elevations.

Little Walker River - The Little Walker River is a major tributary of the West Walker River.  It runs some 15 miles down from its headwaters on the north slope of Hanna Mountain to its confluence with the West Walker River at the US 395 bridge just south of Sonora Junction. The lower section, below Burt Canyon Trailhead, is stocked with rainbows. Wild brookies can be found at Willow Flat. Poison and Molybdenite creeks are good places to check out as well. Access this fishery using the Little Walker Road off of US 395 and Willow Flat Trail off of Little Walker Road.

Mill Creek - This creek and its tributaries, including Lost Cannon Creek, take runoff from the eastern slopes of Lost Cannon, Fish Valley, and Antelope peaks down to West Walker River as it runs through Walker, California. Mill Creek above the confluence of Lost Cannon Creek holds Lahontan cutthroat trout and is subject to special regulations. The fishery can be accessed using Mill Canyon Road off of US 395.

Slinkard Creek - This creek takes water from the Slinkard Valley to Lake Topaz and the West Walker River. A self-sustaining population of Lahontan cutthroat trout exists above the fish barrier in the Slinkard Valley. Access off of Boarshead Road trail off of CA 89. Portions of this creek are subject to special regulations.

Topaz Canal - The outlet canal of Topaz Lake. It holds rainbow and brown trout.

Wolf Creek The outlet stream of Wolf Creek Lake, a small lake in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. The stream confluence with the West Walker river is just above Pickel Meadow. The stream holds Lahontan cutthroat trout above Wolf Creek Falls and is subject to special regulations. Wolf Creek Lake and its tributaries are closed to fishing year round.

This article was authored by Kurt Zeilenga. If you have suggestions on how to improve this article, you may contact Kurt at education@hsfc.us.

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