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Salt Spring and Bear Reservoir

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Salt Spring Reservoir

Suggested Flies for Salt Spring Reservoir area:
Western Sierra Hatch Selection

Other Local Favorites:

Stillwater Flies:
Mohair Leech #8-10
Woolly Bugger, Brown and Olive #6-8
Denny's Seal Bugger #8-10
J.Fair's Wiggle Tail #8-10


From Jackson, at junction of Highways 49-88, go East 47 miles on Highway 88 to USFS Road 8N03. Turn South and go 2 miles to Bear River Reservoir. To Salt Springs Reservoir, drive 22 miles east from Jackson on Hwy 88. Turn south at Inspiration Lodge and drive 5 miles on Ellis Road. Cross the bridge at Bear River and go 3 miles to the dam at Salt Spring Reservoir.

Notes: Lower Bear River Reservoir
Lower Bear River Reservoir is a 727 acre lake at 5800 feet elevation that gets a lot of fishermen trolling hardware with leadcore lines and baitfishermen around the Dam. This is a deep lake where maximum depths are close to 200 feet near the dam and typical depths in the center of the lake are close to 100 feet. Just above the lower lake is an upper dam that forms the Upper Bear River Reservoir. This is a 166 acre lake that is about 1 mile long and does not have the boat launching facilities that the lower lake enjoys. The lake is much shallower with a 10-12 foot depth and provides a better flyfishing experience. The lower lake is stocked with 13,000 rainbows and 7,200 Browns annually by DFG. The Bear River Resort adds 1000 lbs of trophy sized rainbows, 3-10 lbs., in early June and another 1000 lbs. in September. The upper lake is stocked with Kamloop Rainbow fingerlings. The area has a number of OHV trails for 4 WD enthusiasts. Lower Bear Reservoir gets most of the attention with all types of water activity including water skiing and sailing. A marina is available at Bear River Lake Resort. For secluded fishing, the upper lake offers a better opportunity. The flyfishing opportunities are best during early season around May-June and also in the Fall around September-October. Try the inlet of the Upper Bear River Reservoir and the Dam with a Float Tube using Bugger patterns. Also try following the contours of the shoreline on the lower Bear River Reservoir.

Devil's Lake: Drive out the road on the east side of the reservoir to Deer Valley. There turn north on the Devils Lake dirt road, following it for 1.3 miles. Park there and continue on the trail to the lake, a 1.6 mile hike, climbing 500 feet. The tree-lined shorelines make great places for picnics. Fishing in the lake is good for brook trout.

Salt Spring Reservoir: (950 acres) at 4000' elevation. This is a long narrow reservoir within the Mokelumne River gorge with depths over 200 feet. Not known for having many fish but trout tend to congregate at the inlet. Motor Boats are not allowed. The North Fork Mokelumne above Salt Springs Reservoir can be a good flyfishing opportunity during the early season. You can reach this section by taking the trail from the dam to the inlet. One large pool, known as Blue Hole, can have rainbows up to 20 inches. By July, however, the water flows greatly diminish and the fish are under considerable stress.

NF Mokelumne: Below Salt Spring Reservoir, the NF Mokelumne is quite accessible with Salt Springs Road following the river up to Salt Springs reservoir. There are three campgrounds along the river. Flows on the river are heavily influenced by the dam upstream. Mostly small Browns and Rainbows 7-11 inches.

Cole Creek: This is a small, moderately fished creek with wild rainbows. Most are in the 4-6 inch class. The creek is mostly pocket water with large boulders. Heavy runoff in early Spring and flows are quite thin by mid-July.

Lower Bear Reservoir

Fishing Regulations (Effective March 1st, 2021)

Salt Spring Lake:

Open all year. No restrictions. 5trout limit. Ten trout in Possession

All Tributaries 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.

Bear River Reservoir:

Open all year. No restrictions. 5 trout limit. Ten trout in Possession


©2021 Steve Schalla
This page is not to be copied without my explicit permission.
Devil's Lake Upper Bear River Reservoir Falls from Upper Bear Lake Lower Bear River Reservoir Salt Spring Reservoir Blue Hole, NF Mokelumne Salt Spring Reservoir NF Mokelumne NF Stanislaus NF Mokelumne Silver Lake Upper NF Mokelumne