Fly Fishing Yosemite – A Fly Fishing Guide to My Favorite Hotspots

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Whether you stay in Yosemite valley or spend time on its many lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, a day spent fly fishing in Yosemite is an other-worldly experience.

The park offers ample fishing opportunities for all manner of anglers from novices to veterans, but you really cannot fish in all of them in a single day.

Here are some of my favorite hotspots in Yosemite National Park in California where you can find the best fish during your fly fishing trip. Grab your favorite fly rod and let’s go fishing!

3 Favorite Fly Fishing Yosemite Spots

Here is a fly fishing guide for the best spots in the park you should visit at least once:

1. Merced Lake

Merced Lake is one of the fishiest spots I’ve been to over the years. It’s loaded with plenty of brown trout that are hungry and eager to bite.

There is a fallen down tree that is perfect to stand on and spend hours casting on. If you go to the bottom of the lake you’ll also have a slow moving river that drops into a waterfall cascade. This also holds some nice fish.

It’s a bit of a hike, but if you can handle the backpacking aspect, there is a nice campground there. Bring your best backpacking fishing rods! It’s also home to a high sierra camp which you can pay to camp in luxury and even have meals provided. There are many around the park, which I highly recommend. You can also just do meals only and pack in your own tent, which is what we do.

2. Merced River

fly fishing yosemite
A serene fly fishing experience at Merced River. Source: WeeSam2010

The Merced River in the National Park of Yosemite is also a haven that you cannot miss. Located smack in the middle of fishing Yosemite Valley, it is home to a number of strong rainbow and brown trout in deep as well as clear pools of water. 

The best to fly fish in the Merced River year-round is right at the base of Half Dome. While you can fly fish anywhere across its 145-mile length, this area has the wildest trout. To reach Yosemite’s location, pile off the John Muir Trail that heads to the east from the Upper Pines. 

Another great option is fishing Merced Lake if you are willing to backpack into the park.

3. Tenaya Creek 

fly fishing yosemite
Clear water of Tenaya Lake. Source: Don Graham

From the Merced River, you can reach Tenaya Creek in Yosemite easily, one of the best spots you can find in Yosemite National Park. It connects to the river that is located right near the North Pines campground and is relatively small, so you may overlook it at first.

However, it offers a diverse range of fishing opportunities that mirror the Merced River’s fly fishing offerings. Rather than fishing its entire length, though, focus your attention at the river’s entry point to the canyon between the North and the Half Dome.

That is where you can find an abundance of wild brown and rainbow trout in the park during your Yosemite fly fishing trip. Rather than year-round, fly fish in the Tenaya River early during the season. 

Yosemite Fly Fishing Regulations

Yosemite fly fishing trips may be enjoyable, but it will not be the case if you violate the park’s rules and regulations. Keep these regulations in mind when you plan to go fly fishing in Yosemite Park:

CA Fishing License

Make sure you have a valid fishing license to fly fish in the park’s many rivers and lakes. If you need help getting one, refer to the video below:

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Fishing Regulations in Yosemite

Yosemite fishing is strictly regulated to preserve the environment and ensure that fly fishing trips are fun for everyone. Some Yosemite National Park fishing regulations include the following:

  • Fishing or fly fishing from docks and bridges is not allowed, no matter what your fly fishing guide tells you.
  • Rainbow trout should be ‘catch and release’ only during Yosemite fly fishing. 
  • Bait fishing is prohibited in the rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water in Yosemite National Park. This includes the use of roe, amphibians, and baitfish, which is frowned upon in Yosemite. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you fly fish in Yosemite?

Yes, Yosemite fly fishing is allowed as long as you have a valid California fishing license and are 16 years old or older.

What kind of fish are in Yosemite National Park?

The many rivers, lakes, and tributaries in Yosemite are home to a diverse range of fish that make Yosemite fly fishing a dream. Your guide may tell you about some of the fish, including rainbow trout, brown trout, hardhead, crappie, Sacramento Sucker, and California Roach.

Is there good fishing in Yosemite?

Fly fishing in Yosemite is a dream for both novice and veteran anglers since the park is filled with rivers and lakes abundant in a range of fish.

Be sure to check out spots in the high country as well to make the most of your trip. 

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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