Lower McGee Creek emanates from a freestone snowmelt source in the Eastern Sierra near Mammoth Lakes California. It flows mostly unobstructed into Crowley Lake and is the second largest tributary into the reservoir. In McGee’s lower sections it is a slower moving, meadow type stream with deep undercut banks and riffle-pool configuration. It has many oxbows, is very open and easy to fish with the exception of a substantial trek to its lower sections near the confluence into Crowley. Convict Creek merges into McGee near the mouth and adds additional water into the channel.
A spring creek approach is needed to fool the fish here. Fish facing upstream, keep a low profile and look for the deeper runs of water, they hold the larger fish. I use a long 10′ leader tapered to 6X for most presentations here.
Caddis, Midges and May flies are all hatching during the season. A dry fly used as an indicator, trailing a dropper bead head nymph is my weapon of choice here. Dry fly action can be great during the summer with caddis and callibaetis patterns a good choice.
During spring and fall spawning cycles, abnormal amounts of fish migrate upstream from Lake Crowley and densely populate this small creek, making sight fishing very enjoyable. You can also experience some fantastic streamer fishing in the larger pools downstream from the confluence of Convict Creek especially during the spring when flows are higher. The view is spectacular from this area also.
There are special angling restrictions in place during the spring and fall seasons so check those regulations before you fish!
Caution should be used when transiting this area while taking short cuts through the meadows. Bogs and very soft and deep mud has caused some people much angst in the past. Stay near the creek bed, inside the barbed wire fence and you shouldn’t have a problem. This fence borders the creek and keeps the cattle from damaging banks and gravel beds. You will find brown and rainbow trout both co-existing here.
McGee Creek is located off Highway 395 near the town of Crowley Lake, Ca. It is north about 4 miles from Crowley lake and a 10 minute drive south from Mammoth Lakes, Ca. There are signs on both sides of the highway directing you to McGee Creek. Lower McGee is accessed by turning east on the McGee Creek Road exit, and driving a short 100 yards to a dirt parking area. You must park and walk towards Crowley Lake, following the creek. I suggest waders, or hippers. Bring water. Go through the gate, there is an entry by the fence and head north towards the lake. You will see the creek ahead if you stay on the small dirt road. It is about a 2 mile walk to the lakes edge. You will find fish the entire way, with the lower sections less frequented.
We guide and access Lower McGee by boat from Crowley Lake or hike down from the parking area located near Hwy. 395. Best times to fish this area is May, and then again if water levels remain high in Crowley Lake during the summer months.