Best Freshwater Fishing In Southern California

The state of California is nestled against the ocean, which offers tons of fishing opportunities for everyone. Those who choose to participate in the best freshwater fishing in southern California will not even need to present a license. Lakes and reservoirs with tons of fish abound as well, and if you prefer mountain getaways and woods, there are available spots to consider.

Top X best freshwater fishing in southern California

Redondo Beach Pier

Fishing is permitted in this horseshoe-shaped area, and similar to other public piers within the state, you don’t need a license. According to the peer fishing website, it is one of the top places to reel in halibut, but it also yields sardine fish, Pacific mackerel, and bonito. The majority of the restaurants, bars, and shops, and nightlife are also near this pier.

Lake Gregory

The regional Park of Lake Gregory is nestled at the San Bernardino Mountains close to Crestline, California. Lake Gregory is home to both brown trout and rainbow trout. Enthusiasts claim that is best caught in the springtime though fishing is permitted all year round. It is a relaxing rustic place to hang out, and you can have an entire weekend spent here. Rent a cabin and enjoy the serene forest in the surrounding area.

Visitors are required to pay eight dollars per day, and tickets are available at all fishing pay stations. Those who fish may choose to opt for the 10-day ticket, which has a price of $70, which saves you a few dollars. These are sold at the boathouse and Beach office located near the North Shore. Every month one orange tag type of fish will be freed on the lake, and the prize money is up to $1500 for the angler who can catch it.

You don’t have to get stressed if you aren’t prepared for your fishing trip since tons of shops sell baits and snacks.

When it’s time for meals, you can roast your fish in any of the many grills provided, or you can have a nice barbecue or picnic.

Aside from shore fishing, you can participate in flow fishing or even rent a rowboat and have a day enjoying the lake with your fishing gear.

Need to Know

Tickets are available at any fishing pay stations, but it will cost you eight dollars per day. It should be noted that watercraft and powerboats are not permitted on the lake, but rowboats and paddleboats are allowed, and rentals are even available.

Santa Monica Pier

The pier of Santa Monica is on the western end of Route 66. You will find that it is full of tourists who visit the establishments nearby, such as the shops, restaurants, and amusement parks, as they gaze at the Pacific Ocean. If your goal is to fish, you don’t need a license. You can stop by Santa Monica bait and tackle at the end of the pier and rent fishing gear. You have a chance to catch mackerel, white sea bass, and tiger shark, as well as stingrays.

Need to Know

If you can catch black sea bass, you must return it to the sea or donate it to the local aquarium since these fish are protected.

Fishing in the peer does not require a license, but if you want to go boat fishing or fish on the shore, then you need to have a valid license to present.

If you are just getting started fishing, you better start at the lower area of the pier. It can be a lot more challenging fishing at the upper levels of the Santa Monica pier.

Make sure that you’re keeping an eye for any danger signs on the pier. Be on the lookout for contamination warning, which means you won’t be able to eat any of the fish you caught.

Lake Cuyamaca

Cuyamaca Lake spans 110 acres and is located in San Diego country, which is about several miles northeast of San Diego. Every year the lake gets stocked with 38,000 pounds of trout, and visitors may fish all year round. Species of fish available are bluegill, catfish, and many others.

However, it is crucial to know that you will require a fishing license for each member of your group who is beyond 16 years old. You will also need a lake Cuyamaca permit, which costs eight dollars for adults. The entrance fee is free for children seven years and below. You can rent fishing gear or bring your own. Those who are just getting started in fishing can sign up for a free class every Saturday at 10 AM. Other activities to enjoy are hiking, boating, and camping. Lodging is available, and you can rent cabins, cottages, and even bed and breakfast.

Castaic Lake

Castaic Lake is a water reservoir that is full of trout from fall up to spring. Some huge catches have occurred in this lake. In the year 1932, a largemouth bass was caught weighing 22 pounds. In 2006 a channel catfish was caught weighing nearly 48 pounds.

The lake is home to many events that include Moonlight fishing, and there are also special days for kids. You need to present a license every day except on two occasions, typically on one date in June and another one in September. You can contact the Department of Fish and wildlife to make confirmations of this date. Other activities you can do in the area will include hiking, camping, swimming, and boating.

Diamond Valley Lake

The lake of diamond Valley is located close to Hemet. Visitors typically enjoy hiking, boating, and fishing in this area. The lake provides black bass, rainbow trout, and many others. The lake promises immense sized fishes and exhibits large catches on their website. However, they require a nine-dollar entrance fee per vehicle to get inside. Fishing permits cost $60, four dollars for children 12 years and younger. Rentals are available.

Laguna Niguel Regional Park

You are guaranteed to have a scenic fishing experience at this park located in Orange County.

This lake is also known as the Silver Creek Reservoir and spans 44 acres. It was built by the Silver Creek Dam back in 1966.

It is well known that you can get huge-sized fish on this lake. If luck is on your side, you might even be able to catch a bass that weighs 10-pound during springtime.

The lake is stocked twice a month, depending on what the temperature of the lake is.

Interesting Facts

When excavating the lake, fossils were discovered from various extinct animals, including species such as the mammoth, mastodon, and the long-horned bison. Also retrieved are bones from extinct and animals such as Camel, sloth, and wolf. It has added hugely to the local paleontologist’s knowledge of the ancient local wildlife.

Around 5000 people worked on the lake’s construction project, which boosted the local area’s economy. The final cost of the construction is $2 billion.


It should be noted that it will cost you nine dollars per vehicle to enter, so make sure you have cash ready. If you are a boater or need a boat band upon leaving, you will be charged three dollars.

Any boat that utilizes a traditional carburetor or two-stroke engine is not allowed on the lake since it is used as a water source.

Swimming is also not allowed on the lake since it may bring dangerous pathogens to the water and make the lake toxic. It may ruin the drinking water of millions of people.

The three dollars you have to pay as an entrance to the park are well worth it since you can do tons of activities when you get inside.

  • Bike riding
  • Park
  • Fishing
  • theater
  • picnic
  • Pickleball
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Boat rental

There are tons of amenities offered, meaning you can bring your family for some fun. If you fancy a trip to this park, you can even have a break from your fishing adventure and have tasty grilled food.

If you’re not an enthusiast of bank fishing, you can rent a boat for just $10 and get yourself on the lake. However private boats aren’t allowed on the lake, so you will have to do with a rented one.

The following are just some of the species of fish you can catch:

  • Catfish
  • Largemouth bass
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Trout

This lake is extremely popular for rainbow trout fish from November to April, with tons of people visiting the lake, especially for this fish species.

There is a limit, of course, and you can only fish five per stringer. It should be noted that a fish must be set free unless caught on the barbless artificial or flies.

The latest record for the largest trout caught is nearly 16 pounds. If you think you can beat that record, get yourself to Laguna Park and try your luck.

Need to Know

It should be noted that the park rules say that you can’t wade into the water, so better think twice before dipping your toes into the depths of the lake.

Before visiting, make sure that you check the rules of the park by visiting their website. Although there is no current disruption, it is worth checking if the park is open when you come.

You need to pay a three-dollar entry on weekdays and five dollars on weekends. It should be noted that private boats are not allowed on the lake.

Top Catches in best freshwater fishing in southern California

Southern California is famous for many things, such as celebrities, nightlife, and shopping. However, there are tons to do for every angler hungry for the action when it comes to fishing.

If your preference is to stay near the shore, there are tons of rivers, lakes, and flats in the state. If you’re looking for the most exciting bite, you should know that fishing in Southern California means intense deep-sea action. The following are just some species you can catch and target.


If you’re looking for the ultimate prize fish, the deep Southern California waters can deliver. It is the breeding ground of the yellowfin, and there’s no better place to hook this monster sized fish. Aside from the amazing yellowfin experience, you can also come face to face with bluefin and albacore.

Tuna searches for warm waters, so the best time to catch them is usually between May to October. These fish can weigh up to 200 pounds, and if you want to catch a giant, you have to go 20 miles further from the shore into the Pacific’s deep waters.

It is exciting to go after tuna, but it is a sport that will need a great deal of stamina and strength and fish savviness. But the rewards are huge and worth the effort.

Yellowtail Amberjack

Tuna might be the most exotic trophy many anglers are after, but the favorite species in the state of southern California is incontestably the yellowtail amberjack. You can fish for native yellow tails all year and spend your summers catching giants on their way from South America. The choice is yours!

You will discover these gorgeous fishes hanging around reefs and wrecks in the deep waters where they are likely to target their prey.  Yellowtail comes in all sizes, from one-digit firecrackers to 50 pounds mossbacks, so both amateurs and professionals can catch them. Southern California has tons of premium yellowtail fish in both local and visiting anglers can’t resist.


When you are fishing in SoCal, you might find a good number of halibut bites in areas along the Pacific coast. This area is the premium spot for halibut fishing experiences. If you’re wondering when is the best time to come, the peak season is from April to August.

California halibut enjoy moving around, and you can catch them practically anywhere. You have good chances of catching a chicken halibut, which is smaller but still delicious, both from the docks and offshore trips. These fishes are always hungry, which makes them prime catch for family excursions. These halibut are the best table fare, so catching one or several will make your day interesting as well as your meal.

Final thoughts

Southern California has rich bodies of water teeming with fish. There are fishing areas available for you whether you prefer saltwater or freshwater fishing. There are well-reviewed places for the best freshwater fishing in southern California which offer top-rated amenities to make your angling experience comfortable and exciting.