Where to Catch Crawfish in Southern California

By Debbie Hanson

Sep 20, 2018

Learn where to catch crawfish in Southern California, why catching these crawfish helps with conservation, where to catch crawfish in California creeks

If you're wondering where to catch crawfish in Southern California, you'll notice that state regulations refer to these freshwater crustaceans as "crayfish" instead of crawfish. Crayfish, crawfish, mud bugs, crawdads… whichever term you choose to use when inquiring about these mini lobster look-alikes, most people catch them using hook and line, a dip net, or regulation-sized traps.

Another interesting fact worth noting is that California has just one native crayfish, the Shasta crawdad, which is native only to Shasta County (in the northern part of the state). This means that the crawfish populations in Southern California are non-native.

One important tip that will help you figure out where to catch crawfish in California is that they to hang out under rock piles or branches in slow moving creek waters. Although, you probably want more specifics on where to catch crawfish Southern California, right? No worries, keep reading.

Malibu Creek

Malibu Creek, located in western Los Angeles County, has been the focus of red swamp crayfish management and removal efforts. The red swamp crayfish is a non-native species that has contributed to a decline in native fish species such as the Arroyo Chub and the southern Steelhead Trout. Since there are no native crayfish in southern California streams to compete with the red swamp crayfish for food or living space, conservation organizations have actively encouraged volunteer involvement. If you're wondering where to catch crawfish in California while helping with conservation efforts, take a trip to Malibu Creek.

Topanga Creek

Topanga Creek is another spot in Southern California with a problematic red swamp crayfish population. The Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains (RCDSMM) often coordinates crayfish round-ups and removal programs in Topanga Creek. Don't wonder where to fish in Topanga Creek for anything but the non-native red swamp crayfish though because there is no fishing for any fish species permitted.

Since you know about two Southern California spots where you can catch the red swamp crawfish, this could be a good opportunity to teach the family why it's important not to release aquatic pets or non-native baits into our waterways.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.