No matter where you travel in the world, there will always be two kinds of old growth forests: the rest of the world, and the giant redwoods of Sequoia National Park.
If you’ve never experienced the redwood groves of the Sierra Mountains, you have not truly looked upon anything ancient.
There are giant sequoias standing here since before the fall of the Roman Empire, and they still keep their whispering vigil nearly two millennia later.
Amidst these ancient sentinels of the west, there are rivers, lakes and streams teeming with rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout ripe for the catching.
The wild trout of Sequoia National Park present an irresistible challenge to anglers from all over the world, and test the mettle of even the most experienced fly fishing enthusiasts.
Covering roughly 404,064 acres, Sequoia National Park was originally established as a redwood preserve, in particular the famous General Sherman tree. With its height of 275 feet and an immense girth to match, this giant Sequoia currently holds the world record for height and diameter.
Sequoia National Park is also the second parcel of land to be designated as a national park by the National Park Service in 1890. For this reason, much of the park’s prime fishing water is only accessible via horseback or on foot, so plan accordingly. Visiting anglers looking to land their monster river or lake trophy fish will need to backpack in or hire a horse to reach the prime fishing spots within the park’s borders.
In addition to excellent stream and still-water fishing, there is also a plethora of wildlife that make their home in Sequoia National Park, including big cats like the mountain lion and cougar, deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, and even the reclusive wolverine.
You may only visit for the fishing, but you definitely don’t want to miss out on the natural wonders that surround you from the moment you pass through the gates of the park.
Be sure to plan time to also check out the excellent fishing in the adjoining Kings Canyon National Park.
Click the map icons to get directions to fishing spots, boat ramps and USGS stream-flow data
There are many rivers, streams, and lakes where you can try your luck in and around Sequoia National Park. The two primary river drainage’s at the Kaweah River on the west side and the Kern River on the east side.
Tucked into the southwest corner of Sequoia National Park are the crystalline waters of the beautiful Kaweah River. Here you can easily access some of the best fly fishing in the park with many freestone streams and even a lake close at hand.
The Kaweah consists of five forks including the North, South, East, Middle and Marble forks, all of which harbor rainbows and browns. The Marble Fork is one of the more accessible via the Lodgepole Visitor Center. While in the area be sure to also check out Clover Creek, Silliman Creek and Wolverton Creek.
If you are looking to fish in solitude the South Fork Kaweah River is the place to head. The best thing about the South Fork Kaweah River is its remote location and low fishing pressure. The population of trout here is excellent. The Ladybug Trail leading out of the South Fork Campground provides access.
This is the spot to go for catching lots of wild rainbow trout in Sequoia National Park. There are pockets, pools, riffles, and all manner of hiding places where trout like to lurk and snatch their meals from the deceptively still waters of the rock pools.
Check the Sequoia National Park website for more information on how to get to these lesser known fisheries.
The summer is peak season for fly hatches, trout, and tourists in Sequoia National Park. The 1.5 million visitors to the park each year typically make their trek to this wonder of the natural world from April through August, which also happens to be the trout’s prime feeding season.
They are most active once spring runoff ends and water temperatures are warmer during the midday hours. Fall fishing presents some unique challenges due to the early snowfall that typically blankets the High Sierras during that time of year, and the fact that weather can shift rapidly at altitudes above 9,000 feet.
Pack your breathable felt sole waders or fishing sandals for visits in the warmer seasons of the year, and your neoprene insulated waders for the colder winter months. A 9-foot rod with 5-weight line is the order of the day regardless of when you visit, and you will want to stick to artificial flies and lures only as a rule.
Focus on packing lightweight gear no matter what you intend to take along, as you will be hiking short distances to reach locations with the best trout fishing conditions, and you don’t want to weigh yourself or your horse down too much for the trip. This is especially true if you plan on fishing the South Fork of the Kaweah, so plan accordingly.
Here are some recommended flies that have proven effective for fishing in the Sequoia National Park region:
Parachute Adams #12
Elk Hair Caddis #14-16
St. Vrain Caddis
CDC Cripple #12-14
Kings River Caddis #12-16
Orange Stimulator #8-10
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
Area fly shops and guide services that can provide an update on current fishing conditions in and around Sequoia National Park are listed below.
California or California National Park regulations apply throughout Sequoia National Park. A license is required to fish anywhere in the state, whether it is a one-day or one year pass.
Special regulations that apply to fishing in and near Sequoia National Park include:
Your best bet for flying into the area is to catch a flight to the Fresno Yosemite International Airport and drive to nearby Selma about 20 miles east of the airport.
Selma provides easy access to Sequoia National Park via car or public transportation, and there are many accommodations available at extremely competitive pricing if you book in advance.
Advance booking is highly recommended if you plan to visit during peak season for tourists in the area, as hotels and motels fill up fast and it can be difficult to find budget friendly stays once visitors start arriving in the area for summer vacation.
Alternatively, you can pack for the wilderness and camp out in the various available campgrounds inside and surrounding Sequoia National Park as well.
There are also centrally located lodges inside the park where you can book a stay for a reasonable price, and you will have the best access to all areas of the park from here.
Furthermore, you may want to look into private or commercial RV rentals in the area and stay at one of the many RV parks on the outskirts of Selma for a less expensive stay close to the park with all the comforts of home.
Finally, always check out local vacation home listings before booking your stay near Sequoia National Park. You may find that there are far less expensive stays with superior amenities and better privacy than staying in a hotel or camping out at the park.
Feature image by Jane S. Richardson
Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in America
Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.
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