California, The Golden State, has almost endless amounts of outdoor activities. From San Diego to San Francisco and everywhere in between, there are cliffs to hike, mountains to climb, and, of course, water to fish! With all of these streams, lakes, rivers and even the ocean at their disposal, what are the best places to fish in California?
We dug into the California Angler’s brain and found the top 10 spots to fish on the West Coast’s largest state.
1. The Delta
The San Joaquin Delta, running throughout California, should be on every angler’s bucket list. With big bass swimming throughout it’s waters for hundreds of miles, you can also catch catfish, stripers, sturgeons, and more. Heck, even a whale got lost in there once. This is # 1 on every list of the best places to fish in California.
2. The McCloud River
The McCloud River is one of the best trout fisheries in the entire country. Running off of the famed Mt. Shasta (more on Shasta later), you’ll find nearby Hat Creek and Burney Falls as other arms of the McCloud river where native browns, bows and brookies all swim.
3. Clear Lake
Clear Lake, aside from The Delta, is probably the most sought after spot to catch bass in the entire state. Warm temperatures, abundant baitfish, and plenty of cover help grow these fish to monsters, and you’ll routinely catch 6+ pounders year-round. Clear Lake is a national treasure, and easily one of the best places to fish in California.
4. Lake Shasta
Get to the bridge! A local favorite spot, heading under or around the famed bridge is where you’ll find tons of bass. Quanitity and quality of fish in this norcal hotspot make it one of the best places to fish in California.
5. Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica pier in Southern California is best known as a tourist attraction for beach-goers, but it is actually one of the best places to fish in California. From the end of the pier you can wrestle a spot away from other anglers to find a spot to cast some live bait and catch halibut, herring, surfperch, sculpin, calico bass, and mackerel. TIP: head there at night when it’s less crowded, the bite will still be on.
6. Lake Almanor
Lake Almanor stocks trout, and their smallmouth fight like crazy. This gigantic manmade lake is also incredibly scenic, and is home to one of Northern California’s famous ‘fog pockets.’ When you’re up at dawn trying to catch that morning bite, pulling in fish through the fog will have you feeling like a superhero.
7. Lake Cuyamaca
Lake Cuyamaca houses about 45,000 lbs of stocked rainbow trout a year, and the consistent San Diego County temperatures mean you can catch those trout on Christmas Day or the 4th Of July. There are also plenty of 7+ lb bass swimming in these Julian, CA waters. The low pressured population also means you’ll be able to catch them on a variety of bass fishing lures.
8. Castaic Lake
Castaic Lake, located about an hour north of Los Angeles, is a trophy hunting lake. The big bass swimming from wall to wall on this destination make it one of the best places to fish in California.
9. Russian River
The Russian River runs through Northern California’s hills, where it can be HOT in the summer, but the smallies will still be biting. If you can get here in the beginning of the fall, you’ll catch a limit of steelhead standing on the bank, and closer to Thanksgiving the big steelhead occupy much of the river on their run.
10. Coronado Ferry Landing Pier
This is somewhat of a secret spot, but it is one of the best places to fish in California, nonetheless. Around the back of the pier that docks Coronado Island’s Ferry, TONS of saltwater species like sand bass, spotted bay bass, mackerel and bonito. The water is incredibly clear and rather shallow, so throwing lighter tackle is a must. You may even encounter rays, sharks and other saltwater predators trying to catch the same fish as you!
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