At times, Piru Creek is flourishing as one of the best tail water fisheries this side of the Sierra Nevada.
Other times, Piru is in serious pain.
One problem with the Piru Creek in Southern California is that water levels are dependent on nearby Pyramid Lake, which at times lets out flows that measure as little as two cubic feet per second and as much as 40 cubic feet per second. The two extremes are both harmful and detrimental to the stream’s resident trout and aquatic life.
Then, there’s its proximity to the Los Angeles area and everything that come with being a fishery located so closely to one of the largest metropolitan (and one of the most polluted) cities in the country.
Located less than an hour from downtown, Piru sees as much pressure as any fishery in Central and Southern California. And with that pressure comes two more harmful p-words: poaching and pollution.
That’s why it is important for anglers to abide by the rules and regulations when fishing precious wild trout streams like Piru.
On the creek and its tributaries upstream from Pyramid Lake, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. There is also a two-trout limit on this section of the stream.
From Pyramid Dam downstream to the bridge approximately 300 yards below Pyramid Lake, the river is closed to fishing all year.
From the bridge to the falls about a half-mile above the old Highway 99 bridge, fishing is open year round but only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used and all fish must be released unharmed.
Anglers must also remember to pack out everything they pack into the wilderness and display a Los Padres Forest Adventure Pass on their vehicles. An adventure pass can be picked up at nearby sporting good stores.
Spinners such as Panther Martins, Mepps, Rooster Tails are really the best two options for spin-cast anglers.
Fly fishermen turn to caddis look-alikes such as Tricos, PMDs and switch to stoneflies in the colder months.
Getting to the Piru
Take the Templin Highway exit from Interstate 5 about 15 miles north of Santa Clarita. Follow the highway to the parking area next to Piru Creek. An Adventure Pass is required to park in the lot.
Lake Piru often gets overlooked because it’s located so close to a number of stellar fisheries, including Piru Creek and Castaic Lake (where many bass records have been set) and Lagoon.
The lake also gets overlooked because it isn’t known as a trophy bass fishery. Sure, there are largemouth bass on hand, but the best bite at Piru is usually for rainbow trout.
Boat anglers typically troll for trout from the dam to the pumphouse in 30-plus feet of water. Needlefish and large Rooster Tails are the top baits with most fish running in the 1- to 2-pound class.
The sunfish bite can be decent in cover around Piru’s perimeter. Anglers from boats and shore can score panfish on small jigs.
Most of the bass hit small plastics, worms and even crickets for anglers intent on catching a largemouth.
While some believe catch rates at Pyramid Lake have plummeted since an oil spill many years back, anglers can catch plenty of bass on this Southern California lake.
Also worth pursuing for fly fishermen, the rainbow trout, as long as the DFG continues consistent plants.
It’s also worth noting the lake’s resident striped bass, like coastal steelhead trout, are one of the most resilient species the state has to offer. Some hefty liners still reside in the lake, so pack plenty of trout imitations for your trip along with and some extra strong tippets.