Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Lower Stanislaus River
The Stanislaus River is a large tributary of the San
Joaquin River that's approximately 95 miles long. It has
north, middle and south forks that drain an area of the
western Sierra Nevada and the northern part of the
San Joaquin Valley of California. The North Fork
Stanislaus River is
covered under a different section of
this website. The South and Middle Forks are covered
under this section of the website. There's also a Clarke
Fork of the Stanislaus River
covered under this section
of the Perfect Fly website. This section is about the
Lower Stanislaus River which consist of a short section
of tailwater on the main stem of below Goodwin Dam.
It's about four miles long and flows through the
Goodwin Canyon to the little town of Knights Ferry.

The Lower Stanislaus  River is known for its large
rainbow trout. The Goodwin Dam blocks the migration
of the  anadromous species of salmon and steelhead.
The four mile stretch of tailwater holds wild rainbow
trout averaging from 12 to 16 inches.

The rainbows feed on aquatic insects consisting of
mayflies, caddisflies, and midges for most of the year
and the fry and eggs of spawning salmon during the
late Fall and Winter.

The water below the dam can be dangerous. Make
certain you are familiar with the releases and use extra
caution. It is very turbulent just below the dam.
Downstream the river consist mostly of deep riffles and
long, deep runs. You have to adjust your fishing
methods to the flows and type of water.

The wild rainbow trout can be very selective in what
they eat and as a result, the better your flies imitate the
most plentiful and most available aquatic insects and
other trout foods, the higher your odds of success. We
have several customers you use our Perfect Flies in
this tailwater. They are by far the most realistic
imitations of all the aquatic insects trout feed on you
can purchase.

Access to the river is very good and consist of Goodwin
Dam Recreation Area, Two Mile Bar Recreation Area,
Knights Ferry, and several other public access areas. It
has public boat ramps, trails, and several picnic areas.
The section of the river from Goodwin Dam downstream
to the Highway 120 Bridge in Oakdale is artificial lures
and barbless hooks only.

There are plenty of caddisflies, mayflies, midges and a
few stoneflies in the river. Streamers imitating sculpin
and baitfish often produce the best results.

Be certain to check the current seasons and
regulations that are subject to change from year to
Spring is a good time to catch the Stanislaus River's
wild rainbow trout due to the aquatic insect hatches.
Fly fishing the Stanislaus River for rainbows continues
to be good during the Summer.
Salmon appear from mid October to the middle of
January. Rainbow trout season currently ends Oct. 15th
This is the prime time for rainbow trout fishing.
Steelhead appear in mid February and are in the river
until about the first of May.
Type of Stream

Rainbow Trout (Wild)
Chinook Salmon (season closed)
Steelhead (season closed)


Central California

Nearest Towns
Knights Ferry


Non-Resident License
State of California

National Weather Service Link

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Flies

Goodwin Dam Flows
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Lower Stanislaus River Fly Fishing Report:
Coming Soon
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $100 are shipped via
Priority Mail.