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MAMMOTH LAKES

An abundance of great fishing spots

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POSTED March 29, 2018 1:18 a.m.

MAMMOTH LAKES — I discovered the Mammoth Lakes area quite by accident years ago. We had been visiting Disneyland and the kids wanted to see the desert on the way home so we drove North up Highway 395. After stopping several times along the way, for play stops, lunch stops, and potty stops, we decided to stay the night at the town of Mammoth Lakes. What a delightful place! Mammoth Lakes has it all. During the winter it’s a busy ski resort community with tens of thousands of skiers from the Los Angeles area. But during the summer Mammoth has just a small fraction of it’s winter population. 

The town is packed with great places to eat and there is an abundance of hotels, condos and houses to rent. Summer rents are quite reasonable and you can rent a great place without going bankrupt. Many of the shops serving skiers in winter convert over to summer outdoor shops and carry fishing gear, mountain bikes, and back packing equipment. I’ve never seen a small town with more fishing shops. While the town itself is delightful, from my point of view, the crowning glory is the outdoor activities you can engage in.

The fishing in the Mammoth area is fantastic. Both the upper Owens River and Hot Creek are legendary trout streams with an amazing amount of big fish. I still remember accidentally cutting myself  with my tape measure while measuring a giant Owens River Brown Trout.  Wealthier anglers favor the grassy meadow fishing on one of the private  fishing resorts in Hot Creek. If you’re a lake fisher, there is fantastic trolling in Lake Crowley, Lake Mary and Convict Lake. In fact, if memory serves me correctly, I think the state record for a Brown Trout came from Convict Lake. While I don’t remember exactly, I’m pretty sure that big brown was over 20 pounds!     

Part of the problem at Mammoth is that there are so many great places to fish you have trouble trying to fish them all. Probably my favorite fishing in the Mammoth area is the upper San Joaquin River in Devils Post Pile National Monument. In order to keep traffic to a minimum the area is closed to private autos from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The neat part is that there is a bus system that starts way up the mountain at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Lodge and runs all the way down into Reds Meadow on the San Joaquin, with a dozen or so stops along the way. Once you’re: down in the canyon you can get on and off the bus whenever you want You can get off the bus, fish a stretch of stream, get back on a later bus and fish another stretch. It’s the only place in the world I know of where you can have high mountain fishing for wild trout via transit bus. In one afternoon, I caught four different species of trout, Brookies, Browns, Rainbows, and Cutthroats. Rumor has it that there are Golden Trout as well.

Even if you have someone in the family who isn’t an angler there is a host of neat outdoor stuff to do in the Mammoth Lakes area. I like to explore the desert areas East of Mammoth looking for lonely desert hot springs. Because of the volcanic activity in the area, there are hot springs that just pop up out in the middle of nowhere. Many of them have no names and aren’t on any map. You just cruise the desert back roads slowly looking for a green spot with whisps of steam. More often than not you’ll find where some enterprising soul built a tub out of native rocks and mortar and then diverted the flow from the hot spring to make a natural hot tub. Its absolutely incredible to sit in a hot tub out under the stars in the desert night and listen to the coyotes howl. 

If geology is your thing, Mammoth lakes is where its at. There’s more neat geologic stuff than you can imagine. In addition to the hot springs, theres petrified wood, agate and even an entire mountain of obsidian. No kidding! Obsidian Dome is so huge that boulders of obsidian as big as your car fall off of obsidian cliffs. Start with a visit to the Forest Service Visitors Center in Mammoth Lakes and get copies of their brochures and area maps. Then just go exploring and check out places with interesting sounding names like “Glass Flow Road” and “The Devils Punch Bowl”. It’s a heck of a lot of fun.

If staying in civilized condos and hotels isn’t for you there are lots of public campgrounds in the area. If you’re going to camp in the Mammoth area, you do need to be careful of the bears. There are lots and lots of bears in the Mammoth area. Be sure to keep a clean camp and store your food in a sealed container. It might also be wise to carry a can of that concentrated cayenne pepper spray to dissuade obnoxious bears. If you have to, a large caliber handgun fired into the dirt next to a black bear will usually send them packing.

There you have it, friends. Mind you it’s only my personal opinion, but I think that Mammoth Lakes is just about a perfect place to vacation. 

 

Until next week,

Tight Lines

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