North Fork of the Middle Fork Tule River

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MF Tule River
Suggested Flies for Tule River area:
Southern Sierra Hatch Selection

Other Local Favorites:

Dry Flies:
Stimulator #14-16
Elk Hair Caddis #14-16
Royal Wulff #14-16
Henrys Fork Hopper #10
Perfect Ant #18

Nymph Flies:
Kern Emerger #8-16
Prince Nymph #16-20
Black Rubberlegs #6-8
Brook's Golden Stonefly Nymph #10
Little Yellow Stonefly Nymph #10
Copper John's #18-20
Wooly Buggers, Olive or Black #8-10

Directions: To get to the North Fork of the MF Tule River, take Highway 190 8 miles west of Porterville to the Tule River Ranger Station in Springville. Drive 4 miles northeast to Balch Park Road and turn left to Mountain Home State Forest. Go 4 miles to Bear Creek Road and turn right. Drive along Bear Creek road for 23 miles to a Y intersection. The headquarters of Mountain Home State Forest is 0.2 miles to the left. Take the right fork off the Y onto Summit Road. 5 miles on Summit will bring you to Hidden Falls trailhead which provides access on the River Trail. Moses Gulch Trailhead provides access to the Golden Trout Wilderness Lakes of Maggie, Frog, and Twin via the Griswold/Summit Trail.
Another access is to the Summit Trailhead on Road 21S50. Take Highway 190 8 miles west of Porterville to the Tule River Ranger Station in Springville. Go 27 miles on Highway 190 to a junction where Highway 190 becomes County Road M107 (Western Divide Highway). Turn north on Forest Road 21S50. Follow this road for 11 miles to the Summit Trailhead. The road splits at 4 miles but keep to the left.

The North Fork of the MF Tule River offers an opportunity for Browns, Rainbows, and Brookies. The lower reaches of the Middle Fork Tule along Highway 190 gets regular plantings of Rainbows at campgrounds such as Camp Wishon, Camp Nelson, and Cedar Slope. They also have a good population of resident Browns. These areas are also heavily used by bathers and fishermen. Fishing the Northern Fork of the Middle Fork Tule provides a much better flyfishing experience with wild trout. The area has numerous small waterfalls with large, deep pools. The season is the last Saturday of April to Nov 15th.

From the trailhead at Hidden Falls you can follow the North Fork of the Middle Fork Tule for 5.35 miles to Summit lake. This has a 3300' gain more than half which is within the last 2 miles. There is a redwood tree that crosses the stream about one mile upstream and the trail intersects with the Balch Park Trail. The better fishing opportunities are the relatively level areas just below the River Trail where it forks to the right towards Summit Lake with brookies and rainbows. This is about 3 miles from the trailhead.

Summit Lake: This four acre lake is at an elevation 9300 feet. Consists of Brookies in the 6-9 inch class. The lake was originally planted with brook trout in 1930 with the last planting in 1967. It has a self-sustaining population which is limited in size growth due to the nutritional factors the trout endure at these high elevations. Due to snow conditions, the lake is usually difficult to reach until mid-June or early July. The better locations to fish are along the southern shorelines where the water is deeper and there are numerous springs.

Another access is the Summit Trailhead at the end of Forest Road 21S50. This will take you along the ridge separating the Golden Trout Wilderness from the Sequoia National Forest to:

Maggie Lakes: These are three lakes starting at an elevation 9,000 feet. Consists of Rainbows and Golden/Rainbow Hybrids 7-10 inches. The trailhead is at Summit Trailhead at the end of Forest Road 21S50 with a 8.5 mile distance and a 900 feet gain. The lakes were last planted in 1997 with rainbows. DFG tried to plant Goldens in the lakes but rainbows from Peck's creek would contaminate the strain. Upper Maggie (Elevation: 9,163) is the largest of the three and will generally have the largest fish. The best locations to fish on Upper Maggie is the large boulder which resides along the eastern shore and the outlet. Middle and Lower Maggie are quite small with fish reachable with casting from shore.
Frog Lake: Elevation 9,060 feet. Devoid of fish. 9.5 miles from the trailhead.
Twin Lakes: Two lakes at 9,113 feet. Both with Goldens. From Summit Trailhead with a distance of 10.0 miles to the lower lake, a 1000 feet gain. The lakes used to be premier Brookie fisheries but the DFG poisoned the fish in the mid-90's to establish a Golden Trout fishery. The problem has been that the Goldens have not been able to self-sustain a population due to poor spawning conditions. Most of the residual Goldens have been caught, leaving a very sparse population in the Upper Twin Lake.
Summit Lake: 13 miles from Summit Trailhead with a 1200 foot gain. See above for description.

© 2013 Steve Schalla
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