The Best Places to Go Fishing in Southern California

| Photo by Vlad Busuioc on Unsplash
Juliet Bennett Rylah

California, pressed against the ocean, offers numerous fishing opportunities. Those who elect to participate in the sport from its public piers don’t even need a license, yet lakes and reservoirs with stocked fish abound as well, should you prefer a more woodsy or mountainous getaway. Here are six of the best places to go fishing in Southern California.

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Redondo Beach Pier

Fishing is allowed on the horseshoe-shaped Redondo Beach Pier in a marked area, and—like other public piers in the state—a license is not required. According to Pier Fishing, this is one of the best places to catch halibut, but it also yields sardines, Pacific mackerel, bonito, and yellowtail. Plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, and nightlife are in the immediate area.

Lake Gregory

Lake Gregory Regional Park sits in the San Bernardino Mountains near Crestline, California. The lake is home to both brown and rainbow trout, which enthusiasts say are best caught in the spring, though fishing is available year-round. It’s a bucolic place to hang out, and you can make a whole weekend of it by renting a cabin and enjoying the tranquil forests that surround the area. Visitors may pay $8 per day, with tickets available at various Fishing Pay Stations. Those who fish often may choose to buy 10-day tickets at once for $70, thereby saving a buck a day, at the Boathouse and Beach Office, located on the North Shore. Each month, one orange tagged fish will be released into the lake, with prize money of up to $1,500 available for the person who catches it.

Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier is the western end of Route 66. It’s a lively place, typically full of tourists who visit the shops, restaurants and amusement park while gazing out at the Pacific Ocean. If you’re looking to fish, you won’t need a license. You can swing by Santa Monica Bait & Tackle, found at the end of the pier, to rent a rod. People usually catch perch, mackerel, white sea bass, leopard shark, tiger shark, and stingrays, according to the City of Santa Monica.

Lake Cuyamaca

Lake Cuyamaca is a 110-acre lake located in San Diego County, about 50 miles northeast of San Diego. Each year, the lake is stocked with 38,000 pounds of trout, and visitors may fish year-round. Bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, and sturgeon may also be found in the lake. You’ll need a California State Fishing License for every member of your party who is 16 or older, as well as a Lake Cuyamaca permit, which is $8 for adults, $4 for children eight to 15, and free for children seven and younger. You can rent rods or bring your own, and those new to fishing can take a free class on Saturdays at 10 a.m. Visitors can also enjoy hiking, boating or camping in the area. Lodging is available via nearby cabins, cottages, and B&Bs.

Castaic Lake

Castaic Lake is a state water reservoir that is stocked with trout from fall to spring. Some big catches have happened in this lake. In 1932, a man named George Perry caught a 22.04-pound (nearly 10 kilograms) largemouth bass. In 2006, Robert Flaata caught a channel catfish that weighed nearly 48 pounds (21.8 kilograms).
The lake hosts a number of events, including Moonlight Fishing, tournaments, and special days for children. A license is required every day save two: typically one date in June and another one in September. You can call the Department of Fish and Wildlife to confirm these dates at +1 562 342 7100. Other popular activities in the area include hiking, camping, swimming, and boating.

Diamond Valley Lake

Diamond Valley is a man-made reservoir located near Hemet. Visitors typically go hiking, boating or fishing in the area. The lake offers black bass, bluegill, rainbow trout, channel catfish, and more. They promise “monster fishes,” and proudly display large catches on their website. There’s a $9 entrance fee per vehicle to get into the Diamond Valley Marina, and fishing permits are available for $6 or $4 for children 12 and younger. Boat rentals are available.

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