Crowley Lake is a reservoir on the upper Owens River located just 15 miles South of Mammoth Lakes. The lake was created in 1941 by the building of the Long Valley Dam as water storage and flood control for the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Since this time Crowley Lake has become know as one of the best still-water fisheries in the state of California and the best fishing experience in the Mammoth Lakes area.
The location of this lake is what creates a perfect environment for trout to thrive. Located at an ideal altitude of 6800' the water remains cool during the warm summer months yet it keeps it from entering a deep freeze throughout the winter. Crowley lake has an ideal Ph which is extremely important for aquatic insect to thrive. Chironomids, Perch Fry (Sacramento Perch), Damsels & Calibeatis are the main diet for the fish that live in Crowley Lake. Crowley has multiple fresh water sources that enter its shoreline providing cool water, nutrients and an ever essential oxygen source to this desert oasis, McGee Creek, Crooked Creek, Hilton Creek & the Upper Owens River flow into this body of water.
Multiple species are found in Crowley Lake; Von Behr & Lock Laven strains of brown trout; Kamloop, Eagle Lake & Coleman strains of rainbows & Lahontan Cutthroat, averaging 16"-22". A big fish is in the 23"-25" range and we see these often. These fish will reproduce in the streams that flow into the lake providing opportunities to catch wild trout. After August 1st there are restricted fishing regulations implemented to protect the large number of small trout that are stocked in the Fall, upwards of 500,000 trout are stocked annually. After August 1st the lake goes to barbless artificial, with a two fish limit 18" or bigger. This restricts tactics to primarily fly fishing or trolling and since we practice catch and release it provides trout with the perfect opportunity to grow healthy and large. Growth rate can be as much as 8" per year.
With plenty of angling opportunities Crowley Lake is the perfect environment for the beginner to advanced angler alike. With our guide service everything is provided to ensure your trip is as easy and enjoyable as possible. Don't hesitate to book your guided trip with Wild Fly Anglers and see what Crowley Lake is all about.
Upper Owens River
The Upper Owens river is much more of a spring creek than a river. The Owens originates in Big Springs canyon where it forms from a series of springs also known as an aquifer. From its source the river descends along the Upper Owens Valley through a large section of private land. The upper most public access is know as Long Ears which is a favorable stretch of water, clean and clear. From here to the bridge at Benton Crossing Road is open year round to fishing under barbless catch and release regulations. This stretch from Benton Bridge to Long Ears has become well know for the Fall and Spring pushes of fish that enter the river from Crowley Lake. This period produces some exciting fishing opportunities to catch lake run fish ranging in size from 16"-25". You will encounter browns, rainbow and cutthroat in this system but your main focus will soon be shifted to the large rainbows once you land a few. At Wild Fly Anglers we always practice ethical trout fishing and we choose to leave spawning fish to themselves. These spawning fish do however present great fishing opportunities. When you have located some reds that is a sure sign that there will be fish holding below trying to capitalize on a high protein meal. This is where you will find fish actively feeding and can target some true trophy trout. Fishing from the Benton Crossing Bridge downstream to Crowley Lake is permitted, however be sure to check regulations as there are multiple sections and dates for opening. The section from Benton Bridge downstream to Crowley Lake is NOT open to year round fishing.
Summer months produce some great dry fly and nymph fishing. Years where we have a decent snowpack and water source will yield huge numbers of grasshoppers and it is truly a sight to see. Combo this with an afternoon wind and the trout go into a feeding frenzy.
The Upper Owens River is a great place to introduce beginners into the sport. With wide open fields and little in the way of obstacles you will be sure to have a true fly fishing experience, standing in the river taking it all in while casting to willing trout.
Let the team at Wild Fly Anglers assist you on your next trip to the Upper Owens River. We look forward to fishing with you.
Lower Owens River
The Lower Owens River is a true tail water with an abundant aquatic ecosystem, cool water and healthy trout. Over the years I have come to really appreciate this fishery. The Lower Owens is a real trout stream, technical at times but once you crack the code it can be a blast. With a variety of insects hatching daily this is a true "match the hatch" river. Generally your bug choice will be on the small side so remember the saying for a tail-water, " Thin to win."
The upper stretches of this river are designated as a Wild Trout Section. From the campground located below Pleasant Valley Reservoir to Five Bridges Rd is catch and release barbless artificial. With these regulations in place the main traffic you will encounter are fly fisherman. This helps to keep the fish population strong and healthy.
The best time of year to be on the Lower Owens are the winter months. This offers up refuge from our cold blustery times of year in Mammoth and we routinely see 50 degree temperature differences between Mammoth Lakes and the Lower Owens Valley. January- April is prime time. This presents a really great experience for those visiting the area for some skiing and winter recreation. Don't forget we have some prime fishing happening just down the road. Being a tail water, conditions are very dependable on the flow released form Pleasant Valley Reservoir. This is the primary reason for winter months being the best time of year. LADWP regulates the release of water from PVR and generally it will be between 75-200 cfs for the bulk of the winter. This allows easier access to the river and easier wading. Once the flows are ramped up, usually towards the end of April, access and wading become much more difficult. This often happens in conjunction with or general trout season opener for the state of California so then our focus shifts elsewhere. If you're looking for a winter retreat and some truly great trout fishing don't forget about the Lower Owens River. You might just find your new favorite place.