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Fishing in The Sierra

Fishing the High Sierra

The Sierra Mountains are home to some great western fishing. It does not matter if you prefer Fly or Spincasting, or if you prefer river or lake fishing. You will not have to look far for some fantastic results and a peaceful setting.

In The Sierra Mountains there are 24 Watershed areas which feed over 20 major rivers in the Sierra Mountains:  The Pit, Sacramento, Feather, Yuba, Bear, American, Cosumnes, Truckee, Carson, Walker, Owens, Mokelumne, Stanislaus,Tuolumne, Merced, Fresno, San Joaquin, Kings, Kaweah,Tule and Kern.






Discover a Great Sierra Fishing Location

interesting facts

The Sierra Mountains are also home to world class fishing lakes with over 1400 lakes and approximately 60% of them filled with lake trout.

Here are a few facts we found at

Some interesting facts about fishing and the Sierra:

  • There are 20 major Rivers, 14 on the West Side and 6 on the East Side. These are within over 24 watershed areas.
  • Historically, there were no trout in the Sierra above 6000 feet. Except for Goldens in the Upper Kern and Lahontan Cutthroats within the Carson, Walker, and Truckee River Drainage.
  • Starting in the mid 1800’s, trout have been stocked into 85% of all the lakes in the Sierra over 2 acres in size.
  • There are 649 lakes in Inyo, Sierra, and Toiyabe National Forests of at least 25 acres between 10660′ and 11,480′ elevation. 85% of these lakes contain trout: (Christenson 1977)
    • 60% Brooks
    • 36% Rainbows
    • 32% Goldens
    • 5% Browns
  • There are 1,404 lakes above 7,900′ elevation within the Sierras. Of these lakes, trout are in 63%, the rest fishless: (Jenkins 1994)
    • Goldens are in 36% of all lakes
    • Rainbows are in 33% of all lakes
    • Brookies are in 16% of all lakes
    • Browns are in 8% of all lakes
    • Lahontan Cutthroats are in 1/2% of all lakes
  • Fish Planting ended within most of the Sierran National Parks beginning in 1970. Today, Sierra National Forests have 85% of their lakes with fish and the National Parks have 40%.

Top Fishing Lakes in Northern Sierra


  • Lake Almanor
  • Eagle Lake
  • Lake Davis
  • Butt Valley Reservoir
  • Bucks Lake
  • Antelope Lake
  • Frenchmans Reservoir
  • Gold Lake
  • Bowman Lake
  • Fuller Lake
  • Manzanita Lake
  • Independence Lake
  • Jackson Meadows
  • Bullards Bar reservoir
  • Little Grass Valley reservoir

Top Fishing Lakes in Central Sierra


  • Blue Lakes (Upper and Lower)
  • Lake Tahoe
  • Donner Lake
  • Caples Lake
  • Bear Valley
  • Topaz Lake
  • Indian creek reservoir
  • Kinney Reservoir
  • Red Lake
  • Silver Lake
  • Highland Lakes
  • Lake Alpina
  • Spicer reservoir
  • Donnell Lake

Top Fishing Lakes in the Southern Sierra

inyoNF Johnmuir trail

East Side of the Sierra

Kirman lake

Lundy Lake

Convict Lake

Mammoth Lake Loop

  • Twin Lakes (Upper and Lower)
  • George
  • Mamie
  • Mary

June Lake Loop

  • Grant
  • Gull
  • June
  • Silver


Virginia Lakes

  • Big Virginia
  • Blue
  • Cooney
  • Frog
  • Little Virginia
  • Moat
  • Trumbull
  • Red

Trout Unlimited Sponsors Free Junior Fishing Derby at Graeagle June 9th

Grab your fishing pole for the Graeagle Junior Fishing Derby happening Saturday, June 9th at the Graeagle Mill Pond. Cast off at 7:00 am for this free event. For kids 16 and under, there’s no fishing license required. Bait and tackle are limited, so come early.   This event is sponsored by Trout Unlimited.   Camping In And Around Graeagle Graeagle Area Plumas Eureka State Park (530) 836-2380   Cromberg Area Cromberg Group Campground is a private, non-profit campground and retreat center located in beautiful Plumas County. Open Spring through Autumn, the facility features 40+ camp sites, cabins, several RV sites, piped water, hot showers, industrial kitchen, meeting and recreation areas. Open to sporting, church, youth, family and private group camps of any size or length, we are an affordable option for your next group camp, retreat, family gathering or event. Please visit our website at or call us at 877-926-4199 to reserve your place for the 2013 camping season!   USFS Lake Davis Area (530) 836-2575 Grasshopper Flat Grizzly Lighting Tree   USFS North Lakes Basin Area (530) 836-2575 Lakes Basin (near Gold Lake) Lakes basin Group...

Crystal Basin recreation improvements underway, alternative destinations recommended in 2018

Campsites and Roadways Getting Needed Updates In The Crystal Basin Sierra Rec Magazine - May 17, 2018 - The popular Crystal Basin Recreation Area in the Eldorado National Forest is undergoing major upgrades which will greatly enhance the visitor experience in the future, but may make other destinations a better choice this year. Sunset Campground is closed for the 2018 season. Although Sunset Campground will be closed, the Sunset Boat Launch and Fashoda Campground / Day Use Area will be open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, providing opportunities for water recreation on Union Valley Reservoir. Azalea Cove Campground will be closed over Memorial Day weekend, but may reopen by the July 4 weekend if work goes according to schedule. Temporary closures will occur at other sites throughout the season. Check SMUD’s website for the current construction schedule before visiting the Crystal Basin. Already completed in 2017 are the Loon Lake Boat Launch, new composting toilet facilities at Pleasant Campground, and trail improvements between Loon Lake, Buck Island Reservoir and Rubicon Reservoir. The multi-year comprehensive plan to improve more than 20 campgrounds, as well as multiple day use areas, boat launches, roads, hiking and biking trails, and potable water systems in the Crystal Basin is part of an agreement between Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and the USDA Forest Service, in which SMUD will invest up to $150 million in the Crystal Basin Recreation Area over the next 50 years. An outdoor amphitheater able to seat up to 200 people at Fashoda Campground is also included in the plan. This agreement was established in 2014 when SMUD’s License...

Tahoe National Forest Announces Sugar Pine Lake Boat Ramp Closure

Sugar Pine Boat Ramp Closure Area(s): Sugar Pine Boat Ramp Date(s): Apr 3, 2018 - May 20, 2018 The Sugar Pine Boat Ramp will be closed April 9-14 for the Sugar Pine Hazard Tree Removal Project. This will include portions of the Josh Hart Trail. The Sugar Pine Hazard Tree Project is removing beetle killed and drought affected trees from campgrounds, trails, and recreation sites around Sugar Pine Reservoir from 2/12/18 to 5/20/18. Please call the American River Ranger District front desk for up to date closures...

Time to Play in The Sierra

Sierra Mountains Ca/NV, Let's not make this complicated Today.  It is going to be a beautiful weekend in the Sierra. So be it skiing or hiking, dirt bike riding or just a leisurely car ride to your favorite little town. The Sierra is calling.  Let's PLAY! Hope to See you on the Trail!...

An Epic Adventure Awaits in The 20 Lakes Basin Of The Hoover Wilderness

Crystal Clear Waters Combined With High Alpine Peaks That Will Stop You In Your Tracks Sierra Rec Magazine Adventure Review - September 2017 -  Visiting and Exploring 20 Lakes Basin was so much more than I had expected. Have you ever heard a review of a location and it just didn't do it for you, so you decide to skip, only later to find out that it as way better than initially thought?  Well, the 20 Lakes Basin off Tioga Pass in the Hoover Wilderness was just that to me and couple friends looking to explore the region for the first time this fall.  The 20 Lakes Basin is now one of my most recommended destinations in the Eastern Sierra. I have explored all over the Eastside of Yosemite, and typically I have one or possibly two singular destinations on my journeys that make my day trips fulfilling. So planning my trip into the 20 Lakes Basin was unique as I was aware that I would see several bodies of water and that my altitude during the hike was going to maintain that 10,000-foot area the entire day.  I was shocked while exploring on various sites and google maps how many of the lakes didn't seem to be photographed. After visiting I think that might be a way of hiding their favorite locations from too many visitors.  The 20 Lakes Basin is a series of lakes connected by streams which flow off two different valleys on Tioga Pass area. The back Lakes flow into Lundy Canyon and the Front lakes flow into Saddlebag lake and eventually down the water system in Tioga...

Sonora Pass: The Ultimate Day Trip Fishing Experience by Braden Hudnall

Braden Hudnall Shares His Latest Adventure In the Sierra - Sonora Pass Sierra Rec Magazine~ Guest Post ~ July 2017 - The Sierra lifestyle is such a complex and interesting story to tell, meet any person who has a passion for the outdoors and enjoys the same regions you do in the Sierra and you're likely to hear something new about places you once visited. Here at Sierra Rec Magazine, we are always encouraging like minded explorers and adventure seekers in the Sierra to share their story. We are pleased today to bring you a story from a young man who is attending the University of Nevada in Reno. Braden Hudnall graduated from Douglas High School in Minden and has lived with a family that enjoys the variety of adventures in the Sierra. We hope you enjoy Braden's write up of a day trip to Sonora Pass with his Dad. Sonora Pass: The Ultimate Day Trip By Braden Hudnall When I was younger, I never particularly enjoyed going fishing. Don't get me wrong, I loved the thrill of catching a fish. I even have a large fish that I caught once in Montana hanging up on the wall of my bedroom. However, as a young, scatter-brained child, I could never wait around until a fish would just so happen to take the bait of the excellent cast my dad threw for me. I simply lacked the patience necessary to be a good fisherman. Now, as a twenty-year-old college student in his junior year, I realize the mental benefits that fishing provides. To be out in nature slowly fishing the day...

Loon Lake Campgrounds And Recreational Area Set To Open On Friday June 16.

A FAMILY FAVORITE FOR FISHING AND EXPLORING THE RUBICON OR DESOLATION WILDERNESS FINALLY OPENS FOR SEASON Sierra Rec Magazine - Eldorado National Forest, Loon Lake June 15, 2017 - We just got off the phone with the crew at Pacific Ranger District, and they are on schedule to open Loon Lake and the Loon Lake Campgrounds Friday for the Fathers Day weekend. Roads are clear all except one small area where traffic will be reduced to one lane. Location: 23 miles east of Placerville on Highway 50  (turn off is at the river crossing just east of fish springs gas station) or if you are coming from Lake Tahoe area turn right just before the bridge and two lane road system starts on HWY 50) and 29 miles north on Ice House Road (Forest Road 3) on the south side of Loon Lake. Recreation Opportunity Guides (ROG) - These guides contains information, maps, and directions to assist you in enjoying your trip to the Eldorado National Forest. Loon Lake Campground Loon Group Campgrounds Loon Boat ramp Camping Equestrian Camping Fees Desolation Wilderness Picnicking Group Camping Info: Loon Lake Complex has three group campgrounds including a group equestrian camping area. Location: 23 miles east of Placerville on Highway 50 and 29 miles north on Ice House Road (Forest Road 3) on the south side of Loon Lake. Group 1: 10 Walk-In Tent Units, 50 People Maximum. Accessible units. Closest to shore. Group 2: 6 Tent, Trailer or R.V. Units, 35 People Maximum. Accessible units. Group 3: Equestrian (Horses) 5 Tent, Trailer or R.V. Units, 25 People Maximum Rubicon Trail The...

Lunker Point Boat Ramp Re-Opens at Frenchman Lake

Rising Lake Levels Have Given Greater Access To Frenchman Lake QUINCY, CA – The Lunker Point boat ramp on the west shore of Frenchman Lake in eastern Plumas National Forest is now open. The facility has been closed for the past three years due to drought related, low water levels. Water levels are expected to remain high for the rest of the boating season due to abundant winter and spring moisture filling the lake to capacity (and beyond). Frenchman Lake is a popular destination for a wide variety of water recreation activities including boating, fishing, skiing, jet skiing, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and swimming. In addition to on the water recreation, the Lunker Point facility is used for shoreline exploration, dog walking, and wildlife viewing. For more information about Frenchman Lake and other nearby recreation opportunities, contact the Beckwourth Ranger District at 530-836-2575. For Plumas National Forest information .               Photo Credits: Francisco Castillo Frenchman Lake Campground Now Open Located in the headwaters of the Feather River, Frenchman Lake is only 38 miles northwest of Reno, NV, and 26 miles northwest of Portola, CA. The California Department of Water resources created the lake in 1962 by damming Little Last Chance Creek. A shoreline 21 miles long ends at the 129-foot tall earthen dam, which rises to an elevation of 5,607 feet. During summer, this recreation area offers a variety of outdoor experiences, including camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing, swimming, boating, water-skiing, jet-skiing, and hunting. Winter activities range from snowmobiling to ice fishing and cross-country skiing. At a Glance Current Conditions: The campground...

On The Eve Of “FISHMAS” In The Sierra, An Update From INYO National Forest On Access

Access to Favorite Fishing Locations Could Be Challenging For Opener Saturday Sierra Rec Magazine, April 28, 2017 - There are a lot of efforts to get areas open for Fishing Opener this weekend by Inyo County, Mono County, and US Forest Service staff. In an effort to get you the most recent estimates and updates Inyo National Forest released the following information today. These should be considered estimates in many cases. This weekend we will find a wide variety of conditions depending on where you choose to fish. Plan for crowds and limited shoreline in many areas. Fast moving water around the rivers is extremely dangerous this year so caution is recommended.  Meadows and marshy areas in the forest are soaked and full of standing water, bring additional gear to stay dry. Many traditional campground favorites are still closed this year because of the winter we have had. Please check before you go on access and availability. The State of the Inyo Mono Lake Ranger District Roads open: Lundy Canyon (to the lowest gate, just beyond housing area), Panum Crater, Hwy 120 E (Benton), June Lake Loop (Hwy 158). Roads closed: Lundy Canyon (at the lowest gate, just beyond housing area), Tioga Pass (Hwy 120 W) at the winter gate closure, Saddlebag Lake Rd., Sonora Pass (Hwy 108), Monitor Pass (Hwy 89), Bodie (Hwy 270), Parker Lake Rd. Campgrounds opening 4/26 (estimated): Aerie Crag, Gull Lake, June Lake, Oh Ridge, Silver Lake (4/26). Campgrounds closed: Aspen Grove, Big Bend, Moraine, Lower Lee Vining, Lundy Canyon (county), Sawmill Walk-in, Saddlebag Lake, Saddlebag Trailhead Group Camp, Tioga Lake, Reversed Creek (5/12),...

Saturday July 2 is Free Fishing Day in California

July 2 is Free Fishing Day in California JUNE 29, 2016 - California,  - Have you ever felt the excitement of catching a fish? This summer, angling novices can experience the thrill for free. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites all Californians to fish on July 2 and Sept. 3 – no fishing license required. If you would like to fish the rest of the year, you can purchase a license onlinethrough CDFW’s website. “Free Fishing Day is always great opportunity to try an all-American pastime that is one of my favorites,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “If you’re already an experienced angler, I encourage you to invite a friend, relative or neighbor who’s never tried it or who wants more experience.” A basic annual resident sport fishing license in California currently costs $47.01, but CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – usually around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend – when it’s legal to fish without one. This year, the first of the two Free Fishing Days falls on the Saturday of Independence Day weekend. All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems. Anglers can review the sport fishing regulations online ( or use CDFW’s mobile web site to view limits and regulations specific to a body of water...

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