Chris Asks: Where’s Good Fishing in Yosemite This Time of Year

In Camping, Fishing, On the Trail, Things to do, Tips, Travel

Photo: Fly fishing on Spiller Creek by Jesse Wagstaff

Chris writes in:

I was hoping to get some early season flyfishing in. I will be backpacking with some friends in Yosemite in a few weeks (Probably the 23rd of May to the 26th or so). I know that east of Hetch Hetchy, the Tuolomne is way too fast for any fishing. How about fishing in or to the west of the reservoir? I am new to trout fishing, so I am not sure what the best elevations are this time of year. How about the Merced in the valley? “

Wow! A lot of questions. I’ll go through them one at a time for you.

How about fishing in or to the west of the reservoir?
One of our favorite trips up here is down into the canyon of the Tuolumne below Hetch Hetchy. It’s great for fly fishing and is a typical tailwater (read: huge fish). The only problem you’ll encounter is rattlesnakes and there are a lot. I try to stay out of there for that reason. My friends went up there not too long ago and said they saw 4 on one trip. Other than that fishing is great and flows are usually pretty good.

How about the Merced in the valley?
The Merced is fishable. It’s a little high this time early in the season as are most of the streams but you can do OK. You probably won’t have much luck with dry flies right now. Try a beaded nymph with a strike indicator and you should get some results. Or a dry with a dropper nymph. Both tend to work ok.

I am new to trout fishing, so I am not sure what the best elevations are this time of year.
This time of year anything at the foot of a dam is your best bet. Most inlet streams and rivers are way to fast to get a decent float so your fly is only in front of the fish for miliseconds. Sometimes, though, that’s more than enough especially if the fish are hungry.

Some of the back country lakes would be OK too. Trout in lakes tend to cruise around the perimeter in packs so it’s a sit and wait game there. In spring lake trout are hungry after the winter and the good hatches haven’t started yet so try a couple flies and I’m sure one will work.

Don’t give up if you don’t come back with anything. Right now isn’t the best time for fly fishing. Later in the year lots more water will be accessible and Yosemite becomes a great place to wet a fly.

If you plan on fishing the Merced around the Valley book mark this page: It gives you the flow information for the Merced taken at Pohono Bridge (right before the river leaves the Valley) in Yosemite. It’s showing the river is flowing at over 2000 cfs which is still fishable but pretty fast.

Hope that gives you enough to go on. Good luck! Have a great trip!

As always if you have a question, photo, or something you’d just like to get off your chest send it in. I try to answer as many emails as I can and still have a life. You can email me at:

Photo by Jesse Wagstaff via Flickr.

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