South Fork Kings River

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Current River Flows, Kings River

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South Fork Kings River

Suggested Flies for South Fork Kings:
West Sierra Hatch Selection

Other Local Favorites:

Dry Flies:
Parachute Adams #12
Elk Hair Caddis #14-16
St. Vrain Caddis
CDC Cripple #12-14
Kings River Caddis #12-16
Orange Stimulator #8-10

Nymph Flies:
Pheasant Tail Nymph #12-14
Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear #12-14
Bird's Nest #12-14
Copper John #12-14
Fox Poopah #12-14
Prince Nymph #12-14
Kaufmann Golden Stone #10-12

Directions: The South Fork of the Kings River can accessed from Fresno by way of Hwy 180. The highway ends at Cedar Grove within Kings Canyon National Park about 80 miles from Fresno.

Upper Kings RiverThe South Fork Kings actually starts just above the confluence of the Middle Fork Kings. Highway 180 is closest to this area at Yucca Point where a 1.6 mile trail will take you down to the river with an 1100 foot descent. You can follow the river about 4.5 miles up to Boyden Cave where Highway 180 crosses the river and provides another access trail to the river. This stretch of river is mostly pocket water with riffles and runs. Most of the larger fish are within this section. Browns will get up to 15-20 inches and Rainbows can be over 20 inches. It is strictly Catch & Release with barbless flies or lures below Boyden Cave. Above Boyden Cave, the river is a two fish limit. The highway follows the river for the next 15 miles up to the Cedar Grove Trailhead. This is also pocket water but there will be mostly Browns in the 10-12 inch size. Above Cedar Grove, the river becomes much slower but with plenty of trout in the 8-10 inch class. The season is year-round with a 2 trout limit but Highway 180 to Cedar Grove is usually closed after November 8th and does not reopen until snow melt. Between the Middle Fork and Cedar Grove, the South Fork is best during early Spring, just before snow melt. With an early warm spell, the river can be a rushing torrent and fishing will not be possible until the water levels come down and warm up. Generally, the river is fishable by the end of April.
April brings Golden Stoneflies, so try using #10-12 Kaufmann Stoneflies in tan or mottled black and brown. Caddis flies are also present in April as well as March Browns. Try using a CDC Cripple, a #12 reddish-brown Parachute Hares Ear, or a Comparadun. When there are late periods of runoff, the Upper Kings might not be fishable until mid-June. A combination of Golden Stonefly Nymphs and a size #12-14 dropper of a Prince Nymph, Hare's Ear, or Pheasant Tail will help get the rig down into the deeper reaches of the river. As the river further drops, try attractor dries, such as an Orange Stimulator (#8-10) or a Parachute Adams (#12-16). A spotted caddis hatch occurs in September, use a Kings River Caddis, size 12-14. Try the pocket water and micro-eddies near shore. Concentrate on water that is 3-4 feet deep.

Many feel that the Upper Reaches of the Kings River is one of the best wild trout fisheries on the west slope of the Sierras. What the river may lack in sizable fish it makes up for in quantities. Survey results from the State of California show that most of the fish within the South Fork Kings are Browns and Rainbows in the 6-8 inch class with a few larger ones up to 14 inches.

From the Trailhead at Cedar Grove you can take a trail up Lewis Creek to the following areas:
Lewis Creek: Lewis Creek extends for about 6 miles from the outlet of Lewis Lake at 10,000 feet. It drops down to about 4800 feet where it meets the SF Kings. Consists of Rainbows, Brookies, and Browns.
Kennedy Creek:About 10 miles from the trailhead. Kennedy flows northerly from East Kennedy Lake at an elevation of 9600 feet and flows alongside the trail for 3.5 miles down to 8600 feet and continues on to the MF Kings.Consists of Rainbows and Brookies.

From the Trailhead at Copper Creek you can take a trail to the following areas:
Granite Lake: Elevation at 10,450 feet. About 7.75 miles from the trailhead. Consists of Brookies.
Volcanic Lakes: Series of about 10 lakes from 9,400 feet to 10,400 feet in elevation. About 12.5 miles from the trailhead. You need to go over Granite Pass and hike to the northernmost lakes above the West Fork of Dougherty Creek. Working your way upstream, you'll encounter most of the lakes. Almost all of the lakes consist of Rainbows.
State Lakes: Two lakes at 10,300 feet and about 14 miles from the trailhead. Consists of Goldens and Rainbows.
Horseshoe Lakes: 6 lakes about 2 miles north of State Lakes. The lakes are at 10,500 feet consisting of Rainbows.

From the Bubbs Creek Trail:
Bubbs Creek: Bubbs Creek branches off to the south of the South Fork Kings about 1.75 miles above the trailhead. The creek was named for John Bubbs, a prospector who crossed Kearsarge Pass in 1864 from the Owens Valley. The creek goes about 10 miles to Vidette Meadows. Consists of Browns and Rainbows in the downstream portion below Vidette Meadow. Above Vidette Meadow, Bubbs Creek goes about another 4.5 miles and consists of Goldens.
Bullfrog Lake: 8 acre lake at 10,660 feet. Consists of small Brookies. About 13 miles from Trailhead.
Charlotte Lake: 9 acre lake at 10,400 feet, about 13 miles from trailhead. Consists of Rainbows and Brookies. Rainbows were planted in the 1950's and have a sustained population with sizes up to 12". A ranger station is on site with camping areas.

From Woods Creek Trail, you must follow the South Fork Kings through Paradise Valley for 7.8 miles where Woods Creek meets the South Fork Kings:Paradise Valley
Woods Creek: Woods Creek goes for about 7.5 miles up to it's headwaters of Woods Lake. Consists of Rainbows and Browns.
Woods Lake: Elevation at 10,720 feet, about 16 miles from the trailhead. Consists of Brookies.
Rae Lakes: Elevation at 10,000 feet. About 18 miles from the trailhead if you take the Woods Creek trail. Consists of Brookies.
Sixty Lakes Basin: Not sure if there are actually sixty lakes here but there are about 6 really good sized ones. Most of the lakes are in the 10,000 to 11,000 feet elevation. About 20 miles from the trailhead. Consists of Rainbows and Goldens.

© 2013 Steve Schalla
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