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Guide To Fishing For Salmon In California

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All about chinook, coho and kokanee fishing in CA.

Salmon fishing in California

Much of the salmon fishing in CA takes place in rivers running to the Pacific Ocean. The Sacramento River, Klamath River, Smith River, and others are favorites. For those who prefer to fish for salmon in lakes, here are some popular options to consider.

Northern California lakes with a population of salmon include Bucks Lake, Donner Lake, Folsom Lake, Lake Almanor, Lake Berryessa, Lake Oroville, Los Vaqueros Reservoir, New Bullards Bar Reservoir, Shasta Lake, Stampede Reservoir, Trinity Lake and Whiskeytown Lake. Several lakes in the state offer ice fishing for salmon when there is safe ice.

In Central California, Bass Lake, Cherry Lake, Lake Don Pedro, Fallen Leaf Lake, Huntington Lake, Lake Camanche, Lake Tahoe, New Melones Lake, Pine Flat Lake, Pinecrest Lake, Shaver Lake and The Delta are some of the primary lakes with a notable salmon population.

No major lakes in Southern California contain salmon.

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

Click the images and links above for species details.

The state record chinook salmon (king) was caught out of the Trinity Lake.

Oroville Diversion Pool produced the state record coho salmon.

Lake Tahoe was home to the state record kokanee salmon.

The state record pink salmon was caught from the Sacramento River.

California Salmon Fishing

The preferred method for catching salmon is fly fishing. Depending on the activity level, salmon may be caught on wet or dry flies, as well as a variety of other lures and baits.

About The Pacific Salmon Family

Pacific Salmon are born in and remain in freshwater streams for the early years of life. The number varies by species. Afterward they migrate to the Pacific Ocean waters where they bulk up and prepare for their once in a lifetime spawning run up the freshwater stream where they were born. They will instinctively return to their birthplace, spawn and die. They are found in the streams which empty into the ocean, and adjoining ocean waters.

The preferred method for catching salmon is fly fishing. Depending on the activity level, salmon may be caught on wet or dry flies. For more details check here for articles about fly fishing.

Salmon Organizations

Chinook Salmon
Timothy Kusherets with a Chinook Salmon.

Pacific Salmon Commission

Pacific Salmon Foundation


Salmon fishing waters and information, by state.

AK Salmon Fishing CA Salmon Fishing CO Salmon Fishing ID Salmon Fishing IL Salmon Fishing IN Salmon Fishing MA Salmon Fishing ME Salmon Fishing
MI Salmon Fishing MN Salmon Fishing MT Salmon Fishing NC Salmon Fishing ND Salmon Fishing NE Salmon Fishing NH Salmon Fishing
NJ Salmon Fishing NM Salmon Fishing NV Salmon Fishing NY Salmon Fishing OH Salmon Fishing OR Salmon Fishing PA Salmon Fishing
RI Salmon Fishing SD Salmon Fishing TX Salmon Fishing VT Salmon Fishing WA Salmon Fishing WI Salmon Fishing WY Salmon Fishing

Learn the life cycle of salmon

The more you know about the life cycle and seasonal migration of salmon, the more likely you are to be looking in the right area next time you visit California salmon fishing waters. Visit the salmon fishing page for more information about the life cycle of the different species of salmon.

Best salmon fishing waters in California!