Kings River-Westside Sierra

Main Kings River

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Kings River

Suggested Flies for Main Kings:
West Sierra Hatch Selection

Other Local Favorites:

Dry Flies:
Parachute Adams #12
Elk Hair Caddis #14-16
St. Vrain Caddis
CDC Cripple #12-14
Kings River Caddis #12-16
Orange Stimulator #8-10

Nymph Flies:
Pheasant Tail Nymph #12-16
Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear #12-16
Bird's Nest #12-16
Copper John #12-16
Fox Poopah #12-16
Prince Nymph #12-16
Kaufmann Golden Stone #10-12
Zebra Midge #16-18


Kings Canyon Directions

The Kings River can be reached from Fresno by way of Hwy 180. Trimmer Springs Road will take you up to the town of Piedra, below Pine Flat Reservoir. Following this road around you can get access to the North Fork of the Kings and also access to the 20 mile long Wild Trout Section above Garnet Dyke on the Main Kings up to Boyden Cave.

Upper Kings River The Kings River above Pine Flat Reservoir is a wild trout only water. All plantings by DFG are below Pine Flat Reservoir. The season is year-round. The section of the Kings above Pine Flat Reservoir, along Trimmer Springs Road up to Garnet Dike Camp is worth investigating. There are a lot of big fish hanging out in the riffles, holes and long tail-outs that are characteristic of the water in this area. This area has a 2- trout limit with no restrictions on tackle. The entire length of 20 miles from Garnet Dike Campground to the confluence of the Middle and South Fork of the Kings is a designated Wild Trout area Catch and Release only with barbless flies. You can follow the riverbank or follow a trail upstream from the campground. The trail will reach a higher elevation above the river making access difficult for about 1 mile. Then it drops down to the river.

During the Winter, the Kings can be so cold that the fish are lethargic. However, the flows are low so wading is possible. Midges are the preferred food source at this time. Starting in late February, a good BWO hatch occurs in size #18-20. The better fishing usually starts in early Spring just before the snow starts to melt. If there is an early warm spell, the river will result in a high runoff and fishing will be on hold until the water levels come down and warms up. March brings Golden Stoneflies, so try using #10-12 Kaufmann Stoneflies in tan or mottled black and brown. March can also bring a nice hatch of March Browns. Caddis flies will be present in April. Try using a CDC Cripple, a #12 reddish-brown Parachute Hares Ear, or a Comparadun.

When there are late periods of runoff, the Kings River might not be fishable until mid-June. A combination of Golden Stonefly Nymphs and a size #12-14 dropper of a Prince Nymph, Hare's Ear, or Pheasant Tail will help get the rig down into the deeper reaches of the river. As the river further drops, try attractor dries, such as an Orange Stimulator (#8-10) or a Parachute Adams (#12-16).

A spotted caddis hatch occurs in September, use a Kings River Caddis, size 12-14. Try the pocket water and micro-eddies near shore. Concentrate on water that is 3-4 feet deep. Survey results from the State of California show that most of the fish within the Upper Kings above Garnet Dike are Rainbows in the 14-15 inch class with larger Browns in the the 18-20 inch class. About three miles upstream from Garnet Dike campground the river is within a canyon up to Boyden Cave, just upstream from the confluence of the MF and SF Kings. This is a 7 mile stretch of water with little access. Highway 180 provides access at Boyden Cave but you can also take the trail out from Yucca Point.

Flows can vary depending upon snowmelt and rain runoff. Usually the flows are less than 1000 cfs. Safe wading conditions are generally below 500 cfs. Check the link above for Current conditions.

The Middle Fork of the Kings consists of Rainbows and Browns, with Brookies in it's upper reaches. Take the trail to the river at Yucca Point off Highway 180, west of Boyden Cave. It is a 1.5 miles hike down to the river with a drop of 1230 feet to an elevation of 2200 feet. The Middle Fork starts here where the Southern Fork converges with it. Following the Middle Fork up to the convergence of Tombstone Creek is about 3.8 miles with a 900 feet gain. Wren Creek is at 5.2 miles and Silver Creek (elevation 3900 feet) is 6.2 miles from the start of the Middle Fork below Yucca Point. The outlet of Silver Creek into the Middle Fork Kings is within the Little Tehipite Valley, a valley about 1/2 mile long and 1/4 mile wide.

The South Fork Kings actually starts just above the confluence of the Middle Fork Kings. Highway 180 is closest to this area at Yucca Point where a 1.6 mile trail will take you down to the river with an 1100 foot descent. You can follow the river about 4.5 miles up to Boyden Cave where Highway 180 crosses the river and provides another access trail to the river. This stretch of river is mostly pocket water with riffles and runs. Most of the larger fish are within this section. Browns will get up to 15-20 inches and Rainbows can be over 20 inches. It is strictly Catch & Release with barbless flies or lures below Boyden Cave. Above Boyden Cave, the river is a two fish limit. The highway follows the river for the next 15 miles up to the Cedar Grove Trailhead. This is also pocket water but there will be mostly Browns in the 10-12 inch size. 

Tim Huckaby wrote an excellent blog piece on his experiences within the confluence of Middle Fork and South Fork in October, 2020. Visit his blog: Tim

Hume Lake: (Click the highlight area on map for detail information) 85 acres. It is stocked with about 32,000 Rainbows each year and have holdovers that get to a good size. Hume Lake Christian Camp plants over 3,700 pounds of rainbows in the 12-14 inch range and several hundred in the 3-5 Lb. range from the San Joaquin Hatchery. Large resident Browns are also present.

Chicago Stump: The Chicago Stump is the remains of the General Noble Tree named after civil war General John Willock Noble. The tree stood over 300 feet tall and had a base circumference of 81 feet. The tree was over 3200 years old and was cut down in 1893 for the Chicago World's Fair. Only a 30 foot section was utilized for the exhibit which was hollowed out and set up in the exhibition room as a two floor tree house. After the fair, the section of the tree was sent to the Smithsonian in Washington, DC where it was used as a tool shed with a roof attached until 1932.

Fishing Regulations (Effective March 1st, 2021)

Kings River, from the confluence of the South and Middle forks downstream to Garnet Dike Campground.:

Open all year. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. 0 trout.

Kings River, from Garnet Dike Campground to Pine Flat Reservoir.:

Open all year. No restrictions. 2 trout, 4 trout in possession.

Middle Fork Kings River inside Kings Canyon National Park:

Below 9000' elevation, 0 rainbow trout and 5 trout limit for non-native trout, ie Browns, Brookies.

Middle Fork Kings River from the western boundary of Kings Canyon National Park downstream to the main Kings River:

Open all year. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. 0 trout.

South Fork Kings River from its confluence with Copper Creek downstream to the Highway 180 crossing at Boyden Cave.:

Open all year. No restrictions. 2 trout, 4 trout in possession.

Other Rivers and Streams:

From the last Saturday in April through November 15, 5 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.

Other Lakes within this area:

Open all year, 5 trout daily bag limit, 10 trout in possession.


© 2021 Steve Schalla
This page is not to be copied without my explicit permission.
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