The San Joaquin river drains most of the area from
the southern border of Yosemite south to Kings Canyon National Park,
making it the 2nd largest river drainage in the state. Seeing the river
as it makes it's way out into the San Joaquin valley really doesn't do
it much justice as most of the water has been diverted for agricultural
The middle fork of the San Joaquin receives most of the notoriety as it
is near to the very popular Eastern Sierra fly fishing areas around
Mammoth Lakes. It is also the most accessible.
The North fork of the San Joaquin is the smallest fork. It is totally a
wilderness stream with no road access. The section I do fish is a 3
mile hike down into a canyon. A large population of wild rainbows
inhabit the lower and middle sections with more brook trout the higher
you travel into the headwaters. There are even a couple of lakes that
have golden trout.
The South fork is the largest arm of the San Joaquin. It also has been
dammed, channeled and piped for power purposes, but still provides
great fishing; both below and above the Florence & Edison Lakes.
The main fork of the San Joaquin river above and below the Mammoth Pool
resorvoir are where many of the larger fish are caught each year. The 8
mile tailwater section below Mammoth Pool is in a very deep canyon with
very little access. Once on the water, the fishing is fantastic. An
excellent place for the beginning fly fisher.
The main river above Mammoth Pool is rarely fishable before September
due to high flows. Again, no road access here and what trails are
available are long and steep.
Hatches on the San Joaquin are as diversified as its many different
kinds of waters. Early season Golden Stone Flies (#12 - 14) along with
Blue-winged Olives (BWO - #18 - 20) will give way to caddis hatches
after the runoff recedes. The higher up in elevation, the more
opportunistic the fish come. Most attraction patterns will work if
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Fishing the San Joaquin Gorge
San Joaquin River - Below Mammoth Pool