Convict Lake

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Convict Lake Photo of Convict Lake Convict Lake Convict Lake
Suggested Flies for the Convict Lake area:
Eastern Sierra Hatch Selection

For the Lake:

Stillwater Flies:
Woolly Bugger #8-10
Krystal Buggers #8-10
Clouser Minnow (Black/Silver/blue) #6-8
Mohair Leech #8-10
Marabou Muddler #6-10
Matuku #6-10
Hornberg #6-10

For the Creek:

Hare's Ear Nymph #12-14
Pheasant Tail Nymph #12-14
Bird Nest #12-14
A.P. Nymph #12-14

Olive Caddis #12-16
Yellow Humpy #14-16

Directions: Convict Lake is located 35 miles north of Bishop, CA or 4 miles south of the route 203 turnoff for Mammoth Lakes, CA. Convict Lake Road is opposite the Mammoth Lakes Airport. The lake is just two miles west of Highway 395.

Convict Lake (168 acres) at 7,580' is a very clear-water lake developed by a moraine dam created from retreating glaciers. The bottom is composed of granitic boulders with sand/gravelwith an average depth of 100 feet. There is little aquatic vegetation and the water is slightly acidic. The lake had a reputation for big Browns but these have become much less numerous in recent years. There are plenty of Rainbow planters near the boat jetty and along the southeastern shoreline as 43,000 are planted annually on a weekly basis, some can be big, as they also plant 1700 brood trout from Tim Alpers Fish Farm. The larger fish hang out in the deeper water on the southern shore beyond the end of the road. The Lake record for Rainbows is 13 Lbs. 7 oz. A good place to fish is the inlet of Convict Creek. Streamers are your best bet, particularly Woolly Buggers in black, brown, and olive colors. Some of the guides like to use pink buggers in the Spring to imitate Rainbow fry. Work the drop-offs at about 20' depth with a full sinking line. The season is the last Saturday of April to November 15th.

Convict Creek, just below the outlet, often contains large trout that have left the lake. It is also planted heavily since the nearby campgrounds offer heavy fishing pressure. Better flyfishing opportunities on the creek occur below Hwy 395 where Convict Creek merges with McGee Creek before flowing into Lake Crowley. The creek contains Rainbows and Browns. Rainbows from Crowley Lake will move into the creek during the Spring Months for spawning. Browns will utilize the creek for spawning in the Fall. There is a general 5 trout limit within the lake and the creek just below the outlet. A study area by UC Berkeley is posted around the Hwy 395 area and is closed to fishing. Below the study area, the creek has a two trout limit and barbless hook requirement.

Above the creek inlet to the lake is a trail that will take you to the Convict Lake Backcountry. This trail reaches a number of high elevation lakes consisting mostly of brookies, such as Bright Dot Lake, Bighorn Lake, Lake Dorothy, Lake Genevieve, and Edith Lake. It is about a 4-6 miles hike with a 3,000 foot elevation gain.

The lake is named after a group of convicts escaped from a Carson City jail in Nevada, Sept 17th 1871. A posse trapped the convicts on Sept 24th at the lake site and a member of the posse, Robert Morrison, was killed. Nearby Mount Morrison is named for the deceased merchant of Benton. The convicts escaped but were captured a few days later and lynched near Bishop. A movie called, "The Secret of Convict Lake" starring Glen Ford and Gene Tierney was made in 1951 and brought recognition to the area. Previous to it's renaming, the lake was known as "Wit-sa-nap" by the local Piutes and the lake was called Monte Diablo Lake by local settlers and miners.

© 2016 Steve Schalla
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