Northern California Fishing

The area’s beautiful backdrop and plentiful fish make northern California fishing among the best in the country. Learn which saltwater and freshwater spots in the region top any angler’s list.

Northern California Ocean Fishing

Whether you want to try surf fishing northern California, head out in a boat off shore or drop your line from a pier, the area boasts what are considered some of the best places to fish in Northern California.

A great source of information on coastal fishing can be found in the numerous northern California fishing reports available. These will let you know the latest action at some premier destinations, including:

  • Humboldt Bay: This area in Eureka on the Redwood Coast offers world-class fishing. Salmon, striped bass, halibut, steelhead, tuna and more can be found in these waters. The town has multiple access points like the Del Norte Street Pier that’s open to the public and doesn’t require a fishing license. Several rivers in the area like the Trinity River are also good options, especially for salmon runs.
  • San Francisco: Opportunities abound in the city. Candlestick Point Pier and Fisherman’s Wharf, are especially popular for catching flounder and other species. Or you can opt for a guided fishing tour to explore a little further afield like the waters under the Golden Gate Bridge or around Alcatraz.
  • Monterey Bay: A beautiful bay, you’ll find everything from salmon and smelt to halibut and rockfish here. Shore fishing from the beaches, piers or wharves are good places to start since you won’t need a license. But you can also look at charter boats for offshore fishing year-round.
  • Half Moon Bay: This area may be small but it’s a prime spot for sport fishing, especially if you’re after king salmon as well as albacore tuna. While anglers can fish at the pier and along the jetty, there’s isn’t much coastal fishing available so it’s a good idea to investigate charters. Northern California fishing guides can lead you on an ocean sportfishing excursion.
  • Bodega Bay: Some of the best fishing can be found along the Sonoma Coast at Bodega Bay. Here, you’ll have your luck at several species, including salmon, halibut, perch and rockfish to name just a few. Whether you choose to take a charter for some deep sea fishing or stay close to shore on the Bay’s jetties, rocks and piers, there are numerous options available.

Top Freshwater NorCal Fishing Spots

Inland options are equally compelling in northern California. A California fishing report for freshwater fishing will offer good intel on what’s biting at some of the top-rated freshwater spots. These include:

  • Lake Shasta: One of the best known spots for Northern California fishing is Lake Shasta, famous for its bridge. Located in Redding, this lake with 30,000 acres of water surface has a spot for everyone. Trout and bass are the most common species caught here.
  • Clear Lake: Another great spot for bass in northern California and the site of many bass tournaments is Clear Lake, thanks to the fields of tules where the bass like to seek cover. The lake offers diverse fishing habitats and options depending on where you decide to head.
  • McCloud Reservoir: Located in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, this is a go-to destination for trout. While shore fishing isn’t the easiest from this spot, there’s a public boat ramp and boat trailer parking that make boat fishing convenient.
  • Lake Tahoe: Offering some of the best inshore fishing and unrivaled views of mountain peaks is Lake Tahoe. This popular lake is home to lake trout and bass as well as kokanee salmon. Flowing from the lake, the Truckee River is a popular spot for fly fishing.

Northern California Fishing License

No matter where you decide to head, before you go fishing in California, be sure to get a license. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) regulations specify that everyone – resident or nonresident – 16 or older must have a sport fishing license if they plan to fish any inland or ocean waters with some exceptions, like piers. Licenses can be obtained online or at a license agent of CDFW license sales office.