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Enjoy Great Fishing In California

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Guide to fishing in the Golden State

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

  • Bass Lake
  • Big Bear Lake
  • Bucks Lake
  • Canyon Lake
  • Castaic Lake
  • Clear Lake
  • Diamond Valley Lake
  • Don Pedro Lake
  • Donner Lake
  • Eagle Lake
  • El Capitan Reservoir
  • Folsom Lake
  • Huntington Lake
  • June Lake
  • Lake Almanor
  • Lake Berryessa
  • Lake Cachuma
  • Lake Elsinore
  • Lake Camanche
  • Lake Havasu
  • Lake McClure
  • Lake Mendocino
  • Lake Nacimiento
  • Lake Oroville
  • Lake Perris
  • Lake Pillsbury
  • Lake Piru
  • Lake Sonoma
  • Lake Tahoe
  • Los Vaqueros Reservoir
  • Lower Otay Lake
  • New Bullards Bar Reservoir
  • New Hogan Lake
  • New Melones Lake
  • Pyramid Lake
  • San Luis Reservoir
  • San Vicente Reservoir
  • Shasta Lake
  • Shaver Lake
  • Silver Lake
  • Silverwood Lake
  • Skinner Reservoir
  • Stampede Reservoir
  • Trinity Lake

In the state of California you can fish for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, white catfish, black crappie, white crappie, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout, brown trout, lake trout, golden trout, bluegill, green sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, redear sunfish, tilapia, warmouth, white bass, coho salmon, chinook salmon, kokanee salmon and stripers in local lakes, rivers, ponds and/or streams. Ice fishing for trout and other species is popular during winter at some of the lakes in the northern part of the state. The purpose of this page is to share basic information about the best fishing lakes in the state, plus the species found in each lake. Visit each CA lake page for details on species within that lake.

California is renowned for its incredible variety of fish species, making it a paradise for anglers. The state offers numerous opportunities for fishing in warm water lakes, cold water lakes, ponds, rivers, and even the vast Pacific Ocean.

In the warm water lakes of California, anglers can target species such as largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, channel catfish, bluegill, crappie, and sunfish. These lakes are known for their abundant vegetation, submerged structures, and warmer temperatures, which create thriving ecosystems for these warm water species. Popular warm water lakes in California include Clear Lake, Lake Castaic, Lake Perris, and Lake Elsinore.

On the other hand, the cold water lakes of California are known for their excellent trout fishing. Anglers can target species like rainbow trout, brown trout, and lake trout in lakes such as Lake Tahoe, Lake Shasta, and Donner Lake. These lakes are typically located in higher elevation areas, surrounded by picturesque mountain landscapes and offering breathtaking fishing experiences.

Ponds throughout California also provide opportunities for fishing, particularly for smaller species like bluegill, crappie, and bass. Many parks and recreational areas have stocked ponds where families and beginners can enjoy fishing in a more intimate setting.

Rivers are another popular destination for anglers in California, with notable ones including the Sacramento River, Feather River, and American River. These rivers offer diverse fishing opportunities for species like salmon, steelhead trout, striped bass, and even sturgeon during specific seasons. Anglers can choose between fly fishing, bait fishing, or even drift boat fishing along these scenic waterways.

Lastly, California's vast coastline provides an abundance of fishing opportunities in the Pacific Ocean. Anglers can cast their lines for a wide range of saltwater species such as halibut, rockfish, lingcod, yellowtail, and even the elusive white sea bass. Whether from shore or by chartering a boat, fishing along California's coastline offers a thrilling adventure for anglers of all levels.

With its diverse array of warm water lakes, cold water lakes, ponds, rivers, and ocean fishing opportunities, California truly has something to offer every angler. However, it's important to research and comply with fishing regulations, obtain the necessary permits or licenses, and practice responsible fishing to preserve the state's natural resources for generations to come.

Major California Lakes

The state of California offers a variety of fishing including lakes, ponds, streams and rivers. The state is divided into three primary areas, with a list of lakes and species of fish in each lake. Individual lake pages privide details about each lake, including fish species, camping, marinas and other amenities. Many of these lakes offer fishing boats for rent. Check out boat rentals in Northern California, Central California and Southern California.

Lake & Fish Species Charts

Northern CA Fishing Lakes, Sizes Locations & Fish Species

Central CA Fishing Lakes, Sizes Locations & Fish Species

Southern CA Fishing Lakes, Sizes Locations & Fish Species

Check a list of popular marinas on fishing lakes in Northern CA, Central CA or Southern CA.

For a detailed list of primary fish species in CA, plus state fish records, see the list below.

Fish Species & State Records 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: 9 lbs 8 oz

State Record: 11 lbs 4 oz


Channel Catfish

Channel catfish

World record: 58 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 53 lbs 8 oz

Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish

World record: 123 lbs 9 oz

State Record: 72 lbs 14 oz

Blue Catfish

Blue catfish

World record: 143 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 113 lbs 5 oz

White Catfish

White catfish

World record: 22 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 22 lbs 0 oz


Black Crappie

Black crappie

World record: 6 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 4 lbs 1 oz

White Crappie

White crappie

World record: 5 lbs 3 oz

State Record: 4 lbs 8 oz


Steelhead Fishing


World record: 42 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 27 lbs 4 oz


Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout

World record: 42 lbs 2 oz

State Record: 27 lbs 0 oz

Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat trout

World record: 41 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 31 lbs 8 oz

Brook Trout

Brook trout

World record: 14 lbs 8 oz

State Record: 9 lbs 12 oz

Brown Trout

Brown trout

World record: 40 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 26 lbs 8 oz

Lake Trout

Lake trout

World record: 72 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 37 lbs 6 oz

Golden Trout

Golden trout

World record: 11 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 9 lbs 8 oz




World record: 4 lbs 12 oz

State Record: 3 lbs 14 oz

Green Sunfish

Green sunfish

World record: 2.2 lbs

State Record: 1 lbs 12 oz

Hybrid Sunfish

Hybrid sunfish

World record: N/A

State Record: 1 lbs 4 oz

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Pumpkinseed sunfish

World record: 2 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 1 lbs 0 oz

Redear Sunfish

Redear sunfish

World record: 5.4 lbs

State Record: 5 lbs 13 oz



World record: 4.4 lbs

State Record: 6 lbs 0 oz



World record: 2.4 lbs

State Record: 0 lbs 15 oz

White Bass

White Bass

World record: 6.8 lbs

State Record: 5 lbs 5 oz


Chinook Salmon

Chinook salmon

World record: 97 lbs 4 oz

Inland State Record: 20 lbs 15 oz

Coho Salmon

Coho salmon

World record: 33 lbs 7 oz

Inland State Record: 8 lbs 15 oz

Kokanee Salmon

Kokanee salmon

World record: 9 lbs 10 oz

State Record: 5 lbs 2 oz

Pink Salmon

Pink salmon

World record: 14 lbs 8 oz

State Record: 8 lbs 11 oz

Striped bass

Striped Bass


World record: 81 lbs 14 oz

State Record: 67 lbs 8 oz

Click the images and links above for species details.

State of CA Fishing Information

Contact the California Department of Fish & Game for additional details about fishing in California. Visit our sections on each species of fish for specific techniques for California fishing.

Click here for a California Fishing License.

Additionally, our goal is to provide specific information about major California lakes, streams, ponds and rivers. This information includes California fishing maps, fishing tips and camping information.

There is a section dedicated to fishing activities for kids in CA. It is devoted to information about kids fishing with stories, fish photos and tips for where and how to take a kid fishing in California. Please send us your recommendations and we will be happy to consider them for publication.

Bass fishing book

Fish for big bass in California

Excellent largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fishing opportunities are available to anglers in CA.


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