BY MIKE STEVENS
- Crowley Lake: Boaters almost always get the best of it at Crowley, and that is even more the case in the fall. Crowley Lake fish camp has a wide variety of rentals to choose from, but the flat-bottom with the 30hp motor gets the job done for 2 or 3 anglers. Trolling Thomas Buoyants or Rapalas will get the job done, but I like to get upwind of a large target area and drift and cast with spoons. From October on, it’s pretty much empty from when the gates open until about 9 a.m. so get out early and head up the North Arm before the boat traffic arrives. After that, avoid the crowd and head for Chalk Cliffs, Mcgee Bay and Crooked Creek.
- Grant Lake: It’s not the most scenic spot on the east side, but it’s a long-time producer of big brown trout, and it really comes to life in the fall. It’s a relatively big lake, so trolling is a good way to get after it in an efficient manner, but fishing can also be very good casting Rapala Husky Jerks from shore or making long casts and slow retrieves with a fly-and-bubble with a big streamer like a Woolly Bugger or Matuka. Most points and cove-type areas are solid options, and the general area of the Rush Creek inlet can also produce.
- Twin Lakes: Sprawling over 650 acres between these two legendary Bridgeport lakes, the state-record brown trout (26.5 pounds) was caught in Upper Twin in 1987, and that fish barely edged out the previous one that came out of Lower Twin. Trolling Speedy Shiners, Buoyants and Tasmanian Devils will all work for boat browns and rainbows, but bigger jerkbaits like bass-size Rapalas and Smithwick Rogue and Rogue Jr. are what you want to be working with for trophy hunting.
- Upper Owens River: Fish that get big in Crowley Lake likely originated in the Owens River which is where browns migrate in the fall to spawn. Fly fishermen will target those fish with traditional nymphing rigs, but if an unseasonably warm weak lands in early fall, big hoppers can come into play. Big rainbows (aka: Crowley Chrome) and cutthroat can also be bagged in the Upper O, and when the general season ends on Nov. 15, fly rodders will move up above Benton Crossing into the single-hook, barbless zero-limit area and fish right into and through winter.
- South Lake: This gem in Bishop Creek Canyon can be sneaky good in the fall while late-season anglers pass it up for traditional brown-bagging waters. There aren’t as many big browns caught here, but the numbers can be good when things cool down from October on. Start with spoons on a steady retrieve or jigs fished slow asnd low. The main inlets always produce, as well as Boiler Cove and the area between the dock and dam. If it’s not happening here, Lake Sabrina is a nearby option that fishes the same way in fall.