Top 5 Fishing Destinations in California

The Golden State is every outdoors person’s paradise. California has cliffs to hike, mountains to climb, and plenty of waters to fish! California is home to numerous streams, lakes, rives, and even has a beautiful ocean coast- all abundant in marine life. California should be on every angler’s list of dream fishing trips, as it offers both great saltwater and freshwater fishing spots.

California has so much to offer in terms of fishing, but we have narrowed our list down to five of the best fishing destinations in California. Here they are:

  1. The Delta

Top 5 Fishing Spots In California - The Delta

The expansive Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which covers more than 1,000 miles of California and flows into the San Francisco Bay, deserves a spot on every angler’s bucket list. The waters are teeming with a variety of big fish. In fact, the Delta can harbor such massive fish, a humpback whale was once lost in its waters. Although you are not likely to catch a whale, you are likely to snag a striped bass weighing anywhere between 10 to 20 pounds. Some of the most popular catches in the Delta include:

  • Bluegill
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Crappie
  • Redear Sunfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Bullhead Catfish
  • Salmon
  • Shad
  • Steelhead
  • Sturgeon

Some of the best places within the Delta to snag an impressive catch include:

  • Antioch Pier
  • Contra Loma Regional Park
  • New Anchor Marina
  • Clifton Court Forebay
  • Park Delta Bay
  • Pittsburg Marina
  • Oak Grove Regional Park
  • West Sacramento Riverfront Promenade
  • Buckley Cove Park
  • Garcia Bend Park/ Discovery Park
  • Tiscornia Park
  1. Santa Monica Pier

Top 5 Fishing Destinations in California - Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica pier is one of Southern California’s most well-known tourist attractions, but did you know that it’s also one of the best places to fish in California? The deep waters at the end of the pier shelter a variety of substantial fish. Though fisherfolk that prefer to fish in more remote locations may be hesitant to join the crowd, contending with the other anglers and beach-goers will prove worth it once you find a spot to drop some live bait. The most common catches include:

  • Halibut
  • Herring
  • Surfperch
  • Rainbow Perch
  • Sculpin
  • Calico Bass
  • White Sea Bass
  • Mackerel
  • Black Cod
  • Leopard Shark
  • Tiger shark
  • Stingrays

Protip: head to the pier at night when it’s less crowded, the fish are always biting.

  1. Yosemite National Park

California Fishing - How To Find Good Fishing Spots - Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is world-famous for its abundance of wildlife, gorgeous waterfalls, and breathtaking scenery. Visitors swarm to Yosemite to enjoy mountain hiking and river rafting, but the park also boasts some lesser-known fishing excellency. The park has a multitude of lakes and reservoirs that can be fished all year round. The 770 miles of rivers and streams, on the other hand, have set seasons, which have been put in place to protect spawning rainbow trout. Some of the fish you are likely to catch in Yosemite are:

  • A variety of trout species:
    • Rainbow Trout
    • Brown Trout
    • Brook Trout
    • Golden Trout
    • Lahontan Cutthroat Trout
  • Bullgill
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Crappie
  • Sunfish
  • Black Bass
  • Californian Roach
  • Riffle Sculpin
  • Hardhead
  • Sacramento Sucker
  • Sacramento Pikeminnow

Fishing regulations are enforced in Yosemite National Park, which include bag limits to protect the wildlife that calls the park home. More information on the park’s rules and regulations can be found here.

4.  Lake Cuyamaca

Finding Fishing Spots In California - Lake Cuyamaca

Nestled in the Cuyamaca Mountains, this remote 110-acre reservoir, Lake Cuyamaca, one of the quieter fishing locations California has to offer. Due to colder temperatures, as it is situated at a high elevation of 4,620 feet, not many trophy-winning, monster-sized fish call this lake home. There is an abundance of bass, but most weigh in between seven and eleven pounds. Though you may not find many huge fish in this lake, it is the only San Diego lake that is able to stock trout all year round and offers more variety of fish than any other lake in the region. The lake is stocked with more than 38,000 pounds of rainbow trout annually. Additionally, Lake Cuyamaca is home to the only legitimate population of sturgeon and smallmouth bass in San Diego County. The lake is overflowing with:

  • Florida Bass
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Channel Catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Sturgeon
  • Black Crappie
  • White Crappie
  • Bullhead

5.  Lake Tahoe

Top Fishing In California - Lake Tahoe

In stark contrast to Lake Cuyamaca, our next spot is known for its monstrous fish. Lake Tahoe, one of the country’s largest and deepest alpine lakes, is famous for its enormous Mackinaw trout. The average trout weighs in at four pounds, but ten-pounders are very commonly reeled in from Lake Tahoe. The lake’s record “mack” was an astronomical 37 pounds. Fish species that can be found in Lake Tahoe include:

  • Lake Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Sockeye Salmon
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Sculpin
  • Small Catfish

Whether you’re on a road trip, boat trip, or backpacking trip through California, there’s a ton of great places to stop and fish, especially if you’re carrying one of our handcrafted ultra-lightweight fishing rods in your saddle-bag or backpack.

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