Fly Fishing the Sierra

North Fork and NF of the Middle Fork Tule River

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NF Tule River
Suggested Flies for NF Tule River area:
Southern Sierra Hatch Selection

Other Local Favorites:

Dry Flies:
Stimulator #14-16
Elk Hair Caddis #14-16
Royal Wulff #14-16
Henrys Fork Hopper #10
Perfect Ant #18

Nymph Flies:
Kern Emerger #8-16
Prince Nymph #16-20
Black Rubberlegs #6-8
Brook's Golden Stonefly Nymph #10
Little Yellow Stonefly Nymph #10
Copper John's #18-20
Wooly Buggers, Olive or Black #8-10


North Fork Tule Directions

To get to the North Fork of the MF Tule River, take Highway 190 8 miles west of Porterville to the Tule River Ranger Station in Springville. Drive 4 miles northeast to Balch Park Road and turn left to Mountain Home State Forest. Go 4 miles to Bear Creek Road and turn right. Drive along Bear Creek road for 23 miles to a Y intersection. The headquarters of Mountain Home State Forest is 0.2 miles to the left. Take the right fork off the Y onto Summit Road. 5 miles on Summit will bring you to Shake Camp trailhead which provides access on the River Trail. Moses Gulch Trailhead provides access to the Golden Trout Wilderness Lakes of Maggie, Frog, and Twin via the Griswold/Summit Trail.

Notes:North Fork Tule River
The North Fork of the Tule originates beneath Dennison Ridge at 8,000 to 9,000 feet elevation.The fork is about 18 miles long when it reaches the main Tule River at Springville. For the first 6 miles the river drops almost 1000 feet for each mile. When the North Fork reaches the confluence of Pine Creek, it only drops only another 2,000 feet in the next 10 miles. This was the area that most early settlement took place in the region and the lower reaches of the North Fork are still in private ownership. The first sawmill was built along the North Fork in 1865 and irrigation ditches were dug for farmland around Springville. Battle Mountain was the site of the Tule River War between the Yokuts and California Militias in 1856. The Yokuts built a fortified encampment on Battle Mountain and withheld 3 attacks by the militias for 6 weeks before a final attack was waged by 300-400 soldiers from Fort Tejon and Fort Miller drove off the defenders. The lower reaches of the North Fork Tule do not offer many opportunities for trout fishing as the water gets warm and thin during the Summer months. This section has Bluegill, Bullhead, Sunfish, and Bass. The better opportunities are in the sections above the confluence of Pine Creek. Browns will be found in the lower reaches of this section and Brookies up within the upper reaches near Dillonwood Grove. This water also gets thin during the summer and is more of a small stream than a river.
Blue Ridge Drive off Balch Park Road will provide access to Upper Grouse Valley. This is a recreational area owned by USFS. The main lake at 4800' elevation is man-made and supplied with water from an upstream lake. Three cabins surround the lake and are available for rent. The lake has bass and bluegill. You can use canoes or float tubes.

The North Fork of the MF Tule River offers an opportunity for Browns, Rainbows, and Brookies. The lower reaches of the NF of the Middle Fork Tule gets regular plantings of Rainbows at Camp Wishon. This section also has a good population of resident Browns. These areas are heavily used by bathers in the Summer. Fishing above Camp Wishon on the Northern Fork of the Middle Fork Tule provides a much better flyfishing experience with wild trout. The Wishon Trail follows the NF of the Middle Fork from Camp Wishon to Mountain Home State Forest (Moses Gulch CG), a distance of 6 miles. The Doyle Trail overlaps the Wishon Trail but stays to the west of the river at Burro Creek Grove and then proceeds up switchbacks to Balch Park. The area has numerous small waterfalls with large, deep pools. The season is the last Saturday of April to Nov 15th.

Balch Park is a Tulare County Park and nestled within the Mountain Home State Forest. This area had a history of logging, particularly Giant Sequoias. It was protected from logging when the Mt Whitney Power sold this property to John Balch in 1923, who donated the parcel to Tulare County for a park in 1930. Hedrick Pond is one of the original mill ponds. Mountain Home State Forest was designated in 1946 and they created some man-made ponds. All of these ponds are stocked with hatchery rainbows.

From the trailhead at Hidden Falls you can follow the North Fork of the Middle Fork Tule for 5.35 miles to Summit lake. This has a 3300' gain more than half which is within the last 2 miles. There is a redwood tree that crosses the stream about one mile upstream and the trail intersects with the Balch Park Trail. The better fishing opportunities are the relatively level areas just below the River Trail where it forks to the right towards Summit Lake with brookies and rainbows. This is about 3 miles from the trailhead.

Summit Lake: This four acre lake is at an elevation 9300 feet. Consists of Brookies in the 6-9 inch class. The lake was originally planted with brook trout in 1930 with the last planting in 1967. It has a self-sustaining population which is limited in size growth due to the nutritional factors the trout endure at these high elevations. Due to snow conditions, the lake is usually difficult to reach until mid-June or early July. The better locations to fish are along the southern shorelines where the water is deeper and there are numerous springs.

Another access is the Moses Gulch Trailhead. This trail meets Summit Trail and will take you along the ridge separating the Golden Trout Wilderness from the Sequoia National Forest to:

Maggie Lakes: These are three lakes starting at an elevation 9,000 feet. Consists of Rainbows and Golden/Rainbow Hybrids 7-10 inches. The trailhead is at Summit Trailhead at the end of Forest Road 21S50 with a 8.5 mile distance and a 900 feet gain. The lakes were last planted in 1997 with rainbows. DFG tried to plant Goldens in the lakes but rainbows from Peck's creek would contaminate the strain. Upper Maggie (Elevation: 9,163) is the largest of the three and will generally have the largest fish. The best locations to fish on Upper Maggie is the large boulder which resides along the eastern shore and the outlet. Middle and Lower Maggie are quite small with fish reachable with casting from shore.
Frog Lake: Elevation 9,060 feet. Devoid of fish. 9.5 miles from the trailhead.
Twin Lakes: Two lakes at 9,113 feet. Both with Goldens. From Summit Trailhead with a distance of 10.0 miles to the lower lake, a 1000 feet gain. The lakes used to be premier Brookie fisheries but the DFG poisoned the fish in the mid-90's to establish a Golden Trout fishery. The problem has been that the Goldens have not been able to self-sustain a population due to poor spawning conditions. Most of the residual Goldens have been caught, leaving a very sparse population in the Upper Twin Lake.
Summit Lake: 13 miles from Summit Trailhead with a 1200 foot gain. See above for description.

Fishing Regulations (Effective March 1st, 2021)

Tule River, North Fork, only in the North Fork Tule River and all its forks and tributaries above the confluence with Pine Creek (about 50 yards upstream from the Blue Ridge road bridge, about 12-1/4 miles north of Springville).:

All year. Only artificial flies or lures may be used. 2 Trout.

All remaining portions of the Tule River and tributaries:

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 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.

All other Lakes:

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.


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