I have been fishing and camping in California my whole life, and wanted to take some time to share the top 12 fishing lakes we have in California. Please try one of them out and let us know if you have as much fun as we do. Many people think that California is known for Los Angeles and Disneyland, but we have some of the best year round camping and fishing in the US, just take a look.
Sly Park (Jenkensin Lake)
This lake is nestled just a few miles outside of Placerville and is great for trout fishing all year. While it does get snow in the later months, you can still fish both dams for some decent sized trout. You are allowed to take boats on it, and there is a channel where you can get some huge trout in the morning and late afternoon when they bite. They also have a great campground, where you camp less than 100 feet from the lake it some spots. They have a trail all the way around it, and if you take it far enough, there is a seasonal waterfall that is great to fish. I grew up fishing this lake and it is a perfect spot to get away for the day or camp for few. With an elevation of 3400 feet, it is cool, but not so cold you have to layer.
Shasta Lake is located in Shasta County CA and has a huge shore length of about 365 miles, so there is a ton of shoreline to fish. This lake is huge and has over 700 boat slips which a lot of people take advantage of during the Summer. Shasta is also one of the most popular spots for renting houseboats in the Spring and Summer, but be careful it can get hot. People have even seen deer and bear swimming across it, so if you go, watch out for all the wildlife. The fish habitat includes rainbow trout, brown trout, chinook salmon, largemouth bass, spotted bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, and bluegill. With this many species, there is something in there for everyone to catch.
Eagle lake is at a higher elevation which is around 5100 feet and is in Lassen County, which is roughly 15 miles north of Susanville. This lake is quite a bit shallower than most with a max depth of 85 feet. It is the second-largest lake that is entirely natural in California. This lake is known for its Eagle Lake Trout, which is a breed known for living in the highly alkaline water and weigh over 11 pounds. There is camping there, but be ready to bundle up at that elevation. Along with the Eagle Lake Trout, you can find other fish like Tui Chub, Tahoe Sucker, and Lahontan Redside. If you love catching trout, this is the lake for you.
Lake Oroville is located in Butte County CA and gets its water from the Feather River. It is known for its Spotted bass, Coho salmon, Rainbow trout, Brown trout, Largemouth bass, Smallmouth bass, and Channel catfish, but is most well known for its trophy-sized bass in it. This lake offers year-round boating and great campsites, and also is known for its floating campsites and equestrian campsites they offer. If you want to camp in the Summer, hunt for a really good spot because it can get very hot.
New Melones Lake
New Melones is located in both the Calaveras county, and Tuolumne county CA, and is fed by the Stanislaus River in the foothills of central Sierra Nevada. With over 300 campsites, boat launches, and equestrian trails, this lake sees a lot of visitors all throughout the year. Known for Black crappie, Largemouth bass, Bluegill, Smallmouth bass, and Channel catfish species, there is something for everyone here, which is why it is so popular. It also has a museum and visitor center for you to visit if you are camping, which is why my family loves to camp here.
Donner lake is situated about 20 miles north of the much bigger Lake Tahoe and has an elevation of around 6000 feet, so bundle up if you are going there anytime other than the Summer. It is known for Rainbow trout, Brown trout, Sockeye salmon, Lake trout species because of its cold water. The lake is roughly 240 feet deep and does get snow in the winter. This lake only has around 154 campsites but offers a ton of hiking trails on it, so this lake will be the most popular for people looking to get out and move around. This lake does have a boat launch and is known to get windsurfers, so be careful if you take your boat out.
Ice House Reservoir
I grew up camping at Ice House Reservoir, so it holds a very special place in my heart and is one of my favorite campsites. While it only has 81 campsites, it is one of the most popular lakes for camping and fishing in the foothills. It is located just 80 miles from Sacramento and has an elevation of 5500 feet. This lake is planted with Rainbow and Brown trout every other week from May until September, so there is always fish for you to catch when you go. This is definitely a must-see attraction if you live anywhere close to Sacramento but call ahead as camping is almost always booked solid.
Lake Tahoe is by far one of the most famous and popular lakes in Northern California. This lake borders of both California and Nevada, and has a whopping depth of 1645 feet which makes it the largest alpine lake in North America and the second deepest in the US. With an elevation of 6225 feet, this lake does get a lot of snow and can be cold all year round. The species of fish in this lake include Lake (Mackinaw), Brown and Rainbow Trout, as well as a self-sustaining population of Kokanee Salmon. With campsites, cabins, and tons of beach shoreline, it is a great place to visit, but not just because of the lake. There are casinos, ski resorts, and tons of site seeing in South Lake Tahoe which brings many people every year.
Union Valley Reservoir
Union Valley is a lake located in Eldorado County at an elevation of around 4800 feet is about 20 miles north of Placerville CA. The main fish species for this lake are Rainbow trout, Brown trout, Largemouth bass, Sockeye salmon, Smallmouth bass. It has campsites and lots of hiking areas around it, but be careful, some of these campsites are dry camping, so be prepared to bring in water and a generator if you want electricity. This is another lake I grew up camping around, It is really close to Ice House reservoir, so if you get bored, you can take a small car ride to another lake right down the road.
Clear lake is another natural freshwater lake in California just north of Napa and San Francisco county. with a max depth of just 60 feet, and an average depth of 27 feet, you can fish off the bottom almost everywhere. Fish species include Largemouth bass, Hitch, White bullhead, Channel catfish, Brown bullhead, so if you are bass fisherman, and live near the city, this is the place for you. It is also the oldest lake in North America with a spry young age of 480,000 years old. If you are looking for a lake to visit in the Summer, this is right up your alley with an average temperature of just 76 degrees!
Camanche is an artificial lake that is completely man-made and is located in the San Joaquin Valley in CA. It is located in both Amador and San Joaquin counties and has a max depth of 150 feet. The fishing species is Rainbow trout, Largemouth bass, Bluegill, Smallmouth bass, Spotted bass, so anyone who loves bass or trout fishing this is the lake for you. They do offer boating, camping, and hiking, so there is stuff to do for everyone while there. This lake is known for having monster bass, and also trophy-sized 8-pound trout. It is also planted twice a year so you will never go without.
Our last lake is Lake Berryessa, which is located in Napa County and has a max depth of 275 feet. This lake is most known for its 72 foot wide open mouth spillway called the glory hole, which brings people all over the county to see. Because it is so close to Napa and San Fransisco, it is known to be packed with boaters in the Summer, so if you want to catch fish, you have to get out early. The most common species of fish are Rainbow Trout, Largemouth Bass, Kokanee Salmon, and is widely known for its monster size Largemouth bass. The lake does have campsites and tons of winding roads for motorcyclists that want to get out for a beautiful ride.