How Do You Catch Trout in Yosemite?

The Yosemite National Park, located in Mariposa County, California, is an icon of the U.S’s natural beauty. It is known for its beautiful waterfalls, grand meadows, deep valleys, and giant sequoias. Aside from being a popular tourist attraction, it is also a favorite location of many anglers. There are more than 58 streams and mountain lakes in Yosemite National Park. Making it perfect practice for anglers to catch trout.

So, how do you catch trout in Yosemite? For starters, you have to know the park’s rules and regulations and prepare your gear accordingly. Furthermore, you must decide where you would like to catch trout. You can also map out your fishing trip to fully enjoy the experience you can only get in the park.

Anglers love to fish around the Yosemite National Park due to its waters being home to many fish species. Before you go ahead and have some fun trout fishing, here are a few things you need to know!

Is There Trout in Yosemite?

Yes! The waters in Yosemite National Park are home to five trout species and two trout hybrids. The most popular type of trout anglers go for is the rainbow trout. You can typically find trout in the lower elevations of Yosemite, specifically in Merced River up to the area of El Portal. However, there have been times when rainbow trout can wander as far as Yosemite Valley by swimming through the Merced River.

If you’re looking for an easy catch, most anglers would recommend you go to the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, where you can find the Tuolumne River. This river is abundant with all kinds of fish, especially trout. Whether you opt for stream fishing or fly fishing, you will indeed have fun catching some of the fish you can find.

In addition to trout, it is also home to other kinds of fish. Some of these species include the California roach, riffle sculpin, hardhead, and Sacramento pikeminnow. With this, you can adjust your fishing trip to include all sorts of fish to catch!

What Is the Easiest Way To Catch Trout in Yosemite National Park?

You might think there is a specific way of fishing to make it easier to catch trout in Yosemite National Park. But, you have to combine the tips and tricks you know before Yosemite fishing.

  • You have to suspend your bait to make it look enticing. Usually, you would use live bait under a bobber and help the bait sink. But, Yosemite has a ban on using live bait, so artificial lures and flies are your best friend. Suspending the bait is a great technique when fish are nearer the surface or when you want to keep your bait above seaweed.
  • Let the bait sink deep. There are trout that love hanging out deep in the waters of Yosemite. Sometimes, letting your lure sink down deep to where the fish are located is a good decision. Since you’re using artificial bait, it might be harder to entice trout with this method, yet it still works!
  • Periodically retrieve your fly, spinner, or spoon. Since spinners mimic small insects, which are huge favorites of trout, reeling them in makes sense. Yet, you have to make sure you vary your time between letting the spinner sit still and retrieving it. It would seem more enticing to trout, after all!

If you’re new to Yosemite fishing, starting at the Lyell and Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River is highly recommended. These forks provide anglers of all experience level a freestone stream among scenic canyon walls.

What Are the Best Lures To Use in Yosemite National Park?

First, you have to take into consideration that the Yosemite National Park has a protected status. Specifically, it has a no live bait rule. Besides, you can only use artificial lures or flies with barbless hooks to catch trout. With that in mind, below are some artificial lures you can use to effectively lure in and catch some trout!

Rebel Wee-Craw

The Rebel Wee-Craw is designed to look like a crawfish scuttling across the bottom of the lake. This 2-inch crankbait can reach as deep as 5 to 7 feet, ensuring that it will look enticing to any freshwater game fish you’re looking to catch. You can use a double loop knot with an eight to 10 lb. line for best results.

Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue

The Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue is a good choice for larger-sized trout. It provides erratic action and flash, making it seem like live bait to any trout. What’s more, it can sit motionless, which is a common strike-triggering tactic. This comes in different colors that have been carefully designed to match other models’ most common uses.

Rebel Tracdown Minnow

Rebel Tracdown Minnow

What Are the Best Flies To Use in Yosemite National Park?

So, you’re not a lure person. That’s fine! There is no one way to fish for trout. Thankfully, there are also many artificial fly options out there that you can try using if you’re adamant about fishing in Yosemite waters. If you want to go for flies instead of lures, below are some great choices!

Parachute Adams

A Parachute Adams is a dry fly pattern that aims to look like a myriad of aquatic-born insects. Besides, it offers anglers high-visibility parachutes to make the fly easier to see in the water. It’s among the famous and effective patterns for anglers. You can buy batches of 10 or more online, or you can get them at your local fly shop.

Lindy Fuzz-E Grub

The Lindy Fuzz E-Grub features a soft plastic body with a slick, life-like appearance and a fluffy marabou tail. A two-color eye is painted on the jig head, enticing the trout to take the bait. But, the moment a trout eats the bait, the greater hook will just dig itself into the fish’s mouth, preventing any escape.

Blue Fox Vibrax

This spinner is not for deep fishing. The Blue Fox Vibrax can only go as deep as two feet, which is good for shallow water fishing. The die-cast and chrome-plated body have a holographic finish to it that shines even underwater. It also emits sonic vibration when the interior strikes the outer bell.

What Are the Trout Fishing Regulations for Yosemite National Park?

Before you go off on a fishing adventure, you have to ensure that you comply with Yosemite’s regulations. First, they follow the rules and regulations set by the State of California. As such, anglers aged 16 and above looking to fish in Yosemite must have a valid California fishing license. While fishing, your license has to be attached to an outer layer of clothing above the waistline.

Yosemite’s lakes and reservoirs are good for fishing all year round. Still, their stream and river fishing are only open from the last Saturday of April to November 15.

It is also your role to note that the park has a protected status, meaning all fish above 12 inches and rainbow trout of all sizes must be released. You should only use artificial lures or flies with barbless hooks too. You have a daily bag limit of five trout per day and a daily possession limit of 10 trout per day. Yosemite also has regulations in place for specific rivers.

  • All rainbow, brown, and brook trout must be released upon catch for the Merced River, South Fork Merced River, Adair Lake, and Hanging Basket Lake. There is no allowed daily bag or possession limit, and not even a minimum size.
  • You can only keep fish with a size limit of 12 inches for the Tuolumne River below the O’Shaughnessy Dam. Suppose you’re specifically fishing for trout from the last Saturday in April through November 15. In that case, you are only allowed two per day and two in possession. Suppose you’re trout fishing from November 16 through the Friday before the last Saturday of April. In that case, you are not allowed to catch or have any trout, no matter the size or species.
  • The Frog Creek or Hetch Hetchy is closed from November 15 to June 14.

Final Thoughts

If you’re still planning a fishing trip to Yosemite National Park, be well prepared and well informed first before doing anything. Furthermore, we recommend that you fish in the Double Meadows section of the Tuolumne River from July to November 15. Because of this section’s elevation, the water temperature will stay cool all summer.

With your stealthy approach and quality cast, you have a greater chance to catch trout, especially during mid to late mornings. Just don’t forget about the spots where trout usually hide. Don’t forget to reel in your bait to entice these fish into being aggressive. Time to gear up and have fun!