Informational Guide

Best Fishing Spots In California

Be sure to check out this guide to learn more about some of the best fishing spots in California.

by Andrew

Informational Guide

Best Fishing Spots In California

Be sure to check out this guide to learn more about some of the best fishing spots in California.

by Andrew

by Andrew

Fishing in California is a great idea for those looking to participate in a leisure activity that allows them to spend quality time with their loved ones. Not only is the weather warm most of the time, but there are also multiple bodies of water to choose from when going on a fishing adventure.  

Be sure to check out this guide to learn more about some of the best fishing spots in California. Use this knowledge to your advantage to find good fishing spots in California that will yield great results for you and anyone else who goes fishing with you. 

Freshwater Fishing Spots 

  • Lake Cuyamaca
    Stocking over 45,000 pounds of Rainbow Trout every year, the Lake Cuyamaca area is an excellent spot for fishing in California. It’s home to some of the most incredible fish, including Bluegill, Smallmouth Bass, Channel Catfish, White Crappie, and Lake Sturgeon fish. Many people enjoy this local hot spot because it’s open seven days a week, meaning you can go during the weekday or on a weekend, whichever you prefer. In addition, you can enjoy fishing at this spot as early as 6 AM until the sun begins to set.
  • Lake Gregory
    If you want to find some tasty trout on your fishing adventure, Lake Gregory is the destination to visit. While in this area, you can expect to find Rainbow Trout, Golden Trout, Lightning Trout, and Largemouth Bass, all of which are fairly easy to find, making this an excellent spot for fishing expenditures. It’s one of the best trout fishing spots in California. The lake closes at 5 PM, so be sure to head out early to have more than enough time to see what you can capture on your fishing hook. You’ll need to have a fishing license and pay the county fishing fee when visiting Lake Gregory. 
  • Diamond Valley Lake
    Boaters and fishing enthusiasts from different parts of the country enjoy traveling to California to fish at the incredible Diamond Valley Lake - It’s a beautiful spot known for hosting several types of fish, including Blue and Channel Catfish, Bluegill, Sunfish, Panfish, and even Rainbow Trout. If you’d like to have a diverse collection of fish, this is a great spot to check out. Before heading out in the water, you can rent a spacious boat and bring your equipment along with you. Be sure to check out different daily rates to get a feel for what it will cost on specific days and at certain times.
  • Castaic Lake
    If you want to stop by a place known for its fishing pier, be sure to check out Castaic Lake. It’s open 364 days of the year. The only day it’s not open is Christmas day! People enjoy visiting this lake because there is so much to do, including fishing, kayaking, jet-skiing, and even sailing. While you’re there, you can catch all different types of fish, including Rainbow Trout, Crayfish, Threadfin Shad, and Bluegill. You might even catch a trophy fish to bring back home with you.

Fly Fishing Spots 

  • Piru Creek
    If you’re interested in going on a fly fishing adventure, a stop to Piru Creek will do you good. Many fishermen come to this spot on the quest to find trout. There is also the opportunity to catch and release fish if you’re not planning to keep them and eat the fish! Piru Creek offers great fishing opportunities throughout the year. However, you can get the best yield in January, February, March, and April. You can find lots of fish here, including Rainbow Trout, Catfish, Crappies, Bluegill, and more.
  • El Capitan State Beach
    If you’re looking for one of the best fly fishing spots in California, El Capitan State Beach is a must-see. It’s an excellent spot for fishing enthusiasts with plenty of fish to catch in the water. You may find an assortment of fish during your time on the beach, including Rockfish, Calicos, and Halibut. Some people even like to attempt fishing in the water while riding on a surfboard. It’s quite the challenge, but anything is possible!

Ocean & Surf Fishing Spots 

  • El Capitan State Beach
    When you’re a fan of fishing and surfing, El Capitan State Beach has exactly what you want and need. You can stand directly on the beach with your fishing rod dangling over the water to see what you can catch. In addition to fishing directly off the beach, you can enjoy surfing the waves and spending time in the water. The El Capitan State Beach is a go-to spot for outdoor enthusiasts looking to make memories and have the time of their lives.
  • Davey’s Locker
    Those who like sportfishing will enjoy taking a trip to Davey’s Locker. It’s only 40 minutes away from the Downtown Los Angeles area. If you want to go here, you can purchase deep-sea fishing tickets in advance before heading out on a chartered boat that will take you into the middle of the ocean for fishing adventures. You can watch for whales while capturing different types of fish, including Yellowtail, Bass, Tuna, and more.
Best Fishing Spots In California (For All Locations & Fishing Types)

Pier Fishing Spots 

  • Santa Monica Pier
    If you’re looking for the best pier fishing spots in Southern California, look no further than here. Fishing is, by far, one of the most popular activities performed at the Santa Monica Pier, and with good reason. You won’t need a license to go fishing here. Best of all, you don’t even need to bring equipment because it’s available for rent. You can find lots of fish while you’re here, including Croakers, Sea Bass, and Perch, to name a few.
  • Redondo Beach Pier
    The Redondo Beach Pier is a popular tourist attraction in California, but it's also an excellent place for fishing fun. A lot of people enjoy fishing at this pier because it's absolutely FREE, meaning you can save money while spending a day in the sun doing what you love. In addition, you won’t need a fishing license here. It’s important to only fish in the specific spots offered to fishers. However, it’s easy to find those spots because of the signage posted everywhere. Once you’re here, you’ll come across Croakers, Perch, and other fish species worth capturing!

Best Fishing Spots In Northern California 

If you're planning to spend time in Northern California and want to go fishing, it's crucial to know more about some of the best fishing spots in the Northern California area. You can make sure that you're traveling to the ideal spots to capture the specific fish species that you’re most interested in catching and bringing back home with you. 

Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is a popular spot because it’s home to a large population of Largemouth Bass. The river is home to many fish, including midsize and large options that fishing enthusiasts look forward to catching on their line. Some of the different fish you can see while you're here include Catfish, Salmon, Shad, Yellow Perch, and more. It's an excellent spot for catfish lovers because there are several types of the species found swimming in this area.

Bodega Bay

Anglers of all experience levels can look forward to a stop at Bodega Bay, another incredible spot in Northern California known for its massive fish population. It’s a great spot to visit when you want to catch Crab, Halibut, Rockfish, Salmon, and more. If you’re looking to see what you can find and like the idea of suspense because you never know what you might get, a trip to this location is in order. The season for fishing begins in March and continues until January.

Lake Almanor

People looking for an incredible fishing experience while taking in breathtaking views can enjoy a visit to Lake Almanor. It’s home to many types of fish species, including Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, King Salmon, and Smallmouth Bass. While not as common, it’s still possible to find some catfish while you’re here. Many anglers enjoy coming to Lake Almanor for the experience it provides, along with the impressive variety of fish available.

Russian River

Not to be confused with the Russian River in Alaska, the Russian River in Northern California is still a great fishing spot for anglers to enjoy. It’s home to Bluegill, Catfish, Smallmouth Bass, and more. There is a lot of public access to the river throughout different parts of the region, including Monte Rio, Jenner, and Forestville, to name a few. If you want to have a relaxing experience with the opportunity to catch different fish with ease, this is an excellent place to visit in the Northern California area.

fishing in river

Best Fishing Spots In Central California 

Suppose you're spending time in the Central California area instead of Southern or Northern California; no worries! There are still some great places to visit while you're here. So, if you'd like to visit some of the best fishing spots in Central California, be sure to check out the following local hot spots. 

Clear Lake

Because the water is shallow in Clear Lake, it makes the process of finding and catching fish that much easier. If you want to have a relaxing and enjoyable time that yields plenty of fish, Clear Lake is the spot to be. In addition, this spot is known as the leading lake for finding different bass species. So, if you like catching bass, it’s yet another reason to give this place a try. Along with bass, you can find Catfish, Carp, Bluegill, and more.

Eastman Lake

Although it’s an artificial lake, Eastman Lake still has much to offer anglers of all experience levels. Whether you’re new to fishing or not, you can have a great time at this lake while capturing different types of fish, such as Hensley, Catfish, Crappie, Trout, Bass, and Bluegill. The impressive variety of fish available makes this a coveted spot, often considered a secret fishing spot in California worth visiting in your spare time.

Hensley Lake

Don’t forget about Hensley Lake, another popular spot in the Central California region. It’s a slow lake that is great for beginners and is home to many Catfish, making it easy to catch something while you’re there. Some of the different fish you can find while at this lake include Rainbow Trout, Channel Catfish, and Largemouth Bass, all of which are worth bringing home and cooking if you enjoy eating the fish that you capture on your adventures.

The Lower Kern River

There are several sections by the Lower Kern River that allow for excellent fishing opportunities, including Democrat Beach to Lower Richbar and Sandy Flat to Democrat Beach. Many people enjoy visiting this river because of its heavy population of Rainbow Trout, Bass, and Browns. So, if you want to catch different fish species and enjoy your time by the water, this is a great spot.

Kings River

Find wild and stocked fish while spending time at Kings River. It’s the place to go for Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout. If you’re looking for trout, this is the spot to be. People enjoy this spot because it’s open all throughout the year, providing countless opportunities for fishing adventures. In addition to being open throughout the year, it’s not hard to land a good catch, making this a favorite spot for most anglers.

What Do You Need To Fish In California? 

Most of the fishing spots in California will require you to have a fishing license or permit. If you’ve asked the question, “Do you need a fishing license for the ocean in California?” the answer depends on which spot you’ve selected.  

Related Article: How Much Is A Fishing License? (Price Guide For All States)

If you go fishing without a license, you could end up facing a fine that would cost you thousands of dollars. So, the best way to avoid that problem is to research the areas you’re planning to visit and find out if you need a license to fish there or not. And, if you don’t want to obtain a fishing license, you can always visit one of the spots that don’t require a license or permit to enjoy the water and capture the fish. 

Besides licenses and permits for specific spots, be sure to have your equipment, including a reliable fishing rod with a durable line and plenty of bait to use. Come prepared to increase your chances of catching more fish. 

fishing in California

California Vs Other US States – How Does The Fishing Compare?  

California is an incredible state to visit for fishing experiences. It's a popular place for anglers because of the fantastic weather throughout the state.  

On the other hand, while locations on the east coast may have much to offer, there are times when fishing becomes nearly impossible because of the cold temperature.  

The west coast may, at times, experience those colder temperatures. Besides the beautiful weather, California is home to dozens of bodies of water that provide perfect opportunities for fishing. 

Fishing In California FAQs

When is the best season to go fishing in California? 

The best season for fishing in California is during the summer months. While June, July, and August are prime months for fishing, you can still enjoy trips to California at other times of the year for fishing, including September and October. 

What fish can you not keep in California? 

Different fishing spots have different rules and regulations. For example, in some spots, there is no weight limit, but there is a limit to 10 fish that you can keep and bring home with you. There are limits to different fish you can keep, too, such as a limit of five Largemouth Bass and a limit of 10 Striped Bass. Some of the fish you can’t keep for eating include China Rockfish, Copper Rockfish, and Black and Yellow Rockfish. 

Is night fishing legal in California? 

Yes, night fishing is legal in California in some locations. However, if you're fishing at night, you can't catch certain types of trout, such as Brown, Brook, Lake, or Rainbow Trout. Be sure to make a list of the fish you can and can't keep to avoid running into any issues. 

What rockfish are illegal in California? 

Certain types of Rock Fish are illegal in California. Some of these fish include Bronze spotted Rockfish, Cowcod, and Yelloweye Rockfish. 


Now that you’ve learned more about some of the best fishing spots in Southern California and other parts of California, you can decide where you’d like to go to have the best fishing experience possible. There are plenty of good fishing spots in California that are worth visiting. So, whether you’re planning to go fly fishing, surf fishing, or traditional fishing, there are plenty of opportunities to catch different types of fish on your journey.