There are several ways to fish the Rock Creek area, including trolling the lake, spin fishing with lures, bait or flies, or fly fishing in the traditional way. All these techniques will catch fish in Rock Creek Canyon, as well as most other areas of the Eastern Sierra.
Lightweight gear is key to fly-fishing in the Rock Creek area. A 5# rod is ideal for fishing for the smaller trout that inhabit the region. The leader and tippet you use should also be very light. 7X tippet will be sufficient, unless you get lucky and hook into a big one. Following is a YouTube video that is a part of a series of videos from ExpertVillage that discusses the various knots used to set up your fly reel.
Obviously, there is a lot to setting up a fly reel correctly, and a person must have the time and patience to do it successfully. Waders are extremely helpful in fishing many areas of Rock Creek, including the creek below the lake and Rock Creek’s backcountry. Many sections on Rock Creek, especially the calmer water, are overgrown with willows and reeds and are marshy. Consequently, waders are helpful in helping anglers access these waters. With waders, you can also wade out pretty far at the lake’s inlet.
Flies for Rock Creek & Vicinity
The dry flies you choose to use should not be larger than #14. Size 16 or 18 dries are usually the best size, but as usual, you should do your best to match the hatch, so ideal fly sizes will differ. Some dry flies that have worked well in the past are adams, light cahill, elk hair caddis, black ant, female adams, and mosquito.
Size 8 or 10 is good for streamers, such as olive matukas, Twin Lakes Specials, or wooly buggers. Nymphs, such as prince nymphs, hare's ears or pheasant tails have been excellent producers in the area, especially earlier in the season.
Most people that fish Rock Creek do so with a spinning rig, fishing with either bait, lures, or a fly and bubble combination. Fishing with a spinning outfit is a very effective way of fishing all areas of Rock Creek Canyon, including the lake, creek, and backcountry. In the Eastern Sierra, four-pound test line is adequate to use as your main terminal line. The Rock Creek Lake record trout (15 pounds, 8 ounces) was caught with four pound test! Two-pound leader is good to use with your four-pound terminal line, if you're fishing with bait or a bubble & fly. With lures, you should just tie your lure directly on your main line.
Fishing with a Fly & Bubble
1. Clear sliding bubble
2. One or two-pound leader
3. A swivel
4. A fly
Getting Set Up
1. Slide the bubble onto your main four pound line
2. Tie a swivel on the line to stop the bubble from sliding
3. Run six feet of leader from the swivel to the fly
4. Tie the fly
5. Fill the bubble about half full with water, and...
6. Cast it out there!
Retrieve your fly slowly, try to keep your line tight, and give it a little action like you would a lure. The best time to fish with a fly and bubble is late-afternoon until just before dark. Fishing really heats up late! The lake is the best place to try this technique out, not the creek, although this technique does work in the creek as well.
This is probably the best way to fish Rock Creek Lake from shore, especially late in the day. This is also an extremely effective way to fish the backcountry lakes. Use only one-pound leader in the backcountry, because nearly all the fish that are caught back there are small brook or rainbow trout. Very few trout push or exceed ten inches, let alone a pound in the backcountry. Two-pound leader is appropriate for fishing the lake.
Fishing with Bait
1. Bait (worm, salmon egg, Sierra Gold or Power Bait)
2. Hook (hook type and size depends on bait type)
3. Weight (weight type and size depends on fishing location)
Setting it up
1. Put the weight on your main line (egg sinker in the lake, split shot in the creek)
2. Tie a swivel to stop the weight from sliding to the hook
3. Run about three feet of two pound leader from the swivel to the hook
4. Tie the hook (salmon egg hook, worm hook, or treble hook depending on the bait)
5. Bait the hook (put just enough bait on to cover the hook; don't over-do it)
Techniques & Locations for Bait Fishing
In the lake, cast your bait out far and let it sink. Keep your line tight once you've let it out enough, put your pole in a holder, and hang out a while. Grab a good book, soak up the serenity, and enjoy yourself! In the creek, cast your bait upstream and let it drift down. You'll want to hold onto your pole, keep the tip up, and wait for the first hit! Bait fishing is not recommended in the backcountry. The wild trout in the backcountry aren't likely to hit Power Bait or salmon eggs. Live bait such as worms and crickets does work back there, though.
Setting it up
1. Tie lure directly to main line
Techniques & Locations for Lure Fishing
What's great about lure fishing is that setting it up is simple! You don't need swivels, leader, hooks, bait...none of that stuff. Some people use a snap swivel to make it easier to change lures quickly, but using a swivel decreases the amount of action on the lure, so it's not recommended. Once you've chosen your lure and tied it on your main line, you need to find a good spot to fish with it.
In the creek, I've always tried to find a relatively calm section to lure fish, because in the fast water lures tend to skip on the surface. I've caught fish in the creek by casting my lure upstream and slowly dragging it across the creek as the current carries it downstream. I've also caught many fish casting downstream slightly and slowly bringing the lure across the creek. The creek's current along with the tension caused by the retrieve, gives the lure the action needed to attract the fish. I sometimes vary the speed of the retrieve and give the lure a little action by flicking my wrist slightly a couple of times. Doing that further attracts the fish, and that's what lure fishing's all about. You really need to be careful not to snag the lure on rocks or other obstacles in the creek though. I've lost many lures that way.
In the lake, all you need to do is find a spot that looks promising and cast your lure out there. Vary the speed on the retrieve and give the lure a little action by occasionally flicking your wrist slightly. Small lures such as Rooster Tails, Mepps Aglias, and Panther Martins will also work in the backcountry, although not as well as a fly & bubble.
Good Lures to try
- #502 or #503 Frog or Gold Super Duper (lake)
- Red/Gold or Perch Thomas Buoyant (lake)
- Gold or Silver Kastmaster (lake)
- Gold Phoebe (lake)
- #1, #2, or #4 PMRG Panther Martin (lake, creek, or backcountry)
- #500 Grasshopper Super Duper (lake, creek, or backcountry)
- Mepps Aglia (lake, creek, or backcountry)
- Rooster Tail (lake, creek, or backcountry)
- Mepps Black Fury (lake, creek, or backcountry)
Below is a video that discusses how to fish with both bait and lures. I hope this page proves helpful as you attempt to catch the elusive trout in Rock Creek and other trout waters in the Sierra and elsewhere.