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Fly fishing for steelhead on the Big Sur River

Fishing in Big Sur


The Big Sur River is located along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in North America – Highway 1 along Monterey’s scenic Big Sur Coast.

And if you hit the Big Sur during the right time, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences an angler will encounter.

“It gets a significant number of fish, but they move through the system very quickly because the spawning area is so limited,” said Geoff Malloway, owner of Central Coast Fly Fishing. “Timing is everything. The run, however, is very consistent from one year to the next.”

Big Sur trout typically look for riffles in 4 to 6 feet of water. Typical steelhead flies will work on this water, as do small trout flies as many of these fish are undersized.

When the water level is down, think small. When water levels jump and water clarity becomes an issue, turn to bigger and brighter presentations.

The Big Sur, closed to fishing within Pfeiffer Big Sure State Park, is sometimes opened to fishing from late May through October above the upstream end of the gorge pool at the boundary of the park and the Ventana Wilderness Area. Anglers are encouraged to double check the rules and boundaries with the ranger staff to keep in line with the current regulations.

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