Is there a trout season in California?

What is a trout season? A trout season is a part of the year when you can take trout home with you, but only during specific months. Additionally, there are times when it is forbidden to take them with you so that they can spawn and re-populate.

The state of fish varies across the country and so do the regulations. It all depends on the type of fishing you are doing, where you’re fishing, and what body of water you’re fishing.

Although there isn’t a trout season in California per say. It is important to note that different bodies of water may have regulations. These regulations are enforced by the California department of fish and wildlife.

Do certain lakes and rivers in California have different regulations?

Yes, the California Fish and Game Commission regulates trout fishing throughout the state. Most rivers have daily, weekly, and monthly regulations. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife implements Inland Trout Sportfishing regulations that change the angling seasons and experience. The general statewide fishing regulations change from time to time.

Generally, the hatchery seasons are from April to May, June to September, and November to January. Trout fishing regulations also vary on whether fishing with a spin cast or fly rod. Additionally, laws differ from land, with various daily, weekly, and monthly rules.

California Trout Fishing Regulations

You’ll find that the regulations are comprehensive and long, which can be tedious. But don’t worry, there are key topics that will help you no matter what you’re planning to fish.

  1. Licenses are compulsory to ensure that people fishing our waters are doing so legally. You can purchase permits at the California Fish and Game website.
  2. California Fishing Regulations include specifications on what’s a legal size by species and also share measurement methods.
  3. Fishing season is an important part of the fish’s life cycle, so make sure to know when it’s open for catching your favorite fish.
  4. Regulations also limit the number of fish you can take and possess.
  5. In California, some species of fish are forbidden from being taken. Consequently, make sure you know which ones are restricted before heading out.
  6. The regulations include a list of acceptable methods for taking fish. Also, there is a list of prohibited gear for certain species.

When is the Best Time to Catch Trout in California

There’s no “best time to fish for trout” because of the seasons, time of day, and temperature changes. Trout are accessible year-round; nonetheless, to increase your chances of catching them in mountains or foothills, follow these tips:


  • Late spring is the perfect time to catch trout because the water is still cool, and their bellies are full.
  • During summer, the best time to fish is early in the morning and late afternoon. If it’s dark, cloudy, or raining, avoid fishing for trout in the late morning or midday hours. Consequently, if it’s sunny and hot, night fishing can be solid.
  • The warmer it gets, the fish draw to their habitats and are less likely to try to eat your bait. The colder the water, the more fish are attract lures and bait.
  • With fall in full swing, mornings and nights can be hard to tell apart. Trout fishing is better in the morning and the afternoon than at night.
  • The best time of day for ice fishing is mid-to-late morning. Midday can be pretty solid, but the late afternoon has been a good time. Night fishing can be hit or miss.
  • Cold-blooded fish will struggle to survive when the water is too cold or too hot. This is because their body temperatures mirror the temperature of the water they swim in. Thus, if it’s intolerable for you, it’s intolerable for trout as well!

Time of Day

  • Trout avoid bright lights because they don’t have eyelids. If you’re looking for a shady area, look for sites where you can quietly wade in.
  • Night time fishing can be solid if there is strong moonlight and a lot of insects in the air. Avoid nights or windy nights as this will keep the insect activity to a minimum.
  • Some anglers prefer fishing in the dusk or dawn because it is difficult for trout to see their surroundings.
  • Sometimes, moving upstream can help you find cooler waters. It’s important to be aware of the water temperatures and how they change over the day.


TemperatureTime of the day
34-49 degrees1 p.m. to 5 p.m
50-55 degrees12 p.m. to 5 p.m
56-60 degrees11 a.m. to 5 p.m
61-65 degrees10 a.m. to 2 p.m
66-70 degrees9 a.m. to 1 p.m
71-75 degrees8 a.m. to 12 p.m
76-80 degrees7 a.m. to 11 a.m
81-85 degrees7 a.m. to 10 a.m
86-89 degrees6 a.m. to 9 a.m

Best Spot to Catch Trout in California Mountains or Foothills

Trout fishing in California can be difficult. Without proper planning and information, anglers will leave with disappointment. To avoid disappointment, it’s important to research each area to find out when it’s ideal to fish and what time of year the trout are most active in that particular location.


A big lake or reservoir feature deep water that hold cold water. Trout will seek out the cool water at whatever depth it is. As a result, regardless of the time of day, you will have good fishing opportunities if you get your bait or lures down to the proper depth.

Some great lakes for trout fishing in California include Collins lake, Lake Amador, Lake Camanche, Lake Pardee, Lake Almanor and Lake Shasta. When planning your trout fishing trip keep these lakes in mind. It would also be a good idea to call ahead to ask about fishing activity and best times to come fish.


Rivers and streams generally offer colder water when the California heat really picks up. When the bite slows down in the lakes try fishing some of the many California rivers. Some great rivers to trout fish include the Carson river, McCloud river, Upper Sacramento River, Feather river, Merced River, Trinity river and Smith River.

When fishing rivers around California the regulations can change per river and also per section of the river. It is important to know these regulations before fishing in California rivers.

Trout Fishing in California Foothill

Now that you have a couple of trout fishing tips, you will want to know where to go. Here are some of the best places for catching trout in the world.

  • Castaic Lake. If you’re looking to explore the outdoors, then Castaic Lake State Recreation Area is your destination. The lake is full of the trout you need for a great fishing trip.
  • Diamond Valley Lake. Diamond Valley Lake is one of the few lakes in Southern California that can survive the entire year. It has a maximum depth of 260 feet and provides you with a healthy dose of freshwater.
  • Lake Piru. Lake Piru is a reservoir located 4 miles from Piru in Ventura County. Trout come in shallow water during the springtime.
  • Littlerock Reservoir. Little Rock Reservoir is a small, 150-acre lake stocked with rainbow trout during the spring and summer months.
  • San Vicente Reservoir. Trout here are caught daily and stored in the winter, giving you a chance at catching a trout every day.
  • Skinner Reservoir. The reservoir is stocked with trout during the winter. However, it’s also great to fish in the summer.

Trout Fishing in the California Mountains

The San Bernardino Mountains offer some of the best trout fishing in California for wild and stocked fish. These rugged mountain lakes and streams are home to lakes that hold both wild and stocked fish.

  • Big Bear Lake. A top California trout fishery because its deep waters allow the fish to thrive through the heat of summer.
  • Green Valley Lake. Trout are available in this small 9-acre lake from May through September. No motorized boats are permitted on the lake so that you can enjoy a relaxing, slow-paced fishing trip.
  • Silverwood Lake. Silverwood Lake is the perfect spot for fishing, camping, and just enjoying the outdoors.
  • Deep Creek. Deep Creek is a wild trout stream in Southern California designated as “wild and scenic.” Nonetheless, accessing this gorgeous gem can be challenging due to the strenuous hiking required.

Trout Fishing Season in California: A Wrap-Up

Trout fishing is a popular pastime in California. It has been for decades and is enjoyed by people from all walks of life. Whether it’s an evening with friends or a family outing, this sport is as much about the journey as it is about the catch.

Knowing how and when you should properly fish for trout is a skill that will ensure effective and successful fishing. You don’t need a professional angler for this activity. You need to follow regulations and the best months to fish.

Now that you’ve read the necessary information about trout season, it’s time to start your venture into the world of trout fishing! You’ll be well prepared for any journey, but beware; trout fishing is quite addictive, and we can’t guarantee that you won’t lose many hours of your life spent on a river or lakeside.

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