Trolling on Lake Crowley is nothing new, people have been doing it for 50+ years and it's still one of the best gems in the Eastern Sierra Nevada's. From the highway, it looks like the most boring and desolate lakes in the region, but while on the lake, it's one of the most beautiful.
It's all about perspective, from the road you see a large flat lake with little around it. There are very few trees, sage and grass boarder most of the plain like flat landscape, and the hills to the east of the lake are barren and more resemble Death Valley than the Eastern Sierras.
Ah, but the view from the water is stunning. To the west of the lake are beautiful snow capped mountains that rise high from the earth like God himself painted them. You hardly notice the highway or the marina, easily stepping back in time with little cues to the modern world.
Amongst all of this beauty is the some of the best fishing, but style and technique rein true here and for those who aren't in the know, leaving empty handed is as likely here as any other fishery.
There isn't just one way to fish this lake, that would be foolish if I assumed that, this is just how we do it. Some fly fish, some use dough baits, others cast and retrieve lures. We troll, and we do very well most days.
Lead core line is the ticket for us in the month of June, which is normally when we fish it. Lead core line is what it sounds like, it has a lead inner core surrounded by a sheath of braided thread. The lead part of the line makes it sink at a very calculated rate and the sheath protects the lead and gives it strength.
There are a ton of lures you can troll with, but we have a few favorites that seem to produce more than others. We've tried using the newest latest and greatest, and thats fun, but we still do the best on the old reliables.
Luhr Jensen Needlefish: This simple spoon is our biggest producer is our go to right off the bat. Some colors we like are: Pearl Bikini, Perch, Red Dot Frog, and Silver Bikini.
Cultiva Mira Shad: This small crank bait/jerk bait has a bill which gives it a great action. Only Red Flame and Pink Passion have worked for us but when it works, it works great.
Tasmanian Devil: This is a wobbler lure is very effective at times, but you have to keep trying different lures and colors until you find what they want. The 7gram size works best for us and the ones with the yellow wings are my favorite.
We have a GPS fish finder on the boat and use it most of all for our speed. Most of the time 1.9 mph to 2.2 mph works best, but one has to watch your speed due to the wind and adjust accordingly. Going upwind will slow you down and downwind will speed you up.
A little scent works wonders and garlic seems to be the favorite. We like Altas Mikes Garlic Scent but we've had success on other brands as well. Just a drop is all you need and it stays on for hours.
Each color on 15lb lead core line is approximately 5 feet and most small spools are 10 colors allowing you to fish up to 50 feet deep. A new micro line has come out that will allow you to fit more colors on a bigger reel, or the same 10 colors on a smaller reel. Having a smaller reel is nice due to reduced weight and a smaller profile. Having more colors on a larger reel allows you to reach deeper depths but you have to have a bulk 1000yd spool if you want more colors on 200 size reel.
Typically we let out 3-6 colors depending on the depth of the area we are fishing. Crowley has some areas that reach 80ft and others are only 25ft, so keep and eye on the fish finder. Be ready to make adjustments quickly as the bottom topography can change in a hurry.
Check your lines from time to time, grass can sometimes catch on the hook or lure and foul it. Making sure they are clean will help insure you get the most of out fishing. One tiny piece of grass can make the lure swim funny and you could waste hours trolling and not get a bite.
The reel we use is a Shimano TR200 and the rod is typically 7' and a moderate action rated 8-15lb line. Having a lot of bend in the rod helps prevent hooks from pulling out, trout have soft mouths. The Shimano TR200 is budget friendly at $89 and holds 10 colors of standard lead core line. There are some nicer reels out there like the shimano Torium 500 or 600, but they are heavier and can overwhelm the small rods for trout. If you are using the micro lead core line, a 300 size reel like the Daiwa Lexa 300 or Shimano Tranx 300 will work great.
These lead core tactics aren't just good for Lake Crowley, they work in almost any of the Sierra lakes you can put a motorized boat on. You'll have a little bit of an investment into gear and lures, but it's worth it when you are hooking into big rainbows, German browns, and cutthroat trout.
@Strato - I have not used flashers too much but I know others do with good success. We find the dodgers or flashers cause additional drag on the rods if lead core is being used in conjunction. That extra drag will require stiffer rods and heavier drag. The lead core alone puts a lot of drag on the line and does take away sensitivity from fighting the fish. Adding a flasher will take additional sensitivity away from the fight. In the end, if the bite isn't very good, I'd try just about anything to get bit. The next time it's slow I'll put a flasher on and see if that enticing strikes.
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The Oxblood and Morning Dawn patterns are working better in the stained water or mud lines, and I switch to the more translucent colors like Neptune Shad, Watermelon Candy and Purple Smoke in the clearer areas. Netting Shad for bait remains difficult as the falling water is keeping them off the bank for now. Hopefully they will come shallow when the lake stabilizes in a month or two.