Fishing at Crowley Lake

Oct 15, 2020

Crowley Lake is considered one of the best stillwater trout fisheries in the country, and for good reason. Ever since the lake was created in 1941 it has provided ideal habitat to grow large trout. Known as the “Granddaddy of them all” in the Eastern Sierra, trout in Crowley Lake can grow 6 to 9 inches a year.

Freestone creeks like McGee, Hilton, Convict and Crooked bring oxygen-rich water into Crowley, while spring creeks like Hot Creek and the Upper Owens River help pack the place full of nutrients. Crowley Lake’s 45 miles of shoreline, more than 5,000 surface acres and depths of over 100 feet in some spots allow large populations of trout plenty of room to grow or hide out during the High Sierra’s warm summer days or cold winter nights.   

The terrific conditions are complemented by a unique fishery management plan that follows general trout season rules for half the season, and is essentially catch-and-release for the other half. The natural conditions coupled with some smart human decisions have turned Crowley Lake into an amazing “put and grow” fishery where trout thrive. But the fish aren’t just large in Crowley Lake, there’s an impressive variety of trout species found here as well.

The lake is stocked with several types of rainbow trout including Eagle Lake (considered the hardest fighters), and scrappy Kamloops and Colemans. Crowley is also home to one of the region’s only truly native species, Lahontan cutthroats; the state’s largest populations of Sacramento perch, and two types of browns: a Scottish version called Lock Lavens and “God’s Fish”—the legendary beastly browns from Germany called Von Behrs.

If the fishing isn’t enough for you, Crowley also has breathtaking views of Mammoth Mountain and the Eastern Sierra, especially at dawn and dusk.

The lake offers shore access in several spots but is best fished from a motorboat. Skiffs and other watercraft can be rented at the Crowley Lake Marina and there are lots of local guides available, from fly fishing to trolling spinners.

A variety of truly special attributes make Crowley Lake an awesome place for both trout and those who love to catch them.

Fishing 101: Crowley Lake is one of the largest and deepest lakes in the region and can provide a lot of water to cover. While trolling can always be effective, Crowley is one of those lakes where it’s best to be in the know. That’s why guides are so popular on Crowley Lake. They know where the fish are biting and what they’re biting on. While Crowley Lake is popular for anglers of all kinds in the spring and early summer, it is a fly fisher’s dream during the late summer and fall when catch-and-release regulations kick in. If you like to fly fish, Crowley Lake offers some of the best stillwater nymphing you’ll ever find.

General Season rules and regulations apply from the last Saturday in April through July 31. Catch-and-release regulations apply from August 1 until closing day on November 15. Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations should be consulted for more details.