Directions: From the town of Merced on Hwy 99, drive 45 miles northeast on Highway 140 to the town of Briceburg. Continuing north the river parallels the highway into Yosemite National Park.
The Merced has Rainbow, Brook, and Brown Trout as well as Largemouth, Smallmouth and Stripped Bass within the lower reaches to Lake McClure.
Some of the best water on the Merced for trout is where the South Fork meets the main river and continuing upstream to about the Park Boundary. The river is stocked from the South Fork to Foresta Bridge. Upstream from Foresta Bridge to the Yosemite NP Border, it is open year-round. It's catch and release only for Rainbows and a limit of 5 Brown Trout with single barbless hooks and artificials. Most of this area is a rafting area which ceases around the end of June. Before the snow melt, the fishing is good in February and March, then try again starting in July after the snowmelt. Below the Foresta Bridge the season is also year-round, with a limit of 5 trout from the last Saturday of April to November 15th. The rest of the period is a 2 trout limit. Below the South Fork to Briceburg there is a good population of smallmouth bass. These smallies will hit the leech and bugger patterns.
Within the Park, the season is last Saturday in April to November 15th with catch and release only for Rainbows and a limit of 5 Brown Trout with single barbless hooks and artificials. The best areas are the Gorge, just below the valley. This is pocket water with large Rainbows and Browns. Due to snowmelt, it is not fishable until July when the Caddis and Mayfly hatches come off. Flow measurements are taken at Pohono Bridge within the Park. Safe wading flows are usually less than 200 cfs. Check the link above for Current conditions.
Bridalveil Creek is a tributary to the Merced and has excellent fishing opportunities. It is a pool-riffle freestone stream with Rainbows and Brookies. A trail from Glacier Point Road to Glacier Point will take you to a bridge over Bridalveil Creek. Fishing is good on both sides of the bridge.
Major hatches are the PMD starting in June and extending until the end of September. Caddis are also prevalent. During late February to March BWO, Baetis, and Golden Stones are evident. Stoneflies will emerge during April and May. June is a good time for hopper patterns. Ants work throughout the summer. The river gets a lot of river rafting activity during the spring and early summer months. Wading can also be very risky during the Spring run-off period.
Most use a 5-6 weight rod with a 9 foot 3X leader and 4-8 feet of 3X-5X tippet. The best dry fly condition is during the late fall using size 16-18 flies. During mid-spring, deep nymphing is your best bet. You must weight the line about 4 feet above a weighted nymph.