Fishing on the Stanislaus River is increasingly popular due to the beautiful scenery, variety of fish species, as well as the sheer number of fish that can be found in the river. Each section of the river has its own unique variety of fish as well as set of fishing regulations, so any angler thinking of tackle-ing the Stanislaus should educate themselves before heading out.
The South Fork of the Stanislaus, flowing out of Pinecrest Lake, gives fisherman access to rainbow (that are often stocked) as well as brown trout. This section, however, is heavily fished, and most of the stocked fish are caught fairly soon after being released. Spring stream flows also make fishing difficult until late June, so it is advised to fish elsewhere until the mid-summer months.
The Middle Fork of the Stanislaus harbours both brown and rainbow trout. At Beardsley Afterbay fishing is allowed year round, with a two-trout limit (with 14” min.). From the Afterbay to Springs Mill Gap, fishing is allowed from the last Saturday in April to November 15th, with no trout limits. In both areas no live bait or barbs are allowed, so stick to using barbless flies or lures.
The North Fork of the Stanislaus, like the other upper sections, are home to rainbow and brown trout. While the North Fork is stocked at public access areas such as Board’s Crossing and Sourgrass campground (and therefore more fish are caught), to find the bigger catches you need to move away from these heavily frequented areas.
From Knights Ferry to the confluence of the San Joaquin and Stanislaus River, fishing is popular as well, and many Central Valley residents will attest to that. The types of fish on this section are much more varied, with species of trout, salmon, carp, crappie, and bass found up and down the stream. On this entire section trout and salmon are ALWAYS protected, and are never to be kept. Above Oakdale Recreation Area (westward) only artificial lures and barbless hooks are allowed, while below Oakdale Rec. there are no bait or gear restrictions. Fishing is allowed except in November and December, when large numbers of salmon are in their spawning stage. There are multiple access points to the river (check out the park system page) for every kind of fisherman, and fish range from small (release!) to striped bass that weigh in at over 30 lbs!