Crowley Lake is one of the best trout fishing lakes in California. Located in the Eastern Sierras just 10 miles south of Mammoth Lakes. Thousands of fishermen come to Crowley each year to fish opening weekend called ‘Fishmas’ and 2019 is looking to be an awesome year. Crowley Lake has monster trout and when the fishing is on it is hard to beat. Crowley has 3 species of Trout: Rainbow, German Browns, and Cutthroat. All 3 trout can get quite large in Crowley. Crowley has both wild and stocked trout. The larger wild trout really pull hard and are very exciting to catch.
The most popular method to fly fish Crowley is nymphing from a boat. This requires measuring the depth and then getting your bottom fly 12 inches or so off the bottom. Then above the first fly you have a split shot and a second fly above the split shot (sometimes a fly above that 3rd). This method requires you to be able to cast sometimes 20+ feet of liter/tippet/flies depending how deep you are fishing. Fishing at greater depths also makes hook setting more difficult as it takes longer to get all the slack out of the line. Other methods include stripping streamers. Fly fishermen also fish Crowley from float tubes and an occasional kayak.
Beautiful Crowley Cutthroat (Below) with local fly fishing guide Tom Lippen
The Upper Owns River & McGee Creek both flow into Crowley Lake and also provide excellent fly fishing at times. Big wild Rainbows and Cutthroats swim up the Upper Owens River to spawn certain times of the year. Gigantic wild brown trout hide under cut banks of the Owens river waiting for trout fry to swim by or for a grass hopper to fall off the bank. There is a wild trout section above the Benton Crossing Bridge of the Upper Owens that is open year round for catch and release barbless fly fishing. This area can have a spring and fall run of spawning rainbows. They can also be referred to as “Crowley Steelhead”
Fly fishing can be a difficult practice to learn. I began fly fishing in the Eastern Sierras in the 1990s when a high school friend took me on my 1st fly fishing trip to Bridgeport to fly fish with his family. We fished the East Walker mostly. Although I did not catch a single trout fly fishing on my first 2 trips, I did see my friends catch a lot and saw how fun it was and that was enough to make me want to learn this for myself. Soon after high school I bought my first fly rod and started fly fishing in the Eastern Sierras. I figured I would need some help so I hired a local guide to help me, Dave Neal. Each trip I came up Dave would guide me 1 or 2 days and I would fish on my own 1 or 2 days. I fished with Dave every year for almost a decade. Dave taught me how to fish, what flies to use, showed me some AMAZING spots I would have never found or known about otherwise. I also caught a lot more fish than I would have without him guiding me. I also caught way more fish with Dave than I ever would have on my own and learned much faster. So the moral of the story is if you want to learn fly fishing get the help of a great local guide. Dave since has moved to Redding, CA with his family where he runs Reel Adventures Guide Service fishing the Lower Sacramento for Rainbows and Steelhead and The Trinity River for drift boat Steelhead fishing. I caught my first Steelhead with Dave on the trinity river. I eventually caught my biggest brown trout ever guided by Dave Neal on the same river I first fished in the 1990s when I didn’t even catch a fish.
Sadly when Dave moved away from Mammoth Lakes it was time for me to find a new fly fishing guide. By chance I came in contact with Tom Lippen who is a professional fly fishing guide in Mammoth. Tom went to guide school and Dave Neal was his instructor! Tom also is from Torrance which is where I am from too! I had the pleasure of fishing with Tom the last couple years and he is an amazing guide. He is very patient and great communicator. Tom gave detailed advise, critiques and suggestions in a manner of an experience teacher. Tom is very knowledgeable about where the fish are and spends a lot of time guiding and fishing on Crowley. Tom has the perfect boat in the Crowley Marina that he guides with. Tom provides all the equipment and flies for his clients, you can use your own gear if you like also.
To book a guided tip with Tom Lippen visit his website: rippenlipsflyfishing.com
or call/text Tom at (310) 347-1175.