The South Fork San Joaquin River and Sallie Keyes Lakes in Fresno County recently became the latest waters designated as Wild Trout Water in California.
Located approximately 60 miles northeast of Fresno in the John Muir Wilderness Area, the watershed provides anglers a remote wilderness fishing opportunity with the possibility of catching brown, brook, rainbow and golden trout.
The watershed may be difficult to get to, but the scenery is breathtaking and there are opportunities to catch California golden trout, the state freshwater fish, as well as trophy-sized brown trout.
The waters were designated last month by the California Fish and Game Commission. It is the policy of the Commission to designate certain waters to be managed exclusively for wild trout. The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Heritage and Wild Program (HWTP) is responsible for not only managing designated Wild Trout Waters, but also recommending new waters to the Commission each year.
Wild Trout Waters are those that support self-sustaining trout populations, are aesthetically pleasing and environmentally productive, provide adequate catch rates and are open to public angling. Wild Trout Waters may not be stocked with catchable-sized hatchery trout.
The HWTP has been conducting an evaluation of the South Fork San Joaquin River watershed since 2007. The evaluation includes snorkel surveys, angler assessments, habitat evaluations, gill net surveys and a remote infrared camera study.
The designation boundaries include the “South Fork San Joaquin River and all tributaries from Florence Lake upstream to the boundary with Kings Canyon National Park including the Piute Creek drainage (Fresno County).” In addition, “Sallie Keyes Lakes (Fresno County)” are located within this watershed and consist of two lakes situated along the Pacific Crest Trail above 10,000 feet elevation near Selden Pass.
With the inclusion of these waters into the HWTP this year, there are now 44 designated Wild Trout Waters across the state encompassing more than 1400 miles of stream habitat, 11 lakes, and 10 Heritage Trout Waters. For more information on designated waters, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildtrout.