7 Best Fishing Spots In California

California is a large state that has been endowed with some of the best scenic views all over the world. It has mountains, beaches, coasts, lakes, rivers, among other attractions.

There are many excellent activities you can undertake in California including the sport of fishing. You could do some hiking, visiting the parks, biking, camping, hunting, and rafting.

Fishing is a really great spot in California as you can fish in freshwater, saltwater, and piers. This area is well known for bass fishing and you can also get lucky to get land a trophy fish.

The lively coasts of Malibu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego will get you wanting more and more. Before further ado, let’s head straight to the best of the best fishing spots in California you should definitely visit.

#7 – San Diego Bay

Location – 32.715736, – 117.161087

San Diego is known for its exquisite harbors and a variety of fishing spots. The bay is 12 miles long and 3 miles wide being the 3rd largest and most protected bay on all of the 840 miles of natural bays in California.

Besides the bay, you could fish at the south bay, Coronado Island, and Sweetwater channel. The area has cool temperatures with moderate humidity and charming and scenic views.

Fishing Techniques and Fish Species

San Diego Bay offers 3 main fishing techniques to get the best out of the fish.

Pier fishing – anglers are said to have caught the likes of leopard sharks, barracuda, bonito, halibut, and various species of bass.

Freshwater fishing – seeing that San Diego has not defined water you can catch the freshwater crappies, trout, bluegill, crap, and the catfish.

Saltwater fishing – a good day can catch you a halibut, yellowfin, calico and sand bass, bluefin, and the croaker.

Inshore fishing – you could also take part in inshore fishing using the charters available in the waters of San Diego. There is fishing on the local Kepler beds, artificial reeds, and also bottom structures.

Bottom fishing – with the bottom depth accommodatable, you can also indulge in bottom fishing for the likes of barracuda and yellowfin.

Other types of fish common to the area besides the ones mentioned include the shortfin carvina, Barracuda, seabass, mackerel, sharks, to and Jacksmelt, bay ray,

Benito and the corbina. Pier fishing can be done on a variety of piers like Shelter Island Pier, Embarcadero Park Pier, Chula Vista Bayside Park Pier, Pepper Park Pier, Cesar Chavez Park Pier, and Coronado Ferry Landing Pier.

Further Thoughts

Most people love to fish in this area because of the size of fish you can catch here. About 8 to 11 pounds of bass. There is also good fishing all around the year.

In case you don’t want to just go fishing, you can go camping, and visiting parks close by. Lucky for you, the area does not charge fees for docking a boat at the public ramps, fishing at the bay, or fishing from the public piers. A license, however, will be required to fish in the saltwater but not at the public piers.

#6 – Santa Monica Pier

Location – 34.010090, – 118.496948

Another common yet amazing place to fish is the Santa Monica Pier. Completely license-free and on the Pacific Ocean waters.

Located on the southern California side, the pier extends 2000 feet into the water. The pier is said to have clear waters and warm temperatures on most days, a tropical climate.

Fishing Techniques and Fish Species

Fishing is common on the Santa Monica pier but you can also fish at the separate deck that’s wrapped around the far end of the pier.

There is stairway access to the area, or a ramp forms the northern side of the pier. For beginners, the lower level of the pier would be best. The pier definitely allows for pier fishing, plus surf fishing and sports fishing. You can catch a good number of fish at the pier including

  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Surf peral
  • Leopard sharks
  • Halibut
  • Croaker
  • Kelp stingrays
  • White seabass

Further Thoughts

The area has an excellent dining experience and scenic views that could leave you chilling all day long. A great place to come with your family.

There have been reports of mercury contamination plus there has been some signs posted at the pier listing that any fish caught may not be consumable due to the presence of mercury and other contaminants.

This means that if you catch any fish here, you will never eat it including the barred sand bass, white croaker, barracuda, and black croaker.

#5 – Clear Lake

Location – 43.143557, – 93.378811

Located in the northwest region of California, Clear Lake is also a common fishing spot. Has great freshwater fishing spots like the point Lakeview, out luebow point, Baylis point, and Jago Bay. It has over 44,000 acres of water and has subtropical climates with moderate humidity.

Fishing Techniques and Fish Species

This spot is the best for catching bass, especially the largemouth bass which can weigh as heavy as 10 pounds. There are also great breeding spots for the monster fish actually they are almost as good as the California Delta, another great fishing spot.

There is also onshore fishing at Berger bay and the mouth of Kelsey Creek. Fish available in these waters include;

  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Carp
  • Crappie

Clear Lake in all of its beauty has also packed a large punch of largemouths for over a decade. There are also the crawfish, perch, silverside, minnows, threading shad, and the plump forage hitch fish.

During the spring season which is said to be best for fishing in this area, you could land more than 10 pounders or heavier on the bass. There is quality fish caught here at the Clear Lake.

Apart from the onshore fishing, there is deep and shallow water fishing, using the right lures you could catch almost any fish due to the range of fish around the lake.

Further Thoughts

This fishing spot allows for fishing all year long and also has over 35 wineries. As soon as you are done fishing, you can take a quick chill as you sip on the authentic wines available.

There is also great scenery at Clear Park with abundant wildlife and birds, plus the Clear Lake State Park on the western shore right above the soda bay, a great opportunity to see blacktail deer, chipmunks, and hawks.

fishing in california

#4 – Yosemite National Park

Location – 37.865101, – 119.538330

Yosemite national park is also another amazing spot for fishing in California.

It is located 150 miles east of San Francisco. Has beautiful mountains, wildlife, and great waterfalls. They experience a Mediterranean climate with the standard wind blowing with moderate humidity.

Fishing Techniques and Fish Species

The park has seasons for river and stream fishing as it does not have great lake exposure like the rest of the spots. The season begins on the last Saturday of April to ty 15th of November. The mirror lake is open during this stream fishing season. The types of fish that can be caught here include;

  • Bluegill
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Rainbow trout
  • Brown trout
  • Crappie
  • Sunfish
  • Black bass

Further Thoughts

The park overs great facilities and scene views such as the mountains, beautiful parks, waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. There is also RV parking, camping, river rafting, sightseeing, rock climbing, backpacking, and hiking.

Yosemite may be an amazing spot to fish but they have certain regulations.

  • You are only allowed to use artificial lines or fliers with the bar with fewer hooks.
  • No using minnows, whether dead or alive.
  • Amphibians, roe, and non-preserved fish eggs may not be used or possessed
  • No fishing from the bridge or the docks.
  • For rainbow trout fishing at the happy isles all the way to forest bridge, you can only use the catch and release basis.

#3 – Lake Shasta

Location – 40.8217732,-122.3757994

Located in northern California, this freshwater lake offers the best of fishing with a vast variety of fish available to catch. The area has tropical conditions with some of the best spots all over the lake and bridge bay.

Fishing Techniques and Fish Species

The lake has a diversity of fish like the white sturgeon, trout, salmon, king Solomon, catfish, rainbow trout, green sunfish, largemouth, crappies, brown trout, reader sunfish, threading shad, Sacramento squawfish, riffle sculpin, hardhead minnow, golden shiner, spotted bass, chinook salmon, channel squawfish, carp, brown bullhead, bluegill, blackfish, and black crappie.

You can go trolling for the brown trout from the turntable bay to the Hirz Bay. As for the chinook salmon, it prefers cooler temperatures hence you can try bottom fishing when warming in a warm season.

Bass fishing here is good year-round and in the summertime, it’s best for catfish, especially after sunset when channel catfish, white catfish, and bullheads can all be found here feeding.

Further Thoughts

The lake allows for fishing all year round due to the relatively low elevation and plus the area is easily accessible with the ramps and marinas available.

#2 – Smith River

Location – 41.8374281,-124.0440529

Located in the northwest areas of California, this spot is best known for steelhead fishing. The river flows from the Klamath Mountains to the Pacific Ocean in Del Norte County. The area is known as California’s last wild river with the huge sizes of fish you can find.

It also has towering redwoods, deep clear pools, and sheer rock walls. The Smith River has a magnificent turquoise glacial color that usually clears up fast with the blowing storm. This might actually be the most beautiful river in California.

Fishing Techniques and Fish Species

Just because it offers the steelhead plenty doesn’t mean the river doesn’t have other species of fish. You could also catch the salmon, especially in the months of September and October where if lucky you could catch the king Solomon for a weight of 20 pounds, like the steelhead.

Other types of fish include the Klamath sucker, range sculpin, prickly sculpin, white and green sturgeon, brook lamprey, Pacific lamprey, American shad, chum salmon, and spring chinook.

The steelhead on the other side has its best fishing season in winter from the months of April and December. The steelhead fish found here is among the largest in the state and river holding a record of over 25 pounds. This is one of the things that gets anglers eager to fish here.

Further Thoughts

The area has good dining capabilities with good food, a pub, and a small casino.

#1 – San Francisco Bay

Location – 37.7944482,-122.8403826

With a majority of saltwater fishing, San Francisco Bay lies next to San Francisco city with waters as deep as between 10 to 35 feet deep. With the deepest part at the bay is under the golden gate bridge with 372 feet deep.

The bay is fed by Sacramento River, San Joaquin River, Petaluma River, napa river, and Guadalupe river. The bay experiences large tide swings but has a good climate of between 53 degrees Fahrenheit to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fishing Techniques and Fish Species

There is also a variety of fishing found here with it’s the best season for fishing in May and the summer season. There is pier fishing available at the bay with no licenses required, trolling, and freshwater fishing are available at local streams and rivers. The species of fish available at the bay include;

  • Pink salmon
  • Chinook
  • Striped bass
  • Trout
  • Halibut
  • Lingcod
  • Sturgeon
  • Tuna

The sturgeon is widely seen in the 1st rains of November when there’s warm weather.

Further Thoughts

Besides fishing, you could also engage in hiking, biking, and waterfowl hunting at the Don Edwards national wildlife refuge.

You can also go windsurfing, kite surfing, hatching, yacht racing, and kayaking. There are also other several parks and wildlife reserves you can visit including Eden landing economic reserve, Eastshore state park, Cesar Chavez Park, and Hayward shoreline.

Final Thoughts

California offers some of the best fishing spots compared to other states. Besides the above mention spots, there ate many other spots in the city from lakes to bays, piers, and straight from the ocean.

The place is perfect for bothering professional and novice anglers. Plus if you don’t want to spend your whole day fishing, there are many other activities you can indulge in all over the state. Take a trip to California and experience a tremendous fishing expedition you will not forget.

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