Crowley lake is fishing to any style or any food item you want to fish right now.   Do you want to fish 2 feet of water out to 25+ feet of water?   Do you want to fish Damsels, Perch Fry or Callibaetis in skinny water, 2ft to 10ft of water, take your pick, now is the time.   Do you want to go out and fish deep water, 20+ with floating line with indicators, sinking lines fished horizonaly, vertically with a type 7 or type 9 Cortland super slim full sink line straight under your watercraft?  Now is the time anglers, its all good for whatever style of fishing you prefer!

Crowley Lake, simply said is a fish food factory and more so right now than any other time of the year.   We have a fantastic Damsel hatch with thousands of damsels coming from everywhere on the lake.   The perch fry bite is in full swing now with the trout tiresly chasing them around in the skinny water all the way out into 25 feet of water.   We have a fantastic Callibeatis hatch coming of the water with some being very, very dark in body color.   Last but not least the best Chironomid hatches on any stillwater you have ever seen.

It’s phenominal fishing now at Crowley and you can take your pick of stillwater tactics. If you don’t want to fish the indicator, don’t, now is the time to put your hands to the test and cast and retrieve to your fish. I you prefer the afternoon bite, even better, most time you will be, if not the only boat, just 2 or 3 boats fishing the whole entire McGee Bay. Fishing in 2 to 8 feet of water with perch fry patterns has been fantastic. I have been using the Cortland Nymph taper floating line in the skinny water up to 6 feet and then if I want to fish deeper, I have been fishing Cortlands Clear Intermediate small game line, it sinks anat about 1.5 inches per second and casts like a cannon. I would suggest keeping your casting distance in the 50 foot range, this way you can feel the grabs sooner and be able to get on these beautiful fish immediately. The skinny water has been producing a lot of browns and rainbows from 14″ all the way into the 23″ class so when you do get those grabs, don’t hold on so tight, they are masterful at jumping and spitting the barbles offerings we have been hitting them on. Mix and match your offerings, perch fry dark and light colors, callibaetis dark and light variations are working fantastic. Each time you stop getting grabs, mix up the color range. You will find out soon enough you will get on another good run of fish each time you change the colors of your bugs.

My leader systems are very simple, with one bug, 12ft of 3x leader to your fly seems to be working perfect. They are not leader shy even in the skinny water when you are retrieving your fly with your hands, however you might want to fish a little longer leader because of the shadow the fly lines gives out in the shallow water. Indicators you must go down into the 4x or 5x range in the skinny water because they have all day to look at your fly and leader. When I am fishing, this is how I have been setting up my leaders, using two flies 8 feet to the first fly, then a small tag and then another 5 feet to the point fly. I prefer to use two different variations of colors to see which one they will key in on, them match them both to that color. Also in most circumstances, the tag fly is higher in the water column and the point fly is the deepest fly in the water. You can fish two different zones and key in on which fly is getting more grabs than the other fly.

If you prefer to fish an indicator in this skinny water, be aware that again you must fish smaller tippet and a smaller indicator.   Try to fish the smallest indicator you can with only one fly under the indicator, or try to fish a small grasshopper as your indicator.   In the shallow, clear water without any surface texture to hide your indicator, the shadow from a larger indicator will spook the fish.   We have many grasshoppers flying out into the bay and landing on our boats.  Its also good to have as much leader between your indicator and your fly line as possible.   Some anglers can handle more, some less, make sure you try to keep your leader the furthest possible distance from the fly line because the fly line shadow, splash of indicator landing on the water disturbs the fish.

We have many areas of the lake know that are fishing well! McGee Bay of course from 2 feet to 25+ feet is fishing well in the channel and out into the flats area. Little Hilton has come on strong the past week or so and can sometimes be as good as it can get in water from 6 feet out close to 20 feet. Crooked Creek has been as good as McGee at times, just keep rotating your colors of your flies, especially if you see another boat doing well and you can’t get a grab. Its totally size and color in Crooked right now so don’t be hesitant to make those changes.

Mornings are starting to cool and the water temps are starting to follow on the surface.   My last readings in 10 feet of water on the bottom, the temps have been averaging 58 degrees.   This will go up in temps when you venture out in the bay and fish in the 25 feet of water to 61 degrees bottom temperature.   Crooked Creek in 22 feet of water in the channel is 58 degrees and just a few feet away on the flats is 61 degrees.  With all of the fresh, free flowing water still rushing into Little Hilton Creek, Crooked Creek and McGee Creek, the fish are feeling comfortable during the summer months and the temps are now starting to drop and will become even better.  I show the same water temps in the North Arm, all the way up into the channel but the water is still off colored and the fish will not take a fly right now.

The only draw back that I have seen lately is when throat sampling the fish, they are definitely eating daphnia. Even though they are on the daphnia, we are still getting them to eat every food item we throw at them. So far so good!

I wanted to also thank the 14 members of the California Fly Fishers Unlimited for allowing me to guide them this Friday at Crowley Lake. We will have 7 boats going out at the same time on Friday morning and I look forward these anglers enjoying their annual guided trip on Crowley and their outing to the Eastern Sierra. Look forward to seeing everyone on friday for this fantastic trip!

If anyone is interested in an afternoon trip, the afternoon has been fantastic and almost no other boats out on the lake. Please let me know if you are interested in going out for a half day trip in the afternoon.

McGee Bay: In the Mornings I like to start early in the channel, anywhere from 8 to 12 feet. Once the bite slows I like to move out into the flats and fish in 6 to 10 feet of water looking for the shortest bottom weeds I can find. The perch fry, damsels and callibaetis are all in the short water and the fish are moving thru in groups, looking for their prey!

Crooked Creek: Water anywhere from 22 feet all the way into the 395 area. It seems to me the shallower you go, the less fish I see on my meter but trial and error. I have been the consistent in the 17 to 20 foot range.

Little Hilton: Shallow early then move out deeper as the sun gets higher and higher. More small fish than larger fish but a good area to fish if you want the indicator to go down at a good pace.

North Arm: I have fished from 6 feet all the way out into 20 feet, lots of fish metered, however not many grabs. The algae is still in the water back there and I feel because of the warmer off colored water running in we have less oxygen in the water and that might be the reason for it not going off yet. Time will tell.

Flies: Size 16

Midges: black/copper, black/red, grey/silver, grey/black

Perch patterns: punk perch light and dark, perfection perch, tan or olive hare’s ear

Callibaetis: Tan hare’s ear, pheasant tails, birds nests light and dark


Olive Branch: With all of the anglers on Crowley, even more so now than ever, its a good time to give your fellow anglers a little more room. I have seen anglers anchor up within casting distance of other anglers, and this is not the way we should treat each other out on the water. I have had a few comfrentations with other anglers in boats and float tubes and it just doesn’t make for a fun day on the water. Please try to give each other proper spacing, if you feel your too close, ask the boat or float tube next to you before you anchor if you are giving them enough space. Don’t get angry if someone does ask you to move a little further away, and by all means if someone is getting to close to you, gently ask them to give you more space. We all want to share the water and all be successful, lets not ruin our day out on the water if we can’t get along and be courtesous!

Hope this helps you in some way anglers to go out on Crowley and have a day of a lifetime.


I do love me some “Stillwater” fly fishing…..Ernie