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10 Best Fishing Spots in Southern California

There are many choices when choosing a fishing location in Southern California, and it could be overwhelming considering its vastness. With limited time, it’s just right to know the best places that will be worth the experience.

To help you choose, here are the best fishing spots in Southern California!

best fishing spots in southern california
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Ideal Fishing Places with More Activities 

If you’re looking for more than a simply peaceful fishing spot, consider these destinations that offer ample opportunities for other activities as well. 

From hiking and biking trails to amusement parks and historical sites, you’ll never run out of things to do when you visit one of these locations. So pack your tackle box and your sneakers, and get ready for a day (or several) of outdoor fun!

1. Redondo Beach Pier

You can enjoy pier fishing with any of your family members on this site. Because first of all, you won’t be needing any California state fishing license. It’s the perfect destination if you’re only visiting the area and aren’t a regular angler. 

Having no fishing equipment prepared isn’t a problem since there is fishing equipment that you can rent at the pier. For a more exciting experience, opt to join others to do sports fishing for a half or a whole day.

The good news is that even if you’re not into fishing activities, you’ll find the beach an accommodating place. 

You can look forward to riding a submarine instead of viewing underwater sea creatures or going on a kayak exploration of King Harbor. There are lots to do, especially from December to April, when you can go whale watching. 

2. Laguna Niguel Regional Park

Aside from being regularly stocked with trout during the winter months, you’ll find this place ideal for spending time outdoors. Don’t worry if trout fishing is only available for a limited time because the lake also offers white sea bass and catfish all year round. 

This park has so much to offer regarding recreational activities. This place is widely popular for its remote picnic areas equipped with shelters, tables, and stoves. You can move on to grilling with that as soon as you get a big catch.

After a decent meal, hiking trails are waiting for you to explore, and a playground for kids to enjoy. The place is also pet-friendly, so you don’t have to worry about needing to leave your paw friend at home.

It’s a fishing area that won’t let you feel any boredom because there will always be the next activity for you.

3. Santa Monica Pier

You can add Santa Monica Pier to your list if you’re looking forward to more fun experiences. You can even consider this place a historical site since it has existed since the 1900s and has withstood tremendous storms.

Santa Monica Pier has gained many tourists with its wild amusement park and long beach.

Not only that, but you can also catch the best variety of fish, including mackerel, bass, and perch. You can rely on the Bait and Tackle Shop in the area to give you advice on what fish is in season.

And even if you went here unprepared for the fishing experience, you’d have no problem because you can go ahead and rent rods for it. 

4. Lake Cuyamaca

Just east of San Diego County, you’ll find the lake that may be one of the best places for trout fishing. It is supplied with 45,000 rainbow trout yearly, which means a huge supply of trout all year round for all anglers out there.

That’s only the dominant species, but you still have other fishing opportunities to bring home crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, or a largemouth bass!

All it takes is a one-hour drive to reach the lake, where you’ll be sure to have the most productive fishing experience. It’s also the best location to set camping for family trips or go on a getaway with friends.

After all, Lake Cuyamaca is considered one of California’s best camping destinations that offer tents and lake-view condos.

5. Lake Gregory

When you want to escape the busy city of Los Angeles, go for a two-hour drive, and you’ll reach Lake Gregory near San Bernardino Mountains. It’s a great destination for anglers who wish to catch brown and rainbow trouts.

And to add to the excitement, there’s a monthly prize for anyone who’d catch an orange-tagged fish.

Most anglers would come here as soon as the lake is restocked with rainbow trout in the spring. However, there are other species that you can catch, including catfish, bluegill, and smallmouth bass.

You’ll still have your fair share even after the peak season ends if you wish to go fishing with fewer anglers around.

6. Diamond Valley Lake

Not everyone prefers to mingle when they’re in the middle of fishing, and this location is just the place to have that solitude.

However, Diamond Valley Lake is one of the inland waters that would require you to have a California state fishing license. It’s an artificial reservoir located in Hemet covering 4,500 surface acres.

The lake attracts anglers worldwide for its monster fishes, making it the most promising spot in Southern California.

Along with that, you have black bass, bluegill, channel catfish, and rainbow trout for other varieties. You’ll surely have a blasting experience here with the different catches you’ll encounter.

7. Big Bear Lake

If Lake Arrowhead has too many anglers for you to relax, you can try another location nearby called Big Bear Lake. You wouldn’t take much time to reach it because it’s also near San Bernardino County.

While the place has a year-round supply of trout, it’s even better because you can choose to fish from the shore or on a boat. 

Aside from rainbow trout, you’ll also have the opportunity to catch bluegill, largemouth bass, and other fish. Fishing from the marina docks might get you some crappie, while being at the east part will increase your chance of catching channel catfish.

You should consider a few things when looking for a good spot. One of the most important factors, however, is the scenery. After all, you want to enjoy the view while you’re trying to land that big one.

Here are some spots with some of the most picturesque settings in Southern California. You’ll be sure to enjoy more as you spend time in the natural beauty of your surroundings.

8. El Capitan State Beach

If fishing is on your list of activities to do, why not go for a spot that will also relax you. You can go to this beach with a 20-minute drive if you head north of Santa Barbara. Anglers into surf fishing will appreciate this location as they experience the action they’re seeking.

People can even enjoy from the edge of the cliff, given that they take safety precautions for slippery surfaces.

On the other hand, the sandy shoreline that gradually transforms to rocks is a peaceful setting that will give you a break from your thoughts. The nature around this area is perfect for any outdoor enthusiast.

9. Lake Jennings

Going in the summer will become more worthwhile once you spend your time doing it on Lake Jennings. This place is considered San Diego County’s best freshwater fishing location for its different species, especially between November and April. 

You won’t be disappointed giving it a visit because you’ll end up enjoying the picturesque setting that the place has to offer. Even if you’re a beginner angler, being surrounded by the wilderness will make you appreciate the long waiting hours. 

10. Piru Creek

One of the destinations that caught many anglers’ interest is Lake Piru, where you’ll experience the way of urban fishing. It’s even known as a fly fishing champion, wherein catching and releasing trout is a common practice you might encounter. 

A refreshing experience would be watching how waters from here lead to Santa Clara River, supplying half of its flow. Various people aside from anglers have become interested in this place for its awe-inspiring wilderness look where various species are also lurking. 

Final Thoughts

Among the many spots in Southern California, we included the most famous lakes that will be worth your time. It would be better to consider the season of your trip if you want to bring home a lot of fish.

At the same time, some places will be better if you want to experience other recreational activities.  

With fish requiring different environments, some kids won’t be available in another location. You may want to look into the prominent species available in the area to ensure that you’ll catch your target fish.


The Anglers Behind This Article:

Johanes Godoy
Fishing Editor

Aubrey Cayanan
Researcher

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler

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Johanes Godoy
Fishing Editor
Johanes is a talented Editor for Cast & Spear. She's helped edit and write hundreds of articles on fishing and the outdoors. When she's not editing, she's exploring the world and documenting it on her own blog.
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Articles » Travel Adventures » 10 Best Fishing Spots in Southern California