CROWLEY LAKE - McGEE BAY SKINNY WATER ON TAP

by Ernie Gulley Fly Fishing
in Blog
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YES ANGLERS, WE ARE FINALLY FISHING SHALLOW WATER AT CROWLEY.   NO MORE 25 FOOT SLIDING INDICATOR RIGS, WE ARE ACTUALLY IN WATER ANYWHERE FROM 6 FEET ALL THE WAY OUT INTO 12 FEET AND CATCHING GOOD NUMBERS AND LARGE FISH.  FISH SIZES ARE A MIX, WITH FISH FROM 12" ALL THE WAY TO THE 24" RANGE.  THE OTHER EXCITING THING IS BAIT SEASON IS OVER!  ITS ARTIFICIAL, NON SCENTED FLIES AND LURES, WITH SINGLE BARBLESS HOOKS.  IT'S CATCH AND RELEASE TIME.  I DON'T PROMOTE KEEPING FISH.  IF YOU DO DECIDE TO KEEP FISH, THE LIMIT IS TWO FISH AND THEY MUST BE 18" OR LARGER.   ALSO MAKE SURE YOU ARE AWARE THAT YOUR SECOND ROD STAMP DOES NOT APPLY TO THE CROWLEY "TROPHY TROUT SEASON" YOU CAN ONLY FISH ONE ROD PER ANGLER NOW.   THESE REGULATIONS HAVE STARTED ON AUGUST 1ST AND WILL CONTINUE UNTIL NOVEMBER 15TH CLOSER!

WITH THE WATER AT CROWLEY NOW AT IT'S HIGHEST LEVEL IN THE LAST 6 YEARS, WE ARE ONLY ABOUT 5 FEET AWAY FROM BEING AT MAXIMUM CAPACITY.  LONG VALLEY OVERVIEW, FROM DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND POWER SHOWS SURFACE ELEVATION AT 6,776 AND FULL POOL IS 6781.   IT IS RUMORED THAT BY MID AUGUST, THE WATER LEVEL WILL COME UP ALMOST 5 MORE FEET BUT WE WILL HAVE TO SEE.   IN THE MEAN TIME, WE HAVE FRESH, COLD WATER RUNNING IN ALL OVER THE LAKE AND THE FISH ARE LOVING IT.  

 

SURFACE TEMPS SHOW ANYWHERE FROM 68 IN THE MORNINGS TO 73 BY MID DAY.   THIS IS WARM FOR TROUT TO SAY THE LEAST, HOWEVER, MY BOTTOM TEMPERATURE READINGS ALL OVER THE BAY FROM 6 FEET, ALL THE WAY OUT INTO 12+ FEET OF WATER, THESE TEMPS SHOW READINGS FROM 53 DEGREES UP TO 56 DEGREES ON THE BOTTOM OF THE LAKE FLOOR.   THESE TEMPS ARE PERFECT TO KEEP OUR TROUT NICE AND HEALTHY AND CONTINUALLY FEEDING!

THE DAMSELS ARE EVERYWHERE AROUND THE LAKE.  THEY ARE IN FULL SWING IN MCGEE BAY AND THE TROUT ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THESE TINY, TASTY MORSELS AND ARE FEEDING ON THEM IN 3 FEET OF WATER, ALL THE WAY OUT INTO 25 FEET OF WATER.   I HAVE SEEN THE DAMSELS AND THEY ARE TINY AND VERY, VERY SKINNY.   USE A VERY SPARSE OFFERING AND MAKE SURE IT'S VERY THIN AND NOT TOO LONG.  IT IS A DIFFICULT MOTION, THE WAY THE DAMSELS SWIM AND PROPEL THEMSELVES THREW THE WATER SO VERY YOUR RETRIEVES AND KEEP YOUR SPEED OF RETRIEVE DOWN TO A SLOW CRAWL WITH VERY QUICK SMALL PULSES.     

 

THE SAME GOES FOR THE PERCH!   MILLIONS OF PERCH FRY HAVE HATCHED AND ARE HIDING IN THE WEED BEDS AROUND THE ENTIRE LAKE!  WE ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THIS IN MCGEE BAY, FISHING ANYWHERE FROM 6 FEET OF WATER, ALL THE WAY OUT INTO 12+ FEET OF WATER AND BEYOND.   I HAVE BEEN STAYING INSIDE IN THE SKINNY WATER WHERE THE WATER TEMPS ARE MUCH LOWER AND BETTER FOR THE FISH WHEN BEING RELEASED.   USE THE PUNK PERCH PATTERNS IN SIZE 16 OR A TAN COLORED HARES EAR, OR A TINY BIRDS NEST FOR YOUR OFFERING.   I HAVE BEEN USING THE LIGHT COLORED PATTERNS, HOWEVER, DARKER OLIVE AND GREENS HAVE WORKED WELL ALSO AS A GREAT IMITATION FOR THESE TINY PERCH WHICH ARE NOT EVEN AN INCH LONG YET.  BECAUSE THE AREAS OF MCGEE WHERE WE ARE FISHING WERE BONE DRY OVER A MONTH AGO, I HAVE NOT BEEN FISHING TOO MANY MIDGE PATERNS BECAUSE THE MIDGES HAVE NOT HAD TIME TO MIGRATE BACK INTO THE SHALLOWS AND THE HATCHES ARE VERY WEAK!  I DID HOWEVER IN ONE OF MY GUIDED TRIPS GO ON A GOOD RUN OF FISH, SWITCHING TO A SMALL GREY SIZE 16 MIDGE SO KEEP THAT IN MIND!

 

IT'S ALSO FUN TO FINALLY SEE STILLWATER CALLIBAETIS COMING OFF IN BIG HATCHES.   WE HAVE A COUPLE OF DIFFERENT COLORS, SOME ARE BLACK, SOME ARE LIGHT COLORED SO PAY ATTENTION AND CHANGE YOUR FLIES ACCORDINGLY TO MATCH THE HATCH.  PHEASANT TAILS, LIGHT AND DARK, HARES EARS, AND SMALL SIZE 18 OR 16 BIRDS NEST HAVE BEEN WORKING WELL.   DON'T BE AFRAID TO MAKE CHANGES. 

 

ITS AN UP AND DOWN BITE FROM HOUR TO HOUR.  YOU MUST MOVE YOUR WATER CRAFT AROUND FROM SHALLOW WATER, BACK TO DEEP WATER,  THEN BACK AGAIN AS YOUR ELEMENTS CHANGE DURING THE DAY.   FISH ARE MOVING AROUND CONSTANTLY BECAUSE OF TIME OF DAY, ANGLE OF THE SUN, WIND DIRECTION, CURRENT AND HOW MUCH CHOP OR TEXTURE YOU HAVE ON THE WATER DURING THE DAY.   FISH ARE NOT GOING TO COME INTO 6 FEET OF WATER AND FEED WHEN YOU CAN SEE STRAIGHT TO THE BOTTOM.  THERE MUST BE SOME PROTECTION ON THE SURFACE OF THE WATER.   YOU NEED TO HAVE SURFACE TEXTURE, CHOP AND WAVES TO MAKE THE FISH FEEL COMFORTABLE.   IF YOU CAN SEE THEM, THEY CAN CERTAINLY SEE YOU.   RIGHT NOW WHEN I AM ANCHORED IN 8 FEET OF WATER, I CAN SEE MY ANCHOR LAYING IN THE MUD.  YOU HAVE TO IDENTIFY ALL OF THESE VARIABLES, MOVE AROUND AND REPOSITION YOUR WATER CRAFT TO GET ONTO SMALL OR BIG RUNS OF FISH.   ONCE THAT ENDS, MAKE ANOTHER CHANGE.   YOU HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR POSITION OF WHERE YOU ARE FISHING DURING THE DAY RIGHT NOW, ALMOST AS MUCH AS WHEN YOUR ARE CHANGING YOUR FLIES TRYING TO MATCH UP TO WHAT THE TROUT ARE FEEDING ON.      

 

THIS IS A PERFECT TIME TO FISH WITHOUT THE INDICATOR, CAST AND RETRIEVE TO YOUR FISH.   WITH THIS SHALLOW WATER, YOUR INDICATOR WILL SOMETIMES SPOOK FISH, EVEN IF YOU ARE USING A CLEAR INDICTOR.   THE CLEAR INDICATOR WILL HELP, IT'S WHAT I HAVE BEEN USING, BUT IT PICKS UP A LOT OF SUNLIGHT AND WILL RELECT.   YOU CAN ALSO TRY TO DOWN SIZE YOUR INDICATOR TO A SMALLER SIZE, BEING IN SHALLOW WATER YOU ONLY NEED ONE FLY AND MAYBE A TINY SPLIT SHOT TO HOLD YOUR LEADER DOWN.   FOR CASTING AND RETRIEVING YOUR FLIES, USING DIFFERENT RETRIEVES AND RYTHMS, I HAVE BEEN USING A 12 TO 15 FOOT LEADER IN THE SHALLOW WATER AND A SHORTER 10 TO 12 FOOT LEADER AS I GET OUT INTO DEEPER WATER.  MY LEADER IS STRAIGHT 3X FLUOROCARBON AND IT WILL ROLL OUT ON YOUR CASTS VERY EASY, IF IT LANDS SLOOPY, JUST GIVE YOUR FLY LINE A FEW PULLS AND STRAIGHTEN OUT YOUR LEADER.    IT WILL CUT THREW THE WATER AND BE MUCH MORE SENSITIVE ON YOUR RETRIEVES, EASIER FEELING THE TROUTS GRABS.  SOME DAYS THE GRABS ARE ARM STRAIGHTENING, OTHER DAYS THE GRABS ARE MUCH SOFTER.  THE SAME DIAMETER LEADER SYSTEM IN MY HUMBLE OPINION IS MUCH MORE SENSITIVE FOR THE LIGHTER GRABS.  TO EACH ANGLER YOUR OWN PHILOSOPHY ON YOUR LEADER SYSTEM.  THIS IS WHAT MAKES FLY FISHING SO INTERESTING, EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN WAY TO SET UP LEADERS,  PRESENT THEIR FLY,  THEN CONFIDENCE IN THAT SYSTEM TO CATCH FISH.   I HAVE ALSO DOWN SIZED TO A 9 FOOT HARDY WRAITH TO THROW MY CORTLAND CLEAR CAMO INTERMEDIATE AND CORTLAND HOVER LINES.  I FEEL IT ALLOWS ME TO CAST FURTHER AND EASIER WITH A FASTER ACTION, SHORTER ROD.   I HAVE BEEN GETTING GREAT FEEDBACK ON THE HARDY 9FT 7WT WRAITH, WHICH IS ONE OF HARDY'S FASTEST RODS, IT CASTS LIKE A CANNON AND SOMETIMES IN SKINNY, SHALLOW WATER, YOU NEED TO THROW OUT A LITTLE LINE TO GET TO THE SPOOKY FISH.  I ANYONE WANTS TO CAST AND FISH WITH THIS ROD, GIVE ME A CALL OR CATCH ME OUT ON THE WATER AND I CAN LET YOU FISH WITH THIS ROD FOR A WHILE AND SEE HOW YOU LIKE IT. 

 

OF ALL TIMES OF THE YEAR, CROWLEY FISHES GREAT, HOWEVER THIS IS A VERY SPECIAL TIME TO MAKE THE TRIP.   THIS IS THE START OF MCGEE BAY MADNESS AND I HOPE ANGLERS, YOU CAN COME UP AND EXPERIENCE BEING ABLE TO FISH ABOUT FOUR DIFFERENT FOOD ITMES AND HAVE GREAT SUCCESS!  

 

BE SAFE AND BE COURTEOUS TO YOUR FELLOW ANGLERS OUT ON THE WATER WHEREVER YOU ARE FISHING!

 

I do love me some "Stillwater" fly fishing…..Ernie