Fishing the Mammoth Lakes Basin

Dec 21, 2020

It’s tough to find a more scenic or accessible place to fish than the Mammoth Lakes Basin. A handful of well-stocked lakes are a short drive from town, and are even accessible via the bike path and free shuttle. No matter how you get there, any angler will enjoy casting around and exploring the unforgettable Mammoth Lakes Basin. Twin Lakes is the lowest of the lakes, and is a bit misnamed, as there are actually three lakes grouped together. Twin Lakes is the first in the basin to open each spring and the last to close when winter returns.   The next lake along the road is the largest, Lake Mary. Lake Mary allows motorboats and is usually the best place in the basin to see bald eagles enjoying some fishing of their own. Lake Mamie is just downstream from Lake Mary and is the smallest fishable lake in the basin. Lake George is nestled just above Mary and Mamie. At 9,060’, it’s the highest drive-to lake in the Mammoth Lakes Basin. Horseshoe Lake is the only lake in the basin that isn’t considered fishable. All of the lakes are regularly stocked with trout and can easily be fished from shore or from a boat of some kind. Float tubes are an exceptionally popular way to fish the relatively small lakes. Each lake also has at least one boat rental shop and small store that offer a surprising selection of the essentials you need for a day of fishing. The views of the surrounding mountains are stunning and the area is also a great base for backcountry fishing excursions of any length. Even those who don’t fish much will enjoy a day chasing trout in the Mammoth Lakes Basin.       

Getting There

Main Street or State Highway 203 in Mammoth Lakes connects to Lake Mary Road, which leads to the Mammoth Lakes Basin. The first fishery you’ll come across is Twin Lakes, about 2.5 miles from the center of town.  


There are a large variety of camping options for everything from tents to motorhomes in the Mammoth Lakes Basin. There are also lodge and cabin rental options available at Twin Lakes, Lake Mary and Lake Mamie. The area is very popular in the summer, especially during weekends, so campsites or lodging should be booked in advance. There is also an abundance of lodging and camping options in the town of Mammoth Lakes.

Fishing 101

The Mammoth Lakes Basin is regularly stocked and is home to rainbow, brown and brook trout. Twin Lakes also has a species of native tui chubs. Any regular method used for catching trout in still water will be effective. Powerbait and inflated night crawlers are popular for bait fishermen. Spin casters and trollers have luck with Thomas Bouyants, Rapalas and Tasmanian Devils. Fly fishermen like a variety of Woolly Buggers with a nymph trailing behind. The colors will all vary with the season. Stop by a friendly tackle shop in town or at one of the lodges at each fishable lake for what’s hot.  General Season rules and regulations apply. Fishing season runs from the last Saturday in April through November 15.

Know Before You Go

The Mammoth Lakes Basin is at very high elevation, over 8,000’. Always be prepared for a variety of weather in any season by having proper clothing layers, wearing sunscreen and staying well hydrated. The Mammoth Lakes Basin is also home to a wide variety of wildlife, which should never be approached, provoked or fed. If you do any backcountry exploring always tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return. 

Dakota Snider

A professional photographer for 10+ years, including four years shooting in Yosemite National Park, Dakota now works as the Sr. Manager of Marketing & Events for Visit Mammoth. When he's not adventuring with a camera in hand, which is rare, Dakota enjoys time spent with friends exploring the Sierra on foot or skis.

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