Mono Creek, depending upon elevation, is one of the few streams within the Sierra that has the Sierra Grand Slam of Rainbows, Brookies, Browns, and Goldens . The main fork of Mono Creek just above Edison Lake has Browns in the 8-10 inch class with some up to 12". As you go further upstream, you will encounter more Rainbows. Brookies will be found within the headwater portions of Mono Creek. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) bisects Mono Creek near Edison Lake and you can follow the North Fork of Mono Creek along the PCT reaching Silver Pass Lake at 10,360 feet. Goldens will be found within this section of the drainage.
The Mono Creek drainage has four recesses (side canyons) which were carved out by glaciers. Brookies, Goldens, and Rainbows will be found within Mono Creek from the confluence of the North Fork Mono Creek to the Third Recess.
Rock Creek Lake:
(55 acres) is at 9,682 feet elevation. Contains Browns, Rainbows, and Lahontan Cutthroats. Click map for detailed information.
Little Lakes Valley: This is the backcountry of Rock Creek Lake with the Little Lakes Valley trail starting at Mosquito Flats Trailhead. The trail forks at Mack Lake as the Ruby Lake Trail and proceeds up to Mono Pass. The Valley contains numerous lakes as well as a trail to Pine Creek Canyon. Click map for detailed information.
On the way to Mono Pass from Mosquito Flats, you will pass:
Ruby Lake: (9 acres) at an elevation of 11,121 feet. This lake is about 1.9 miles from the trailhead. Contains Brookies.
Once you reach Mono Pass (12,084'), three miles from the trailhead. You drop down into the headwaters of Mono Creek. Within the headwaters you will encounter the following lakes:
Summit Lake: (3 acres) at 11,894' elevation. A 1/2 miles walk down from Mono Pass.This lake is fishless.
Trail Lake: (4 acres) at 11,200' elevation. 1.75 miles from Mono Pass. Contains Brookies.
Neelle Lake: (3 acres) at 11,355' elevation. From Trail Lake, you need to hike another 1/2 mile with a 200 foot gain along the outflow stream from Neelle to Trail Lake. Contains Goldens.
Golden Lake: (10 acres) at 10,994'. Contains Goldens. The outflow below Golden Lake (Golden Creek) will also have Goldens down to the confluence of Fourth Recess where it meets Mono Creek, this is about a 2.5 mile hike down from Mono Pass with a 1500' drop in elevation.
Upon reaching Mono Creek at the Fourth Recess, the tributary stream up to Fourth Recess Lake contains both Brookies and Golden Trout.
Fourth Recess Lake: (30 acres) at 10,125' , 3.4 miles from Mono Pass. Contains both Rainbows and Brookies.
Snow Lakes: (6 and 8 acres) at 11,396'. Contains Goldens within the lakes and the tributary stream down to Fourth Recess Lake. Snow Lakes may be more easily accessed by way of Third Recess.
Just above the confluence of Mono Creek and Golden Creek, the trail forks to the north providing access to the Pioneer Basin Lakes. There are seven identified lakes within this basin mostly containing Brookies in the lower lakes and Goldens in the uppermost lakes. The numbering can get confusing as the old DFG guide from 1968 listed six numbered lakes but had two subsets of #2 and 4 subsets of #4. I'll continue to use the DFG naming system.
Pioneer Basin Lake #1 (Mud Lake): (5 acres) at 10,390. Max depth is 21 feet. Good habitat and spawning. About 1 mile from the confluence with a 200 foot gain. Contains both Brookies up to 10 inches and Golden-Hybrids.
Pioneer Basin Lake #2: (6 acres) at 10,823', Max depth is 25 feet. Good habitat with good spawning, self-sustaining for brookies. 1.6 miles from the confluence with a 700' gain. Contains Brookies up to 10 inches..
Pioneer Basin Lake #2A: (4.5 acres) at 10,850', Max depth is 45 feet. Has poor spawning. Rainbows used to be present but could not sustain. 2.0 miles from the confluence with a 700' gain. Contains Brookies.
Pioneer Basin Lake #3: (48 acres) at 10,862', Max depth is 52 feet. Fair habitat with fair spawning. 2.2 miles from the confluence with a 700' gain. Contains Brookies and Golden-Hybrids.
Pioneer Basin Lake #4: (7 acres) at 10.922', Max depth is 40 feet. About 3.2 miles from the confluence with an 800' gain. Contains Brookies up to 12 inches.
Pioneer Basin Lake #5: (15 acres) at 11.050', Max depth is 40 feet. 4 miles from the confluence with a 900' gain. Contains Brookies up to 14 inches and Golden-Hybrids up to 9 inches..
Pioneer Basin Lake #6: (7.5 acres) at 11,160', Max depth is 30 feet. 4 miles from the confluence with a 900' gain. Contains Goldens up to 10 inches.
The Third Recess is about 1.25 miles downstream of the Fourth Recess with a drop in elevation of 500'. The recess contains one lake, Third Recess Lake, and will provide more reasonable access to Snow Lakes nearby. Third Recess Lake (8 acres) at 10,631' elevation. It is about 1.5 miles from the confluence to Mono Creek with a 900' gain. Contains Rainbows.
Downstream from the Third Recess is trail access along Hopkins Creek to Hopkins Lakes.
Hopkins Lakes: There are two lakes, each about 10 acres. Lower Hopkins sits at 10,400 feet. The lake consists of Brookies and Rainbows. Upper Hopkins is at 11,000 feet . A pack trail reaches about halfway up to Upper Hopkins from Lower Hopkins along Hopkins Creek. You can reach the lake by travelling cross-country from there. The lake contains Goldens and Brookies.
Frog Lake: (4 acres) at 10,449' elevation. Contains Rainbows. This lake has no trail access. The tributary from Frog Lake to Mono Creek drops about 1500' in less than a mile.
From the Hopkins Trail fork going downstream along Mono Creek about 2.2 miles, you reach another trail fork that takes you along Laurel Creek to Laurel Lake and Grinnell Lake.
Laurel Lake: (3 acres) at 10,319' elevation. A 2.8 mile hike from Mono Creek with a 1500' gain in elevation. Contains Brookies.
Grinnell Lake: (50 acres) at 10,804' elevation. 1 half mile east of Laurel Lake with a 500' gain. Contains Brookies.
The Second Recess follows Mills Creek up to Lower and Upper Mills Creek Lakes. It is about 3.3 miles downstream of the Third Recess. All of the waters of Mills Creek contains Goldens. A trail follows Mills Creek for 1.3 miles and you will have to bushwack from there. The tributary to Mist Lake and the upper lakes within Second Recess are fishless.
Lower Mills Creek Lake: (5 acres) at 10,851' elevation. 3.6 miles from Mono Creek with a 2300' elevation gain. Contains Goldens.
Upper Mills Creek Lake: (10 acres) at 11,167' elevation. 4.5 miles from Mono Creek with a 2600' elevation gain. Contains Goldens.
The First Recess has some Goldens, Brookies, and Rainbows in the lower stretches of the creek to the confluence of Mono Creek. The lakes are fishless.
Silver Pass Lake and the Silver Pass Creek below has Goldens in the 7-10 inch class. The creek is only 2 miles in length with many parts unfishable due to steep cascades. Try the deep pools of the creek below the lake. The NF of Mono Creek in this area has larger Golden Hybrids in the 10-12 inch class.
Fishing Regulations (Effective March 1st, 2021)
Mono Creek and tributaries (Fresno Co.) from Edison Lake upstream to the confluence with the North Fork Mono Creek.:
Saturday preceding Memorial Day through Sept 30th. 5 trout. No gear restrictions.
Mono Creek upstream from confluence with the North Fork Mono Creek:
From the last Saturday in April through November 15, 5 trout daily bag limit, 10 trout in possession; and, from November 16 through the Friday preceding the last Saturday in April, 0 trout bag limit, artificial lures with barbless hooks only and trout must be released unharmed and not removed from the water.
Lakes within the Mono Creek Basin:
All Year. No restrictions. 5 trout per day. 10 trout in possession.