We spent a week camping in Mammoth Lakes at New Shady Rest Campground during the middle of July and, as always, we had a great time. This year was unusual though because of the drought. All of the streams were low and many, like the Owens River, were very mossy. I was drifting a worm without any sinker on my 4-pound-test line and it was still harder than usual to catch larger trout. There were plenty of smaller fish in the streams; however, the stream fishing was tougher than usual.
Based on what I saw I’m going to recommend that you pay more attention to fishing in the lakes if you travel to Mammoth this year. The lakes were also very low but they were still holding lots of nice fish. During our travels we saw people with nice stringers of trout caught while shore fishing at Convict Lake, Grant Lake, and at Sotcher Lake on the Devil’s Post Pile Road, and I would expect that most of the other lakes were also producing equally well. We also saw a number of people with tube floats score fish. So they’re there for the catching if you like to lake fish.
Unfortunately, I’m a diehard stream fisherman, so I did a lot of catch and release with little buggers during my stay. Still, I scored all the local fish species and had a lot of fun. Since my wife Pam is a botanist we also did more of Plan B on this trip. Plan B is flower walks, and this year they didn’t disappoint. Three of our favorites included pretty spectacular displays during parts of the walk. If you’re interested, we recommend you try one or more of these:
The easiest of the three is a two mile walk around the perimeter of Sotcher Lake where the far shore features small rivulets of spring water dripping down into the lake which is lined with floral displays. We saw monkshood, columbines, monkeyflowers, tiger lilies, larkspur and many others during our two hour walk. There’s pretty good shore fishing along that side of the lake too if you want to carry along some tackle.
Another fairly easy trek is the Starkweather Trail that starts at the top of the pass near the Minaret Summit ranger station on the road leading down to the Devil’s Post Pile. It’s almost all downhill for two and a half miles ending at Starkweather Lake. Park at the Minaret Summit station and catch the bus back up, so it’s a one way hike also taking about two hours. We saw coyote mint, mule’s ears, and woolly sunflower along most of the trail, and about two thirds of the way down there’s a spectacular meadow, which makes a great spot for a lunch break. As a bonus, you can also fish the lake before riding out, maybe you’ll get lucky?
Our final flower hike was also along the Post Pile road. Take the bus down to the first stop at Agnew Meadows and walk down the road to the trailhead leading to the upper lakes. Proceed around the meadow on the left and down into the canyon leading to the river. There are lots of floral displays on the way, and you can also fish parts of the river for small trout that are abundant there. When you’re done fishing, keep on the river trail until you come out at Soda Springs Campground and catch the bus back to the lodge. It’s another one way hike, but a little longer, almost four miles, so plan to spend the whole day.
We had some rain during the evening while we were there, but we stayed nice and dry in our new tent. This year was another great camping experience in the Mammoth Lakes area. As you can see from past posts, that place is one of our favorites. It was different this year, but we still had an awesome experience. Try it, and you’ll like it. I know we did.