Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Mokelumne River
The headwaters of the Mokelumne River originates in
the Sierra Nevada mountain range as three branches
that flow into Pardee Reservoir. Below that, the
Mokelumne River enters the Camanche Reservoir in
the foothills of the Sierras. The lower river crosses
California's Central Valley flowing through Lodi and
eventually into the San Joaquin River.

The name "Mokelumne" is a Native American term
from the Miwok tribe, meaning people of the fishnet.  

Most years, the main stem above Pardee Reservoir
runoff period extends into July. Most of the fishing
opportunities fall between July and October.

Wild brook trout are present in most of the uppermost
headwater areas. Rainbows are stocked but there are
also plenty of wild brown trout. They migrate out of
the lake into the upper river to spawn during early

The river has a good variety of aquatic insects, some
crustaceans and plenty of baitfish for the trout to eat.
Terrestrial insects also play a role in the summer.
Most mayflies are Blue-winged Olives, Pale Morning
duns, Tricos and many others depending on the
section of the river. Caddisflies are also plentiful and
consist mostly of Little Blacks, Spotted Sedges and
Green Sedges. October Caddis are present in some
sections. There are several stonefly species as well.
Little Yellows are the most plentiful.

The tailwaters below the reservoirs (Lake
Commanche) has a Steelhead run as well as resident
trout. Although steelhead catches have been low
during past years, they have improved greatly in
recent years. Chinook Salmon are also returning to
the river.

The lower river is best fished from a drift boat. One
reason is that it flows mostly through private property.

The lower river is closed from the end of March until
the end of May to protect spawning Steelhead.

The season is species dependent
Spring is generally not a good time for fly fishing the
Mokelumne River but can be productive during
periods of good weather provided it's done before the
runoff begins.
Summertime is usually considered the best time for
fly fishing the upper and lower Mokelumne River.
Fly fishing the Mokelumne River during the early part
of autumn is usually excellent. November starts the
best part of the steelhead season.
The tailwater of the Mokelumne River can be fished
during the winter months.
Type of Stream
Tailwater and Freestone Stream

Rainbow Trout (Wild and Stocked)
Brown Trout (Wild and Stocked)
Chinook Salmon (closed season)

Small to Medium

Westside of the Sierras

Nearest Towns

Varies according to species

Varies greatly from very difficult to
easy. Some private property.

Non-Resident License
State of California

National Weather Service Link

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