Conejo Valley Fly Fishers

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Tom's boat is a great fly fishing platform

By Bill Becher

Ever look at your fly reel and wonder what that white stuff under the fly line is? Larry Garfinkel and I saw a lot of the white stuff on a trip with Tom Loe of Sierra Drifters on Lake Crowley.

Larry and I spent a day fishing with Tom on his new 21’ Champion boat, which he has outfitted specifically for fly fishing Crowley (and Bridgeport Reservoir). We knew we had a special guide when we met Tom at 7am at his boat and he had four rods (Sage RPL and RPL+ four and five weights) already set up and ready to go. A 150 hp Merc made the run to McGee Bay a quick one. We fished the "flats" looking for cruising fish that were slurping down the masses of midges that were coming off in the bright Sierra sunlight. Tom knows Crowley well, and has developed patterns and techniques that work extremely well on the big rainbows (Kamloops and wild Eagle Lakes strains) that populate Crowley. The Eagle Lake fish were last planted in Crowley in 1991 and have a dark back with big spots. We caught 50 fish each in an eight hour day of fishing, many were in the 18-20" range. And having a fish run, jump, and take you into your backing (so that’s what that white stuff is...) was a common occurrence. Hot fish!

Even the webmaster caught fish!

Tom spent 20+ years as a commercial fisherman harpooning swordfish in Southern California, and fishing on the East Coast. He lost a shipmate in the "Perfect Storm" for those of you who have read the book. In a major shift of karma, after killing countless fish in his commercial fishing career, Tom has become an ardent proponent of catch and release. It was nice to see how carefully he handled the fish we caught.

Handle with care!

Both because they fight so hard, as well as due to the lower oxygen content of the still water, fish in Crowley need to be revived more carefully than those in colder streams or rivers with a higher O2 content.

Tom has also developed other unique guide trips in the Eastern Sierra: a drift boat trip to fish seldom seen stretches of the Lower Owens, as well as being the only Sierra guide who guides tubers on Pleasant Valley Reservoir. Bird hunters can go with him on "Cast and Blast" trips.

Larry with a nice fish

Tom has a website at and tells us that fall on Crowley should be awesome. This is a great way to get friends, kids, significant others into fly fishing with a bunch of fish. Or you can call him at 760 935 4250 or email at: if you just want to see some of your backing…


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