The Mammoth Lakes area gave us several options for rivers to fish. I decided that Hot Creek sounded like a good one to try as it is spring fed and should be like the driftless rivers that I am used to fishing. Hot Creek is a warm water spring (50 to 60F) with some sections that are even scalding hot. Hot Creek is catch and release and only barbless hooks are allowed.
After a day long drive I arrived at the river for an evening of fishing. The river is composed several sections. It starts at the Hot Creek Hatchery which is located below the headwaters and main springs for the river, then flows to an open meadow portion that is owned by the Hot Creek Ranch and continues downstream into a canyon. I started at the canyon following the trail down to the river.
Once I arrived at the river bank I watched to see if there was a visible hatch and nothing was seen. I started fishing with an elk hair caddis and a pheasant tail soft hackle. After a few casts and skating the caddis across surface I enticed a nice ten inch rainbow to take the caddis. I worked downstream skating the caddis and landed two more brown trout one 14 inches and the nice fat 17 incher. I also missed a few other fish and lost a couple more. It ended up be a very good evening of fishing.
The following day my wife and I fished in the morning and the evening for a couple hours each. We again fished the canyon section, with what seemed to most of the other licensed fisherman in Mono County. The morning fishing was very difficult. I think this was in part due to the very clear water and all of the fishermen walking up and down stream bank spooking the trout.
The evening fishing was like much the day before. This meant skating caddis across locations that should be holding fish, hoping make something to take the fly. We had good action on both caddis and the pheasant tail. A nice variety of rainbows and browns were caught. Once the sun was no longer visible above the canyon rim we decided it was time to call it a night.