Look for my feature article on the Merced River in the January/February 2008 issue of Northwest Fly Fishing
The Merced River is featured in the new ebook, Wild Trout. Price: $3.99
From Sacramento From Sacramento, take Highway 99 South. It's roughly 113 miles until you reach the city of Merced. Once you reach Merced take the Highway 140 East exit. Follow 140 for about 64 miles until you reach the town of El Portal. Continue past El Portal on 140 to the Arch Rock entrance station. Access to the Merced River will be apparent along Highway 140 once you have past the entrance station.
Yosemite National Park embraces a tract of scenic wildlands set aside in 1890 to preserve a portion of the Sierra Nevada which extends along California's eastern border. Ranging from 2,000 feet above sea level to more than 13,000 feet, the park's ecosystems include alpine wilderness, groves of sequoia trees, and rock canyons highlighted by the Merced River in Yosemite Valley.
The headwaters of the Merced River are located in Yosemite National Park in the backcountry above the popular valley floor. As watersheds go, the Merced is afforded some of the best wilderness protection in the county being inside a National Park. From Yosemite's high country, the Merced flows through the valley down a narrow canyon along the foothills in Mariposa County to it's confluence with the Lower San Joaquin River .
Typical of watersheds in the Sierra Neveda, the Merced desents quickly once it flows out of the relatively flat Yosemite Valley. Near the western boundary of Yosemite National Park at the Arch Rock Entrance Station, the elevation drops some 1500 feet until the Merced meets with the South Fork around Savage's Trading Post.
The Merced is primarily a rainbow trout fishery and is managed as such. Within Yosemite park boundaries, however, the Merced is not managed. Read - the National Park Service has halted the practice of planting trout throughout Yosemite including the Merced River. That said, the opportunity to catch wild trout exists here.
I was slightly surprised to find the river inside Yosemite holds a good number of brown trout. These browns can also be found in some of the larger pools in the steeper ascent of the Merced Canyon as it approaches the Yosemite Park boundary.
Note - please refer to the Map of Area for exact location of Yosemite National Park Boundary and Foresta Bridge.
|Segment of Merced River||Open Season||Bag Limit|
|From the Happy Isles footbridge downstream to the western boundary of Yosemite National Park at El Portal||Last Saturday in April through November 15. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used.||0 rainbow trout. 5 brown trout. 10 brown trout in possession.|
|From the western boundary of Yosemite National Park at El Portal downstream to Foresta Bridge.||All year. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used.||0 rainbow trout. 5 brown trout. 10 brown trout in possession.|
|From Foresta Bridge downstream to Lake McClure.||Last Saturday in April through November 15. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used.||5 trout per day. 10 trout in possession.|
|From Foresta Bridge downstream to Lake McClure.||November 16 through the Friday preceding the last Saturday in April. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used.||2 trout.|