Merced River , Canoe, SUP & Kayak Fishing Information
The colorful shoreline’s image reflects onto the smooth ice-cold water surface of the Merced River located beneath the New Exchequer Dam Just before reaching the park entrance to Lake McSwain on the right is a boat launch and parking lot to this short two mile stretch down the Merced River. This section of the Merced River provides a pleasant four mile round-trip with few, if any, other boats on the water. When you paddle back upriver to the launch area, keep in mind there is a slight current to contend with. Also, beware of fishing lines when paddling underneath the bridge.
Merced River has a reputation for monster-sized 10 pound brown trout. Rainbow trout are also known to grow up into the 24 inch class! The Department of Fish and Game stocks the river annually with 17,000 rainbow trout in the 10 to 12 inch range.
Fly fishermen can enjoy year-round action at Merced River, but it is catch and release only, with barbless hooks. Beginning in mid summer when the water flow decreases, fly fishermen frequently wade into the river to fish, but use caution for swift undercurrents and slippery rocks.
USE CAUTION WHEN PADDLING ON A RIVER:
As fun and exciting as it may be to kayak on a river, don’t forget that paddling on a river entails an amount of risk due to the elements of nature. Rivers have different behaviors throughout the year. River flows can be impacted by runoff from storms, snow melt and by the daily ebb and flow of the ocean tides. What once was flat water can quickly become Class I to Class III rapids after a recent storm, which is best left to paddlers who have the skills to maneuver around rocks, and strainers and who know how to read water. The drought in California has also affected the water level on many rivers in California. Paddlers should stay up-to-date on the conditions that affect paddling a river, such as river height and discharge, tidal schedules, river flows and current weather activity. Call before departing for current water level conditions. When paddling on a river, always go with two people who are familiar with the river. Why two? In case something happens to one of them, you won’t be left paddling down a river alone.
Open: The Merced River is open seven days a week all year from sunrise to sunset for boating. There is a 5 m.p.h. boat speed limit on this section of the river.
Fees: There isn’t any day use or launch fee at this section of the Merced River.
River Facilities: The facilities include a boat launch, vault toilets, a paved parking lot, fishing, and boating. Swimming, windsurfing, jet and waterskiing are not permitted. NOTE: Bring your own water.