Hey there my fellow fishing and traveling fanatics and welcome to my post where we will outline my 15 best fishing spots in California. If you’re an avid angler, California offers endless opportunities for fishing enthusiasts, whether you prefer freshwater or saltwater fishing.
From the San Joaquin Delta to Lake Tahoe and the Pacific Ocean, California boasts some of the best fishing spots in the country so whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, California has something for everyone when it comes to fishing.
Map of California’s Best Fishing Spots
Use this map to identify the location of the best fishing spots in California listed below:
Best Fishing Spots in California
As we know, California covers quite a large area with numerous lakes, rivers and hundreds of miles of coastline. So to help you out, I have broken down the best areas for the type of fishing that you may be interested in. I will make sure however to highlight which part of California they are found in as well.
So, let’s rig up our lines and check out all out.
Freshwater Fishing Spots
California is home to some of the best freshwater fishing spots in the United States. From lakes to rivers, the state has a diverse range of freshwater fishing spots that cater to anglers of all skill levels. Here are some of the best freshwater fishing spots in California:
1. Lake Shasta
Lake Shasta is one of the most popular freshwater fishing spots in California. Located in Northern California, the lake is home to a variety of fish species including trout, bass, and salmon. The lake is also known for its stunning scenery, with miles of shoreline and crystal-clear waters. Whether you’re looking to catch a trophy fish or simply enjoy a day out on the water, Lake Shasta is a great choice.
2. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is another popular freshwater fishing spot in California. The lake is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning scenery and is home to a variety of fish species including trout, bass and kokanee salmon.
Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, Lake Tahoe is a great place to fish.
3. Clear Lake
Clear Lake is a popular freshwater fishing spot located in Northern California known for its crystal-clear waters and a variety of fish species including bass, catfish and crappie.
The lake is also surrounded by beautiful scenery, making it a great place to fish and relax. Whether you’re looking to catch a trophy fish or simply enjoy a day out on the water, Clear Lake is a great choice.
4. San Pablo Reservoir
Located in Contra Costa County, San Pablo Reservoir is one of the best fishing spots around. With over 800 acres of surface water, this reservoir is home to some of the biggest rainbow trout and bass fish in the area.
5. Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes is a group of lakes covering 120 acres in the central part of the state, just south of Mammoth Mountain. This area is known for its trout fishing with rainbow, brown and brook trout all found in the lakes.
The lakes are stocked regularly, so you’re almost guaranteed to catch something and you can fish from the shore or rent a boat as well.
6. Millerton Lake
Millerton Lake is a 4,900 acre lake located in the central part of the state in Fresno and Madera County. This lake is known for its bass fishing with largemouth and smallmouth bass both found within its waters.
The lake also has catfish, bluegill and crappie and you can fish from the shore or rent a boat.
7. Los Banos Reservoir
Los Banos Reservoir is located on the western edge of the Central Valley and is often overshadowed by nearby San Luis Reservoir. However, this spot is a hidden gem for trout, catfish, panfish and largemouth bass fishing.
The reservoir is stocked with trout in the winter months making it a great spot for winter fishing as well.
8. Lake Cuyamaca
Located in San Diego County, this 110-acre lake is stocked with trout every year and is open for fishing year-round. You can also find bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie and sturgeon in the lake as well.
Make sure to bring your California State Fishing License for every member of your party.
Saltwater Fishing Spots
If you’re looking for some of the best saltwater fishing spots in California, there are plenty of great places to cast your line and reel in some big catches. Here are some of the top saltwater fishing spots in the state:
9. Monterey Bay
Monterey Bay is a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts and home to a wide variety of fish species including salmon, rockfish, halibut and more. You can fish from the shore or rent a boat to get out on the water.
Some of the best spots to fish in Monterey Bay include the Municipal Wharf, Lover’s Point, and the Monterey Breakwater.
9. San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay is another great spot for saltwater fishing. The bay is home to a variety of fish including striped bass, sturgeon, halibut and more.
You can fish from the shore or rent a boat to get out on the water and some of the best spots to fish in include the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and the Berkeley Pier.
10. Santa Monica Bay
Santa Monica Bay is a popular spot for saltwater fishing in Southern California. The bay is home to a variety of fish species, including yellowtail and barracuda, and more if you rent a boat to get out on the water.
Some of the best spots to fish in Santa Monica Bay include the Venice Pier, the Santa Monica Pier and the Malibu Pier.
11. Redondo Beach Pier
This pier is a popular spot for fishing, with a variety of fish species to catch including mackerel, halibut and sand bass. You can rent equipment on-site and there are plenty of restaurants nearby to grab a bite after a day of fishing.
12. El Capitan State Beach
This beachfront, located 20 minutes north of Santa Barbara, is a popular destination for anglers who love to surf fish. You can catch a variety of fish types here, including perch, corbina and halibut.
Fly Fishing Spots
When it comes to fly fishing in California, there are several spots that stand out. Here are a few of the best fly fishing spots in the state:
13. Lower Sacramento River
The Lower Sacramento River is a great year-round fishery for fly fishing which means you can fish here no matter what time of year it is. The river is home to a large population of rainbow trout which can be caught using a variety of fly fishing techniques.
Some of the most popular flies used here include the PMD, BWO and caddis patterns so if you’re looking for a great place to fish for rainbow trout, the Lower Sacramento River is definitely worth checking out.
14. McCloud River
The McCloud River is another great spot for fly fishing in California. This river is known for its large population of wild rainbow and brown trout which can be caught using a variety of fly fishing techniques.
Some of the most popular flies used here include the Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, and Hare’s Ear and the McCloud River is a great place to fish if you’re looking for a peaceful, scenic location with plenty of fish.
15. Yuba River
The Yuba River is a fantastic spot for fly fishing, especially for rainbow and brown trout. This river is known for its crystal-clear water, which makes it easy to spot fish and some of the most popular flies used here include the Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, and Prince Nymph.
The Yuba River is a great place to fish if you’re looking for a challenge, as the fish here can be quite selective however if you’re up for the challenge, you’re sure to have a great time fishing here.
Understanding California’s Fishing Regions
When it comes to fishing in California, it’s important to understand the different regions and what types of fish you can expect to catch in each one. Here’s a brief overview of the state’s fishing regions:
The North Coast region spans from the Oregon border down to San Francisco Bay. This region is known for its rugged coastline and cold, clear waters. Some of the most popular fish to catch in this region include salmon, steelhead and rockfish.
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to a variety of fishing opportunities including both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Some of the most popular species to catch in the bay include striped bass, halibut and sturgeon.
The Central Coast region runs from San Francisco Bay down to Santa Barbara. This region is known for its picturesque coastline and abundant marine life. Some of the most popular fish to catch in this region include halibut, rockfish and lingcod.
Southern California is home to some of the state’s most diverse fishing opportunities. From the kelp forests of the Channel Islands to the warm waters off San Diego, this region has something for everyone. Some of the most popular species to catch in Southern California include yellowtail, tuna and dorado.
The Eastern Sierra region is located in the eastern part of the state, near the Nevada border. This region is known for its high-altitude lakes and streams, which are home to trout, bass and other freshwater species.
Best Times for Fishing in California
If you’re planning a fishing trip to California, it’s important to know the best times to go. The state has a diverse range of fishing opportunities from deep sea fishing to freshwater fishing in lakes and rivers. Here are some of the best times for fishing in California:
Spring is a great time for fishing in California, particularly for striped bass, trout, largemouth bass and halibut. Striped bass start moving from the bays toward the Sacramento River and California Delta, which happen to provide some of the best bass fishing spots in the state as well.
Trout fishing is also popular in the spring, with many rivers and streams stocked with rainbow, brown and brook trout. Largemouth bass and halibut are also abundant in the spring, making it a great time to target these species too.
Summer offers the best fishing for salmon, tuna, and seabass in the state of California. The mighty Pacific Ocean is home to a wide variety of fish species and summer is the best time to target some of the most prized catches.
Tuna, marlin and halibut are all abundant in the summer months and deep sea fishing charters are available up and down the coast. Lake Tahoe is also a popular summer fishing destination with salmon and trout being the most commonly caught species.
Fall is another great time for fishing in California, particularly for striped bass, salmon and steelhead. Striped bass fishing is at its peak in the fall, with many anglers targeting these hard-fighting fish in the Sacramento River and California Delta.
Salmon and steelhead are also abundant in the fall, with many rivers and streams offering excellent fishing opportunities as well.
Winter is generally considered the slowest season for fishing in California, but there are still opportunities to catch fish. Trout fishing is still popular in many rivers and streams and largemouth bass can be caught in some of the state’s warmer lakes.
Rockfish and lingcod are also abundant in the winter months, making it a good time to target these species.
California Fishing Regulations
If you’re planning to go fishing in California, it’s important to be aware of the state’s fishing regulations. These regulations are in place to protect fish populations and ensure that fishing remains sustainable for generations to come.
California has different regulations for freshwater and saltwater fishing, so be sure to check the regulations that apply to the body of water where you plan to fish. You can find the most up-to-date regulations on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
One important regulation to be aware of is the requirement to have a valid fishing license. In California, anyone over the age of 16 needs a fishing license to fish in freshwater or saltwater. Licenses can be purchased online, at a licensed sales agent, or at a CDFW office.
Another important regulation is the daily bag limit, which specifies the number of fish you can keep in a single day as well as the legal size at which fish can be kept. These limits vary depending on the species of fish and the body of water where you’re fishing.
Finally, be aware of any seasonal closures or restrictions that may be in place. These closures are designed to protect fish populations during vulnerable times, such as spawning season.
There you have it, my 15 best fishing spots California. As usual, let me know of your experiences here or if there are any spots (not your secret ones of course) you think I need to add.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, or corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time.