Fishing at Lake George: It’s So Easy…to Love

One of the best things about fishing is that even the best traveled of us have our old favorite, and familiar, fishing holes. Places we love to return to, both in person and in our minds. Hemingway had the Big Two-Hearted River. Norman Maclean had the Blackfoot. John Gierach has the St. Vrain.

For the Navarro family of Long Beach, Lake George is the spot.

“We just really love Lake George,” Kevin Navarro said, and it’s a love that seems to be reciprocal. Last week, Kevin landed a nine-pound, 25-inch rainbow while he was shore casting and walking the family’s yellow Lab, Jake.

“I was surprised how big it was once I got it close to shore,” Kevin said about the hog he hooked on—as he put it—“the old classic, a Thomas Bouyant in red and gold.” While Kevin was landing that monster trout, the rest of his family enjoyed Lake George in different ways. His wife, Kelly, and one son were kayaking around the lake, while their other son was bobbing around and fishing from a float tube. That’s one of the reasons Kevin and Kelly, who are both middle school P.E teachers, have been bringing their now teenaged sons, K.C and Brett, to Lake George since they were knee-high to grass hoppers. It’s just the right size for a variety of activities.

“It’s a fairly small lake, so you can kick a float tube or hike around it pretty easily,” Kevin said about a lake that covers a surprising 38-acres. While Lake George may not be the largest in the Mammoth Lakes Basin and pales in comparison to Lake Mary, it is the deepest. On good water years it can be more than 200 feet deep.

The depth combined with an elevation of just over 9,000 feet (making it the highest drive-to lake in the basin), keeps the water at Lake George nice and cool. And the trout appreciate that. George has long been know for producing big browns and rainbows, as well as the odd brookie that tumbles in from the waters above.

“It was the first lake where Patrick and I both had a really good day together, with each of us catching plenty of two and three-pounders,” Kevin said, fondly recalling one of his first angling experiences at Lake George with his brother many moons ago. “You always kind of re-live that great day, so you want to go back and do it again.”

Besides being great for float tubing and shore casting, Lake George is also the launch spot for several other fishable lakes, like the steep hike up to Crystal Lake or the easier trail up to TJ Lake, which was named for Tom Jones, an early supervisor of the Inyo National Forest.

Lodgepole pines surround the banks of Lake George (which was named in honor of England’s King George), giving it a cozy alpine feel. The Lake George Dockside Shop looks and feels lost in time, but has the basics for a good day on the water. Motorboats and swimming aren’t allowed on Lake George, but those two rules simply add to the charm, and help with the peace and quiet.

There are a lot of great places to fish, especially in the Eastern Sierra, but for many anglers like the Navarro family nothing beats Lake George.

“Mammoth and Lake George are really special to us,” Kevin said.” And we’ll be coming here until we just can’t do it anymore.”

“He was there, in the good place. He was in his home where he had made it.” –Ernest Hemingway from Big Two-Hearted River

Mike McKenna

Award-winning author and journalist Mike McKenna is the writer behind the new book Casting Around the Eastern Sierra, which was recently awarded runner-up in the Outdoor Writers Association of California's Best Outdoor Guidebook category. The book focuses on fishing in Mammoth Lakes and the surrounding area, with tips and tricks from local experts.

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