Where Can I Find Trout in California?

A vast array of trout fishing opportunities await you here! If you want to find trout in California, look for a lake that has stocked rainbow trout, there are many to choose from. 

Some people say California is the best place for fishing enthusiasts. In particular, it’s one of the best places to find trout. If you’re looking for fishy fun this summer, here’s what your heart desires!

Trout are so abundant and widespread in California. The best lakes for catching these fish are the ones that have stocked, hatchery-raised rainbows or even a mix of both wild rainbow trout in them. Check out these best lakes and rivers where the fish live off their own merits too!

Is There Trout in California?

Yes, there are!

Trout are fascinating creatures that spend their summers in deep water. Anglers often wait for hours with their baits across the deepest parts of lakes all over California.

Besides, the best time to catch these fish is during the summer months, when they’re most active and plentiful within these bodies of water. Because they prefer lower temperatures than smaller trout do, shallow waters like streams can be too cold for this species.

Finding rainbow trout fishing may take a little more effort, but it’s worth it!

Can You Catch Trout in California Lakes?

California’s lakes offer opportunities for anglers of all experience levels. Many anglers carefully pay attention to local insect populations and life stages to “match the hatch” or fish on the water surface. 

But, regulations may vary from lake to lake, so be sure you check these limits before coming out with your equipment! As they say, there’s no such thing as too much of a good time. With all the beautiful lakes in California, you can catch every type and size of trout from beginner to advanced level angler alike!

As mentioned, California has some great places where anglers can try to catch fish. Whether they want a big catch like those of locals (or maybe even one bigger!) Below are some of the lakes any angler can go for trout fishing!

Shasta Lake

One of the great things about Shasta is that it’s a little bit of everything lake. The lake also offers prime rainbow trout fishing. What’s more, explore a trophy bass fishery, often with hefty German brown trout, and landlocked Chinook salmon are thrown in for good measure. 

Start on Big Backbone Creek near Dry Fork or Little Squaw Creek to put the odds in your favour. Daytime temperatures warm up too much to catch them anymore by March, so you should try these two creeks before then for big rainbows!

In addition, Nightcrawlers and live minnows work well around shorelines at night during this time. Marshmallow-and-egg combos usually attract gamefish like large kingfishers who prey mainly on fish eggs by sight.

Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake is a well-known trout fishery in California. Still, it’s most famous for producing the Eagle Lake rainbow trout. These small subspecies of rainbows thrive in high alkaline waters and are transplanted to other lakes throughout California.

They are best known for coming from this location first due to their incredible fighting qualities. So, this is making them popular with many anglers who come here every year hoping for that perfect catch. Fishing season starts up around Memorial Day, where there will be lots more action!

Can You Catch Trout in California Rivers?

In California, there are only a select few rivers where you can catch trout. Due to California’s hot, arid climate, especially down south, it is not favorable for productive river conditions. Yet, the same cannot be said with Northern California. Here are some of the rivers where anglers can go trout fishing!

Upper Sacramento River

The Sacramento River is the longest in California. A jaw-dropping 447 miles long, it offers different opportunities for each stretch of its course. Likewise, the upper stretch has been considered a particularly beautiful part of this journey. From Lake Siskiyou southwest of Mt Shasta through the Interstate 5 corridor and ending at Lake Shasta, it empties into.

Also, the Upper Sacramento is a gorgeous river with plenty of access points – but where it shines, though, is its high numbers of big trout. Now, rainbow and brown trout are plentiful in the river, and it’s not uncommon to see fish over 20 inches long.

Not to mention, Nymphing typically takes most fish on the Upper Sacramento. Terrestrial patterns can produce well during summer months. When they’re feeding aggressively for bugs that have emerged from hibernation or been driven out by flooding rivers downstream; after rainstorms!

Klamath River

The best fishing in Northern California is found on the Klamath River. Though there isn’t too much trout fishing to speak of, steelhead and salmon are also popular targets for anglers during summer runs and winter migrations.

In the same way, the lower reaches see a lot less pressure from anglers than upstream sections. Because they don’t get as many fish coming through it – though that doesn’t stop them from being excellent fisheries themselves.


Smith River

Undoubtedly, the Smith River is one of the most beautiful rivers in California. It offers plenty of trout fishing opportunities. Though fly anglers typically focus on steelhead or large salmon – both of which are plentiful here – you can expect to find some big ones too!

The river holds a number-one spot for producing some of America’s largest salmon outside Alaska, as well as its biggest steelhead.

As a matter of fact, the Smith River is one of the best fishing spots in Oregon, but you may find yourself with some company because it’s so popular. If you want to escape the crowds and get more peace out on your water adventure, then head up north. There are resident rainbow and cutthroat trout that inhabit this gem called a river.

Where is the Best Trout Fishing Location in California?

It is hard to choose from the selection of lakes and rivers California has to offer. But, the “best” location for trout fishing is the place that is most accessible to you. It would also depend on what trout you seek to catch. You can go to all these lakes if you want to enjoy trout fishing. If you are looking to catch the big game, we also have some lakes and rivers noted where you could go and catch your next trophy trout.

Where are the Biggest Trout in California?

Lake Almanor

Almanor is home to monster trout. Anglers routinely boat browns that run 4-9 pounds and rainbows that average 3. Compared with other NorCal lakes like Shasta west or Eagle Lake East, fishing at Almanor can sometimes be tough.

You’re unlikely to catch a limit of pan size ‘bows despite the fact there’s plenty of trout in this lake. Because it’s a really difficult place to go when you want a few big beautiful brown and rainbow trout.

Pyramid Lake

The Pyramid Lake fishery showcases the famous Lahontan cutthroat trout that average 5 pounds and top out at over 30. At Pyramid, double-digit trout are common and considered “big”. Besides, a pyramid cutthroat needs to go 15 plus! These fish have attracted many anglers from around the world in hopes of catching one for themselves.

To say nothing of the epic destination is not in California, it’s still worth visiting if you’re looking for your next trophy catch. The lake provides challenging fishing opportunities thanks to its high-density population of large-sized fish ranging between 2-30 lbs on average, with some reaching up to 40+lbs!

So, the best time to visit this location would be when water levels decrease during the spring or summer months.

New Melones Reservoir

Many anglers consider New Melones Reservoir outside Angels Camp in central California to be a rainbow trout powerhouse. Besides, these fish are plentiful and swift with their mouths – an average rainbow runs about 2 pounds while 8-10 pound browns show up every spring! The reservoir’s fishing records speak for themselves as the lake record is over 13 lbs unofficially claimed by many locals.

Crowley Lake

Crowley Lake is one of the most famous fishing destinations in Southern California. Many trout species reside there, but brown and rainbow trout dominate the population. In addition, Crowley has been known to produce some world-class fish over 20 inches long with a weight up to 5 pounds!

It’s an outstanding fishery for all levels of anglers. From beginners just getting their feet wet on fly fishing techniques or seasoned veterans looking for new waters further than they’re used to.

What Months Are Best for Trout Fishing in California?

In California, trout are available all year round. But, the best time for trout fishing is in late spring. Trout are coming out of their winter hibernation and heading to warmer temperatures. More so, this is when bugs start emerging from hiding, so trout come looking for more food – like your bait!

April, in particular, has several advantages: ice breaks and trout season begins with larger fish available due to access during spawning seasons and increased bug populations. So, it can make them easier targets since they’re on the move searching for sustenance.

You will see just as many, if not more, trout during summer as the temperature increases. June is a great month for trout fishing since the weather is stable and the water temperatures slowly increase. Although, you have to take note that trout might look for cooler water as the temperature continues to rise. During very hot days, you should try to head to deeper waters to catch trout.

Final Thoughts

If you’re seeking a great time fishing, then look no further than one of these top destinations. Find trout in California because each offers something unique for anglers. Many locations will suit your needs perfectly!

Now it’s up to you – explore and pick from any of these locations on your own terms!

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