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Fishing, Bass Lake Fishing Derby
Visit Yosemite Madera County
Blog Best Places to Fish in California – Yosemite Region
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Alex Silgalis | 03/19/2021 | Arts & Entertainment, Family Friendly, Fishing, Hiking, Nature, Pet Friendly, Photography, Waterfalls, Wildlife, Wineries & Agri-Tourism, Winery/Brewery/Wine Bars |   

What makes a destination one of the best places to fish in California? For some, it’s about attempting to hook a trophy-sized catch. Others it’s being somewhere that gives you a bit of tranquility from daily life. Or maybe, you prefer to be surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery. Regardless of what your definition is, we guarantee you’ll find it in the Yosemite | Madera county region. Here’s a glimpse of what to expect.

Fishing In Yosemite


Yosemite might offer one of the coolest venues for fishing. From the creeks and rivers like the mighty Merced surrounded by the massive granite walls of the Yosemite Valley to the crystal clear waters of high alpine lakes in the High Sierra, there’s a vast amount of waterway to choose from.

Just like anywhere else, there’s a certain time fishing is permitted. Fishing season, particularly for stream and river fishing, begins on the last Saturday in April and continues through November 15. The only exception to this rule is Frog Creek near Lake Eleanor, which opens June 15. All other lakes and reservoirs (including Merced Lake) are open to visitors for fishing year-round.

In addition to when and where you can fish, be aware that anyone above the age of 16 MUST have a valid California sporting fishing license. And if you’re fishing on the Merced River within Yosemite Valley from Happy Isles to Foresta Bridge, you must catch-and-release any native Rainbow trout.

For more detailed information regarding the fishing regulations within Yosemite, please visit the NPS fishing page.

Outside Of The Park

The world-class fishing doesn’t just stop at the boundaries of the park. In fact, there’s a myriad of places that you can cast your line such as:

Fondly considered as a smaller version of Lake Tahoe, this pine-trimmed reservoir is in fact one of the best places to fish in California. If you’re a trophy fish hunter, this is your lake. Many hefty Bass and Kokanee beauties get pulled out of the waters annually. And for those looking for a friendly competition, the annual Bass Lake Fishing Derby is a must! Instead of the normal competition where it’s based on fish length, this extravaganza is all about a specific fish with a specific tag where you can win up to $10,000!

For more information about Bass Lake fishing, regulations, and other cool stuff, visit BassLakeCA.com.

Sierra National Forest

Butting up to Yosemite National Park is some gorgeous public lands that provide a respite from the busier times of year and still offer an opportunity to see things like Giant Sequoias and waterfalls. Alongside these pleasant attractions, you’ll also find some great fishing spots such as Mammoth Pool.

Mammoth Pool Reservoir A reservoir located on the San Joaquin River within a steep canyon that’s over 3,000 feet high. While the road to this scenic lake is often blocked by snow until April, it provides a great opportunity to catch Rainbow and Brown trout. In fact, the lake is known for its hulking Browns that can tip the scale up to fifteen pounds in weight.

Note: Be aware that the lake and its surrounding tributaries are closed from May 1st to June 15th for deer migration.

Greater Madera County

Does a wine tour AND a bit of fishing fit your model of a perfect getaway? Well, you’re in luck! Explore one of the oldest wine regions in the US on the Madera Wine Trail and top it off with some amazing fishing too in rivers, lakes, and streams like Sycamore Island.

A 600-acre natural area right on the San Joaquin River and easily accessible from the town of Madera. In this part of the river, you’ll find trout, bass, catfish, and crappie. In addition to the river, there are multiple ponds you can also fish. If you have an urge to be out on the water, rent a two-person canoe or one-person kayak for an hour or all day via the bait shop.

Note: The park is open Friday – Sunday and holidays from the 1st Saturday in February through Veterans Day. 

For more information about Sycamore Island, visit the River Parkway website.

As you can see, if you need to step away from the daily stresses and go on a fishing trip, the Visit Yosemite | Madera County region is home to some of the best fishing places in California. It's time to get out there and “get hooked!”

Click the button below to request a copy of our Visitor Guide and/or sign up for our e-Newsletter!

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Like what you see? Save any of these pins (or possibly all of them) to your travel planning board(s) to give you an easy way to find your way back here!  Also check out our other blog posts as well as itineraries for more ideas and pins!

Alex Silgalis

Alex founded localfreshies.com® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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