Crowley Lake Sportfishing Report

Crowley Lake - Mammoth Lakes, CA (Mono County)

by Tom Loe

The best way to describe Crowley this season is "fire or ice" No consistency for any duration of time and this can be attributed to a number of reasons. First let's discuss the "ice". The low water levels for this time of year are a definite negative. Even though we had a near normal water year the LADWP had to deal with a couple of reservoirs in So-Cal that needed to be drained for bad water quality. They took the water out of Crowley early on to re-fill these and it has proven to be bad juju for the fishing thus far. Abnormal periods of strong southerly winds that basically shut down the lake after 11:00 am and some days as early as 9:30 am. Large numbers of sub-catchable rainbows and cutthroats that were planted last fall and this year by the DFG have not helped out the average size of a fish on this potential trophy trout fishery. You will not find any significant weed beds this year as they have been wiped out by the low water levels. You streamer tuggers will have a small window of opportunity to nail the big browns on perch fry before the birds gobble them up. Look for the fry to be on the trout's menu in late July or early August. They will not have the weeds to hide in and are very vulnerable in years such as this to avian predation.

The fire. We are seeing the benefits of the two major brown trout enhancement programs. The Still Water Classic and the F.A.T.I.T. events planted catchable browns last season that are being caught daily. We have not seen as many large browns caught this early in many moons and the holdover hogs have found that sub catchable hatchery fish are very good munchies! You streamer guys keep this in mind and try tossing some #2 or #4 baitfish imitations if you see the unmistakable boil of a two foot brownie ruining a small trout's day! The damsel fly nymph migration has also begun and when the current starts moving the scum lines before the wind it is a good call to troll damsels along the edges 1-5 feet below the surface.

The periods of a rising or high barometer have provided some red hot bites while still water nymphing in McGee Bay, the Hiltons, and around what is left of the north arm and Owens inlet. All the reliable chironomid patterns have been working in the #16-18 range. Use a two fly rig under a strike detector that has a type of emerger as the upper, hang a larva pattern as the dropper 20 inches below it.

The algae situation for this time of year is great. The extended winter and cool, dry spring combined with the very low water levels have made inclement conditions for the green goo. It has not been a significant factor thus far. Surface water temps are climbing and the migration of summer rainbows towards the cooler more oxygenated water in McGee and Hilton will become significant in the early stages of July. The lack of weeds in these areas will allow a more spread out area for fly fishers to work this year. You will not find good habitat in water less than 7 feet in these areas and we have had some great bites out to 12 feet recently. Work deeper as the sun gets higher, or your bite shuts off in short water.

Take a few minutes and check out the pictures of some great fish caught & released by Sierra Drifters clients on Crowley recently by visiting our website Fish'N Conditions at

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