After aborting a planned trip to the Eastern Sierra (Sonora Pass was closed – and opened the day I left for home!), I decided to scout some of the West side rivers near our cabin in Twain Harte. Unfortunately, I was thwarted at nearly every turn, particularly by gates on some Forest Service Roads, as I tried to access some of the waters I planned to explore.
However, I ended up spending two fun days – Thursday and Friday – fishing (and catching) on the North Fork of the Tuolumne River, upstream and downstream of the River Ranch Campground, at the confluence of the Tuolumne and Basin Creek. Since the object of this trip was no-stress exploration, I was on the river about 10:00 a.m., suited up and ready for wading. For those who haven’t been, it’s a nice little stretch of river with both planted and wild rainbow trout.
Boy, did I get lucky on two counts. First, no crowds…only two campsites occupied and I had the river to myself. Second, the recently planted rainbows (confirmed by a visit to a DFG hatchery were Eagle Lake strain…they sure put up a better fight than some other planters I’ve hooked.
In six hours on the water Thursday, going about a mile downstream and a mile upstream, I worked the water with a lot of side-arm casts and roll casts. (No room for even one overhead cast!) Thankfully there were only two campsites occupied and much of the time I was the only fisher on the river. This stretch offers plenty of distinct and easy to reach seams, pools and runs, out of which I hooked 22 and landed 17 (C&R’d), ranging from a three-inch wild guy to a beefy 14-inch stocker that gave me a run for my money. Based on girth and length, this fish probably weighed 1¾ to 2 lb. When I arrived a good mayfly hatch was going on and the fish were feeding.
The biggest fish of the trip was 14 inches and 1.75-2 lbs!
I decided Friday, since I couldn’t get to another river I wanted to explore, to head back to the Tuolumne. This time I went a bit further upstream, where I got into a bunch of smaller wild fish, and a bit further downstream. This day I hooked 18 and landed 15 rainbows (also C&R’d), with another one in the 14-inch range as the trophy of the day.
All in all, I had a great first time on this stretch of the Tuolumne. I’ll be back!