The United States of America’s Golden State is rich in waterways and considered one of the best fishing destinations in the country.
California, situated next to the Pacific Ocean, stretches about 900 miles. The state includes cliff-lined beaches, some famous rivers, redwood forests, and mountains.
With all the rivers and lakes all around, you can reel in a wide range of fish species of bass, salmon, trout, and others. Some of the biggest basses have been caught in California.
You may be a beginner or a seasoned angler, and you’ll discover fishing spots that are perfect for your skills. All you need to secure is a fishing license, and your best fishing spot and the big catch are all taken care of!
As the third-largest state by land area, you can indeed find tons of fishing spots. But the list below will help choose which spots to visit first and which are best for fishing.
12 Best Fishing Spots in California You Should Visit
1. Clear Lake State Park
Out of the 25 most giant reported basses, 19 have been caught in California lakes. And so, your chances of catching these trophies are high in this biggest natural freshwater lake in the state!
Clear Lake State Park has a long history in California as a historic Native American and early settlers. It is situated in Lake County in North-Central California, a perfect vacation destination, and has been tagged as a favorite fishing spot.
The warm weather and abundant baitfish make it the perfect breeding ground for monster fish. Aside from catching the country’s best largemouth bass, the lake is an excellent spot for crappie, bluegill, and channel catfish lake and also explores hiking trails if you get tired of spending time on the water.
Fishing here is year-round. Beginners lurk around Berger and Kelsey Creek as large amounts of fish weigh over ten pounds, perfect to start a fishing career. And above all the long days on the water, you can savor and relax on the picturesque vineyards around.
2. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is well-known for its natural beauty and boasts some of the most beautiful mountains, waterfalls, and wildlife in the nation with unique hiking and river rafting. But all the more, the place is famous as a fishing spot.
This National Park is located about 150 miles East of San Francisco. You will discover some exciting fishing spots with boundaries. So what is not to love about Yosemite?
You can catch many different types of fish like Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, native Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Bluegill, Black Bass, and Sunfish. Keep in mind that you need to know some rules and regulations of fishing inside the park boundary. One of the rules is that you can only use artificial baits or lures to catch fish.
At the end of your long fishing experience, you can explore and relax in this beautiful park.
3. The California Delta
Running throughout California, San Joaquin Delta is on the must-visit list of every angler. This inland river is home to Bass, Common Carp, Catfish, Stripers, Bluegill, Steelhead, King salmon, Sturgeon, American shad, and more.
The most popular fish to find around here is Striped bass, and they weigh between 10 to 20 pounds. The best time to catch these stripers is in the late spring and early fall when they start to run into the Delta. It is also applicable to all species mentioned. Read on fishing guides to know where to find fish from the beginning of winter until early summer.
4. Lake Shasta
Located in Northern California, Lake Shasta is famous for spot-fishing and the best place to catch and eat in California. Thanks to the breathtaking beauty of Mt. Shasta.
It is the best freshwater fishing spot where fishing is year-round. Anglers love this lake for its diverse species of fish. But if the bass is the name of your game, you can’t just get enough!
The lake is also brimming with trouts, King salmon, White sturgeon, White catfish, Sacramento squawfish, Threadfin shad, Spotted bass, Smallmouth bass, Brown bullhead, Largemouth bass. Bluegill, Blackfish, Black crappie, Hardhead minnow, Channel squawfish, Carp, and more!
Almost all species are easily accessible. The reason behind finding fishes of water of different temperatures in the same lake is that it gives comfort to both warm-water fish and cold-water fish.
Keep in mind that fishing in Lake Shasta, fishing in the buoy line, is not legal. You can use any bait or lure you want to fish in this spot. Make sure to use the right reel and rod combo to land something for your lunch successfully!
5. Santa Monica Bay
If you want the best spot to fish in Southern California and explore the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica is the place to be!
Santa Monica Bay at Dockweiler State Beach is famous for urban fishing. You can fish from preferred spots on the shore, and there are even fishing classes available for beginners or those that want to learn more about fishing. It’s a great day spot so that you can lounge on the beach while you fish or rent a boat to take you around the bay and then stay in a posh hotel in Santa Monica.
Have the opportunity to do surf fishing and sports fishing, and you’ll surely score some halibut and perch. You are also expected to reel in some tiger sharks, sardines, mackerel, leopard sharks, croaker, kelp stingrays, and white seabass.
6. Sacramento River
The Sacramento River at Brannan Island State Park drains into Francisco Bay and is the home to the state records for Chinook and Pink Salmon. If you’re dying of a salmon steak for dinner, this is the place to be!
Not only that you’ll be spoiled with salmon, but in spring, the freshwater is brimming with striped bass and trout. Other species include sturgeon, catfish, bluegill, perch, and bullhead.
Aside from fishing, you can opt to spend your day with your family camping, shoreside swimming, and stay in a highly-coveted cabin spot. Or you can enjoy the campground available since Brannan Island is the place for different wildlife like waterfowl, otters, and more. Just remember that if you plan to camp out during the summer, be sure to make a reservation because it’s a popular spot to camp and fish during the long days of summer.
7. Lake Cuyamaca
Lake Cuyamaca is a big lake with 110-acre water in San Diego County, lying atop the Cuyamaca Mountains and filled with plenty! Why? Every year, authorities stock about 45,000 pounds of trout so that the lake does not get empty. Nothing to worry about the county’s temperature so that you can catch these trout on Christmas Day or the 4th Of July.
You can also reel in fishes like Bass, Crappie, bluegill, sturgeon, bullheads, channel catfish, and more. However, they may tend to be small in size. If you do not want to carry fishing rods and lures, you can easily rent those from lakeside shops.
8. San Francisco Bay
If you are a saltwater angler or just feeling like reeling in the saltwater, San Francisco Bay will never be a disappointment. It is situated next to San Francisco, with 10-35 feet water body depth, depending on the spot.
Drift out into the bay or take advantage of the public fishing pier, where no license is needed! Common catches are white sturgeon, striped bass, leopard sharks, salmon, lingcod, tuna, and rays. But, it is the perfect spot for catching halibut fish.
The bay’s bottom is muddy, and you need to be careful while you move your lure. Or else, you will end up moving mud rather than moving your bait in the water. And know that it experiences large tide swings.
Although fishing is year-round, the best time for fishing in this spot is summer until early winter. If you seek outdoor adrenaline, you can also entertain yourself with hiking, biking, and waterfowl hunting.
9. Smith River
California’s most beautiful rivers, situated in Northwest California, Smith River is famous for having some of the largest steelhead and salmon. The largest steelhead was 27 pounds heavy, and the largest salmon quickly weighed in the 50s and 60s in pounds. Perhaps the reason why it’s tagged as LA’s “Last Wild River.”
The best time for fishing Salmon in this area is September and October is the worst month for catching King Salmon in Smith River. The best time for eyeing steelhead would be during the winter. Generally, the fishing season is between December and April.
The river is frequented by these species because it is located in the wettest place on the West Coast. Because of this, the mating season leads to many offspring, which restore the ones caught annually.
And again, on your fishing break, local towns near the river for refreshments and entertainment are available.
10. Bodega Bay
Located in Northern California, Bodega Bay is one of the best fishing spots in the entire state.
You have access to two miles of beach perfect for fishing options like shore fishing and picnicking, cleaning station provided.
A boat launch is available for sport fishing the many salmon, halibut, and rock cod that frequents here, and a jetty at the harbor mouth lends well to rock fishing and exploring sea life with kids. You can catch species at this coast like anchovy, Pacific mackerel, rockfish, and surfperch.
After a long game of fishing, there’s plenty of other things to do, from lazing on the beach to sailing or horse riding.
11. Bishop Creek Canyon
A real gem in the Eastern Sierra, Bishop Creek runs through a beautiful, tree-lined canyon and offers excellent fly fishing through its many forks, lakes, and small ponds that creates a unique basin.
The two main forks of Bishop Creek give fly fishers with picturesque views, privacy, and great pools where huge trout lurk. The longest part of Bishop Creek, the south fork, drains north to leave South Lake.
If you want a mix of fly fishing and hiking, the seven miles of this fork covers different terrain that is exceptionally rough in parts. The pools in this part frequently hold some extraordinarily enthusiastic and willing trout. As a tip, don’t assume large fish can’t be found in small “holes” and eddies. Look for spots where the stream has undercut the bank or small pools. Bait, spinners, and flies all work well.
This creek provides a little of everything!
12. Echo Park Lake
Without a doubt, Echo Park Lake has gained its familiarity from its numerous appearances in films and tv shows. What can you expect being right in the middle of Los Angeles? But you can likewise fish in this park! Many parks with lakes are supplied by the city’s fish and game department.
The lake is teeming with catfish, bluegill, crayfish, and occasionally introduced rainbow trout. Just keep in mind that whatever is caught handily gobbled by waterfowl. Take your chances in a paddleboat.
Once you’ve had your fill of fish, head on over to Dodgers Stadium to catch a game!