Copyright 2011 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Upper Tuolumne River
The Tuolumne River is a 150 mile long river that is very
diverse, providing fly fishing opportunities that exist in
varying types of water. It lies in the Western Sierra. This
section covers the upper headwaters downstream to
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Fly fishing the Tuolumne River
greatly depends on the particular section of water you
The Tuolumne River begins from the confluence of Dana
Fork which drains from Dana Mountain, and Lyell Fork
from which drains from Mount Lyell. It also receives water
from springs. These two tributary streams join in
Tuolumne Meadows Both of these streams provide
good fishing opportunities with Dana offering the best of
the two. Lyle falls on a less steep decline and has some
deep pools whereas Dana is mostly fast, pocket water
falling on a steep decline.
In the meadows the Tuolumne picks up the water from
Cold Creek and Conness Creek. The river then
proceeds over two waterfalls, LaConte and Waterwheel
Falls, before following into Glen Aulin Valley. The stream
meanders through this area slowly through long, deep
From there the Tuolumne River flows into the Grand
Canyon of Tuolumne. This area includes an 18 mile long
section of !V Class whitewater. Leaving the canyon the
river enters another valley called Hetch Hetchy Valley.
This valley is mostly made up of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
where O'Shaughnessy dam blocks the flow of water.
Falls Creek, Tiltill Creek and Rancheria Creeks, once
tributary streams, also enter the reservior. Our
Tuolumne River Tailwater section covers the river below
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
There's some opportunity before the runoff but the best
fishing starts just after runoff ends. When there's plenty
of snow, the stream stays in good shape through
August. Dry years can provide tough fishing conditions
in late Summer.
The general trout season is from the last Saturday in
April through November 15.
Springtime is usually tough fishing conditions. There's
some fishing opportunity prior to the runoff.
Summertime is the best time for fly fishing the Tuolumne
River. Just after runoff ends through the Summer is the
best period of time.
Fly fishing the Tuolumne River during the early Fall can
also be productive.
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Photo Courtesy of Stephen Lamb
Upper Tuolumne River California