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Guide To The Best Bass Fishing Lakes In California

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All about fishing for spotted, smallmouth and largemouth bass.

Bass fishing in California

Bass are one of the most sought after of all the game fish. Its appeal spans cultures, age groups and genders to tap on the heart strings of anglers everywhere. Visit the Bass Knowledge Center for valuable information about bass and bass fishing. Join us in our endeavor to offer information about bass fishing on your favorite bass lake in California.

California is renowned for its excellent bass fishing opportunities, attracting anglers from all over seeking the thrill of reeling in trophy-sized largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass. The state's diverse waterways offer a variety of habitats that cater to different bass species, making it a haven for bass fishing enthusiasts.

Largemouth bass, one of the most popular game fish in California, can be found in lakes, reservoirs, and rivers throughout the state. Anglers target largemouth bass using various techniques such as flipping and pitching soft plastics into heavy cover, casting topwater lures in the early morning or evening, or working crankbaits and spinnerbaits along structure and drop-offs. 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, 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, 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.

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.

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.

Bass Fishing Lakes In CA

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.

Big California Largemouth Bass

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.

Top 5 Bass Fishing Lures For California

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!

Bass fishing basics video.

Understanding the primary seasonal movements of smallmouth bass and largemouth bass is key to locating them on local lakes in the Golden State.


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.