Stream & River Fishing Beckons
California Sierra fishermen are ready: with near record rain & snowfall, we should be in for quite a season.
The season for stream and river fishing begins on the last Saturday in April and continues through November 15. The only exception is Frog Creek near Lake Eleanor, where fishing season does not open until June 15 to protect spawning rainbow trout. All lakes and reservoirs are open to fishing year-round. Stream waters, meanwhile, have been closed to fishing for six months.
For the most part, fishing regulations for Yosemite National Park follow those set by the State of California, including the requirement that people 16 or older have a valid California fishing license. (See below for special Yosemite regulations.)
Nearly every water in the Sierra holds rainbow trout, with some maintaining a population of cutthroat, golden, brook & brown trout. There are hundreds of thousands of trout in the region available to anglers looking to toss bait and spinners, troll or fly fish.
Where to Catch ‘Em
Here in Yosemite / Gold Country in Tuolumne County, Kennedy Meadows & the Clark Fork on the Stanislaus River via Highway 108 were accessible for opening day of the new season. Downstream access to the middle fork of the Stanislaus is via Beardsley Road…open with good flows opening day. Special regulations including no bait, no barbs, 2 fish (in excess of 14″) limit apply to this middle fork below Beardsley. The Strawberry area (right off 108) offers easy availability & great fishing on the Stanislaus’ south fork.
On the 120 corridor, the Tuolumne River forks above Groveland are also easy to get to but are not early season producers. Ditto for the Clavey with spring time flows just too high. Moccasin Creek, at less than 1,000 ft. in elevation, is a better May / June bet.
Highway 4 Corridor
On the Highway 4 corridor, access is easy to Beaver Creek & the North Fork of the Stanislaus at Dorrington via Boards Crossing Road & through Big Trees State Park. Other Calaveras County fishermen favorites include Angels Creek & Murphys Creek.
High Country Lakes (above 6,000 ft.) including Spicer Reservoir & Lake Alpine are not accessible until around Memorial Day.
Highway 140 Corridor
On the 140 corridor in Mariposa County, the Merced River offers some 20 miles of excellent trout fishing from about 4 & 1/2 miles below Briceburg upstream to the Foresta Bridge at El Portal.
Highway 41 Corridor
While the 41 corridor lacks a nearby major river, it does provide excellent access to high country streams. Area anglers will recommend Bayshore Road (behind Bass Lake) which offers access to Granite Creek and eventually the North East Fork of the San Joaquin River.
Big Creek offers easier access and there’s no waiting for the snow to melt. It’s just off Highway 41 near Fish Camp.
Special Yosemite Park Area Regulations
There are some special regulations that apply within the park:
- No live or dead minnows or other bait fish or amphibians may be used.
- Non-preserved fish eggs or roe may not be used or possessed.
- Fishing from bridges and docks is prohibited.
In Yosemite Valley & El Portal (Happy Isles to Foresta Bridge):
- Rainbow trout are catch-and-release only.
- Brown trout limit is five per day or ten in possession.
- Only artificial lures or flies with barbless hooks may be used; bait fishing is prohibited.
What They’re Using
Bait casters will try their luck with salmon eggs, worms & Power Bait. Early season fly casters are using Large Nymphs, Wooly Buggers, P.T.’s & Prince Nymphs (Beadhead preferred). Dry flies include Royal Wulffs, Adams, Caddis & Light Cahills. Lure best bets include Mepps-type spinners … Rapalas & Kastmasters preferred in deeper pools.
License & Regulation Information
As indicated above, stream trout season runs through Mid – November and a California Fishing License is required. They’re widely available at sporting goods stores or sporting goods departments. The annual license is $33.35 for California residents & $89.50 for non-residents. A 10 day no-nresident license is $33.35. A 2-day license for both residents & non-residents is $16.80. A 1-day license for both residents & non-residents is $10.75.
In most Yosemite / Gold Country locations, the limit is typically 5 trout @ day, 10 in possession. 10 brook trout @ day are allowed. Anglers should check for varying limits in specific areas though. (See above for special regulations in the Yosemite Park Area & the middle fork of the Stanislaus, for example.) Area specific information on limits & regulations will be available where fishing licenses are sold. For the latest in California Department of Fish & Game regulations and information, click here.