California Fly Fishing

Freshwater fishing in the Eastern Sierras means almost exclusively Trout fishing. The Eastern Sierras are known to produce the finest trout fishing in California. The success of a stream fishing experience in this area depends on many factors including the amount of snowfall, the runoff, timing of insect hatches, weather patterns, etc. Generally, trout fishing is better in the spring and fall than it is in the summer. When summer comes on, experienced stream anglers follow 60-65 F water temperature up to higher elevations as back roads become passable. In July and August, a good trout spot is the cool tailwaters below dams. There are also many outstanding trout fishing lakes in the region including the fine lakes of the Mammoth Lakes area, including the legendary Crowley Lake.

California Rainbow Trout Fishing

Rainbow Trout can be found in many lakes and rivers across California, but particularly in Northern California. The best time for Rainbow Trout fishing is normally early morning or late afternoon. The Rainbow trout is a cold water fish so the recommended seasons for trout fishing in California is winter thru late spring. The closer you get to summer the rainbow trout usually go to deeper colder water which make them harder to catch.

California Brown Trout Fishing

When brown trout fishing in California look for quiet water with lots of cover. Logs, under cuts in the bank, rock shelves, overhanging trees and brush are some of the California brown trouts favorite hiding places. The larger they get, the more wary they become and are more inclined to feed at night under the protection of darkness. Brown trout feed on worms, minnows, insects and crustaceans. Dry fly fishing for pan-sized browns is a favorite technique as they rise well to these crafty presentations. Larger browns tend to feed more on flesh and favor nutritious crustaceans, worms or small fishes. When fly fishing for large brown trout use wet flies which mimic the local natural baitfish.

California Lake Trout Fishing

In early spring these fish can be taken in the lake shallows on dry flies, wet flies and other slow moving presentations. Once the surface waters warm the lake trout retreats to deep water where trolling with heavy tackle is the preferred method. Spoons and baitfish imitating lures worked near the bottom provide the best results. As summer warms the water, cowbells and other flashing devices trolled deep often can get you to the depth where the lake trout stalk.

Closest Town: Lake Arrowhead, California

Lake Size: 784 Acres

Fishing Species: Bass, Trout, Crappie, Kokanee Salmon, Catfish


Lake Notes: There is no public fishing – only Arrowhead Lake Association members and their guests are allowed to fish the lake, and boat launching is prohibited by any persons other than members of the Arrowhead Lake Association. Boat rentals are not available at Lake Arrowhead.

Closest Town: Big Bear Lake, California

Lake Size: 2,971 Acres

Fishing Species: Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Crappie, Bluegill, Catfish

Public Boat Ramps:

MWD West Launch Ramp – Located on North Shore Dr.

MWD East Launch Ramp – Located on North Shore Dr.


Lake Notes: Big Bear Lake is located in the San Bernadino National Forest at an elevation of 6,740 feet. Big Bear Lake is regularly stocked with Rainbow Trout.

Closest Town: Coulterville, California

Lake Size: 7,100 Acres

Fishing Species: Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Rainbow Trout, Crappie, Bluegill, Catfish

Public Boat Ramps: Many located around Lake McClure including:

McClure Point Recreation Area – Located 7 miles north of Merced Falls

Horseshoe Bend Recreation Area – Located on North end of lake off State Hwy. 132

Bagby Recreation Area – Located on State Hwy. 49, 15 miles from Mariposa


Lake Notes: Located in the scenic Sierra Nevada foothills. Over 82 miles of oak and pine covered shoreline.

Closest Town: Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Size: 122,200 Acres

Fishing Species: Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Brown Trout

Public Boat Ramps: Many located around Lake Tahoe including:

El Dorado Boat Ramp – Lakeview Ave. at Lake Tahoe Blvd. in South Lake Tahoe

Coon Street Boat Ramp – Off Hwy. 28 on Coon Street in Kings Beach

Lake Forest Boat Ramp – Hwy. 28 at Lake Forest Rd.

Tahoe Vista Recreation Area – Hwy. 28 (N. Lake Blvd.) across from National Ave.


Lake Notes: Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the border of California/Nevada. Lake Tahoe is approximately 22 miles at its longest point and 12 miles at its widest. It has 72 miles of shoreline and approximately two-thirds of its 191 square mile surface area is in California, one-third in Nevada. Lake Tahoe is the 2nd deepest lake in the U.S. with a max. depth of 1,645 ft.

Closest Town: Sonora, California

Lake Size: 12,500 Acres

Fishing Species: Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Crappie, Catfish

Public Boat Ramps: Many located around New Melones Lake including:

Glory Hole Recreation Area – Located off Hwy. 49 on Glory Hole Access Rd. in Angels Camp

Tuttletown Recreation Area – Located off Hwy. 49 on Tuttletown Access Rd. in Sonora


Lake Notes: New Melones Lake has a max. depth of 565 ft. Over 100 miles of shoreline covered with trees and brushlands.

Closest Town: Burson, California

Lake Size: 7,770 Acres

Fishing Species: Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Crappie, Bluegill, Catfish

Public Boat Ramps:

Camanche Recreation Area, North Shore – Located on Camanche Rd. in Ione

Camanche Recreation Area, South Shore – Located off South Camanche Parkway in Wallace

Lake Notes: The north shore and the northeast banks near China gulch are typically good areas to fish. There are a lot of grassy areas in the lake and largemouths and smallmouths can be found here. There is a small population of spotted bass and they can often be caught in the slightly deeper water schooled along with bronzebacks. Lake Camanche has a max. depth of 150 ft. An average of 80,000 pounds of trout are stocked in Lake Camanche annually between October and June.

Closest Town: Truckee, California

Fishing Species: Lake Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Kokanee Salmon

Public Boat Ramp: West End Beach – Located on West shore on Southshore Dr.

Lake Notes: Donner Lake has a max. depth of 328 ft. Located within the Tahoe National Forest.

Closest Town: Lake Isabella, California

Lake Size: 11,200 Acres

Fishing Species: Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Catfish

Public Boat Ramp: Engineers Point – Located on Barlow Dr. in Lake Isabella

Lake Notes: Lake Isabella is fed by the Kern River with a shoreline of 38 miles. Lake Isabella is known as one of the best Crappie lakes in California.