Best Camping and Fishing in Southern California: Convict Lake

Ok, so it’s not in Southern California, but it is only a four and a half hour drive from Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Great fishing and hiking in possibly the most beautiful spot in the Eastern Sierras. Rent a boat at the marina to fish the heavily stocked lake.  Fish the creek as it winds through the campground. Rent a cozy cabin at the lakeside resort. The Convict Lake Resort boasts the finest dining on highway 395. Horseback riding is available as well. The amenities of Mammoth are only a 15 minute drive away. Lake Crowley and Yosemite National Park are both within driving distance making Convict Lake an excellent choice for your next vacation. 



Convict Lake was known as Mount Diablo until 1871 when 29 convicts escaped the Nevada State Prison in Carson City. Six of them hid out at the lake. When a local posse caught up with them, 2 deputies were killed and the convicts escaped, although they were later captured in nearby Long Valley and subsequently hung. Thereafter it became known as Convict Lake. The towering mountain that frames the lake is now known as Mount Morrison, named for slain deputy Robert Morrison. The resort first opened in 1929 by Bill Garner and was later taken over by the Wenger family in 1962. In 1982 the current family took over operations and turned it into the first class resort it is today. Several old westerns were filmed there as well as the 1998 film Star Trek: Insurrection, as well as ads for Nature Valley Granola bars.



Trout fishing remains the number one draw to Convict Lake. Stocked weekly by the DFW and supplemented by the resort with trophy sized trout, fishing remains great throughout the season. The entire lake is fishable from shore as a trail circles the entire lake, but the north shore seems to produce the best. Garlic flavored Powerbait, pink and white Mousetails and inflated nightcrawlers always work. Try casting Thomas Bouyant spoons, Panther Martins and castmasters as well.  Trollers due well using lead core line with daisy chain flashers pulling rainbow colored needlefish or threaded worms. Rent a boat and soak bait near the inlet at the back of the lake. Float tubers score well flyfishing or drifting baits near the marina. There are several fishing derbies held throughout the season which runs form April 29 -November 15th.  Fred Hall Opening Weekend Derby,  Ambush at the Lake and Round-up at The Lake  are both in the fall. Convict Creek which runs from the marina and out through the campground is loaded with trout just waiting for mini-jigs, worms and salmon eggs.



Convict Lake Loop is a 3 mile trail that follows the shoreline and can be hiked in either direction. Start at the marina or Convict Creek Bridge. This a relatively flat trail at 7,600 feet in elevation that almost anyone can enjoy.  Convict Lake Overlook Trail is a 4 mile each way SUV trail with a short hike at the end that is accessible in the summer months. There are spectacular views and photo opportunities 700 feet above the lake. Check with the store for maps and information. Convict Lake Backcountry is available for the more adventurous and overnight campers in the amazing John Muir Wilderness. The first 6 miles are strenuous as you climb 2,700 feet to an elevation of well over 10,000 feet. There is good fishing at several of the lakes up there. Books and trail guides are available at the store. Kayaks can be rented at the marina for some water adventure.


The campsites at the lake can be reserved at Situated among cottonwood and aspen trees along Convict Creek are nice-sized spots. There are flush toilets and hot showers but no hookups. Although not heavily shaded, the trees provide a nice wind break and privacy. The lake is about 100 yards away and supplies can be purchased at the resort store, Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be bought at the cafe as well as fine dining at the Convict Lake Restaurant. Cabins are available for rent at,  and the city of Mammoth Lakes is 15 minutes away with numerous restaurants, stores, condos and hotels.


Local Activities

Try Lake Crowley for a different place to fish or head up to the June Lake Loop. Tioga Pass, Hwy 120, is the gateway to Yosemite National Park. Stop at the Tioga Gas Mart in Lee Vining while you are there for the best fish tacos you ever had from the Whoa Nelly Deli or try the pork chop plate, delicious. Get a gourmet dinner at the Historic Mono Inn. Take a side trip back in history at Bodie Ghost Town.  A definite must if you have the time. Check out the Hot Creek trout hatchery or take a soak in one of the numerous natural hot springs. Of course you may just be ready to relax in a chair by the lake soaking in the incredible scenery right in front of you. So bring a good book and some cold beverages.

All in all,  I bet that with all there is to do at Convict Lake you will find yourself planning the next trip because you were not able to experience everything. So make your plans and head up Hwy 395 to Convict Lake.

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Best Adventure Shoe Around: Chaco Outcross 2

If you are planning a hike this summer or fishing the creeks and looking for the perfect footwear then try the Outcross 2 by Chaco. I love mine. These are perfect for hiking the mountains when crossing rivers and streams is required. The comfort of a sandal with the support of a high performance athletic shoe. The closed construction meshed upper keeps pebbles from getting in while also keeping your feet cool. The stretch collar and neoprene lining, combined with a semi-collapsible heel and webbing pull tabs make putting them on a breeze. I have spent 2 dozen hours hiking, fishing and scrambling trails and creeks without a single blister or sore feet Whether I was fishing creeks above 8,000 feet in the Eastern Sierras or hiking a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in the dry hot San Bernardino Mountains, my feet were cool, comfortable and ready for more. Continue reading “Best Adventure Shoe Around: Chaco Outcross 2”

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Where to fish in Southern California: Jenks Lake


Want a great place to catch fish near Los Angeles and Orange County? Try Jenks Lake in the San Gorgonio National Forest. Located off Highway 38 just past Angelus Oaks,  Jenks Lake is a quiet little lake that is a consistent producer of fish. Trout are planted from spring through early summer. Loaded with bluegill and small bass, families can catch fish all year-long and enjoy a beautiful day at the lake. There is a fishing pier for everyone to enjoy.  Less than 30 minutes from Big Bear, you can avoid the crowds there and take a short trip to Jenks Lake. Better yet, combine a camping trip to Barton Flats, San Gorgonio or South Fork campgrounds. Continue reading “Where to fish in Southern California: Jenks Lake”

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Where to Fish in Southern California: Santa Ana River Lakes

If you are looking for somewhere close to Los Angeles and Orange County to fish, then Santa Ana River Lakes may be your answer. Located in Anaheim where the 91 and 55 freeways meet, this heavily stocked but not attractive lake awaits. Loaded with tons of catfish in the summer and loads of trout in the winter, the fishing can be quite good. This is not a pretty body of water, more like a muddy pond really, but it is close and is always full of fish. On weekends in the summer they even allow overnight fishing. Maybe you don’t have much time but want to catch one or bring young kids ? Try the Huckleberry pond. They charge by the pound so don’t catch too many. Continue reading “Where to Fish in Southern California: Santa Ana River Lakes”

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Huk Performance Fishing: Gear Review

Our friends at want to be your gear guide for life. They search out only the best gear whether you are a hunter, fisherman, backpacker or even an adventure racer. They want to provide you with the best information and access to excellent gear choices. One of those is Huk Performance Fishing Apparel.  Make sure to check them out at Continue reading “Huk Performance Fishing: Gear Review”

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Where to Fish in Southern California: Bishop, CA


The Bishop Creek Canyon is not technically in Southern California but it is one of the best places to go fishing or take a family camping near Southern California. About a 4 hour drive from the Los Angeles area, Bishop Creek boasts numerous public campgrounds, 2 lodges and 1 private RV park. There are 3 drive-to lakes, 2 with marinas and miles of creek loaded with trout. A dozen trail heads lead into the John Muir Wilderness and packtrain (horses) are also available. Plenty of hotels, restaurants and markets are a short 30 minute drive from any of the lakes. Make your summer plans to get up there and experience the Eastern Sierras life for yourself. Continue reading “Where to Fish in Southern California: Bishop, CA”

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Where to Camp in Southern California: Avila Beach

Port San Luis RV campground is a great place to RV camp on the Central Coast. Small, quiet and right on the shore. You can enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, excellent restaurants and relaxation in a dog friendly environment. Most of these activities are a short walk from your rig. Miles of biking trails, mineral spas, world-class wineries and shopping are a short drive away. Watch the sea lions, otters and pelicans play or maybe jump on a whale watching trip. Join a half day fishing charter from the pier outside your RV door or buy fresh seafood just taken off the boats. Play a round of golf at one of the beautiful local courses. There is something for everyone at Port San Luis RV campground. Continue reading “Where to Camp in Southern California: Avila Beach”

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How to Surf Fish for Beginners

Fishing from the beach is one of the best family fishing adventures in Southern California. When I am surf fishing, people will always walk up to me and ask, “Do you catch anything here ?” I always point to the over-sized bucket surrounded by kids. Swimming inside are fish ranging from perch to leopard sharks. The adults always gasp as my 6-year-old granddaughter picks up a sand shark out of the bucket to show them. With hundreds of miles of sandy beaches, shore fishing in Southern California is a great way to catch fish. The problem is that most people don’t know how. In this post we will show you the best way to surf fish in So Cal, the gear you will need, and the best baits to use. Continue reading “How to Surf Fish for Beginners”

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Where to Camp in Southern California: Lake Skinner

Lake Skinner may be the best place to camp with your family in Southern California. Large, clean campsites, fishing, hiking, hot air ballooning and wine tasting all within a 90 minute drive from anywhere in So Cal. Located near the Temecula Wine Country, Lake Skinner promises fun and relaxation for the whole family in a park-like setting. Spend the day catfish fishing and the evening making s’mores and playing Bocce Ball. Enjoy all the camping world has to offer near Temecula. There are rental boats, pontoons and kayaks, a soon to be completed splash pad, miles of biking trails and a fully stocked camp store. Dogs are allowed. This is a great camping destination that is close to home. Continue reading “Where to Camp in Southern California: Lake Skinner”

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