Best Places to Fish in California

With so many options for fishing in California, it can be hard to settle on the right place for you and the type of species you’re after. Get tips on where to fish in California for a successful day on the water.

California Fishing Regulations

Whether you’re planning to go freshwater fishing in California or head to the coast, you need to be aware of the state’s rules for anglers. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife publishes two sets of regulations that you should familiarize yourself with every year: one for ocean sport fishing and one for freshwater. Perhaps the most important requirement is that all anglers who are 16 or older must have a valid fishing license, except for those fishing from a public pier in ocean or bay waters. Those under 16 or anglers fishing on the state’s Free Fishing Days must still purchase appropriate report cards depending on the species being fished. There are numerous other regulations for possession, fishing methods, bait, hours and more, so be sure to review the information before you go out on the water.

California Fishing Lakes

Freshwater fishing in California is a favorite pastime of many anglers in the state. And with good reason: there are thousands of lakes, streams and reservoirs to choose from, filled with popular species like bass. While the possibilities for freshwater fishing are nearly endless, there are some places that stand out when deciding where to fish in California. Among the most popular spots are:

  • Castaic Lake: A great destination for bass, this LA-area spot is a go-to destination for trophy largemouth bass.
  • Clear Lake: In Northern California, this body of water near Sacramento is another plentiful largemouth bass spot.
  • Lake Shasta: Whether you’re after bass, trout or salmon Lake Shasta has them all along with a variety of other species.
  • Lake Tahoe: Located on the New Mexico border, this popular lake is abundant with trout as well as salmon when you head to deeper waters.

While the state’s lakes are great spots to fish, don’t overlook rivers and streams if you’re a freshwater angler. The Sacramento River is home to some of the best fishing for salmon, trout and bass.

California Fishing Piers

One of the easiest ways to get out and fish is to head to one of the many California fishing piers. These spots are not only convenient but can also be cost-effective options because you don’t need a boat to get out on the water or a license to fish. From Northern to Southern California, here are some of the best piers for saltwater angling:

  • Municipal Pier: If you’re around San Francisco and are looking for spots to go fishing in the Bay Area, try the Municipal Pier, which is good for crabbing as well.
  • Ocean Beach Pier: A landmark in San Diego County, this pier is a popular place to drop a line for perch closer to shore and species like halibut in deeper waters.
  • Santa Monica Pier: One of Southern California’s largest fishing piers, with multiple levels, gives anglers easy access to mackerel and other species like sea perch.

Tips to Find the Best California Fishing Spots

To take advantage of the great fishing California has to offer, here are some tips to finding the perfect spot. Just remember that no matter where you go, your best is to fish in the early morning or just before dusk for the most productive outing.

  • Ask Around: Talk to local bait shops and fellow anglers for their recommendations
  • Check Forums: Many people post about their favorite spots so you can glean some insight from these useful sites.
  • Leverage Technology: Sonar devices can be hugely helping in locating fish. So, if you’re out on the water, you may want to try a transducer to pin point the best spot.

And don’t forget that sometimes finding the perfect spot can take a few tries along the way. Enjoy experimenting!