With fishing season officially upon us, anglers all over the West are packing up their rods and reels and hitting the road up to Mammoth Lakes! And while there’s no shortage of fish to be found, picking the perfect spot to make your first cast can be tricky thanks to Mammoth’s seemingly endless list of awesome fishing areas. In today’s post, we’ll tackle the best spots to set out on your trout hunt – these are our favorite fly-fishing spots in the mountains!
San Joaquin River
If you’re looking for calm waters, idyllic scenery, and a chance to catch all three major Sierra trout species, the San Joaquin river is the perfect place to start your adventure. With Brook, Brown, and Rainbow trout slipping beneath the narrow stream’s undercut banks, it’s the perfect venue for flexing your fly-casting skills. You’ll be able to go after the feeders moving into the current, or the home-bodies nestled in cool-water pockets along the shore. Either way, it’s a full-day of fly fishing fun.
Upper Owens River
If you’d prefer a scenic stream nestled in a meadow between the Sierras and the Glass Mountains, the Upper Owens River has it all – including some monster Rainbow trout in the spring. As a tributary to Crowley Lake, the river benefits from fish wandering out in search of cool pockets less crowded by the other lake fish. Open banks make hiking to the perfect spot easy, and the lack of tree cover makes it a great spot for first-timers who’re worried about losing too many lures in the heavily-wooded streams. Just be sure to pack a hat and some sunblock because you won’t find much shade in the grassy meadow.
If you’re more of a lake-angler (or have some non-fishers in your group that you can’t convince to hike upstream), Crowley Lake offers some of the top-tier fishing anywhere in the world. The fish population is incredibly well-managed by local organizations and, because of the location, cool mountain water, and high-oxygen content, it’s home to some of the fastest growing trout in the West. Most will cast their flies from the shore, but a boat will move you around the lake even faster and, with several species of trout and perch to catch, you’ll want to be able to move to where they’re biting.
Carved by glaciers (not convicts) and home to even more local trout, Convict Lake offers such stunning views and clear water, that you’ll probably hit your instagram limit before your fishing cut-off. With deep cool water in the lake’s center, there’s always some big lurkers ready to take a bite and, if you’re more interested in casting into flowing water, the inlet and outlet offer their own little river-esque fly-fishing experiences. Just make sure you bring your camera, both for your catches and to capture the natural splendor.
Last, but not least, if you’re looking to get away from the crowds, Valentine Lake serves up one of the most beautiful hike-and-fish opportunities in the world. About 5 miles of trail-hiking through the forest leads you to an almost-exclusive mountain oasis, where the trout slip through clear water nestled between mountain peaks. The hike keeps the crowds down, so it can often feel like you’ve got the scenery to yourself. And if you’re not up for all that walking, the same trail can take you to Sherwin Lake, a much easier 2-3 mile hike, that also ends in blissfully fish-full clear water. The shorter walk does make Sherwin more popular though, so if you’re looking for some alone-time, stay on the trail until you hit Valentine.
Now it’s up to you! Grab your gear, head up the Mountain, and swing by the shop for your fishing licenses, last-minute lures, and the most recent scoop on where they’re biting. We’ll see you here!