License (Required) and Regulations
The season for stream and river fishing begins on the last Saturday in April and continues through November 15. All lakes and reservoirs are open to fishing year-round. Before you go fishing, however, it’s best to check with the California Department of Fish and Game to make sure there are no special restrictions where you’ll be going.
Fishing regulations in Yosemite National Park follow those set by the State of California. All persons 16 years old or older must have a valid California fishing license. Licenses are widely available at sporting goods stores or sporting goods departments. The annual license is $38.85 for California residents & $104.20 for non-residents. A 10 day non-resident license is $38.85. A 2-day license for both residents & non-residents is $19.45. A 1-day license for both residents & non-residents is $12.60.
Special Yosemite Regulations
* 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’s Out There
Nearly every water in the Sierra holds rainbow trout and brown trout with some maintaining a population of cutthroat, golden and brook trout. Within Yosemite you’re most likely to find rainbow, brook and brown. At some of the warmer lakes surrounding the park crappie, sunfish and black bass are common.
Where to Catch ‘Em
The Tuolumne River forks above Groveland are easy to get to but not usually very productive in the early season. Moccasin Creek, at less than 1,000 ft. in elevation, is a good May / June bet. Late season the Tuolumne below Hetch Hetchy offers great fishing but is a haven for rattlesnakes.
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.
While it may seem like an ideal choice for dropping trout fishing, the Merced River along Highway 41 in the park can be disappointing. Seasonal flows and excessive pressure can make fishing a real challenge. The hidden gems along Highway 41 are the high country streams easily accessed from the highway. Granite Creek off Bayshore Road behind Bass Lake offers decent fishing and eventually the North East Fork of the San Joaquin River.
Big Creek off Highway 41 near Fish Camp offers easy access and there’s no waiting for the snow to melt.
Kennedy Meadows and the Clark Fork on the Stanislaus River offer excellent fishing after the snow melt has dissipated. The Middle fork of the Stanislaus via Beardsley Road offers good fishing but can receive a lot of pressure. Special regulations including no bait, no barbs, 2 fish (in excess of 14″) limit are in effect on the middle fork below Beardsley. The Strawberry area (off 108) offers easy access and decent fishing on the Stanislaus’ south fork but also receives a lot of pressure due to its proximity to the highway.
Beaver Creek and the North Fork of the Stanislaus at Dorrington are easily accessed via Boards Crossing Road and through Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Other popular Calaveras favorites include Angels Creek and Murphys Creek.
High Country Lakes (above 6,000 ft.) including Spicer Reservoir and Lake Alpine are not usually accessible until around Memorial Day.