Photo of Beardsley Afterbay, Tuolumne County, CA

Beardsley Reservoir Afterbay

Tuolumne County

Photo of Beardsley Reservoir Afterbay

Beardsley Reservoir Afterbay

Beardsley Reservoir on California's Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River attracts boating fishermen from across the West. Just downstream from the massive earthen dam, however, is the less-often visited Beardsley Reservoir Afterbay. The mile-long stretch of still water makes for great fishing. Like Beardsley Reservoir, the Afterbay is open for fishing year-round. At an elevation of 3,100' it is free of snow most of the year.

Special regulations by California Department of Fish and Game govern the Beardsley Reservoir Afterbay, however. Fish size must be 14" or larger, the limit is 2, and you may only use barbless, artificial lures or flies.

Below the Beardsley Reservoir Afterbay on the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus all the way to the Spring Gap footbridge, the same limitations apply, except that you may only fish during the regular fishing season.

While fishing at the Beardsley Reservoir Afterbay you need to be alert to the possibility that the Tri-dam authorities might increase the amount of water being released from the dam, causing water levels to rise rapidly.

In My Creel

  • Super Duper
  • Whitman Z-ray
  • Daredevle Skeeter
  • #16 Adams
  • TH Polish Woven nymph
  • #14 Black Wulff

The Beardsley Reservoir Afterbay is a good place to practice your spin casting with barbless lures or for fly fishing.

Approach to Beardsley Reservoir Afterbay

Beardsley Reservoir is located in Tuolumne County off Highway 108. From most parts of California drive up Highway 108 through Sonora, passing beyond Pinecrest and Strawberry. The turnoff to Beardsley Reservoir is just a little less than 4 miles past Strawberry. Highway 108 reaches elevations of 6,000' here and is often snowbound in the winter, although it is plowed. The road down to Beardsley Reservoir, however, is closed whenever conditions are snowy or icy, often through most of the winter.

Photo of Beardsley Reservoir Afterbay

The 8-mile paved road down to the dam drops about 2,500'. Drive across the dam and turn down the little paved road that traverses down the face of the earthen dam toward the powerhouse at the bottom. There the road crosses the spillway and leads to a small picnic area known as China Flat. It has a few picnic tables and a vault toilet.

If there road down to the powerhouse is closed, there is a foot trail which begins immediately on the north side of the dam.

Accommodations and Supplies

Lodging is available in nearby Strawberry or Pinecrest. Farther down the mountain you will find good motels in Twain Harte. For a more rustic setting, try going up Highway 108 to the Dardanelle Resort or on to Kennedy Meadow.

Photo of Beardsley Reservoir Afterbay

Beardsley Reservoir Campground is located a short distance away on the north side of the lake. It has a string of several camp sites with views of the lake, but the sites themselves are small and rather stark. Back up the Beardsley Reservoir Road is the new Black Oak Flat Campgound. By returning to Pinecrest you can find more appealing camping there. Heading on up Highway 108 you will find campgrounds on the Eagle Meadow Road, up on the Clark Fork, and farther up the highway near Dardanelle.

California's Best Camping logo

To find the very best campgrounds in the area and all across California, visit California's Best Camping.

For complete information about camping and fishing around Beardsley Reservoir and all over the Sonora Pass region, see Sonora Pass Vacations.

On your way to Beardsley Reservoir you can pick up fishing supplies on the way up Highway 108 in Sonora or at Mountain Liquors at 18711 Tiffeni Dr. in Twain Harte. At Pinecrest you can get fishing gear at the Pinecrest Sport Shop. On the east side of Sierra stop at Ken's Sporting Goods in Bridgeport. Near Kennedy Meadows the best place for supplies is the store at the Dardanelle Resort.

Recommended Books for Fishing the Sierra Streams and Lakes


Since you have driven all the way down to Beardsley Reservoir you might want to try your luck hiking on downstream and fishing on the Stanislaus River. A road leading from the Beardsley Reservoir Afterbay, right there at China Flat, follows the river.

Naturally you will want to fish in Beardsley Reservoir. If you drive back to Beardsley Point where the boat launch ramp is located, the point there makes a good fishing spot to fish from the shore. A rustic paved trail leads out to the point from the picnic area or the boat ramp.

Photo of Beardsley Reservoir

Beardsley Reservoir

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