This article covers the nearest fishing spots for people who are living in or visiting either Tulare County and its San Joaquin Valley neighbor, Kings County.
Tulare County in particular is loaded with fishing opportunities, especially in the Kern River and Tule River watersheds and lakes in and around Sequoia National Park in the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Several reservoirs down in the valley areas add to the fishing opportunities and lend year-round fishing options to the mostly seasonal offerings in the high country.
Besides Visalia county residents live in Tulare, Porterville, Dinuba, Lindsay, Farmersville, Exeter, and other communities and rural areas.
There’s also lots of reasons for tourists to come to Tulare County. It is home to Sequoia National Park and part of Kings Canyon National Park. It also shares Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the Continental United States.
Kings County sits in a largely agricultural area with few year-round waters open or agreeable for fishing, other than some opportunities to catch big fish stuck in the California Aqueduct.
People in Kings County live in Hanford, Corcoran, Lemoore, Avenal, Lemoore Station, Armona, and smaller communities and farming areas.
Local attractions include Bravo Land and El Adobe De Los Robles Historic Park.
What follows are listings of most of the really good fishing spots in Tulare County, followed by a quick description of where to access the Aqueduct’s fishing spots in Kings County.
After that, check out the “Fishing in Neighboring Counties” feature at the end of this article. That’s where you’ll find even more great spots to fish within reach just outside of Tulare and Kings counties.
Tulare County Fishing Spots
Balch Park Lakes
Balch Park sits at about 6,500 feet in elevation in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains, where its lakes offer cool water good for trout fishing.
The lakes tend to be nicely stocked starting around Memorial Day and into June, and late spring and the very early weeks of summer are likely to offer the highest catch rates.
The lakes are in a county park of the same name, which also offers camping and other amenities.
Big Meadows Creek
This roadside stream sitting at about 7,000 feet in elevation in the Shell Mountain area can be a good trout fishing spot.
It’s been stocked in the mid-spring into early summer (often May and June), and fishing will be best during that season, when fishing is allowed.
There is primitive camping and trails in the area.
More Information: Big Meadow Campground – Sequoia National Forest
This small tributary of the Kern River is in a remote area with steep terrain.
The stream has been stocked some years in the spring.
This is a remote area with primitive campsites, so come prepared.
This lake in Woodlake at times can be quite good for bass, catfish, and panfish such as crappie.
Both catfish and bass have been caught in impressive sizes, and this could be an under-the-radar spot to hit in the late winter into spring as the water warms up and the bigger fish get active.
While trout have been stocked here in the past, we haven’t seen any reports in recent years.
This rocky stream near California Hot Springs is sometimes stocked with catchable rainbow trout.
There are overnight accommodations ranging from primitive campsites to resorts in this area of southern Tulare County.
Del Lago Park Lake
This small urban park lake in Tulare is a closeby fishing spot where you can catch stocked trout.
The hatchery usually delivers rainbows several times from late winter to early spring, and that time frame is when your odds will be good. At other times, it’s likely not worth your time to fish, but you might want to come for the water park.
The park can on N. Laspina Street, not far from The Home Depot.
For details, see Del Lago Community Park.
Dry Meadow Creek
Dry Meadow Creek is a high-elevation tributary of the Kern River that is often stocked near the confluence with Nobe Young (Bone) Creek.
The planting is likely to occur in the spring, and that’s the best time to fish this creek.
There are primitive campsites nearby.
This tributary may have some of the golden trout that are also found in the Little Kern, where it flows.
The wild Kern goldens are protected from harvest.
There are hiking trails and primitive campsites in the area.
This tributary of the Little Kern River has been stocked some years with hatchery rainbow trout.
Access to this stream is from Forest Route 22S82.
Hedrick Pond (Redwood Lake)
Hedrick Pond is a 1-acre lake (a pond, really) located in Balch Park.
Like the other small lakes in this county park, this one (also known as Redwood Lake) is stocked several times a year with hatchery trout.
See the Balch Lakes entry above for additional information.
Kaweah Reservoir is a good-sized reservoir, covering 1,945 surface acres when full, that is typically stocked with trout a few times during the late winter and very early spring.
That’s when trout fishing will be at its best, while fishing for bass, catfish, and panfish is likely to pick up in spring as the water warms. Florida-strain largemouth bass in the 18-pound range have been landed here.
Fishing can be very good here before the weather turns broiling hot.
Also don’t wait too long because water levels can drop pretty drastically here. Those shifting water levels also can expose a changing array of potential underwater hazards for boaters.
A good place to start your fishing trip is at Lemon Hill Recreation Area along Sierra Drive, where you’ll find a boat launch and marina.
Also known as Kaweah Reservoir, this fishery is just east of Woodlake and only 25 minutes from Visalia.
This stream has various opportunities to catch both hatchery and wild trout, depending on where you fish it.
The closest section for most people is the mainstem above Lake Kaweah, in the Three Rivers area near the south entrance of Sequoia National Park. That section has been stocked at times but may not always receive planters.
The North Fork along Highway 198 also has at times been stocked with trout.
The Marble Fork of the Kaweah River is managed for wild trout.
It’s also within Sequoia National Park, which means it falls under federal regulations.
The upper Kern River, which is well known for trout fishing and often fly fishing, flows through Tulare County.
Parts of the river here are heavily stocked with hatchery rainbow trout, especially sections in the Sequoia National Forest.
The plantings start as early as the late winter and may continue through spring and potentially into the first week or so of summer before summertime temperatures peak.
Mountain Highway 99 provides excellent access to a lot of the stocked water in this area, from Johnsondale Bridge south into Kern County.
The river above Johnsondale Bridge is home to some excellent fly and lure fishing for wild Kern rainbows.
Tulare County also is home to Kennedy Meadows on the South Fork Kern River, a popular fishing, hiking and camping destination along the Pacific Crest Trail.
Swimming in the river is not recommended due to powerful currents, cold water temperatures, and underwater hazards.
Read much more from our local expert: Complete Guide to Kern River Fishing
Mooney Grove Park Pond
This small urban pond in Visalia is open all year but is most productive after being stocked with catchable rainbow trout, typically multiple times in the late winter and early spring. At last check, regular plantings occurred in February, March and April.
Mooney Grove Park Pond is located along S. Mooney Boulevard at the south end in Visalia.
Murry Park Pond
This small pond in Porterville is most popularly fished for its catchable rainbow trout, which are typically stocked in late winter to early spring.
At last check, the pond was stocked once each in February, March and April.
Murry Park Pond is located on E. Putnam Avenue.
Nobe Young Creek
This small stream, which flows into Dry Meadow Creek upstream from the Kern River in the Seven Teacups area, at times is stocked with catchable rainbow trout.
Forest Route 22S53 provides access near the confluence of Nobe Young and Dry Meadow creeks.
This is another small Kern River tributary that can be stocked with trout, at times in both its upper and lower stretches.
Spring is the most likely time it will be planted, before it gets too hot. Late April or early May is a decent bet.
There is camping available in the area.
Plaza Park Pond
This small urban pond on the west side of Visalia will have good fishing if it’s stocked with catchable trout, which may not be every year.
If stocked, that’s likely to be when the water is still at its coolest in late winter.
A variety of amenities and activities are offered in Plaza Park.
The park is near the intersection of California State Routes 99 and 198.
This small creek at the southern end of Tulare County has at times been stocked with hatchery trout.
It’s in an area with large granite rocks and coniferous forests and is fairly easy to walk.
Find Poso Park Drive for access.
This high-elevation stream sitting at about 6,500 feet is stocked with catchable rainbow trout in the spring.
The creek is near the Generals Highway and often stocked in the stretch near Stony Creek Campground and Stony Creek Lodge.
Fish plantings are most likely to occur a handful of times from about April to June.
You’ll find stores (including bait and tackle), fuel, camping and other amenities in the immediate area.
This close-in and fairly large reservoir with a capacity of about 2,400 surface acres has a variety of fishing options.
Success Reservoir (also known as Success Lake and Success Reservoir) is usually stocked with hatchery trout a couple of times in late winter or the first of spring, and trout fishing will be best during those cool months after it’s planted.
Even at times the trout fishing is slow to non-existent, anglers can catch resident bass, catfish, and panfish such as crappie and bluegill.
Bass fishing can really surprise people here when it’s good, with huge fish into the upper teens caught here.
The lake, fed by the Tule River, includes several narrow arms and coves that offer a variety of fishing spots for both bank and boat anglers here.
Visitors will find camping and boat ramps at the reservoir, which is just east of Porterville on State Route 190. It is roughly 45 minutes from Visalia or just over an hour from Bakersfield.
Check out Lake Success’ website for more detailed information.
The Tule River at times is stocked with hatchery-reared trout at several locations on three forks. The plants really power the fishing here.
The Middle Fork is sometimes stocked above the Springville area along SR 190, and the nearby North Fork has been stocked at times just a mile or so up Wagner Road from the same area.
Higher into the cooler forested areas, the North and South forks of the Middle Forks are more reliably planted with trout.
The North Fork of the Middle Fork Tule is stocked in the vicinity of Wishon Campground (Wishon Road).
Trout are also released into the South Fork of the Middle Fork at locations around the Camp Nelson and Cedar Slope close to SR 190.
Since these areas are nicely stocked and accessible, expect some angling pressure.
There is plenty of camping and other amenities around.
The Tule River also has some brown trout around, as well as smallmouth bass, sunfish and other “warm water” species of fish. The latter fish increase in numbers as the river drops and warms in lower elevations.
A remote stream of pools and riffle that at times has been stocked with hatchery trout, though it doesn’t appear to be planted every year.
It’s located in coniferous forests at the southern end of Tulare County, southeast of California Hot Springs, off Capinero Drive in the Dark Canyon area.
Kings County Fishing
The massive aqueduct doesn’t just carry water, it carries striped bass, catfish and sometimes other fish along with it.
A couple of public access spots within Kings County may offer a fair shot at those species of fish at times. They may not be pretty, and it’s not always great, but dunk some bait and see what happens. You could hit it when the fish are in the area and biting.
One is the Milham Road crossing just west of Kettleman City (and just east of I-5). Another is at the very northern edge of Kings County at the Avenal Cutoff Road crossing over the aqueduct. That latter access is about 2 miles northeast of the State Route 169 exit on I-5.
Fishing in Neighboring Counties
Fresno County: To the north, the Fresno area is loaded with great fishing spots, including Pine Flat and Shaver lakes.
Kern County: To the south, the Bakersfield area has plenty of fishing spots of its own. Check out Lake Isabella, the Kern River, and more.
San Luis Obispo County: To the southwest, connected at the corner, San Luis Obispo has tremendous Pacific Ocean fishing out of Morro Bay as well as the excellent Lake Nacimiento.