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Once you consider SoCal, you’re most likely pondering of in style, bustling seashores like Santa Monica and the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills, proper? Nicely, you wouldn’t be improper. You already know that the underside third of the Sunshine State is numerous. However fairly how numerous is certain to amaze you. One option to uncover it’s by exploring the Southern California fishing scene.

A view from a hill of Dana Point marina on a sunny day
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From the Pacific Ocean to the Colorado River, there’s loads of angling motion. From huge offshore fishing boats to quiet stream spots, through bays, lakes, and extra, fishing right here is something you need it to be. And that’s why we’re right here right this moment. By the point you’re achieved studying this text, you’ll be reaching to your rod and reel and heading towards this unbelievable vacation vacation spot. So let’s dive in. 

The place to Go Fishing in Southern California

With such a variety of choices on supply, it is sensible to start out with an summary of your angling prospects. We’ll take you thru a few of the greatest saltwater and freshwater locales, letting you in on just a few secrets and techniques that make casting a line in SoCal so nice. 

Saltwater Fishing

There’s no level beating across the bush, so we’re simply gonna come out and say it. Saltwater fishing in Southern California is unbelievable. If you happen to’re an avid angler, you should give it a attempt. Significantly, it’s up there with one of the best on this planet. Don’t imagine us? We’ll simply let the vary of spots do the speaking. 

A view across the marina towards an old building on Catalina Island on a sunny day
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From kelp beds and flats, to reefs, islands, and the mighty Pacific Ocean, there’s one thing for each form of angler. If you happen to’re a newbie or coming with the household, attempt your luck inshore. Up for some gorgeous surroundings? Hit Catalina or San Clemente Island. Or, when you’re in search of that huge recreation journey, exit to the continental shelf, the place Billfish, Tuna, and different pelagics could also be biting. 

With heat climate virtually assured all year long, there’s by no means a nasty time to return fishing. One thing will all the time be biting and also you higher imagine that the bustling seaside cities and cities by no means let up. Mix your angling journey with a visit to Disney World, Common Studios, and even simply the nice previous seashore. SoCal caters to all tastes.

Finest Saltwater Fishing Spots in SoCal

An infographic with a map of Southern California showing the top saltwater fishing spots against a blue background
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With that in thoughts, we’re positive you’d wish to know precisely the place to go, and for what. Whereas wherever alongside the Pacific coast guarantees severe motion, listed below are our picks for the place it’s best to go:

  • Santa Barbara Bay. Ranging from the north, Santa Barbara is a superb place for an inshore or nearshore fishing voyage. Backside-dwelling favorites like Halibut, Seabass, and Rockfish are aplenty, with Crabbing a further possibility for the youngsters. 
  • Los Angeles. The Metropolis of Angels is not any secret for a lot of causes, and angling right here is just unbelievable. Discover the shallows out of Lengthy Seaside. Uncover the flats round Huntington – and don’t neglect its spectacular pier. Or, head offshore from Dana Level. Los Angeles is much more numerous than you’d think about.
  • San Diego. The one place, most likely in the entire of California, to rival Los Angeles for range is San Diego. With its namesake bay, together with Mission Bay, it’s already a haven for anglers. Nevertheless it additionally boasts fast entry to the deep blue. Select from Catalina or San Clemente Islands, and even head to the Coronados in Mexico. Simply don’t neglect your passport! 
  • Catalina and San Clemente Islands. Simply 20 miles out from the mainland, these two gems deserve a point out of their very own. Whereas vacationers can benefit from the unspoiled seashores, prized fish simply love the foliage and bait fish close by. We’re speaking Lingcod, Calico Bass, Sand Bass, Seabass, and Rockfish. And that’s earlier than you attain Yellowtails, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and extra. 

Freshwater Fishing

A view from a hill of a bridge connecting Arizona and California across the Colorado River on a sunny day
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If the wealthy waters of the Pacific weren’t sufficient to tempt you to SoCal, perhaps the vary of freshwater choices will probably be. We’ll begin with the Colorado River – if just for the truth that it spans over 1,200 miles in SoCal. Simply because the river hits the California border, Rainbow Trout are stocked, making for a formidable fishery. With Bass, Crappie, Catfish, and far more in good numbers, it’s a playground for all types of anglers. 

There are various extra locales the place efforts are being made to replenish the Rainbow Trout inhabitants. Discover the Santa Ana River in San Bernadino County for one of the best motion, whereas all smaller lakes and reservoirs are filled with a variety of sought-after fish. If you happen to’re in search of trophy Bass, then Castaic Lake is your go-to fishery, and there’s even Tilapia within the Salton Sea!

Finest Freshwater Fishing Spots in SoCal

An infographic with a map of Southern California showing the top freshwater fishing spots against a blue background
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Very similar to with saltwater, it wasn’t simple to give you a shortlist of locations to moist your line in the case of the sweeter waters. We’ve talked about some prolific fisheries already, however let’s shine a lightweight on one of the best spots to go to.

  • Havasu. Undoubtedly one of the best spot to discover the Colorado River, the wildlife refuge is technically on the Arizona facet of the river. Regardless of this, the stocked Trout carries over into Californian waters, with Catfish and Crappie additionally attainable on the tip of your line. 
  • The north shore of Salton Sea. What was as soon as a thriving Corvina fishery has now all however dried up because of the water’s salinity. However there’s one non-native creature that thrives simply due to that. Mozambique Tilapia is a should for any angler seeking to solid a line inland in SoCal, and you may get your fill of this unique species from the lake’s north shore.
  • Diamond Valley Lake. Created in 2003, that is certainly one of California’s most up-to-date lakes. Nonetheless, efforts to inventory the lake have been underway properly earlier than it was accomplished. It’s dwelling to a wholesome inhabitants of all freshwater favorites, and remains to be very underdeveloped, which means it’s the right getaway for a quiet day’s fishing. Searching for some fishing buddies? Close by Skinner Reservoir is extra constructed up. 
  • Silverwood Lake. This offshoot of the Mojave River is gold-medal worthy, in our books. The world-famous Pacific Crest Path passes by, and the fishing motion is top-notch. Suppose Stripers, Largemouth Bass, and Trout. Go to on a day journey or keep for longer. All the pieces is feasible. 
  • San Bernadino County. Silverwood Lake is technically in San Bernadino County, which needs to be sufficient so that you can need to go to anyway. However there’s extra freshwater motion in retailer, due to the stocked Rainbow Trout on the Santa Ana River. Discover the nationwide forest and its gorgeous surroundings, whereas additionally hooking into some prized fish. It’s a win-win!  

What fish can I catch in Southern California?

So we’ve talked about a few of the prized species you possibly can catch in your SoCal fishing journey. However let’s take a better look. We’ll run by our favourite catches, letting you understand what makes every of those creatures particular. And, like earlier than, we’ll begin with saltwater. 

Calico Bass and White Seabass

A group of anglers pose on the dock with a large White Seabass that's hanging next to a board indicating its weight and size
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If you happen to’re fishing the kelp beds – and we strongly recommend you do – there will probably be two species specifically that deserve your consideration. Regardless of inhabiting the identical grounds, these two fish are fairly totally different. Calicos are smaller species, paying homage to freshwater Bass species. They’re additionally fairly prolific, being discovered all throughout the shallow waters of SoCal. As for Seabass, they develop to unbelievable sizes (as much as 90 kilos) and are additionally very choosy in the case of what they eat and after they feed.

However each supply wonderful motion. Some mild sort out gear will do the job for both, however don’t neglect a braided line to offer you additional safety. Each of those species style completely scrumptious, too, so prepare for plenty of meat. Regardless of this, we advise you launch smaller Calicos, as they take some time to develop to full dimension. 

Yellowtail Amberjack and Rockfish

A group of anglers show off their Yellowtail Amberjacks on the dock after a successful fishing trip in Southern California
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If you understand one thing about fishing, it’s possible you’ll be shocked to see that we’ve put these two species collectively. Whereas Rockfish are generally present in shallow waters and Yellowtails additional out, in Southern California, they really swim collectively nearshore and out within the deep. Each are favorites within the space for the BBQ, which is why Rockfishing is definitely solely attainable additional out. They’ve truly been overfished inshore!

Combine up backside fishing and trolling to get your fill of those creatures, with the waters across the islands offshore proving to be significantly productive. Each species are round just about everytime you come, however Rockfish are closely regulated. Be sure to brush up in your fish information to be sure you’re fishing throughout the authorized limits. 

Mahi Mahi and Tuna

A group of anglers on a fishing charter hold a Tuna each on a sunny day
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Wherever these two creatures present up, likelihood is they make the shortlist of fish to catch. Their meat qualities want no introduction in any way, whereas Mahi Mahi’s dashing appears to be like are additionally another excuse why anglers love them. Together with Tuna, they promise an intense battle to hook aboard, too, making this pair the final word huge recreation fish in Southern California. 

Trolling is the simplest option to get the eye of those creatures, and each will swim away along with your line at tempo. Tuna dive deep, whereas Mahi go far. They develop to spectacular sizes in these waters, so that you’ll actually need to convey your A-game to reel ’em in. Are available summer season to your greatest likelihood of filling the coolers, with three species of Tuna offering loads of motion. 

And Extra!

A smiling angler on a boat holds a California Sheephead with the water and land in the background
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That’s certainly not all you possibly can catch within the wealthy waters of Southern California. Inshore fishing within the bays can yield California Sheephead, Lingcod, Noticed Sand Bass, and Halibut, so there’s no scarcity within the desk fare division. And that’s solely added to by the presence of Lobster! Convey the youngsters alongside from October by March and you could possibly get your palms on these delicacies. 

Head offshore, and the alternatives are countless. Billfish present up in summer season, however it’s possible you’ll want to go towards the continental shelf to come across them. You’re extra more likely to run right into a Shark, nevertheless, with Blue, Mako, and Thresher varieties all promising an adrenaline-pumping angling expertise. 


An angler on a small boat holding a Largemouth Bass with a lake behind him
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It’s inconceivable to speak about freshwater fishing wherever within the US with out mentioning Bass fishing. It’s the preferred freshwater recreation fish on this planet, and Bass fishing in California takes it to the subsequent degree. Why? Nicely, their sheer abundance for starters. But in addition the number of Bass species on supply – and even those that name themselves Bass however don’t belong to the household. 

Largemouth Bass are the celebs of the present and, with over 21 of the 25 report catches on this planet approaching Castaic Lake alone, it’s simple to see why they make headlines right here. However aside from them, there are Smallmouth and Striped varieties accessible in lakes and rivers throughout the area. Stripers are technically not part of the Bass household, by the way in which, however they provide a few of the greatest pound-for-pound motion wherever you discover them.


A male and female angler pose with a Rainbow Trout caught while lake fishing in California
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The place there are Trout, there are anglers, and SoCal is not any totally different. We’ve talked about a few of the high spots to land Rainbow Trout already, however what makes these creatures so particular? They’re vulnerable to leaping out of the water as soon as hooked, making them extremely enjoyable to focus on. They usually’re caught in a variety of streams and lakes, each right here and elsewhere.

They’re a favourite of fly anglers everywhere in the world, with mountain streams significantly in style. For this sort of fishing, we advise heading to the Colorado River, the place Trout are stocked yearly. The rivers and lakes in San Bernadino County additionally supply some severe angling. Searching for spinning motion? Any lake the place these creatures are discovered will serve you properly. 

And Extra!

An angler in a hat holding a Panfish caught while fishing in California
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Very similar to with saltwater species, the record of freshwater fish accessible doesn’t finish there. Whereas Bass and Trout are definitely the preferred creatures in lakes and rivers, there’s sufficient to cater to anglers of all ages.

Panfish like Crappie and Sunfish are nice to get the youngsters into fishing, whereas Catfish that develop to sizes as huge as 6 ft are attainable for these of you in search of a take a look at. With Tilapia on supply within the Salton Sea, the alternatives are countless. However the easiest way to really discover out is to return and take a look at the waters your self. 

How you can Go Fishing in Southern California

Now you understand the place to go and what to catch, however what concerning the strategies it’s best to attempt? Fortunately, SoCal makes essentially the most of its fishery, so there are many locales and guides suited to what you want. Let’s check out them.

SoCal Surf Fishing

An angler casts a line into the surf at sunset in Southern California
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If you happen to’re seeking to pair your angling journey with a seashore getaway, there’s nothing fairly like surf fishing. The inshore and nearshore waters are filled with favorites like Calico Bass, Halibut, Seabass, and extra, so you may get your fish on with out even leaving the seashore. 

With miles and miles of open shoreline, it’s simple to discover a spot the place you possibly can solid your line with out disturbing anybody. We advise hitting sheltered areas like Mission Bay or San Diego Bay, and even head as much as Santa Barbara the place the motion can be thrilling. 

In relation to freshwater fishing, whereas technically not “on the surf”, you’ll be utilizing the identical strategies, so we thought we would as properly embrace it right here. Most lakes in a public park could have designated fishing areas, whereas a few of the extra distant our bodies of water and rivers might require a extra DIY method. However that’s all a part of the enjoyable, proper? 

SoCal Pier Fishing

A rearview shot of an angler bending down on a fishing pier with a rod to his left, with land in the background
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One other option to benefit from the seaside whereas casting a line is from a pier. SoCal has loads of them, and these purpose-built buildings provide the elevation and buy merely not attainable from land. Not solely that, however fish are interested in algae that builds up round piers, which means that you just’re fishing on high of an actual fish aggregating system. 

One other good thing about pier fishing in Southern California is that you just don’t want a license to fish from one. Meaning which you could simply rock up for the day and solid your line. Some embrace bait and sort out retailers, so when you’ve forgotten one thing out of your arsenal, you possibly can borrow or purchase it. And with the extra in style piers providing eating places and arcades for the youngsters, the entire household is ready to take pleasure in! 

SoCal Constitution Fishing

An aerial view of a fishing charter in Southern California with the captain on the flybridge and two anglers casting a line over the side of the boat
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Undoubtedly the easiest way to get your fish on in Southern California, nevertheless, is on a constitution. By pairing up with a neighborhood information, you’ll get all of the inside suggestions on the place to go and the way greatest to draw the fish. Not solely that, however additionally they present all of the gear you want, and can just be sure you keep inside authorized limits. Extra on that later. 

In marinas throughout the state, skilled captains are ready to take you fishing. This might be something from bay or kelp mattress fishing to a deep sea journey offshore. Within the freshwater realm, each lakes and rivers are attainable searching grounds. With journeys starting from a few hours as much as a number of days, and even shared journeys for these of you on a finances, there actually is one thing for everybody.

Southern California Fishing Rules

An infographic featuring text that says "SoCal Fishing Regulations" and "All You Need to Know" in white text on a blue background, with the California state flag, a vector of a boat, and the FishingBooker logo
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Earlier than we allow you to go, we’ll simply run you thru a few of the guidelines and rules surrounding your SoCal angling journey. First issues first, you’ll all the time must get a sound California fishing license – until fishing from a pier, that’s. Choices differ relying on the size of time you need to spend fishing. For extra info, take a look at our helpful information. 

As we’ve already talked about, there are additionally strict seasons for sure fish. These embrace Lobster, that are solely accessible from October by March. You’ll additionally want a report card if harvesting Lobster. In the meantime, Lingcod, Sheephead, and varied Rockfish are additionally topic to closures. Apart from that, there are additionally dimension and bag limits for just about each fish. For extra info, make sure you take a look at the California DFW web site.

Southern California Fishing: You Actually Can’t Go Mistaken

A view from the shore of a fishing pier in San Diego at sunset
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Everybody has all the time dreamed of a trip within the Golden State, and SoCal is the rationale why. However now that you understand concerning the angling secrets and techniques it hides, you merely should come and go to. Attempt fishing in Southern California and also you’ll by no means be the identical once more. Whether or not exploring the rivers, lakes, bays, or deep waters offshore, you’re in for a deal with. Belief us. 

Have you ever ever been fishing in Southern California? How was it? What are your favourite locations to go to? Tell us within the feedback under!

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