Photo of Bear Creek, Fresno County, CA

Bear Creek Fishing

John Muir Wilderness - Fresno County

Photo of Bear Creek

Bear Creek

Bear Creek in Fresno County offers excellent fishing from the diversion dam all the way up to 9,600 feet in the John Muir Wilderness. Bear Creek can easily be fished as a day trip or on a backpack outing. Small waterfalls and countless deep pools provide pleasant surprises for anglers around every bend. The best fishing comes in August and September after the mosquitoes have faded and the snow melt has passed its peak.

Approach to Bear Creek

Bear Creek would be more heavily fished if it weren't so difficult to approach by car. Be prepared for a long, windy drive. But the rewards are worth the effort. From the Fresno area go east past Shaver Lake and Huntington Lake and on over Kaiser Pass toward Edison Lake.

In My Creel

  • #16 Black Gnat
  • #14 Adams
  • #14 Brown Elk Caddis
  • Royal Coachman
  • salmon eggs
  • Berkley Power Bait

For fishing in the pools along Bear Creek I selected a small variety of baits and flies, but I found that the flies were all I needed in early August:

Photo of Blue Lake

Soon after you pass the turnoff to Mono Hot Springs watch for the sign to the Bear Creek Diversion Dam on the right. There are other trailheads leading to Bear Creek, but they require much more uphill climbing.

The 2-mile dirt road to the parking area at the Bear Creek Diversion Dam is a 4-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle route only. It is slow, narrow, and bumpy. 5 MPH. Some people walk it, but it's uphill and hot. Parking is on a broad slab of glaciated granite.

From the parking area you pick up the trail which goes up along the side of Bear Creek. Good fishing begins immediately, or you could hike in a distance and choose a more secluded pool a little farther upstream. You soon enter the John Muir Wilderness, so if you are camping overnight in the backcountry you should have a Wilderness Permit (available in Prather on the way in or at the High Sierra Ranger Station a few miles back on the road.)

Some of the best backpacking campsites along Bear Creek are between 2 and 3.5 miles in from the diversion dam. The first 3.5 miles of the trail gradually climbs 1000 feet in elevation, making it a good beginning backpacking destination.

Photo of Bear Creek
Bear Creek

After 3.5 miles the trail starts up sharply, climbing over a ridge away from the creek and dropping back to rejoin Bear Creek near where the trail meets the John Muir and Pacific Crest trails. From the trailhead at the dam to the JMT is 6.9 miles and includes nearly 1500 feet in elevation gain.

Good campsites are found all along the JMT section of Bear Creek all the way up to Upper Bear Creek Meadows (about 3 miles farther up the trail with only modest elevation gains.) Several people I met on my last trip there had chosen to be packed in on horses, using the services of the High Sierra Pack Station.

Accommodations and Supplies

Lodging is available at nearby Vermilion Valley Resort or Mono Hot Springs Resort. Plentiful lodging, including cabin rentals, can also be found at Huntington Lake or Shaver Lake. Several campgrounds are located in the area: Mono Creek, Mono Hot Springs, Ward Lake, Jackass Meadow, and Bolsillo. Others are found along the way back to Huntington Lake.

I usually order most of my fishing supplies on line before setting out. But if there are some things you forgot to order, on your way to Bear Creek you can pick up fishing supplies at

Recommended Books for Fishing the High Sierra

Photo of Bear Creek

Bear Creek

Other Nearby Featured Trips in Fresno County:

High Sierra Trails

A Backpacker's Guide to the
Most Spectacular Trails
in the Sierra Nevada