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Bass Fishing In California

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Guide to fishing for spotted, smallmouth and largemouth bass.

By Rick Seaman

Bass fishing At Daybreak

California Bass Fishing

Bass fishing in California

Bass fishing in California is a beloved pursuit, cherished by anglers of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels. Few experiences rival the thrill of hooking into a largemouth or smallmouth bass, making it a timeless pastime that transcends cultural boundaries. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a novice angler eager to learn the ropes, mastering the art of bass fishing can be immensely rewarding. That's why this page is dedicated to offering invaluable insights and tips on bass fishing, providing a comprehensive guide on everything from bass fishing techniques to essential bass-catching strategies. Whether you're seeking advice on selecting the perfect lure or honing your casting skills, we're here to equip you with the knowledge and expertise needed to excel on the water. Dive into our wealth of information to discover the secrets of successful bass fishing and unlock the full potential of your angling endeavors.

Bass Fishing Favorites

Largemouth Bass Fishing In California

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass are the most abundant, and most pursued bass in California. They are available in most warm-water lakes in the state, they tend to thrive in most water conditions and grow to bragging size in relative short order. Often called big mouth bass, or wide mouth bass, they are savvy predators that feed on most things that live in their territory. Bass in the 5 to 10-pound range are common in California. The state record largemouth bass is over 21 pounds.

Finding & Catching Bigmouth Bass

Anglers can target big mouth bass in various lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Spring and early summer are typically the best seasons for targeting largemouth bass as they are more active and feeding in the shallows near shoreline cover. Start with topwater baits, as they cover the water most efficiently. Reaction baits like crankbaits and spinnerbaits are the next choice. For finicky bass, plastic worms and jigs may entice a bite as you can move them very slowly around cover. In the heat of summer and the cold of winter bass move to deeper water, usually following the baitfish. Jigs, drop shot rigs and spoons are a good approach for bass holding in deep water. Vary your retrieve speed and action to find what the bass like today!

California is home to several lakes known for their exceptional largemouth bass populations, including Clear Lake, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and Lake Berryessa.

Smallmouth Bass Fishing In California

Smallmouth Bass

While smallmouth bass don't grow as large as their cousin the largemouth, they make up the difference with tenacious fights. Known for long battles and spectacular jumps, smallies grow fat and strong but rarely exceed ten pounds. Their range and locations are often with or nearby the largemouths. The state record smallmouth bass is over 9 pounds.

Smallmouth bass, although less abundant than largemouth bass in California, offer a rewarding angling experience. They are predominantly found in the state's northern regions, particularly in lakes and rivers with clear, cool waters. Popular smallmouth bass fisheries in California include Lake Shasta, Lake Oroville, and the Feather River. Anglers often target smallmouth bass by casting jigs, crankbaits, or swimbaits near rocky structures, drop-offs, and underwater ledges.

Spotted Bass Fishing In California

Spotted bass, often referred to as "spots," are another sought-after bass species in California. They are known for their aggressive nature and strong fighting ability. Spotted bass can be found in many of the same waters as largemouth and smallmouth bass, including lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Clear Lake, Lake Shasta, and New Melones Lake are popular spots for targeting trophy-sized spotted bass. Anglers often use techniques similar to those employed for largemouth bass, such as flipping, casting topwater lures, or working deep diving crankbaits.

Big California Largemouth Bass

California's bass fishing scene offers ample opportunities for boating enthusiasts to explore the state's stunning lakes and reservoirs. Many of these waterways have boat ramps and marinas, allowing anglers to access prime bass fishing locations. Boaters can enjoy cruising the waters, searching for bass hotspots, and experimenting with various fishing techniques. It's important to follow boating safety guidelines and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water.

Bass fishing basics video.

Best Bass Fishing Lakes In California

Northern California

In Northern California be sure to try your luck for bass at Boca Reservoir , Bucks Lake, Clear Lake, Copco Lake, Folsom Lake, Lake Almanor, Lake Berryessa, Lake Combie, Lake Mendocino, Lake Oroville, Lake Pillsbury, Los Vaqueros Reservoir, New Bullards Bar Reservoir, Shasta Lake, Stampede Reservoir, Trinity Lake and Whiskeytown Lake. You'll find bass in plenty other waters in the area as well including private ponds, creeks and smaller lakes.

Central California

Bass Lake, Eastman Lake, Hensley Lake, Lake Don Pedro, Lake Cachuma, Lake Camanche, Lake Kaweah, Lake McClure, Lake Sonoma, Lake Tulloch, Lake Nacimiento, Lake Tahoe, Millerton Lake, New Hogan Lake, New Melones Lake, Pine Flat Lake, San Luis Reservoir, San Pablo Reservoir, Shaver Lake, Success Lake, Union Valley Reservoir, The California Delta (San Joaquin Delta) and Topaz Lake are the larger bodies of water that hold bass. Check the tributaries leading into and away from these lakes for potential bass fishing hot spots.

Andrew Kotnik California Bass

Southern California

Andrew Kotnik with a nice 12 1/2 pound bass from Lake Mission Viejo.

The larger bodies of water in Southern California that hold populations of bass include Barrett Lake, Big Bear Lake, Canyon Lake, Diamond Valley Lake, El Capitan Reservoir, Laguna Niguel Lake, Lake Cahuilla, Lake Casitas, Lake Castaic, Lake Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Lake Havasu, Lake Hodges, Lake Perris, Lake Piru, Lake Sutherland, Littlerock Reservoir, Lower Otay Lake, Pyramid Lake, San Vicente Reservoir, Silverwood Lake and Skinner Reservoir. Lake Castaic served up the state record for largemouth bass in California. Other monster bass have also come from Castaic.

Fishing for bass In California

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass

World record: 22 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 21 lbs 12 oz

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass

World record: 11 lbs 15 oz

State Record: 9 lbs 13 oz

Spotted Bass

Spotted bass

World record: 11 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 11 lbs 4 oz

Click the images and links above for species details.

Whether it's the thrill of battling a largemouth bass in the heavy cover, the acrobatic jumps of a smallmouth bass, or the relentless fight of a spotted bass, California provides a diverse and exciting bass fishing experience. Anglers can enjoy the challenge of targeting different bass species in various scenic locations across the state. By practicing catch-and-release and adhering to fishing regulations, anglers can help conserve California's bass populations and ensure the sustainability of this beloved sport.

Top 5 bass fishing lures for California this year

When bass are shallow, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and top water lures are the most productive. As they move deeper, worms and jigs are among the top producers.

The California state record smallmouth bass was caught out of Trinity Lake (Clair Engle Lake).

Lake Castaic holds the CA record for largemouth bass.

New Bullards Bar Reservoir was home to the state record spotted bass.

Bass fishing book

Catch more big bass!

Understanding the primary seasonal movements of smallmouth bass and largemouth bass is key to locating them on local lakes in the Golden State. Visit the Bass Knowledge Center for additional, valuable information about bass and bass fishing. The purpose of this page is to share basic information about bass fishing and bass lakes in the state. Join us in our endeavor to offer information about bass fishing on your favorite bass lake in California.


Bass fishing information by state.

AL Bass Fishing AR Bass Fishing AZ Bass Fishing CA Bass Fishing CO Bass Fishing CT Bass Fishing DC Bass Fishing DE Bass Fishing FL Bass Fishing GA Bass Fishing HI Bass Fishing IA Bass Fishing ID Bass Fishing
IL Bass Fishing IN Bass Fishing KS Bass Fishing KY Bass Fishing LA Bass Fishing MA Bass Fishing MD Bass Fishing ME Bass Fishing MI Bass Fishing MN Bass Fishing MO Bass Fishing MS Bass Fishing MT Bass Fishing
NC Bass Fishing ND Bass Fishing NE Bass Fishing NH Bass Fishing NJ Bass Fishing NM Bass Fishing NV Bass Fishing NY Bass Fishing OH Bass Fishing OK Bass Fishing OR Bass Fishing PA Bass Fishing
RI Bass Fishing SC Bass Fishing SD Bass Fishing TN Bass Fishing TX Bass Fishing UT Bass Fishing VA Bass Fishing VT Bass Fishing WA Bass Fishing WI Bass Fishing WV Bass Fishing WY Fishing
The lifecycle of bass

The more you know about the seasonal migration of bass, the more likely you are to be looking in the right area next time you visit California bass fishing lakes. Visit the bass fishing page for more in-depth information about bass activities.