Rain or shine. Frost of drought. The Kings River in Central California usually stands up to all of Mother Nature’s extremes, especially on the lower stretches.
“The lower portion of the river doesn’t get affected by weather,” says Dan Busby at Buzz Buszek Fly Shop (559-734-1151) in Visalia. It actually gets better as the fall goes on while the Upper Kings gets blown out.”
When and Where to Fish
The most popular stretches are traditionally the stocked runs at Winton Park (below Piedra), Chonumni Park (above Piedra) and near the dam where cold flows hold trout all year long.
Fly fishermen say the best time to fling a fly on the Lower Kings is from November to April when the irrigation season dies down.
The river can see low flows, so nymphing is a good option until the evening hatch comes through.
Flies to Use
Busby recommends attractor patterns size 12-16 and dries such as a Parachute Adams and an Elks Hair Caddis, but urges fly guys to stay away from October caddis.
Royal Wulffs, Light Cahills, Casanova Caddis and Blue-Winged Olives are good backup flies, according to locals.
“You never know when the hatch comes off,” Busby said, “so it’s good to have a little bit of everything in a bunch of sizes.”
PMDs, Adams, emergers, black ants and olive Woolly Buggers come into play when the trout are really selective, or if there are drastic changes in the weather.
Fly fishermen who want to go the extra mile can fish from Kirch Flats Campground all the way up to Garlic Falls. Work protected pools with nymphs in these catch-and-release flows beyond Pine Flat Reservoir.
Getting to the Kings River
Take Highway 180 east out of Fresno and follow Trimmer Springs Road toward Pine Flat. The lower river below the dam is a popular spot for anglers searching for planted rainbow trout.