Is There Good Fishing in Yosemite?

Yosemite is famous for its majestic views and excellent campgrounds. Tourists and locals also flock here to get a glimpse of the famous Half Dome. But besides camping, Yosemite offers other outdoor activities you and your family can enjoy, like fishing. If you’re wondering if there is good fishing in Yosemite, the answer is yes. 

Yosemite has many streams (we’re talking 58!) and mountain lakes in the park. With this, fishing isn’t a problem when you visit Yosemite. Keep in mind, there are rules you should follow. Additionally, there are hot spots where you can make the most out of your fishing trip.

With these in mind, it’s time to discuss the essential details of going on a Yosemite fishing trip. If you’re planning to go to Yosemite to bring a hefty catch home, this article is for you. To know more about fishing in Yosemite, keep reading!

What Fish Live in Yosemite National Park?

Before discussing what fish are in Yosemite, it’s essential to keep in mind that you are part of conservation. Fishing helps with managing the park’s natural resources. While enjoying the country’s rich landscape. That said, make sure that you are a responsible angler before going on a fishing trip.

To start, the Yosemite National Park provides anglers with tons of fish that you can catch. However, the kind of fish you will find will depend on the park location you’re in. Generally, you can only find native fish in Yosemite’s lower elevations. These fish live on the lower grounds of the Merced River through El Portal. These include:

  • Sacramento Pikeminnow
  • Hardhead
  • Riffle Sculpin
  • California Roach

The park is home to various trout species, with Rainbow trout being the only Yosemite Native. There are also Brown and Brook Trout around the lakes and streams of the park. And while Golden and Cutthroat Trout are pretty rare, you can still catch them on a Yosemite fishing trip.

If you want a good catch, there are areas you should avoid because they’re naturally fishless. Waterfalls have hindered fish from migrating to various parts of the park, including the Tuolumne River. Other fishless locations include the Hetch Hetchy valleys and the South Fork of the Merced River up to Wawona.

Is There Bass in Yosemite?

If catching bass is your goal, you probably won’t be able to do it in Yosemite. This is because Yosemite doesn’t have any bass. However, there’s another fishing location you can visit, which is just a half-hour drive from Yosemite National Park.

Known as the mini Lake Tahoe, the Bass Lake is a famous reservoir located south of the Yosemite National Park. The reservoir has an elevation of 1,036 meters. It lets locals and tourists perform several outdoor water activities. Besides fishing, it’s also known as a destination for water-skiing, wake-boarding, and even kayaking.

Of course, fishing is on the list. If you’re planning to catch bass, you should visit Bass Lake. Besides bass, the reservoir also has rainbow trout and Kokanee salmon. Remember, you’re required to bring a California fishing license if you’re 16 and above.

Can You Fish at Yosemite National Park?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, fishing in Yosemite National Park isn’t a problem. The park allows fishing in many of its lakes and streams. Of course, several regulations apply, including the requirement of a California fishing license for individuals 16 and above. Besides these, we’ll discuss other fishing regulations later on.

Now, since fishing is allowed in Yosemite, you might be wondering what the best time to fish is. Worry not because we’ve got you covered. If you’re planning to go on a Yosemite fishing trip, here are tips you might want to take note of.

  • The best time to fish in Yosemite depends on the location and elevation you’re in. It’s also worth noting that the park isn’t open during the winter, so planning your trip is a must.
  • Fishing in Crane Creek gives you the best results during the late Spring and Summer. It’s also ideal for fishing in the Creek during late fall.
  • Lyell Fork has the same altitude and location as Crane Creek. With this, fishing is best during the late Spring, late Summer, and late Fall.
  • You can also fish in the Merced River and Tenaya Creek. The best time to do so would be early spring and late fall for the best catch.

Besides these, you should also remember that thousands of people flock to Yosemite during the spring, summer, and fall. With this, you have to be ready to deal with traffic, especially during the weekends of peak seasons. Also, booking accommodations in advance will be beneficial if your trip’s in spring or summer.

Where Is the Best Fishing in Yosemite National Park?

Fishing is allowed in various streams, lakes, and rivers inside the Yosemite National Park. However, as we’ve said earlier, there are fishing hotspots that you should keep in mind. If you’re wondering where these fishing hotspots are, here are five locations to get an optimal catch.

Lower Tuolumne River

Lyell Fork

The Lyell Fork is a part of the Tuolumne River, which merges with the Dana Fork. It’s an offshoot of the Tuolumne River, which offers a freestone stream that gives you tons of fish. If you’re wondering, the easiest way to access the Lyell Fork is through the John Muir Trail.

While it’s a popular fishing spot, not many hikers stop in the location to fish. Because of this, it’s not challenging to find a site for yourself. 

Crane Creek

The Crane Creek is a stream that flows through Yosemite’s Foresta Area. With an elevation of 4300 feet, you might think that fishing is impossible in this location. Yet, Crane Creek is one of the best fishing spots in Yosemite, as it’s snow-free during the trout season’s opening. Even on the first day of trout season, Crane Creek can already give you the best hatches. 

If you want to visit Crane Creek, taking Highway 120 from Yosemite Valley’s junction is the fastest way. The best spot in Crane Creek is its eastern bank since the western one is still recovering.

Tenaya Creek

If you’re looking for an out-of-the-way fishing spot, Tenaya Creek is worth checking out. While it’s an excellent fishing hotspot, the Tenaya Creek is quite underrated in Yosemite. It feeds through the Tenaya Lake, which you can find up the Tuolumne Meadows.

If you’re wondering where the best spot in Tenaya Creek is, you can find it on the 2.5-mile stretch. Below is the Pywiack Cascade. Of course, the closer you are to the roaring rapids, the less fish you can catch. The fastest way to go to the Creek is by taking a shuttle to stop # 17. From there, Tenaya Creek is just a short walk.

Upper Tuolumne River

Another well-known fishing hotspot in Yosemite is the Upper Tuolumne River. It flows through the Tuolumne Meadows and has undercut banks, which hungry trout can’t resist. It’s also known for the campground and the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, where you can stay.

If you want a bucket full of trout, the Upper Tuolumne River is the spot for you. However, keep in mind that the river has crystal clear waters, which drive trout away. With this, make sure that you’re a low-profile angler with excellent skills.

What Are the Fishing Regulations for Yosemite?

As discussed, the park has various regulations. Depending on the fishing location you’re visiting. Yet, there are also general regulations that you should keep in mind before planning your Yosemite fishing trip. Also, don’t forget the California fishing regulations, which we’ll also discuss below.

Fishing Licenses

If you’re 16 and older, you’re required to present a valid California fishing license. If you don’t have it, you can get one online. There are also fishing license fees and regulations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Which you can access below:

California Regulations

Keep in mind that California fishing regulations apply in the Yosemite National Park. This includes the fishing license required if you’re 16 years or older.

Besides this, you should take note of the seasons when fishing is allowed:

  • Stream and River Fishing: starts on the last Saturday of April, ends on November 15
  • Lake and Reservoir Fishing: All-year-round

General Regulations

  • Live, dead, and scented bait is not allowed in the park, including:
  • Liquid gel or paste (scented or flavored)
  • Naturally or artificially manufactured fish eggs (scented)
  • Human and pet food
  • Fish parts and fish eggs
  • Any product that alerts and attracts fish through smell or taste
  • Bag and possession limitations
  • Trout: five per day
  • Fishing in the following is prohibited:
  • Bridges
  • Piers
  • Top of the O’Shaughnessy Dam in Hetch Hetchy
  • Lead weights should only be 0.25 ounces or less.
  • Transporting live fish is strictly prohibited.

Final Thoughts

Yosemite offers a lot of excellent outdoor activities that everyone can enjoy. Besides camping, fishing is another great activity that you can do with your friends and loved ones. Just make sure to follow the park’s rules and regulations, so you won’t have to worry about anything. Aside from this, make sure to take note of the fishing hotspots for the Yosemite fishing trip of a lifetime.

If you’re ready to go fishing, it’s time to plan the Yosemite fishing trip of your dreams!

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