From Stockton

From the City of Stockton on Hwy 99, drive 69 miles east on Hwy 4 to Arnold. Calaveras-Big Trees State Park is about about three miles east of Arnold on Hwy 4. A right on Parkway Road will take you to the park's campgrounds and hiking trails, and the bridge crossing the North Fork. To visit the National Forest recreation facilities upstream, continue east on Hwy 4 to the small town of Dorrington, and turn right on Forest Road 52 to access the popular Sourgrass Campground and Picnic Area on the North Fork.

Fly fishing California Highway 4


Fly Fishing the North Fork Stanislaus River 2011

Rock garden North Fork Stanislaus River

The North Fork of the Stan is a jewel of a river flowing down the West Slope of the Sierra. The section I enjoy best is near the Calaveras Big Trees State Park. During a white-water raft trip in May, my friend Kurt pointed out some good looking water upstream of the State Park. As we floated down I thought we'll need to return in Summer for a closer look. (Hint: if you see these stacked rocks you are upstream of where we fished.)

A rainbow trout caught on the North Fork Stanislaus River

The North Fork cascades past granite cliffs and rugged canyon slopes blanketed with ancient conifer forests, providing rich habitat for rainbow trout and brown trout.

Fly fishing a tail out on the North Fork Stanislaus River

In my experience, nymphing the deeper pockets in front or behind rocks is the mot effective method for fishing the North Fork. Middle to late summer I typically tie on a tandem nymph rig. One combination to try - a size 12, bead-head stonefly nymph at the top, followed by a hare's ear nymph (size 16, no bead).

A wild rainbow caught and released on the North Fork Stanislaus River

Keep in mind that the North Fork of the Stanislaus is a tailwater. Flows vary based on downstream water demand and power production needs. The dam is located several miles upstream on Spicer Meadow Reservoir. Given the record snowpack this past winter (2010/2011), the flows in this section have been fairly strong throughout the summer. Wading/access may be limited from prior years - so be prepared to shoot line to reach those runs on the opposite bank.