Photo of South Stanislaus River, Tuolumne County, CA

Stanislaus River Fishing

Strawberry to Pinecrest Lake

Photo of Stanislaus River, Tuolumne County, CA

A short stretch of the South Fork of the Stanislaus River links Pinecrest Lake and Strawberry in Tuolumne County, California. There you can find great fishing hidden away under the pines. The stretch of river is only a mile long, but you could make a whole day of fishing it as you pick your way up and down the banks, trying your luck along the riffles and in the quiet pools. At an elevation of 5,500' it is free of snow by early May, but the snow melt can often result in roiling water early in the season.

In My Creel

  • #16 tan elk hair Caddis
  • #12 tan stonefly
  • #16 gold bead Pheasant Tail
  • #16 Prince Nymph
  • 1/8 oz. Kastmaster (nickel)
  • 1/8 oz. Plain Aglia Mepps (silver)

I didn't expect the larger fish I was catching farther down the Stanislaus River, so I dug out my smaller flies, nymphs, and lures for this outing.

Making Your Way to the Stanislaus River

The easiest way to reach the South Fork Stanislaus River between Strawberry and Pinecrest is to drive on Highway 108 to Strawberry. Park somewhere near the highway and walk up little Herring Creek Road which passes between the Strawberry Store and the river. After a hundred yards or so you reach the end of the paved road and cross onto a dirt road. There is limited parking there.

The dirt road goes up the canyon near the Stanislaus River, making the first half mile an easy stroll. You can pick your fishing spots as you go. After about a half mile, however, a foot trail veers off to the right, leaving the road. It is not a well maintained trail and is only followed in places by numerous orange blazes painted on trees. If you stay on the road you will end up climbing to a water tank and heading off in another direction.

Photo of Stanislaus River, Tuolumne County, CA

Trail to Pinecrest

The trail leads up the side of the Stanislaus River to Pinecrest Lake dam. If you are so inclined, you can hike up to the dam, cross it, and follow the Pinecrest Lake trail over to the resort area. A summer snack shack near the beach offers everything from hamburgers to ice cream.

Accommodations and Supplies

The most convenient lodging is across the road at the Strawberry Inn where they have rooms for reasonable rates. Up the road in Pinecrest you'll find the Pinecrest Lodge with motel rooms, condos, and cabins. Another possibility is to rent a cabin for a few days. Many vacation cabin owners rent their cabins for good prices, especially during the off-seasons.

Two large campgrounds are located at Pinecrest. The main one at the lake takes reservations. It is very popular and it is unlikely you will find an empty space during the summer or on weekends unless you make a reservation. Nearby Meadowview Campground does not take reservations. Farther up the pass you can find campgrounds on the Clark Fork, up Niagara Creek, and near Dardanelle.

Photo of Stanislaus River, Tuolumne County, CA

Once you're on the road for your fishing trip to the Stanislaus River, you can stop for supplies in a number of places:

For complete information about camping, lodging, boating, fishing, and other recreation along the Stanislaus River and at Pinecrest, see Sonora Pass Vacations.

California's Best Camping logo

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

Recommended Books for Fishing the Sierra Streams and Lakes


Fishing at Pinecrest Lake is always fun. Whether you have a boat or are working the shoreline you are sure to have good luck. The lake is planted frequently with rainbow. Around the shore past the beach is a concrete fishing dock especially good for children.

Photo of South Stanislaus River, Tuolumne County, CA

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