Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The South and Middle Forks
of the Stanislaus River California
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
is covered under a different section of this website.
There's also a Clark Fork of the Stanislaus River
under this section of the Perfect Fly website. This section
is about the
Lower Stanislaus River or its main stem which
consist of a short section of tailwater on the main stem of
below Goodwin Dam. This section is about the South and
Middle Forks of the Stanislaus River.

The South Fork of the Stanislaus River is better known for
its white water rafting than fishing but it is a good stream
to fly fish for trout. The South Fork of the Stanislaus
consist of a four mile stretch of fast pocket water above
Lyons Reservoir. You can fish the stream from Pinecrest
Lake to Lyons Reservoir. There's good trail access along
the river as well as many access points along highway
#108. Most of the access points are stocked with trout but
there's plenty of wild, stream-bred trout for those willing to
hike a short distance. It is smaller than the Middle Fork of
the Stanislaus River and fishing is usually better when
there's high water.

Fly Fishing the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River
provides an angler as great an opportunity as the state of
California has to offer. The tailwater section below
Beardslet Reservoir is a top notch wild trout fishery. The
freestone section above Beardsley Afterbay is heavily
stocked by the state.

A seventeen mile long stretch from Beardsley Afterbay to
the confluence of the North Fork of the Stanislaus River is
designated by the state as a wild trout fishery. You can
fish year-round but you must use barbless hooks. The
three mile stretch below Afterbay to Spring Gap Bridge is
also barbless hooks only water but it follows the regular
general trout season from April 1 to October 15. There is
trial access to the Middle Fork Stanislaus River from the
Spring Gap Bridge to Sand Bar Flat but below that the
stream flows through a very rugged section of canyon.
The water is heavy pocket water with fast runs and riffles
between deep pools.

One thing that makes the tailwater section below
Beardslet Reservoir a great destination is the fact the
water has a good pH level. This provides a good
population of mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies and midges.
This section of the river can be fished from float tubes
when the flows are low. Normally, the discharges from the
dam creates high flows during June and July.

Be certain to check the current seasons and regulations
that are subject to change from year to year.
Spring is a good time to catch the Stanislaus River's wild
trout due to the aquatic insect hatches but the flows below
Beardslet are usually high during the runoff period.
Fly fishing the Stanislaus River for rainbows and browns
continues to be good during the Summer provided the
flows are acceptable. They tend to be high during June
and July.
Fall is a great time to fish the Middle and South Fork of
the Stanislaus River.
Winter can be good in the tailwater of Beardslet Reservoir
provided the weather cooperates. Fishing season is
year-round in much of the tailwater section.
Type of Stream
Freestone and Tailwater

Rainbow Trout (Wild and Stocked)
Brown Trout (Wild and Stocked)


Central California

Nearest Towns
Frazer Flat

Varies, depending on the special

Good in some areas and tough in

Non-Resident License
State of California

National Weather Service Link

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South and Middle Fork Stanislaus
River Fishing Reports:
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.

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U. S. Orders over $100 are shipped via
Priority Mail.