TheTroutfitter

Guide Service

All of our guided trips are all-inclusive, including flies, tippet, leader, and all other terminal tackle, with no additional charges. We can provide all your equipment and even loan you a pair of waders, boots and polarized sunglasses if you do not have those. You will only need a California fishing license if 16 years or older - we provide the rest. A full lunch is provided on full-day trips and beverages on half-day trips.

Our licensed and bonded professional guides fish all the waters from Bishop to Bridgeport and the East Walker River. The Troutfitter Guide Service can tailor a guided trip suited to your abilities and fly-fishing tastes. Whether it be one of the special packages for First-Time Beginners or Families, to a day on the world-famous Hot Creek or Crowley Lake, or a week-long pack trip to the Back Country, you will be assured of getting some great fishing as well as excellent instruction to expand your abilities.

  • All of our guide trips are all-inclusive. Rods, reels, flies, tippet, leader and other terminal tackle are provided at no additional charge. All you will need is a current fishing license for those 16 years and older. The LADWP charges a parking fee to enter Crowley Lake.
  • A full lunch is provided on full-day trips and beverages on half-day trips.
  • Note that our guide trips are 8 hours for a full day trip and 5 hours for a half day trip.
  • Our Guides practice Catch and Release Fishing.
  • Guide services under permit in the Inyo National Forest.

Get to know our
great Guide Staff Here

All prices shown are
per group, not per person

Stream Trips and Float Tubing

Beginner's Special - 5 hours

Half Day - 5 hours

Full Day - 8 hours

One or Two Anglers

$310 (1 or 2 Anglers)

$300.00 (Single) or $360.00 (2 anglers)

$390.00 (Single) or $470.00 (2 anglers)

Three Anglers

$380.00

$430.00

$580.00

Boating Crowley Lake

Half Day - 5 hours*

Full Day - 8 hours*

One or Two Anglers

$300 (Single) or $360 (2 anglers)

$390 .00 (Single) or $470.00 (2 anglers)

Three Anglers

$430.00

$580.00

*We do not recommend Full Day trips on Lake Crowley due to high winds by midday on most days. If you do wish to book a full day, and we do get blown out, we will finish the day at another locale. If you book a half day and the winds do hold off, we will be able to extend the half day to a full day trip in most cases.

Drift Boating Lower Owens

Full Day - 8 hour

Half Day

One or Two Anglers

$470.00

Contact us for half day rates

FIRST-TIME BEGINNER'S AND FAMILY PACKAGES

Whether you are an experienced spin fisherman or have no fishing experience whatsoever, the Troutfitter's first-time beginner's and family package will give you a full five-hour course in fly fishing conducted by one of our friendly instructors at a discounted rate. 

This is not a public class but a personal course for just you or your group and can be set up any day of the week as needed to accommodate your vacation schedule. We can also provide transportation as needed.

Besides a licensed professional guide as your instructor, the package includes everything you will need for the day - rod and reel, waders, tackle, all flies and we'll bring along a digital camera so we can send you a few pictures of your first day of fly fishing and hopefully the "Big One" that didn't get away. You will need a fishing license as catching fish is what this class is all about, as well as learning all the basics of fly fishing. Licenses are not required for those under 16 years of age. If you do not have a fishing license, a one-day license is $15.69. The cost for the course is $155.00 per person in a group of two or $126.66 per person in a group of three. Contact us for discounted rates for families, large groups with multiple instructors.

We start out in the morning with about an hour on the lawn at the local park for some basic fly casting instruction, then move to a local stream or lake on one of our large boats and apply what you have learned catching a few fish. 

By the end of the day, our target is that you should have gained enough experience that you can go out the next day on your own and catch fish.

Even if you don't really intend to take up fly fishing as a hobby, this is a perfect way to complete your "alpine experience" with a day in the beautiful outdoors catching some trout and seeing what fly fishing is all about!

Please contact us for a quote on larger groups up to 24 anglers.

STREAM FISHING THE EASTERN SIERRA

When you book a trip with the Troutfitter guide service, your guide will call you before the trip to discuss what you are looking for on your day. 'Want to work on a specific skill like nymphing or dry fly fishing, or do you want to learn how to fish a certain local fishery, like Hot Creek? 'Catch a lot of fish or target big fish? Want a spot easy walking from the car or want to get away from the crowds? This is your chance to describe to your guide what is your ideal day and then let him tailor the trip to make it happen.

Your guide can offer you choices in streams that are almost innumerable starting in the high country, up to and above the tree line with majestic views that will take your breath away. Want the beautiful views but want to skip the hike, there are a myriad of alpine streams a short walk from the car. One of these is the San Joaquin River which runs through the Devil's Postpile National Monument and offers a shot at a Golden Trout or even a Grand Slam - a Rainbow, Brown, Brook and Golden Trout in one day.

As we drop down into the high valley just below Mammoth Lakes, freestone and spring creek streams offer typically larger fish based on prolific insect hatches and concentrations of fish that are unparalleled. And, finally down to tail waters in the Owens Valley which offer warm temperatures even in the middle of winter.

With literally hundreds of streams within an hour of the shop and more guides on the water daily than any other guide service, we have the ability to put you on fish consistently. But more importantly, our expert guides can teach you the skills necessary to make you a better angler so you catch more fish when you are out on your own after your trip with us.

Whether you are a novice or seasoned pro, our master guides have the knowledge of our local streams and years of guiding experience to ratchet up your abilities in casting, entomology, reading water and playing fish.

If stream fishing is your 'cup of tea', we got streams!

STILLWATER FISHING ALPINE OR HIGH VALLEY LAKES

Alpine Lakes

We have high-country lakes only a short hike away from the crowds that are filled with tons of smaller, voracious fish including Golden Trout. Or, take in some of the most spectacular views around from a float tube in the Mammoth's lakes basin, over the hill in the Red's Meadow and Devil's Postpile areas, or on one of the lakes on the June Lake loop. Most of these lakes are well planted with 10 to 14 inch DFG fish as well as larger Alpers trout, in the 5-pound plus category.

Half-day trips in the afternoons into the evenings can be especially productive as well as beautiful when the trout begin to rise and roll on the surface. You can nymph or even skate dry flies to see that quick take.

 

HIGH VALLEY CROWLEY LAKE AND BRIDGEPORT RESERVOIR

These two stillwater fisheries have some of the strongest, hardest-pulling, most well fed trout on the planet including Rainbow, Brown and Cutthroat Trout. We can take you in one of our fleet of 12 boats, jump in the float tube or even fish from the shore at many times during the year.

Our all-day trips are a full 8 hours all season long and our half-day trips are a full 5 hours. We usually recommend half days on Crowley or Bridgeport as the wind comes up on most days by midday shutting down the hatches and can force you into the few protected areas, which may or may not be holding fish.

Additionally, the typical day consists of a bite that leads in for an hour, is strong for three hours and tapers off for the last hour – a total of five hours. Once the bite has slowed, the fish will typically move into colder, more oxygenated water to digest their food and the fishing will be slow until the start of the next bite in the late afternoon.

If the wind holds off and the fishing is still good at the end of the five hours, we will let you extend and make it a full day in most cases. We will contact you the evening before the trip to set the starting time to best match the bite on all trips. If the bite is starting at ten o'clock, there is no reason to be out there at 7 am.

For lake trips, we can meet you at the store and provide transportation to the lake saving you the drive as well as the parking fee at the marina or meet you there affording you the maximum fishing time - your choice. Since we provide all the flies for all guide trips at no cost, there is no need to meet at the store to ensure you have the right patterns in your box. Most of the time you will be using patterns developed by the guides themselves. We will be glad to sell you some of our special guide flies at the end of the day, after you have seen them in action.

MIDGING

The most popular way to fish Crowley or the "Res" is to "midge". This powerful technique, invented and first used on local waters by Trout Fly guides, Harry Blackburn and Mike Peters, in 1993, has made for unparalleled stillwater fishing ever since. With minimal casting prowess, even beginner's can catch large Trout from the ease and comfort of a boat.

The technique, formally called stillwater nymphing, is quite simple. A small, artificial fly is suspended near the lake bottom under an indicator (small bobber) imitating a chironomid, or "midge", the primary food source for the Rainbow, Brown and Cutthroat Trout found in our lakes. When the fish sips in the fly, the indicator moves or is pulled under and the race is on for angler to quickly lift the rod tip and set the hook before the trout realizes his "meal" consists of wire, thread and other non-edibles and spits it out. If the angler wins, then it is "game on" and these very strong, well-fed fish take off like rockets.

STRIPPING

For the more technical stillwater angler, who does not wish to watch an indicator all day, we offer several other alternatives to stillwater nymphing. A fly just hanging there rarely fools the biggest and smartest fish in the lake – they just get too good a look at it. These larger fish, particularly large Brown Trout, target small fish, not insects, as their preferred meal. Stripping streamers, which imitate the small Perch fry that become prevalent mid-summer, will give you a much better shot at that these bigger fish, not to mention getting your arm straightened out when one of these monsters slams your fly.

Stripping is best done from a float tube in order to achieve the best presentation. We can take you and float tube launching from the shore or from one of our boats affording the mobility to easily move about the lake throughout the day.

SLOW TROLLING

Another way to strip without getting in the float tube is to slow troll from the boat. This can be a very powerful technique, especially when the wind comes up hard and fast. Most of the very biggest fish taken on a fly are taken during the first 45 minutes after it gets windy and rough. We can drag a sea anchor to slow the boat to the speed of a float tube and make long passes in the boat trolling and stripping with full sink lines. This is great when that Crowley wind comes up midday and shuts down the midging or can be done anytime with the trolling motors on our boats.

FISHING THE SHALLOWS

Our fleet of twelve boats includes boats designed to get you into the shallowest of water in the stealthiest manner. Center-console, "flats style" boats are great for midging in fairly shallow water but we also have truly shallow-draft bass boats and completely flat-bottom boats in our fleet that can open up a whole new Crowley experience. During that time of the year when a good portion of the lake is covered in massive weed beds, especially the north end, we'll even row you in one of our drift boats right across the weeds to access pot holes to stalk working fish that even float tubes can't get to.

Fishing the shallows also provides an opportunity to catch larger fish. Big fish in shallow waters require longer casts, smaller flies, finer tippet, and more skill to prevent break-offs, but the first time you stalk, sight cast, and see a Trout take a run like a Bonefish in two feet of water, you'll know you have left the ranks of the many and joined the ranks of the few.

Brown trout are nocturnal feeders and nothing can be so rewarding as getting out there at first light and sight casting to these large predators working in the shallows with clear, intermediate, or slow-sinking line.

The shallows also offer the opportunity to fish with dry lines, either with Calibaetis dry flies, a dry and a midge dropper, or even twitching Damsel nymphs across the surface. Catching a hook-jawed monster with a little size 20 fly caught in his bony mouth is probably about as good as it gets in stillwater Trout fishing.

If you have graduated from the body-count-is-everything mentality and are ready for a truly quality stillwater fishing experience, we would love to accommodate you and broaden your horizons.

DRIFTING THE LOWER OWENS RIVER

During the fall and winter months we also offer drift trips on the Lower Owens River. Drifting can give access to large sections of the river that are inaccessible by any other means. The Bishop area being at only half the altitude as Mammoth Lakes is very warm in winter and even provides excellent dry fly hatches midday as well as nymphing and streamer fishing all day.

Besides fishing from the boat we use the boat to access inaccessible riffles, runs and pools, and opt to beach the boat and fish nymphs and fish dries rather than just strip streamers.

It can be 26 degrees in Mammoth with the snow blowing sideways and on the Lower "O" it is short-sleeves weather. Don't forget to throw your fly rod in with your skis and snowboards the next time you're up during the winter months.

If you can sit and use your upper body, you are not disabled when it comes to still water fly fishing. We teach and guide our disabled clients to catch Crowley Lake's trophy trout on a fly rod. Crowley Lake, located just 10 minutes south of Mammoth Lakes, is a world-class still water fishery with Rainbow, Brown and Cutthroat Trout from 12 to 27 inches.

We began offering guided trips to clients with disabilities after taking out many disabled vets with no fly fishing experience, as part of the "Wounded Warriors" program over the past few years. These guys and girls ate it up and we think you will too.

You will fish from a 23 ft center-console boat, which can accommodate up to three anglers. The boat is designed to go into very shallow water, translated it has a beam (width) of almost 10 feet and is super stable and has lots of deck space. You can fish from a wheelchair or from comfortable seats on the bow, stern and or in front of the center console.

The five-hour guided trip is all-inclusive with rods, reels and all tackle and flies provided at no extra charge. The boat is stocked with plenty of complementary water and soft drinks to keep your strength up after reeling in a bunch of "Crowley's Finest".

Our regular half-day rates ($360 for two anglers, $430 for three anglers) apply for those of you that have fly fishing experience and we also offer a "First-Time Beginner's Special" with a $50 discount off the regular rates. The beginner's package starts out with casting instruction and instruction in the basics of fly fishing before heading out and catching some fish.

You can call the shop (760) 924-3676 to book your trip and your guide will call you back to discuss any special needs you have. The day of the trip we will meet at the Crowley Lake Marina. All you will need is a fishing license, which you can pick up at the Troutfitter or at the Crowley Lake Marina Store the day of your trip.

STILL WATER FLY FISHING FOR ANGLERS WITH DISABILITIES

If you can sit and use your upper body, you are not disabled when it comes to still water fly fishing. We teach and guide our disabled clients to catch Crowley Lake's trophy trout on a fly rod. Crowley Lake, located just 10 minutes south of Mammoth Lakes, is a world-class still water fishery with Rainbow, Brown and Cutthroat Trout from 12 to 27 inches.

We began offering guided trips to clients with disabilities after taking out many disabled vets with no fly fishing experience, as part of the "Wounded Warriors" program over the past few years. These guys and girls ate it up and we think you will too.

You will fish from a 23 ft center-console boat, which can accommodate up to three anglers. The boat is designed to go into very shallow water, translated it has a beam (width) of almost 10 feet and is super stable and has lots of deck space. You can fish from a wheelchair or from comfortable seats on the bow, stern and or in front of the center console.

The five-hour guided trip is all-inclusive with rods, reels and all tackle and flies provided at no extra charge. The boat is stocked with plenty of complementary water and soft drinks to keep your strength up after reeling in a bunch of "Crowley's Finest".

Our regular half-day rates ($360 for two anglers, $430 for three anglers) apply for those of you that have fly fishing experience and we also offer a "First-Time Beginner's Special" with a $50 discount off the regular rates. The beginner's package starts out with casting instruction and instruction in the basics of fly fishing before heading out and catching some fish.

You can call the shop (760) 924-3676 to book your trip and your guide will call you back to discuss any special needs you have. The day of the trip we will meet at the Crowley Lake Marina. All you will need is a fishing license, which you can pick up at the Troutfitter or at the Crowley Lake Marina Store the day of your trip.

A NOTE ON GUIDES AND GUIDE SERVICES

When it come to hiring a guide "caveat emptor", or let the buyer beware. Fishing guides, like building contractors are licensed by the State of California, but unlike contractors there is no test, qualifications, or anything else required except writing a check for the license fee and all of a sudden you are a "licensed professional guide".

The Troutfitter Guide Service is in its 20th year of operation and our guides have on average more years experience guiding the Eastern Sierra than any other guide service. We have several master guides that each have well over twenty years experience guiding right here in the Eastern Sierra. Many guide services do not have that many years experience between their whole group. Nothing compares to years of experience.

Our guide service is also the largest in the area. Large does not necessarily translate excellent. You can have as many guides as you want who only work a couple of days a week. The reason the Troutfitter Guide Service has grown over the years to be the largest is the demand for our guides. By mid-summer all fifteen are on the water daily and booked out long in advance. There is one reason - we have built a reputation of having some of the best teaching guides in the state. Catching fish is a given. Having our clients become better fishermen is our mission and is what drives that demand.

What about FFF (Federation of Fly Fishers) casting instructor certification? Casting is obviously a big part of fly fishing and being able to cast better translates being a better angler. More than half our guides are FFF certified casting instructors and all of our guides are required to be working toward certification. If casting instruction is part of what you are looking for in a guide, we can deliver. All of our guides are also required to take classes and be certified in CPR and emergency first aid by the American Red Cross.

What about a formal training program for guides? No other guide service in the area even has a formal training program to my knowledge, or for sure, in the realm of what it takes to become a Troutfitter guide. All of our guides have been to the Clearwater Guide School in northern California and several of our master guides have been instructors there over the years.

It is no easy task becoming a Troutfitter guide - the standard is high. After demonstrating they are already "expert" fly fishermen and having graduated from the Clearwater Guide School, they must "pay their dues". Paying their dues translates, first, working in the shop for a minimum of a full year and demonstrating that they have patience, empathy, and the ability to teach, traits that you are born with and cannot be taught.

Next, a formal training program for every apprentice, which is conducted by our master guides. Most of our master guides came from the original Eastside Guide Service, unquestionably the finest group of guides ever to fish the Eastern Sierra. The "secret" to why that group was so good was that as they accepted a new member into the group, the new person was expeditiously brought up to the group's level of expertise by on-the-job (or in this case, on-the-water) training. Half of the original Eastside Guide Service guides are still with the shop and now comprise a good part of our master guides.

Today, we go through that same process, which we call "shadowing". Each apprentice must shadow each of the master guides for no less than a total of twenty trips, where the apprentice goes along without pay and primarily just listens and learns, initially, and then starts doing the guiding with the master guide observing, and critiquing after the trip. The feedback from the apprentices is that the experience is probably very much like what a hotshot college football player goes through his first year on a professional football team – someone with lots of talent on a very steep learning curve finding out how little he really knows.

When the shadowing process is completed, all the master guides grade the apprentice, and if they all concur the apprentice is "ready", he then spends a day "guiding" our lead guide, Brad McFall, and is put through his paces. If Brad doesn't feel the apprentice is up to par, in knowledge areas, like entomology, reading water and fly selection, skill levels like casting and line handling or people skills like handling a student that doesn't listen or challenges what the guides advises, then he is assigned additional shadowing trips to further polish his skills.

So, now that you have endured all of this lengthy discourse, I hope you are in a better position to evaluate the Troutfitter Guide Service versus some other options out there. This is certainly not to say there aren't some other excellent, independent guides in the area, many of which have worked for the Troutfitter in the past and many of which still act as back-up guides when all of our guides are booked. We would be happy to refer you to some of them for a little comparison shopping.

I can promise you one thing for sure – going into the tenth year I have owned the Trout Fly and Troutfitter, no one has ever contacted me to tell me they were dissatisfied with any Troutfitter guide trip. They say you can't please all the people all the time, but that is our mission and so far we have managed to do just that. I'll back that up with my word that if you book with us and you are dissatisfied, I will refund your money. Period. Old school - the customer is always right!