The Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River has been building a reputation over the years as having some of the best fishable waters westside of the Sierras. Most of this reputation has come form the nutrient-laden waters below Beardsley Reservoir resulting in excellent aquatic insect populations of stoneflies, caddis, mayflies, and midges. A 17 mile section from Beardsley Afterbay to the confluence of the North Fork Stanislaus is designated by the State of California as a Wild Trout Fishery. At Beardsley Afterbay, you can fish year-round with a two-trout limit of 14 inches and must use barbless flies or lures. It can be fished by float tubes during low flows or along the banks. Beyond the Afterbay to Spring Gap Bridge, a distance of 3 miles, it is still barbless flies or lures but the season is the last Saturday of April to Nov. 15th. These areas consist of both Rainbows and Browns up to 17", with some trophy-sizes available. The remainder of the Middle Fork Stanislaus is open to all types of fishing, bait or fly. A foot trail is available for access along the river from Spring Gap Bridge to Sand Bar Flat, a distance of 4 miles. Downstream of Sand Bar Flat, the trail fades quickly
and you enter the rugged canyon reach, only lightly fished because of its difficult access, as the river comes down to its confluence
with the North Fork, 10 miles further.The river is characterized by large boulders and deep pools with scattered pocket water sections. Best fishing starts in Mid-June
after the Reservoir slows its releases to less than 200 cfs.
Beardsley Reservoir contains both Browns and Rainbows that are planted by DFG. It does not have a sustainable habitat for spawning, although there is some spawning above Beardsley in the MF Stan. Most of the forage are minnows, crayfish, and invertebrates. Above Beardsley Reservoir , the stream is a freestone-type that is heavily planted with rainbows.
Early Season hatches include the Golden Stoneflies, size 8, starting in May and ending in June. Although stonefly nymphs can be used at any time, the adult patterns are best during the dusk part of the day. The river is very susceptible to high flows from discharges of Beardsley Reservoir during June and July, check on conditions prior to fishing. Caddis hatches will occur throughout the Summer months starting in the late morning until mid-afternoon. Patterns such as Z-wing Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, and Goddard Caddis are suggested. For Mayflies, try Pale Morning Duns and Light Cahills. The PMD's will start hactching in June and continue through August. Small Mayflies start hatching in March,
try #18 and #20 Adams. Nymphs such as Bird's Nest, Pheasant Tail Nymphs, and Zug Bugs are popular. Pheasant Tail Nymphs dropped from the dry works well as do #6-10 bugger patterns. A good October Caddis hatch usually starts in mid-September and continues through October.
The South Fork of the Stanislaus above Lyons Reservoir contain some good sized browns. It has good fishable waters up to
Pinecrest Lake with trail access along the river. Most of the access points are planted but a sizeable population of wild trout exists
not far from each access point. The DFG puts in about 8,000 rainbows annually from Fraser Flat to Strawberry but the stream is so heavily fished that many of these
stockers are caught and kept within 4-5 days. Fortunately, there are many wild trout which aren't caught easily by bait and help keep the
stream a viable fishery. The Spring run-off makes the stream difficult to fish until late June and, since the South Fork is smaller
than the Middle Fork, it is considered to be a better "early-season" trout stream to the end of July.
Lake (300 acres) is a popular recreation lake at 5,620 ft. elevation, used mainly by bait fishermen. The lake was formed by the construction of a rock-filled dam in 1916 over the South Fork of the Stanislaus River. It is regularly stocked with about 60,000 Rainbow Trout by
Fish and Game, annually, in the 10-12 inch class. The season is year-round. There is good access for float tubers along the western and southern shorelines. During the Spring, the trout will work the southern shorelines. By early Summer, the trout
will go deep, usually beyond the range of sinking lines, within the vicinity of the dam and the river inlet. However, Fall can be the best time to flyfish this water, since most of the
vacationers have gone home, and the fish are once again feeding along the shoreline. During the Winter, the lake is drawn down
substantially. There are a few browns and brookies that come up to the lake from the South
Fork of the Stanislaus. There are also some resident catfish within the lake.
The lake contains a marina and free boat launch facility. Over 300 campsites are available at Pinecrest and
Meadowview Campgrounds. Most of the lake is accessed by hiking trails that circumference the 5 mile lake shore. A restaurant is
located nearby as well as restrooms.
Fishing Regulations (Effective March 1st, 2021)
Middle Fork Stanislaus River from Beardsley Dam downstream to the U. S. Forest Service footbridge at Spring Gap (including the Beardsley Afterbay).:
Open all year. Only artificial lures may be used. 2 trout.
Beardsley Reservoir and Pinecrest Lake:
Open all year. No restrictions. 5 trout per day. 10 trout in possession.
Other Lakes and Reservoirs:
Open all year. 5 trout. 10 in possession. No gear restrictions.
Other creeks and tributaries:
From the last Saturday in April through November 15, five trout daily bag limit, 10 trout in possession; and, from November 16 through the Friday preceding the last Saturday in April, 0 trout bag limit, artificial lures with barbless hooks only and trout must be released unharmed and not removed from the water.