Middle Fork and South Fork Tuolumne Headwaters

MF & SF Tuolumne Headwaters

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Tuolumne River
Suggested Flies for Tuolumne River River:
Western Sierra Hatch Selection

Other Local Favorites:

Dry Flies:
Parachute Adams #12-18
Parachute Ants #14-16
Cutter's Perfect Ant #14-16
Elk Hair Caddis #12-14
Yellow Humpy #12-14
Dave's Hopper #10-12
Royal Wulff #12-14
Purple Haze #16

Nymph Flies:
Pheasant Tail Nymph #12-14
Copper Johns #12-14
Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear #12-14
Prince Nymph #12-14
Bird's Nest #8-10
Zebra Midge #18

Directions:

Tuolumne River Directions

From Modesto, drive about 50 miles east on Highway 120 to the junction of Highway 108. Following Highway 120, go 25 miles to the confluence of the South and Middle Fork at Rainbow Pool Falls. Continuing along Highway 120 is access to the South Fork. Take Hwy 120 to Tioga Pass Road to reach upstream trailheads. The Middle Fork has access by way of Evergreen Road, off Hwy 120 near Big Oak Flat Entrance and Tioga Pass Road at White Wolf.

Notes:Tuolumne River
The MF and SF Tuolumne Headwaters are more of a creek than a river. The Middle Fork stretch is about 16 miles long dropping from 8000' at White Wolf to 4500' at Mather. The South Fork starts at 8500' elevation on it's southern branch and flows for 16.5 miles to the confluence of Ackerson Creek just below Carlon Campground. The two forks converge near the main Tuolumne near Colfax Springs about 10 miles downstream from Carlon.
Middle Fork of the Tuolumne contains Rainbows, Browns, and Brookies. Brook trout have been planted within this stretch since 1906 and are mostly found within the upper elevations of White Wolf. The brookies are generally 5-8 inches. Downstream of White Wolf, the brookies are joined by rainbows and browns of the same size and the brookies fade in numbers. The browns were planted only once in 1897 but gained a strong foothold within this stretch of the river. Between White Wolf and Mather, the headwaters have plenty of trout with almost no fishing pressure. A pack trail follows the river for 5.5 miles downstream of White Wolf and then diverts off the river to Aspen Valley. The lower parts of this stretch is out of Mather where a pack trail crosses the MF Tuolumne at the confluence of Cottonwood Creek.
Cottonwood Creek: The creek is very brushy with small rainbows and quite difficult to fish.
The South Fork of the Tuolumne also contains Rainbows, Brookies, and Browns. Tioga Pass Road crosses the South Fork on the northern branch and this reach is full of brookies, 5-8 inches. The next crossing of Tioga Pass road is a few miles down on the southern branch and this reach is full of rainbows up to 10 inches. The two branches converge just below the second crossing and will have both rainbows in the faster water and brookies within the quiet zones. Near park boundary of Oak Flat, Browns were planted in 1905 and although they are not numerous they continue to have a foothold, usually up to 10 inches. Similar to the Middle Fork, the south fork does not get much fishing pressure until it reaches Carlon campground.
Ackerson Creek: This creek is brushy and difficult to fish with small rainbows present. The creek confluence with the South Fork Tuolumne is just below the Carlon Campground.
Yosemite Creek: This creek is small water and is often dry during the late summer. The trout seem to survive by locating deep pools. The creek contains rainbows, browns, and brookies with rainbows, 6-10 inches, being the main species. A trail follows the creek and provides easy access.
Lukens Lake: Similar to Harden Lake, Lukens is a shallow and warm-water lake that was dependent on frequent stockings of trout. Lukens was first planted with Brookies in 1902-1945 and Brown Trout in 1926. Neither of these species could survive the warm water. Rainbows were planted starting in 1942 and discontinued in 1991. Today, no fish are present.


Fishing Regulations (Effective March 1st, 2021)

SF and MF Tuolumne River:

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.

Other Rivers and Streams:

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.

Lakes within this area:

Open all year. No restrictions. 5 trout per day. 10 trout in possession.

 

© 2021 Steve Schalla
This page is not to be copied without my explicit permission.
Bowers Cave Tenaya Harden Lake Lukens Lake Siesta Lake Middle Fork Tuolumne Carlon Falls Hogden Meadow Yosemite Creek South Fork Tuolumne Hetch Hetchy Tuolumne River