Fish your park: Yosemite National Park


Editor's note: This summer marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and the formal creation of the uniquely American national park system. Trout Unlimited is celebrating with the National Park Service by sharing stories from staff, volunteers and other anglers who chase wild trout inside the protected lands of national parks from coast to coast. Check back often, as stories from our "Fish your park" series will appear regularly on the TU blog.

Story and photos by Rick Mazaira

Yosemite is where the conversation of a National Park system began. Every day as I drive home I see the memorial plaque and pedestal that commemorates the spot where Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir spoke about our nation’s best idea. And I can’t help but wonder… did they know the impact their conversation would have? What would they say if they saw the thousands of people in the Yosemite Valley this hot August day?

And, of course, did they know of the lurking big rainbows a quarter mile away, in a riffle by the bridge?

There are a few things we can assume. Roosevelt and Muir wanted their conversation to have a lasting impact projecting conservation into the forefront of the following generations. They probably could not have imagined the annual attendance of Yosemite National Park today (more than 4 million). Lastly, of course, they probably didn’t know about those big rainbows, or that a memorial plaque and pedestal would be placed there.

Fishing in Yosemite is like everything else about Yosemite. Whether you climb, hike or fish you need to get away from Yosemite Valley to get to the more natural experience. Only 50 percent of Yosemite's visitors leave the Valley floor, and less than half of that number ever goes more than a mile from a roadway. With that in mind, know that the Yosemite Wilderness offers great fishing, solitude and scenery. It comes at a small price, the cost of walking to the source. However, you can do well and find the “gems under your nose,” even in the Valley.  It entails walking only a mile and a half from any trailhead or parking lot.

The South Fork of the Merced, the Merced (below) and Tuolumne rivers all have populations of wild rainbow (above) and brown trout that are fun and feisty. As you get away from the crowds you can experience what Muir and Roosevelt must have imagined. A place to refresh your soul, knee-deep in the Merced River, knowing that a rainbow will rise to a dry on any given August afternoon and no one is the wiser. A different Yosemite awaits those who wander away from the pavement and commercial areas.

As a fly fishing guide in Yosemite, I make my bread and butter in these front country areas; but the real story is the Yosemite Wilderness. The high country alpine lakes, river headwaters and streams make for a bucket list adventure that will leave you with memories and stories that are the stuff of legends.

The high-hanging alpine lakes and backcountry creeks possess rainbows, browns, cutthroat, brook and golden trout. The hike in will not disappoint, with vistas and overlooks of the domes and jagged glaciated features that make Yosemite famous. My grandfather, an old Spaniard, had two old country folk sayings. "Anything worth having is worth the work for it" and "fishing is the excuse." You’ll find fishing in Yosemite to be a doubly good excuse!

Rick Mazaira is a guide with Yosemite Outfitters. He has been fly fishing since 1984 and has been guiding professionally since 2008. He lives in the Yosemite region.


said on Friday, September 16th, 2016
Where can we get the "Fish Your Park" logo?

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