Fishing in Southern California

People travel to Southern California and L.A for a variety of reasons. The constant sunshine, the golden beaches, and of course, the fishing. Every year, countless anglers visit SoCal. They come hoping to catch some of the croaker, halibut, and corbina for which the area is famous for. But where can a SoCal angler expect the most success? Keep reading to find out.

Fishing Licenses in Southern California

Fishing anywhere in California generally requires a license. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offers a number of different license options, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a type that suits you. California Residents can purchase an annual fishing license for $49.94. Non-residents can get the same license for $134.74. Discounted rates are offered to disabled veterans regardless of their state of residence.

For those who have no use for a full year’s fishing license, there are several short-term alternatives. Residents and non-residents alike can purchase a one-day license for $16.20. A two-day license will cost $25.10, while a ten-day license costs $49.94.

Certain people are permitted to fish without a license in California. Anybody under the age of 16 can fish without a license. Similarly, those fishing from public piers can do so without a license. For this reason, many California anglers focus on piers exclusively.

Additional information on California fishing licenses, including discounts you may be eligible for, can be found on the CDFW website.

Best Spots

There are countless fishing spots located throughout Southern California. In fact, SoCal is home to some of the most active waters in all of the Golden State. Below we’ll review some of the best spots.

Redondo Beach Pier

Redondo Beach Pier

As mentioned earlier, pier fishing from public piers doesn’t require a license in California. The Redondo Beach Pier is one of the most popular piers in all of Southern California. Also known as “the Endless Pier”, it covers 70,000 square feet. It looms over the Pacific Ocean, where numerous breeds of saltwater fish dwell. Among the most regularly caught fish at the Redondo Beach Pier are bonito, sardines, and yellowtail. Halibut are also common.

The Redondo Beach Pier also has the advantage of being one of the most accessible piers in Southern California. It’s wheelchair friendly and has additional facilities in place to aid deaf and blind visitors.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

As popular as the Redondo Beach Pier is, it can’t compete with the Santa Monica Pier when it comes to tourists. The Santa Monica Pier attracts visitors all year long. They come for the area’s restaurants, shops, and its famous amusement park. But the fishing alone makes a visit to this pier worthwhile.

The Santa Monica Pier runs into the Pacific Ocean. Anglers can expect to catch mackerel, bass, and perch from its deck. On occasion some more interesting catches have been reported. A number of sport fishermen have managed to capture tiger shark, leopard shark, and even stingrays.

Lake Cuyamaca

Lake Cuyamaca visitors often catch bass, catfish, crappie, sturgeon, and bluegill in a single sitting. Trout can also be found in abundance. In fact, the lake is regularly stocked with trout to ensure consistent catches. Each year, a total of 38,000 pounds of trout are placed into Lake Cuyamaca.

Lake Cuyamaca is very much a tourist attraction, so don’t worry if you’re not a fishing veteran. Fishing lessons are offered every Saturday, so it’s a great place for a newcomer to learn some essential skills. If you don’t have your own equipment then you can rent from one of the nearby supply stores. Meanwhile, a series of cabins and B&Bs operate in the area, so you could spend an entire weekend fishing at the lake if you wanted to.

The only major downside of fishing in Lake Cuyamaca is the cost. Not only must you have an active fishing license, but you must also obtain a Lake Cuyamaca permit. These permits vary in price. An adult will have to pay $8, while a children’s permit costs $4.

Castaic Lake

Castaic Lake

Several lucky anglers have reported some mammoth catches at Castaic Lake. Robert Flaata, for example, caught a catfish weighing almost 50 pounds at the lake in 2006. Going back further, George Perry took home a 22.4-pound largemouth bass in 1932. Click here to view of all of the Castaic Lake’s records.

If you don’t want the physical strain of trying to reel in one of the gigantic fish Castaic Lake is known for, then this lake still has something for you. More conventional fish can be caught at the lake, including trout and striped bass. Additionally, Castaic Lake hosts a couple of free fishing days each year. They usually take place in June and September. During these days, anglers are permitted to fish in the lake without a license.


Southern California has something for fishermen of all levels. With so many tourist attractions in the region, your family won’t have any trouble keeping busy while you fish. This makes it a great spot for those hoping to blend a fishing trip in with their family vacation. In addition, dedicated sport fishing veterans will benefit from Southern California’s long-lasting sunlight. This sunlight, combined with its year-long good weather, creates the perfect environment for marathon fishing sessions.