Fishing In California: Our 10 Favorite Places That You Must Like
California from an angler’s perspective is a fishing paradise. When people think of this place, they probably think of the beautiful coast that runs all the way from north to south.
This coast is the perfect place for surf fishing. There is also the majestic Sierra Nevada in North Carolina. But when it comes to bass fishing, people usually think of only two places.
One of them is the California Delta that has miles and miles of tidal waters that run through multiple cities and counties. This place is where the best bass fishermen gather.
It has great bass fishing pretty much all year long. The bass professionals call this place their home.
There is also the Famous Clear Lake which is considered to be one of the best lakes for fishing in the country. Many anglers visit this lake every year and it’s also a famous tourist spot in California.
Fishing in California is an amazing experience. Apart from lakes, it has streams, rivers, and the ocean. If you want to go for kayak fishing, shore fishing or even surf fishing, here is a list of our 10 best places to fish in California.
Top 10 Best Places to Fishing in California
1. Lake Berryessa
Just west of Sacramento, Lake Berryessa is home to a variety of fish. It is the largest lake in Napa County and is one of California’s greatest lakes. This lake is famous for many reasons and in the summer, it becomes the mecca for water skiing and waterboarding.
And 2nd most popular activity on this lake is fishing. This manmade lake is home to a wide variety of fish such as trout, bass, salmon, catfish and many more.
The best spot to fish in this lake is at the southern end near the dam. You can do kayak fishing or if you prefer to fish from the shores, you can do so as the inlets are a great place to start.
The long side channels, Steel Canyon Inlet and Capell Cove are known as productive locations and offer plenty of good places to fish. You can also check out Big Island, Portuguese Point, and Putah Creek Inlet if you want to catch catfish.
2. Lake Shasta
Lake Shasta is home to a wide variety of cold-water and warm-water fish. It’s a recreation paradise with 365 miles of shoreline. This lake has a tall 602-foot dam. This is the 3rd biggest lake and also one of the largest reservoirs in California.
Covering 30,000 acres, this lake is a boater’s paradise and offers plenty of fishing spots for anglers. Sport fishermen most often go for bass or trout, but this lake is home to more than 20 species of fish.
California Department of Fish and Game stocks rainbow and brook trout annually. You can also find brown trout, salmon, spotted, largemouth and smallmouth bass along with bluegill and crappie.
Spinners and spoons will work best for trolling in this lake. You can also use live bait or plastic worms for bass and trout. For the best result, ask one of the local bait shops for more information.
If you are into catfishing, you can find bullheads, white catfish and channel catfish after sunset.
3. Lake Tahoe North & South
Lake Tahoe, a place that offers diverse recreation opportunities for those that come to bask in its amazing natural beauty. The sparkling gem of the Sierra draws tourist from around the world to explore its varied shoreline.
It’s one of the best lakes for boating and also fishing. During summer, this lake becomes the main attraction spot for parasailing, waterboarding, and water skiing. There aren’t many shore fishing opportunities here and that’s why fishing is done mainly from boats.
Most anglers usually troll for kokanee salmon and trout. If you are lucky, you could hook a huge Mackinaw trout, a favorite trophy fish among fisherman. You can also find Lunker browns, but they are hard to catch.
There were used to be Cutthroat trout, but they have disappeared because of the Mackinaws. But there enough rainbow trout and brook trout to provide good sport fishing.
Fishing is allowed in this deep-water lake all year-round. You can start an hour before sunrise and catch fish until two hours after sunset. The rule of Lake Tahoe is to fish deep and you need a boat that you can stand on.
4. Clear Lake
In 2016, this lake was voted the third-best lake for bass fishing in the US. This is the go-to lake for a bass specialist and is the largest natural freshwater lake in California offering just under 44,000 acres of water.
The Clear Lake provides year-round bass fishing and in summer, people flock to its warm waters for water sports. The main reason why this lake is advertised as the best bass fishing lake in the western part of the country is its warm, shallow waters and plenty of nutrients.
It’s a popular destination for competitive fishing events because of its Bass tournaments and annual Catfish derby. Yes, you can also find catfish, bluegill carp and crappie.
The favorite fishing spots are along the shoreline because they provide shelter for the bass. In the early season, head for the Lakeport area and work your way along the shoreline around Berger Bay.
In summer, when the water gets warm, you will find a lot of bass under the docks and near shoreline trees. Point Lakeview, the mouth of Kelsey Creek, Jago Bay, Baylis Point, and Luebow Point are some of the great places to fish as well.
Make sure to set up your rig with baits like small minnows, worms, shrimps and jerk baits.
5. Lake Cuyamaca
Lake Cuyamaca, a small, 110-acre reservoir that is stocked with up to 45,000 of rainbow trout each year. You can fish in this lake all year-round thanks to the consistent temperatures in San Diego County.
It’s an hour drive east from San Diego in the heart of Cuyamaca Mountains. It is open for fishing all year-round from sunrise to sunset and has a charming and scenic location that offers lakefront camping.
Even though it’s a small reservoir, it has a lot of fish species that you won’t find in other local reservoirs. The average size of the bass found in this lake is between 7 to 11 pounds.
This lake tends to be much quieter thanks to the cooler temperatures. It is also less hectic than other reservoirs and for that reason, the bass doesn’t reach monster, trophy size.
You can also find a lot of sturgeon and smallmouth bass. Although smallmouth is kind of rare, they can be still caught here. You can also find bluegill, black and white crappie, bullhead and channel catfish.
There is a small tackle store that has a good number of fishing accessories, a restaurant on the western shore with a good lake view, and a mini mart for snacks and drinks.
6. Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake is a trout angler’s paradise. It’s also one of the most popular lakes throughout Southern California. It’s a popular destination for water sports in the summer and tourists can find plenty of lodging from luxury resorts to inexpensive hostels.
It’s a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and an hour from San Bernardino. This lake attracts visitors all year-round because this lake offers boating opportunities, good trout population, the Serrano campground, and lodging facilities.
Apart from trout, this lake is home to a variety of sport fishing like carp, and black crappie, largemouth and smallmouth bass, blue catfish and bluegills. Rainbow trout are stocked twice a year to maintain a healthy population.
If you want to catch some early season trout, a good place to start would be the Stanfield Cutoff which is at the east end of the lake. You can then work your way up toward the Windy Point.
If you are not getting any bites there, you could try casting near the dam. You can get good strikes around Metcalf Bay and near the Rock Wall. Keep some power baits with you, if you don’t plan on catch and release.
Other than that, Jigs with a marabou skirt, Bucktail Streamer, spinners, small lures, Salmon Eggs, Rapalas, and Minnows work great for catching fish at the Big Bear Lake.
7. Mammoth Lakes
If you are into fly fishing, Mammoth Lakes offer plenty of areas to do so. Resting in the tail of Mammoth Mountain, this lake is a collection of 7 pristine alpine lakes located in California's Eastern Sierra.
Only fishing boats, kayaks, canoes, and similar craft are allowed. You can find kayak rentals in town and boat rentals at Lake Mary and Lake George. This is a lake for Fly Fishermen.
While most of the anglers set out on a boat, you can also fish from shore with good access which is equally rewarding. This lake is stocked with Alpers trout and rainbow trout. You can also find brown trout too.
Among the 7 alpine lakes, Lake George can be easily fished from shore. If you plan on using float tubes, Lake Mary is the place you would want to go.
Twin Lakes and Lake Mamie are also a good place for boat fishing. You can skip the Horseshoe Lake because fishing is poor there, and it is not stocked.
For bait choice, you can fish with Panther Martins, Berkley PowerBait, Nightcrawlers or Black Wooly Buggers.
8. Lake Havasu
This lake is home to a good number of Arizona record fish and anglers come from all over the country to get a glimpse of a good trophy fish. It is a 45-mile long reservoir that is between the border of Arizona and California. The beautiful waters of this lake draw people for boating, water skiing, jet skiing, and other recreation activities.
Many people also visit this place to see the famous London Bridge.
In winter, you will see Snowbirds because the temperatures are mild here. It’s not a good place for shore fishing because much of the shoreline is inaccessible due to rugged terrain.
This lake is home to a wide variety of fish species. You can find smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, bluegill, catfish, redear sunfish, and crappie. The best places to fish in this lake, especially for bass are from boat docks, canyon areas, and around the submerged structure and bushes.
9. Trinity Lake
Trinity Lake has a stunning view from above that gives the appearance of an exotic bird in flight and that has a long tail and feathers all askew. This is the third largest reservoir in California and home to a strong population of brown and rainbow trout.
The brown trout in this lake can get up to 20 pounds and the rainbow trout get range up to 10 pounds. It’s home to a good number of trophy-sized fish. If you prefer bass fishing, Trinity Lake is known for its smallmouth bass.
From fishermen to water skiers, this lake attracts all kinds of boaters. The ideal time for fishing in this lake is in mid-spring. The water clears at this time and you can catch a good number of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, brown trout, native rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, and catfish.
Fishing from boats is just as good as shore fishing. All of the arms of this lake offer great spots to hook both bass and trout. For example, Papoose Arm, Buckeye Arm, and East Fork Trinity Arm are great spots for those of you that want to fish from the bank.
10. Lake Almanor
Lake Almanor, situated in Northern California is a popular destination for an affordable family vacation. For those visitors that are looking for a great fishing and boating experience, this is the place. It has a friendly lake community and the lake is popular for water sports and all varieties of boating.
The large 28,000-acre PG&E reservoir is big enough to accommodate all the visitors that come here and will never make you feel crowded. Rainbow trout in this lake can get up to 10 lbs.
4 and 5 pounds are not unusual. If you want to catch some trout, bass or king salmon, you should head out early and cast lines before the place gets filled with boaters and campers.
Fishing in this lake really picks up in the spring when the water begins to warm. Shore fishing is as good as trolling and can be done on either side of the peninsula.
There are 45 lakes in California and I’ve only covered 10 of them. For anglers, you will find plenty to fill your fishing needs in the golden state of California. Just like the state itself, fishing here is diverse and exciting.
Other than lakes, this state offers a wide variety of different places for anglers. You can take your boat out in the ocean, go to the famous rivers like the San Joaquin Delta, visit the world-famous Yosemite National Park or enjoy the beautiful green scenery of the Mccloud River.
So, What are you thinking? Where you want to go for fishing with your family? And don't forget to share your fishing experience with us.
We've also reviewed some fish finders for different purposes and ranges. If you don't have a fish finder and planning to buy one, then read this reviews:
Last Updated on July 17th, 2020