Trout Fishing in Southern California (Places to Fish)

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Southern California is well-known for its pleasant weather, year-round sunshine, and world-famous beaches.

However, many people don’t know that this region is also a prime destination for trout fishing. With plenty of streams and rivers in the area, there are plenty of opportunities to catch your limit of these feisty fish.

So if you’re looking for an outdoor adventure that will take you away from the crowds, consider spending a day trout fishing. Read on for the trout fishing Southern California version!

trout fishing southern california
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Trout Fishing Tips

Among most trout destinations, Southern California has warmer temperatures and waters. If you’re eyeing gamefish such as rainbow trout and brown trout, they are mostly found in deeper impoundments and reservoirs in a river.

Before diving into the different trout fishing places, here are three fishing tips to keep in mind:

1. Best time to go trout fishing

Trouts are mostly found in cooler waters. Thus, it would be best to consider trout fishing in the spring or fall months. You can find your new source of cool water from the streams or rivers connected to a lake reservoir. If you opt to fish in the summer, you should go deeper from shore.

2. Baits and Gear

Lighter setups are typically used when trout fishing.

Common trout fishing gear includes:

  • 7-8 foot ultra-light to light rod
  • Small reels around 1000-3000 size
  • Less than 15lb mono
  • Fluoro or mono leader between 2-10lb test
  • Bobbers, when using baits like PowerBait or worms
  • Split shot if you need to get your baits near the bottom

If you plan to use live bait, be sure to check local regulations first.

Fly fishing is also a great option for catching trout with both wet and dry flies. Tenkara rods are easy to backpack with and are effective, especially in streams, rivers, and nearshore lakes in the backcountry.

3. License

You should purchase a California license to go trout fishing in Southern California.

Now that you’re equipped with trout fishing tips, it’s time to wade into California waters to get your trout.

Trout Fishing Lakes

Castaic Lake

Castaic Lake is an artificial lake in the hills of Los Angeles country. And this is one of the largest state water reservoirs in California.

It is filled with rainbow trout during the autumn to the spring season. The most popular place to catch them is the area around the dam, as they prefer the deep and cooler water in this area.

If you’re eyeing a truly big rainbow trout, you don’t find much in this lake. Anglers catch a few trout weighing a few pounds, but most of their trout are usually 12 inches or so.

Diamond Valley Lake

Considered Southern California’s largest reservoir, Diamond Valley Lake is another famous spot anglers often go to. It’s one of the best fishing lakes in Southern California.

Though the lake is famous for largemouth bass fishing, it is also home to rainbow trout.

Its location is about 85 miles northeast of downtown San Diego. The lake is 260 feet deep, making it one of the lakes where trout can survive the entire year.

Lake Piru

Lake Piru, specifically in Piru Creek, is home to various fishes, such as largemouth bass and rainbow trout. It is located 4 miles from Piru, in Ventura County. You can find your wild and hatchery-raised rainbow trout here from early fall through early summer.

Lake Cuyamaca

Lake Cuyamaca is an angler’s paradise because it is San Diego County’s only year-round trout fishery. Approximately 45,000 pounds of rainbow trout are stocked annually.

San Vicente Reservoir

San Vicente Reservoir, the largest reservoir in San Diego County, is located 25 miles northeast of San Diego. It has a water volume of 249,358-acre-feet. Rainbow trout are usually stocked in the winter months here.

Skinner Reservoir

Also known as Lake Skinner, Skinner Reservoir is located about 70 miles north of downtown San Diego. Rainbow trout are prime here in the colder winter months. There are stocking events every fall and winter, the last one on the first spring.

Trout Fishing San Bernardino Mountains

If you’re looking for more fishing opportunities, San Bernardino Mountains have some of the best mountain lakes and streams for trout fishing. This mountainous range is located within the San Bernardino National Forest.

The San Bernardino Mountains contain many lakes home to wild and stocked fish by the California Department. So, here are some best places to look for California trout.

Big Bear Lake

The most popular species of fish you’ll find in Big Bear Lake is rainbow trout. The deep waters allow the trout to grow through the heat of summer.

One of the best ways to locate the trouts is by downrigging deep waters and trolling lead core lines. Slip bobber setups with live bait if you’re a shore angler.

Green Valley Lake

Green Valley Lake is a secluded fishing 9-acre lake. Rainbow trout are stocked regularly from May through in this lake.

Silverwood Lake

Silverwood Lake is located on the West Fork of the Mojave River. When the California department truck comes to plant the rainbow trouts at the boat ramps, they hang around the docks for a short while. So the southern part of the lake is your best bet after planting.

Deep Creek

Deep Creek is famous for its rainbow trout and wild brown trout. Because of its difficult access, you need to do a lot of hiking to reach this stream. You can find these fishes in the stream’s lower reaches and brown trout above the confluence with Holcomb Creek.

Let’s Go Fish Trout in Southern California

Southern California has one of the best trout fishing lakes, rivers, and streams.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day of fly-fishing or an exhilarating adrenaline rush of the catch and release, there is plenty to choose from. From trout streams to the San Bernardino mountains, you’ll get some substantial catches to get trout.

You’ll get a lot of fishing opportunities for trout when you know your geography in Los Angeles. As long as you know what bait to use and how to fish, then you’re all set.

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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