California Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing McGee Creek in California

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

June 28, 2020

Aerial view of McGee Creek as it flows into Crowley Lake

Emerging from a freestone snowmelt source near Mammoth Lakes, McGee Creek winds its way into Crowley Lake, and offers plenty of good fishing along the way. 

Certain sections of the stream have specific restrictions in the spring and fall, so be sure to check out the regulations before you make your visit.

You’ll also want to make sure you have the right approach when tackling this fishery, as the trout in McGee Creek are easily spooked. 

It takes a bit of a hike to reach McGee Creek, but we guarantee the payoff is worth the trouble.

About McGee Creek

Fly Fishing in McGee Creek in California

McGee Creek is the second largest tributary that feeds into the Crowley Lake reservoir. It is located about four miles from Crowley Lake near Mammoth Lakes, California. It is joined by Convict Creek near the confluence of Crowley Lake.

In the upper section, access is good and the stream consists of many oxbow lakes. In the lower sections, the water flow slows down, and forms riffles.

This section of the stream can be difficult to traverse, particularly in the spring due, to mud bog that are very deep. Watch your step! If you stay close to the creek bed, you should have an easier time traversing this area.

At McGee Creek, you will mostly see wild brown and rainbow trout. The most important hatches on this stream are Caddisflies, Midges, and Mayflies.

When visiting this stream, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views and plenty of hungry trout.

McGee Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing access sites on McGee Creek in California

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Places to Fish McGee Creek

You can access the stream by taking Highway 395 near Crowley, California. Pay attention to posted signage that will direct you to the Creek. You can reach the lower sections by turning east on the McGee Creek Road exit, until you reach the dirt parking area.

From there, you will need to hike to Crowley Lake, and it’s about a two mile hike from the parking area to the lake. The lower sections of the stream are less frequented by anglers and  provide great fishing opportunities.

Best Time to Fish McGee Creek

In the spring and summer, there are angling restrictions in place, so be sure to check those out if you are visiting at that time. In spring, big rainbows and Lahontan cutthroat trout move up out of Crowley Lake into the creek to spawn.

The best month to visit McGee Creek is in May, but you can also find success fishing in the warmer summer months, provided the water level is high enough.

When fishing this stream, you want to make sure to fish facing upstream, and look in the deeper runs of water to find the larger trout.

Fly Box – What You’ll Need

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for McGee Creek:

  • Pale Morning Dun
  • Blue Winged Olive
  • Trico
  • Green Sedge Caddis
  • October Caddis
  • Spotted Sedge
  • Grannom Caddis
  • Saddle Casemaker
  • Golden Stonefly
  • Little Yellow Stonefly
  • Ants, Beetles, Hoppers

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on McGee Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

McGee Creek Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide an McGee Creek fly fishing report are listed below:

Fishing Regulations

The state of California requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available. You can purchase a one-year, 10-day, two-day, or one-day license. Some areas also require a permit. You can purchase the license and learn about the most current regulations through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to McGee Creek is Mammoth Yosemite Airport, which is located about eight miles from Mammoth Lakes, California. You can also travel to Reno Tahoe International Airport, which is about 166 miles from your destination. Keep in mind that you can travel to any major or municipal airport in Eastern California and arrive at McGee Creek after a few hours of scenic driving.

Mammoth Mountain RV Park and Campground is open 365 days of the year and is the perfect place to unplug and recharge your batteries. In addition to offering tent sites and RV camping sites, the campground has an indoor heated pool and a rec room. Twin Lakes Campground is another nearby option that offers breathtaking views and close proximity to Mammoth Lakes. 

McGee Creek is a hidden gem of a fishery, offering plenty of brown and rainbow trout for intrepid anglers to catch. 

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing California