You’re not likely to catch anything big enough to brag about back home, but teaching your kids to fish in the national park can still be fun.
Trout is predominantly what anglers catch here, especially rainbow and brown trout species. By California law, fishing in lakes and reservoirs is permitted year-round, while the season for river and stream fishing runs from late April until mid-November. If you forget to bring fishing gear, you can pick up everything fishers need at the Yosemite Village Sport Shop in the Yosemite Valley.
In California, all anglers over age 16 are required to carry and display a valid state fishing license. These are often sold at the Yosemite Village Sport Shop and Curry Village Mountain Shop in Yosemite Valley, as well as at the general stores in Wawona, Crane Flat, and Tuolumne Meadows.
You can also purchase a license in advance from Department of Fish and Game license sales offices state-wide, including in Fresno, Stockton, Sacramento, and San Diego. For more information, including license fees and fishing regulations, visit www.dfa.ca.gov or call (916) 445-0411.
In addition to California state laws, special fishing regulations often apply inside the national park boundaries, for example, to protect native rainbow trout along the Merced River.
In the Yosemite Valley, only barbless hooks and artificial lures (no bait) are allowed on the Merced River from the Happy Isles downstream to the Foresta Bridge. Special daily catch limits and catch-and-release requirements also apply for rainbow and brown trout species.
Similar restrictions are in place at another favorite spot for anglers in Yosemite National Park: the Tuolumne River downstream from O’Shaughnessy Dam at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the northwest corner of the park. For more details, stop by park visitor centers to inquire about the most recent fishing regulations. Note that Mirror Lake, a two-mile round-trip hike from the main road in Yosemite Valley, is only open to anglers during the stream-and-river fishing season, not year-round.
A few local fly-fishing outfitters offer guided fishing trips on the Merced and Tuolumne Rivers.
Another option for fishers is to take an overnight or multi-day pack trip on horses and mules, starting from Tuolumne Meadows Stables in the Sierra Nevada high country, led by a packer-guide who can point out more off-the-beaten-path fishing spots.