Best fishing hotspots in California

There are a few fishing hotspots in the United States that are on every angler’s bucket list. Lake Okeechobee in Florida, Table Rock in Missouri, and Lake Fork in Texas are just a couple of the biggest lakes in America.

One of the most underrated spots for fishing in the United States is California. Cali is home to incredible lakes, cool offshore opportunities, and much more. Without some knowledge about where to go and what to expect, navigating this state’s top fishing opportunities can be tough.

If you are not from California and still want to experience fishing, your best bet is to fly in and rent a car. The car rental services are connected through a few of the main California airports, so you can deboard your plane and get right to the action.

Here are some of the best places to fish in all of California!

Freshwater Opportunities

Since California has miles and miles of coastline, we need to differentiate between freshwater and saltwater bodies. Each brings different fish, different techniques, and different opportunities, so keep that in mind when making your fishing tour through the state. We will start with freshwater.

1.- The San Joaquin Delta

The San Joaquin Delta

First off, we have the San Joaquin Delta. The Delta is an awesome waterway that has huge bass, sturgeon, stripers, and much more. Located in the northern part of California, the closest big city is Sacramento. In fact, the Delta is formed by the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River.

Along with supplying millions of Californians with drinking water, this waterway is great for fishing. It is freshwater up until it butts up against the Pacific Ocean. Via the I-5, you are just a 50-minute drive from Sacramento. This city is a great starting point for your next trip. This is a must-stop if you are doing a fishing tour of California.

2.- Lake Cuyamaca


Despite being far smaller than the Delta or some of the other lakes in California, Lake Cuyamaca packs a serious punch. The picturesque shorelines and gorgeous scenery will have you entranced between each cast.

This is one of the hotspots of southern California and is located just an hour from downtown San Diego. Obviously, there is a fantastic airport in San Diego, so hopping into your rental car right there and hitting the road could not be easier.

3.- Clear Lake

Clear Lake

If you are a bass fisherman, going to Clear Lake has to be at the top of your list. This is where the California state record largemouth was caught weighing in over 17 pounds. Chasing after that trophy bass is done here.

A cool perk is that there is Clear Lake State Park attached to the lake itself. It is here that you can camp, swim, hike, and do some other outdoor activities other than fishing.

It is located in the city of Clearlake, but the closest big cities include Napa and Sacramento. As you can see, northern California has some incredible fishing opportunities, so make cities like Sacramento and San Francisco your starting point. This way, you can experience many opportunities all at one go.

4.- Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Although Yosemite National Park is very famous and visited by millions every year, its fishing opportunities are often overlooked. This park is known for world-class hiking, rock climbing, and observing wildlife. Fishing should be added to that list as well.

Scattered over the 1169 square miles of land occupied by the park, there are many reservoirs, rivers, and creeks that all have great fishing opportunities. This is especially a popular spot for fly fishermen. Obviously, you can fish in a multitude of ways, but fly fishing is king when it comes to these streams and creeks.

Due to the natural features of Yosemite, trout are the most sought-after species around. This is because they love to inhabit flowing streams and the mountainous environment.

Saltwater Opportunities

With about 800 miles of total coastline in California, there are plenty of opportunities to catch some of those saltwater species on your bucket list. Some of these fish may include tuna, salmon, flounder, and many more. Here are a few of the fantastic ocean spots that you can take advantage of.

1.- Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay

A majority of saltwater fishing is done offshore in a boat. One aspect that makes Bodega Bay so special is the fact that there are places to launch a boat and also fish from the shore. This makes it accessible to everyone who wants to wet a line.

The scenery of Bodega Bay is incredible. The coastline butts up against big rock structures and is surrounded by picturesque scenes. Not only will you be fishing, but you are immersed in a really cool environment.

This spot is located in northern California and is just a 50-mile drive from San Francisco. Like some of the other locations on this list, going to that airport, hopping into a rental, and getting after it is super easy for anyone to do.

2.- Redondo Beach Fishing Pier

Redondo Beach Fishing Pier

One of the interesting ways to fish in California is off of a pier. This isn’t done in a lot of areas, so be sure to take advantage of this experience. Obviously, pier fishing is off the ocean and there are some great species like tuna, shark, and much more that can be caught.

The Redondo Beach Fishing Pier is one of the most well-known fishing piers in the entire state. That being said, this location will get quite busy on popular beach days, so keep that in mind.

Redondo Beach is just 20 miles from Los Angeles, so staying in the city and traveling out to the spot is super easy.

3.- Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Along with Venice Beach, the Santa Monica Pier is one of the most visited areas in terms of tourism. With hundreds of visitors, carnival rides, and street performers right next to you, fishing here is super interesting and unlike anywhere else.

Purists may stay away from this area because it is so hectic, but that is part of the fun. Fishing in unique places is part of the adventurous fun. Some species that are commonly targeted include sharks, mackerel, stingrays, and more. With over 2000 feet of the pier, there are plenty of opportunities to spread out and try your luck with some fish.

4.- Trinidad Pier


Finally, there is the Trinidad Pier. Although a vast majority of popular piers are located in southern California, like the two listed above, the Trinidad Pier is an incredible space in northern California.

This pier is on the Trinidad Wharf that is full of those northern saltwater fish like halibut and rockfish. You will be less than 100 miles from Oregon and is the northernmost pier in all of California.

Going here will give you a far different view of California than some of the other areas on this list. This is Redwood country and is an area full of wildlife. The Trinidad area is a fantastic place to relax, do some fishing, and see the sites.


Here are some of the greatest fishing opportunities that can be had in California! Whether you want to stick to the inland lakes or the ocean at large, there are incredible options for you. There are so many species of fish that can be targeted as well. So, if you are in the market for a trip to California, consider doing a fishing tour. Simply pick an airport, pick up your rental car, and go have fun!

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