Clark Fork Stanislaus River


Clark Fork Stanislaus River

From its headwaters inside the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, the Clark Fork Stanislaus River flows a relatively short distance before reaching the Middle Fork Stanislaus River. As one of the smaller forks in the Stanislaus watershed, coupled with easy road access and the presence of several large campgrounds, angling pressure comes naturally.

The namesake Iceberg formation in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness section.

I think of the Clark Fork as having two distinct segments - the segment inside the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness and the segment downstream parallelled by Clark Fork Road. Each of these segments offers a different fishing experience.

A wild brooke trout in Carson-Iceberg Wilderness section.

The Clark Fork inside Carson-Iceberg Wilderness

If solitude and targeting wild brook trout is what you're after, then plan to drive to the end of Clark Fork Road. To access the Wilderness segment, begin at Clark Fork Trailhead at Iceberg Meadow (The Iceberg photographed at the top of the page rises above Iceberg Meadow). First 2.5 miles of easy hiking along the Clark Fork to the Boulder Creek crossing. While the trail may be an easy hike, accessing the water isn't quite so easy.Willows, trees and brush grow thick along the Clark Fork. You'll need to scout for good water and plan your approach carefully. Good, accessible water can be found in this segment, but be prepared to work a bit for it.

The Clark Fork Stanislaus River.

The reward for bushwhacking can be connecting with hard-fighting, wild brook trout. The ideal habitat to fish here are punge pools and the deeper tail-outs. Large boulders help provide habitat and slow the pace of the water as it rushes downstream. I found healthy populations of caddis throughout this section as well as some of the most colorful stream cobble - a burnt orange color that was reflected in the coloration of the resident brook trout.

The Fishing Along Clark Fork Road

As the Clark Fork leaves the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, it enters a more urban setting. Parallel to a paved road, and two large campgrounds - the Clark Fork buzzes with cars and campers here. As you drive Clark Fork Road, the river will come in and out of view. The majority of the river can be accessed from the road, but you'll need to pick your spots.

A wild rainbow trout caught in the Clark Fork Stanislaus.

The river here is stocked with hatchery rainbows. That said, it's possible to hook up with a larger hold-over (pictured above), or even a wild fish. Just be prepared to encounter other anglers as you fish the lower section of the Clark Fork.