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Fishing in California

California has some of the best fishing in the United States. There are great opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Below you will find main species found in California.

Fish Species in California

Freshwater Species

  • Laremouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Bull Trout
  • California Golden Trout
  • Coastal Cutthroat Trout
  • Coastal Rainbow Trout
  • Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout
  • Goose Lake Redband Trout
  • Kern River Rainbow Trout
  • Kokanee
  • Lahontan Cutthroat Trout
  • Little Kern Golden Trout
  • McCloud River Redband Trout
  • Paiute Cutthroat Trout
  • Striped Bass
  • Warner Lakes Redband Trout

Saltwater Species

  • Abalone
  • Billfishes
  • California Halibut
  • California Spiny Lobster
  • Clams, Scallops and Other Bivalves
  • Crabs
  • Fish Identification
  • Groundfish (includes rockfish species)
  • Grunion
  • Jack Mackerel
  • Kelp Bass
  • Market Squid
  • Northern Anchovy
  • Ocean Salmon
  • Pacific Halibut
  • Pacific Mackerel
  • Pacific Sardine
  • Record Fish and Invertebrates
  • Sharks
  • Striped Bass
  • Surfperch
  • Tagged Surf Fish
  • Tidal Invertebrates
  • Tunas
  • White Seabass

California Fishing Regulations

Before fishing in California it is important to familiarize yourself with their fishing laws. Knowing the laws specifically for the type of fishing you will be doing ensures you remain legal and avoid a costly fishing ticket.

In addition to knowing the laws, you will need a fishing license if you are over the age. There are multiple types of licenses available depending on the type of fishing, your age, and the length of time you need to be licensed. We have an in-depth guide on California’s fishing licenses to walk you through the entire process.

California Freshwater Fishing Records

SpeciesWeightLocation CaughtDateAngler
Largemouth Bass21 lbs 12 ozCastaic Lake at the main boat ramp (Los Angeles)March 5, 1991Michael Arujo (Santa Monica)
Smallmouth Bass9 lbs 13 ozPardee Reservoir (Amador)July 3, 2007Harold Hardin (Stockton)
Spotted Bass10 lbs 4 ozPine Flat Lake (Fresno)May 3, 2001Brian Shishido (Lindsay)
Striped Bass67 lbs 8 ozO’Neill Forebay (Merced)May 7, 1992Hank Ferguson (Soquel)
White Bass5 lbs 5 ozFerguson Lake (Riverside)May 8, 1972Milton Mize (Chula Vista)
Bluegill3 lbs 14 ozRancho Murieta Reservoir (Sacramento)June 22, 2008Michael Holoubek (Elk Grove)
Blue Catfish113 lbs 5 ozSan Vicente Reservoir (San Diego)July 24, 2008Steve Oudomsouk (San Diego)
Bullhead Brown Catfish4 lbs 8 ozTrinity Lake (Trinity)October 7, 1993Gary Dittenbir (Lewiston)
Channel Catfish53 lbs 8 ozSan Joaquin River (Stanislaus)September 22, 2008Randall Gilgert Jr. (Turlock)
Flathead Catfish72 lbs 14 ozColorado River (Riverside)April 22, 2003Billy Joe Potter (Blythe)
White Catfish22 lbs 0 ozLand Park pond (Sacramento)March 21, 1994James Robinson (Sacramento)
Black Crappie4 lbs 1 ozNew Hogan Lake (Calaveras)March 29, 1975Wilma Honey (Lodi)
White Crappie4 lbs 8 ozClear Lake (Lake)April 26, 1971Carol Carlton (Lakeport)
Carp Minnow52 lbs 0 ozLake Nacimiento (San Luis Obispo)April 1968Lee Bryant (Fresno)
Sacramento Perch3 lbs 10 ozCrowley Lake (Mono)May 22, 1979Jack Johnson (Carson)
Pumpkinseed1 lbs 0 ozMountain Meadows Reservoir (Lassen)August 4, 1998Dave Smith (Richmond)
Chinook Salmon88 lbs 0 ozSacramento River (Shasta)November 21, 1979O. Lindberg (Red Bluff)
Chinook Salmon (Inland)11 lbs 3 ozTrinity Lake (Trinity)August 13, 2012Mike Elster (Roseville)
Coho Salmon22 lbs 0 ozPaper Mill Creek (Marin)January 3, 1959Milton Hain (Fairfax)
Coho Salmon (Inland)8 lbs 1 ozLake Oroville (Butte)March 3, 2012Hoshua Giordano (Oroville)
Kokanee Salmon4 lbs 13 ozLake Tahoe (Placer)August 1, 1973Dick Bournique (South Lake Tahoe)
Pink Salmon8 lbs 11 ozSacramento River (Shasta)September 22, 2001Mike Daily (Red Bluff)
American Shad7 lbs 5 ozWest Branch of the Feather River (Butte)May 9, 1985Craig Stillwell
White Sturgeon468 lbs 0 ozSan Pablo Bay (Contra Costa)July 9, 1983Joey Pallotta (Crockett)
Redear Sunfish5 lbs 3 ozFolsom South Canal (Sacramento)June 27, 1994Anthony White (Citrus Heights)
Warmouth Sunfish0 lbs 15 ozHensley Lake (Madera)May 21, 2004Russell Jacobs (Fresno)
Tilapia6 lbs 0 ozPalo Verde Lagoon (Imperial)April 5, 2007Gary Horton (Palo Verde)
Brook Trout9 lbs 12 ozSilver Lake (Mono)September 9, 1932Texas Haynes
Brown Trout26 lbs 8 ozTwin Lakes (Mono)April 30, 1987Danny Stearman (Bakersfield)
Bull Trout9 lbs 11 ozLake McCloud (Shasta)May 1968James McCloud
Cutthroat Trout31 lbs 8 ozLake Tahoe (Placer)1911William Pomin
Golden Trout9 lbs 8 ozVirginia Lake (Fresno)August 18, 1952O. Benefield (Compton)
Lake Trout37 lbs 6 ozLake Tahoe (Placer)June 21, 1974Robert Aronsen (South Lake Tahoe)
Rainbow Trout27 lbs 0 ozLake Natoma (Sacramento)October 2, 2005Frank Palmer (Orangevale)
Domestic Rainbow Trout28 lbs 5 ozPrivate lake (Butte)January 3, 2006James Harrold (Cohasset)
Rainbow Steelhead Trout27 lbs 4 ozSmith River (Del Norte)December 22, 1976Robert Halley (Crescent City)
Mountain Whitefish3 lbs 1 ozLake Tahoe (Placer)January 24, 2004Gregg Harris (Truckee)