California has over a thousand miles of coastline. Its state motto should be so many fish, not enough line! The state is a west coast paradise for bass, as well as trout, and northern California provides excellent salmon fishing.
West coast bass fishing is good, but California does have a bit of an edge over its neighbors with a fine combination of climate and varied geography. Clear Lake is one of the state’s best bass fishing lakes. This natural freshwater lake is considered by many to be the best trophy bass option in the state. Clear Lake’s crappie fishing is excellent too, as proven by its state record in white crappie.
Though many argue that Clear Lake is best, Pardee Reservoir is the actual holder of the state smallmouth record of nine pounds. Trinity Lake is well recommended by many seasoned Californian bass fishermen. While Diamond Reservoir is another bass haven where largemouth grow to mammoth sizes. Trout fishing in the Diamond Reservoir also thrives.
Trout and salmon are almost as sought after as bass. California is home to diverse trout species – including steelhead, bull, and golden. An impressive trout option is the popular Lake Tahoe, which has some of the most breathtaking lakeside scenery in the state. Tahoe holds California’s state records ins cutthroat and lake trout, which both bypass thirty pounds! Kokanee salmon do well in Tahoe, too. Plus it can be a great family day trip as there is kayaking, biking and other outdoor options.
California’s salmon species include coho, chinook, kokanee, and pink. Northern lakes are the best locations for California salmon due to climate. For the best inland coho salmon Lake Oroville will steer you right, plus you can multi-task and catch numerous bass there too. If river salmon fishing is the experience you desire then perhaps try fly fishing Sacramento River for pink salmon.
If you have limited fishing time in California and you only have time for one inland experience, the best lake to hit is Shasta Lake. Few places offer excellent bass, trout and salmon fishing all at once, but Shasta Lake delivers. Sizable largemouth, chinook salmon, rainbow and brown trout, are some of the best species to fish for. Although you may catch a bluegill, catfish, or sturgeon instead. This is the best option to get the most out of every cast in California!
A runner up to Shasta Lake is Lake Almanor, which has excellent chinook salmon and brown trout. Its rainbow population can be very good from year to year. Smallmouth bass fishing is also extremely good at Almanor.
Good fishing in California is as close as the nearest shore. Well over a hundred fish species await in its salt waters. The most sought after fish include salmon, striped bass, halibut, and sturgeon. Some sea bass and halibut can be caught without leaving shore. Some great sturgeon fishing comes from Suisun Bay and San Pablo Bay in winter. For halibut it would be hard to go wrong in San Francisco Bay.
Saltwater salmon fishing is prized in California. The salmon leave rivers, such as the Sacramento, and enter the northern coast area. San Francisco Bay has some of the best salmon fishing, although the state record was caught off the shore of Crescent City – an impressive sixty-five pounds!
Heading away from shore allows you to cast for mackerel, tuna, and shark. Less popular species include bonefish, calico bass, bass, rock fish, albacore, wahoo, and the occasional marlin. Dive fishing on Santa Cruz Island is some of the state’s best. The ocean is a plethora of fishing opportunities!
All persons age sixteen and older must be licensed. Licenses can be bought online, at agents authorized to distribute licenses, and at state Fish and Wildlife offices. Disabled veterans, recovering servicemen, mobility impaired, and low income individuals may purchase reduced or no fee licenses. Both residents and non-residents may opt for an annual, or one, two, or ten day license. Only residents may purchase lifetime licenses. Residency is defined as continuously residing in California for six months before applying for a license. Certain species (such as steelhead and sturgeon) and some locations require extra validation for licenses.
Get angling, because the first Saturday in July and September are free fishing days where no license is necessary!
Whenever you head out fishing to a new place, it's always best to speak to local anglers. Use fishing forums to ask questions and learn about the most accurate and up to date conditions.