Person fishing in Tuolumne River in Tuolumne Meadows at dusk

What comes to mind when you think about fishing? Patience, relaxation, challenge, and memories are a few words often associated with fishing. We want you to have an enjoyable time fishing during your visit, along with future visitors; learn your responsibilities before casting a line or flicking a fly into the water.


Visitors to Yosemite 16 or older must have a valid California fishing license. Fishing licenses are available online.The California Department of Fish and Wildlife website lists current sport fishing license fees and regulations.

Fishing Regulations

California Regulations

Except as noted below, California fishing regulations apply in Yosemite National Park, including the requirement that people 16 or older have a valid California fishing license.

All waters are open to fishing all year, except as noted below.

Yosemite National Park Regulations

Some special regulations apply within Yosemite National Park and the El Portal Administrative Site:

General Regulations

  • Except as noted below, all waters are open all year.
  • Live, dead, or scented bait is prohibited. This includes (but is not limited to):
    • Scented or flavored liquid gel or paste
    • Scented natural or artificially manufactured fish eggs
    • Worms, grubs, crickets, leeches, stink baits, insects, crayfish, human food, pet food, fish, fish parts, and fish eggs
    • Any other natural or manufactured product or device that is used to alert and attract fish by sense of taste or smell, including any product or device to which scents or attraction agents have been added or externally applied
  • Bag and possession limits:
    • Five per day (all trout species)
    • Ten at one time (all trout species), except as noted below
  • Fishing from bridges, piers, and from the top of O'Shaughnessy Dam in Hetch Hetchy is prohibited.
  • Public accesss is prohibited below the high-water mark of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
  • Fishing from horseback in any lake or stream is prohibited.
  • Lead weights used on fishing lines must be 0.25 ounces or less
  • Transporting live fish any distance is prohibited.

Merced River and South Fork Merced River (Yosemite Valley and Wawona)

These regulations apply to the Merced River from Happy Isles to the park boundary near Yosemite View Lodge and to the South Fork Merced River from the headwaters at Triple Divide Peak to the park boundary, which is about 0.5 miles east of Rush Creek Trailhead.

  • Only artificial lures or flies with barbless hooks may be used
  • Season: open to fishing from the last Saturday in April through November 15.
  • Bag and possession limits:
    • Rainbow trout: catch and release only (zero bag and possession limit)
    • Brown and brook trout: No daily bag or possession limit and no minimum size (brown and brook trout must be retained and not released)

Tuolumne River below O'Shaughnessy Dam

These regulations apply to the Tuolumne River from O'Shaughnessy Dam to the park boundary.

  • Only artificial lures or flies with barbless hooks may be used
  • Season: open all year, with the following limits:
    • From the last Saturday in April through November 15:
      • Maximum size limit of 12 inches in total length (all species)
      • Bag and possession limits:
        • All trout species: two per day and two in possession
    • From November 16 through the Friday before the last Saturday in April:
      • Bag and possession limits:
        • All trout species: zero per day and zero in possession

Frog Creek (Hetch Hetchy)

These regulations apply upstream of where the creek enters Eleanor Lake for 0.5 miles to the first waterfall (including the pond below the waterfall) and 200 feet from the mouth of Frog Creek into the lake and along the shore.

  • Season: closed from November 15 through June 14

Adair Lake and Hanging Basket Lake

  • Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used
  • Bag and possession limits:
    • All trout species: zero per day and zero in possession

Fish Consumption Advisories

Prior to your trip review the statewide advisory for eating fish from California’s lakes and reservoirs. The chemical of concern for the statewide advisory is Mercury — specifically methylmercury — found in fish tissue. At sufficient doses methylmercury can pose a risk.

Side view of Rainbow trout in the hands of a scientist
Rainbow trout: Native to waters at Yosemite's lower elevations and non native at higher elevations.

Aquatic Invasive Species and Decontamination Protocols

Please help keep Yosemite free of aquatic invasive species! Anglers, kayakers, and boaters please inspect, clean, drain and dry all of your equipment prior to your visit. Clean and dry all personal belongings, clothing, and footwear that have come in contact with the water. Boaters and Kayakers, keep your watercraft dry for at least five days in warm, dry weather and up to 30 days in cool, moist weather before you visit Yosemite.

For more information:

Fishing Throughout the National Park Service

Learn more about fish and fishing throughout the National Park Service. You can learn about conservation, different fish species, and parks that offer fishing.


Last updated: February 21, 2023

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