Lower Kings River

Southwest Fly Fishing Magazine Cover Look for my feature article on the Kings River in the November/December 2008 issue of Southwest Fly Fishing



From Fresno Drive east from highway 99 onto highway 180 in Fresno. After 18 miles you reach Centerville; turn left on Trimmer Springs Road. At the small town of Piedra, turn left and cross the short bridge and continue down N. Piedra Road for about a mile until you reach the entrance to Avocado Lake Park. Good access can be found just north of Avocado Lake.


The Lower Kings River

The Kings River below Pine Flat Dams is a tail-water fishery that has experienced extreme peaks and valleys. The river extending from Pine Flat Dam downstream to Highway 180 has supported a recreational trout fishery since the 1960's.

Lower tail-water section on the Kings River below Pine Flat Dam

You might say this tail-water went into cardiac arrest in the late 80's. The table below shows just how bad it got. From 1990 to 1992, not a single trout was counted during those survey periods. (See the table below for details.) Since that time, the trout fishery on the lower Kings has recovered slowly thanks in large part to aggressive replanting of rainbow trout.

Fish Counts on the Lower Kings

Lower Kings River Rainbow Trout Counts from 1983 to 2005

Ultimately, maintaining healthy instream flows, restoring the river's habitat, and putting a stop to poaching will allow the lower Kings to reclaim it's former status as a blue ribbon tail-water. On the poaching front, I was encouraged to see a California Game Warden making the rounds behind Avocado Lake.

California Department of Fish and Game patrols the lower Kings and will check for license and inspect tackle.

Although the state of California needs more wardens, each of us in the angling community can chip in to help. If you happen to witness poaching or any fish and wildlife violation, immediately dial the toll free CalTIP number:

1-888-DFG-CALTIP (888 334-2258)

Trout Species

The Lower Kings is largely a rainbow trout fishery and is supported by frequent plants of various life stages from hatchery stock. The recently introduced trophy program is gaining wide-spread popularity giving anglers the opportunity to catch Kamloops rainbows up to six pounds.

Fishing Regulations

Rainbow trout are managed within a harvest zone between the dam and Alta (Cobbles) Weir to a five fish limit. Between Alta Weir and the Highway 180 bridge is a zero limit, catch-and-release zone.

The sign along the Kings River spell out the regs in English and Spanish

Note - please refer to the Map of Area for exact location of the catch and release section.