Mammoth Lakes, locally known as Mammoth, is home to a stunning collective of fully-stocked yet challenging lakes with top gamefish such as bass, perch and trout. Mono County contains 21 different bodies of water, and anglers can find an assortment of species and types of fish in Mono County no matter when they stop by.
Below is your handy Mammoth Lakes fish identification guide so you can know when you have something quite common- or incredibly rare- as you scour the depths of Mammoth Lakes basin fishing. The list begins with the most accessible Mammoth local fish and moves to some of the most desirable and rarest.
The Brown Trout is the ideal candidate for an all-around challenge. Brown Trout can be identified by their brown and black ringed spots intermixed with red ringed spots on their back, sides, dorsal and adipose fins.
What the Brown Trout lacks in bright colors and a vibrant design it makes up for in speed. These clever (and tasty) fish occupy the rich and deep crevasses of the Sierra Mountain streams.
Some of the best fishing professionals aim to catch big and aggressive Brown Trout when fishing at Crowley Lake. The lake is an iconic local spot for finding some of the biggest trout in the state.
Most experienced anglers will recognize the immediate appeal of the treasured Rainbow Trout. Interestingly, Rainbow Trout are not rare. Their body color can be variable but includes a characteristic pink streak on the sides, irregular spots on the sides, back, head, dorsal fin and tail, and a greenish blue to olive back.
They do make for some of the most exciting High Sierra trout fishing. They are famous for their alluring red glow which can be caught from above the surface.
Due to the popularity of Rainbow Trout, the state has actually dropped the species from airplanes to replenish the stock. They are eternally connected to California fishing culture, and many visitors to Mammoth strive to catch at least one.
Any good Eastern Sierra fishing guide for day hikers should mention this species due to their beauty and ability to live in any small waterside creek. Even purists, against the idea of man-made re-stocking, love a good Rainbow Trout on the end of their line.
No Eastern Sierra backcountry fishing guide is complete without a mention of this rare spectacle of a fish. This species is recognizable by the parr marks that remain on the fish throughout its life on the sides, as well as its red-pinkish streak similar to rainbow trout.
Being a prize to anglers, the Golden Trout could not be better named. The species is only found in lakes above 10,000 feet elevation, requiring some serious exploring and hiking.
Few, if any, lakes are accessible in the area by vehicle above this elevation. To make it even more desirable, the Golden Trout glows with this spectacular golden brown, making it one of, if not the most, sought-after gamefish species on the west coast.
Another Crowley Lake regular is the Sacramento Perch, a rare sunfish that only inhabits the West Coast. This clever and bright little critter is a staple of local Mammoth summer fishing. It has a metallic, greenish-purple shine as a result of its large scales, and one easily recognizable feature is the irregular vertical bars on the sides of the body.
They spawn in the late spring to the early summer which offers ideal temperatures. The Sacramento Perch is a near-exclusive resident of Crowley Lake and the Bridgeport Reservoir, and are rarely found elsewhere.
Smallmouth Bass feature vertical barring alongside the body, a brownish-green color with a white belly area that does not extend much up along the sides, and a jaw that does not extend past the back of the eye when the mouth is closed. They make for some tough fishing.
Firstly, Inyo county fishing regulations protect the species regularly. The majority of populations are only found in Topaz Lake. To make the challenge even greater, Smallmouth often hide in the narrow cave-like tunnels that collect along the rocky shores. You have to hide the dark and rocky edges with some specially-equipped bait to have a hope of catching this elusive treat.
The above only begins your search with this quick Eastern Sierra fishing guide. You can find some really good places to fish in the Sierra Nevadas, but we suggest you dive deep into the spirit of Mammoth, as one of the top fishing destinations in the region.
Our conveniently located vacation rentals offer the best point-of-entry for some challenging fishing. Join the seasonal fishing derbies in the local community, check out our local fish identification guide, or adventure off completely on your own. Mammoth is waiting.