If you fish for trout in California, then you just gained another 10 miles of good brown trout water on the Owens River.
A historic agreement has been reached between several entities over water flows in the Owens River Gorge. Players at the negotiating table included the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Mono County, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
The agreement results will directly improve fishing on the Owens River by returning water to the middle and lower Owens River Gorge. Until the new agreement, the gorge section saw dangerously low flows that resulted in high sedimentation that was never washed out. Before the advent of hydroelectric dams in the region, spring runoff would scour the riverbed through the canyon each year. Now the Owens River will again receive higher flows that will improve habitat for the trout who call the river home.
In the past, the Owens River gorge was considered one of the best wild brown trout streams in California. That claim to fame may once again become a reality thanks to the Mono County Superior Court that approved the agreement and all of the interested parties who have been working on this for many years.
In addition to higher flows in the middle and lower gorge, the upper portions of the gorge will continue to see the current flow regime to benefit the native endangered Owens tui chubs.
The entire lower gorge section was dewatered from 1953 to 1991. Beginning in 1991, some water was returned to the river and the brown trout fishery started to make a comeback. Still, the gorge is only known for small fish. With the higher flows, fishermen will soon be fishing for healthier fish that will have the chance to grow much larger.
In a portion of California that contains a large concentration of quality brown trout water, several additional miles of fishable water will be welcome. It will take a couple of years for the fish population to begin seeing the benefits of this agreement. Soon enough the river will be well worth your fishing time.