Fall Hook, Line, and Sinker for Yosemite

Fishing in Yosemite: Mountain Lakes and Clear Water Streams

Yosemite National Park is an angler’s dream vacation. With the backdrop of some of the most awe-inspiring countryside in the United States, you can wade into part of the 770 miles of crystal-clear streams or cast a line into a mountain lake and enjoy fantastic fishing year-round in Yosemite National Park.

Not only will the scenery make a nature lover’s heart swell with joy, but you’ll also find world-class fishing throughout the park. The streams and lakes are abundant with rainbow trout and brown trout keepers. You can even celebrate your catch in the best way possible—serve it up for dinner! Fishing is available year-round in Yosemite, with 58 permanent streams to choose from, including the Merced and Tuolumne Rivers. Some fish are catch and release and you must have a fishing license, so be sure to check the regulations ahead of time and read signage.

Grab your reel and let’s cast off to learn about the wonders of fishing in Yosemite National Park.

Where to Fish in Yosemite National Park

With so many choices on offer, the hardest part of your trip will be choosing where to spend your time fishing from the many amazing options. Throughout the park you’ll find abundant fishing accompanied by fantastic scenery.

Yosemite Valley
Season: last Saturday in April to November 15.

In Yosemite Valley you’ll find the meandering Merced River which is teeming with trout. You may be accompanied by a number of sightseers at this location, but few of them will be stopping and staying to fish. The best time to fish here is after the peak snow runoff in June and early July.


  • Rainbow trout are catch and release only
  • Brown trout are limited to 5 per day or 10 in possession
  • Must use artificial lures and flies, barbless hooks can be used
  • No bait fishing
  • Fishing from docks and bridges is prohibited

High Country Lake and Springs
Season: Year-round

Yoesmite’s high country lakes and springs are some of the most pristine in the park. And while some may be difficult to get to, the effort is worth it to enjoy the crystal clear waters and exceptional fishing. Some are accessible by car via Tioga Road, while others require hiking in or backpacking. If you’re fishing in the high country, you’re going to find an abundance of trout, including brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout.

Accessible by car:

  • Tenaya Lake (known for brook trout)
  • Dog Lake
  • Lukens Lake
  • Tuolumne Meadows

Tuolumne River regulations:

  • Trout limit is two per day
  • If over 12 inches, you must release the fish. Anything under can be kept.
  • Great for bait-fishing and fly-fishing
  • Mirror Lake is considered a stream, and therefore is only open April to November.

Wawona and Yosemite South
Season: last Saturday in April to November 15.

In Wawona and Yosemite South you’ll be fishing in the less-visited South Fork of the Merced River. The river originates at 10,600 feet on the flanks of the Triple Divide Peak before plunging into Wawona Valley at 4,000 feet. Here it meets the Chilnualna Creek and forms pools perfect for swimming and angling.

Fishing regulations:

  • Fishing from docks and bridges is prohibited
  • Rainbow trout are catch and release only

Fish Species

Yosemite National Park is known for trout fishing, but that’s not all that reside in these waters. The fish are as abundant as the different species.

Native species:

  • Lower-elevation rainbow trout
  • California roach
  • Sacramento pikeminnow
  • Hardhead
  • Sacramento sucker
  • Riffle sculpin

Non-native species:

  • High elevation rainbow trout
  • Bluegill
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Brook trout
  • Brown trout
  • Lahontan cutthroat trout
  • Golden trout
  • Rainbow-golden hybrid trout
  • Rainbow-lahontan cutthroat hybrid trout

Fishing Season

One of the many reasons many people love to fish at Yosemite is the season. The lakes and reservoirs are open for fishing year-round. And then, on the last Saturday in April, the rivers and streams open for fishing. These remain open until November 15.

How to Get Prepared for Fishing in Yosemite

Before you load up and head to Yosemite National Park, there are a few things you should do to get prepared. You’ll want to make sure you pack all the right gear and have the proper fishing licenses.

Fishing License
To fish in Yosemite National Park, anyone over the age of 16 must have a valid California sport fishing license. You can get your license online through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife or on-site at Mountain Shop in Curry Village.


For your fishing adventures in Yosemite National Park, you can bring your own supplies or pick up what you need from the Wawona Store or the Mountain Shop in Curry Village. In the shops you’ll find gear, groceries, and snacks so you can be sure to have a great day out on the water hooking some trout.

Yosemite National Park is a dream destination on the top of many people’s bucket list for the scenery alone. In addition to its natural wonder, the park is home to some exceptional activities, including world-class fishing. Whether you’re an amateur angler or a pro fisher, Yosemite National Park has some of the best backdrop for your fishing adventures.

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