Calling all Anglers!StripedBassSycIsleSml

Whether you like to fish for trout, bass, catfish or panfish, you'll find a great place to cast your line at Sycamore Island on the San Joaquin River.

Sycamore Island on the San Joaquin River

Find us at 39664 Avenue 7 1/2, Madera, CA - click here to download directions to the site

Sycamore Island Ranch is a 600-acre natural area with river access and multiple ponds conveniently located in Madera near Valley Children's Hospital along the San Joaquin River. Click here for a park map.

  • Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Holidays, from the first Saturday in February to Veteran's Day..
  • Seasonal Hours of Operation: February, March, October, and November open 6:00am-5:30pm; April and September open 6:00am-7:00pm; May-August open 6:00am-8:30pm.
  • Entrance fee: $9/vehicle, $5/trailer.  Annual pass available for $85.  Purchase at the bait shop or save time by buying your pass online. Click here to purchase a Day Pass or Annual Pass. 
  • Click here to visit our Facebook page for more information and message us with any questions.

Not a fisherman? Looking for a recreation area the whole family can enjoy?

Sycamore Island offers something for everyone:  

  • Trails - Nature trails for wildlife observation, relaxing walks, riding bicycles, or riding horses. 
  • Picnicking - Picnic under the shade of huge Sycamore and Oak trees or one of our covered shelters. Contact us to reserve a covered picnic shelter for your next event.   
  • Boat rentals - 2-person canoes and 1-person sit-on-top kayaks can be rented at the bait shop on a first-come-first-serve basis for use in the ponds. Call ahead to check availability, (559) 801-8690. Paddles, life jackets, and entrance fees are included with rentals. $10 per hour; $50 for all-day rentals. No experience is required and the boats are transported to and from the ponds for you. Our ponds offer a calm water experience all skill levels will enjoy.  
  • Amenities - Restrooms are located throughout the park. Snacks, drinks, and bait are available for purchase at the Bait Shop. 


StockingA Guide To Trout Fishing at Sycamore Island

Hatchery Trout are stocked by the Department of Fish and Wildlife in one of the ponds at Sycamore Island during late fall and winter.  Trout are cold-water fish, and therefore they don’t usually survive during the hot summer months.  You can find the Sycamore Island Trout Pond by following the signs on the property, or ask for directions and pick up a map at the bait shop.

Choosing Your Bait

Trout have an amazing sense of smell and sight.  We recommend using natural bait such as worms, grubs, or insects.

Artificial baits like lures and flies work well in many environments, but are only recommended for the more experienced angler.  The more advanced cast and retrieval methods used with artificial baits require more practice for fishing success.

Choosing Your Rig

Trout have small soft mouths compared to other fish. You'll want to use smaller hooks. A single barb size 10 works well with most trout.  Barbless hooks are recommended for catch-and-release fishing.

Spin-cast reels are ideal for trout fishing. You'll want a light – medium action pole, since trout typically doesn’t put up of as strong of a fight as bass and larger game fish. Use a line weight that compliments the water current. For faster moving currents, you'll want a lighter line weight around 4lbs to prevent your line from sinking. When fishing in still water, try a heavier line like a 8lb to help sink your bait more efficiently, and prevent line breaks from snags or working through underwater terrain such as rocks or logs.

When fly fishing or trolling, you'll want to use the specific rods and reels required for that method.

Shore Fishing

When fishing from the shore, there are a variety of tactics you can use. When bottom-fishing, try using a 3/8 oz. egg sinker above a swivel. Then create a 14” line leader off the swivel to your hook.

You can also try using a lure, like a Rooster Tail or spoon bait. Make sure the hooks are small enough for a trout's smaller mouth. Try a “1-2-Pause” retrieval method. Reel once, then twice, then pause for a second. Then continue the process. The goal is pause it just long enough to make the lure movement look natural, but not allow it to start sinking.

Time of day is crucial. Trout typically move shallow when feeding, typically in the early morning at sunrise and again in the evening at sunset. During the day they tend to move to deeper waters that are more ideal for trolling. So fishing at the right times when they are closest to the shore can help produce better results.

Trout will come all the way up to the surface to feed in the early morning and evening hours, and swim down to deeper, cooler water in the middle of the day.  When fishing in deeper water, use flashers or trolling rigs to help attract the fish. Provide a 12” leader of line from the end of the flasher to your bait.

Fishing Rules and Regulations

As of February 2014, the limit for hatchery trout on caught in off-stream ponds is 5.  The season is open all year.  The limit for trout caught on the San Joaquin River is 2.


Sponsor Sycamore Island

Support our operations at Sycamore Island by becoming a sponsor. Contact Bryna De Fede, Development Associate at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 559-248-8480x216. 

Click here to see the Sycamore Island Sponsorship Benefits.  

Thank you to our 2022 Parkway Sponsors


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