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15+ Places to Go Fishing in Southern California 2024

Updated for 2024

Have you ever been fishing? When you’re fishing with kids, remember — it’s all about the experience. Have fun. Enjoy the time together.

Here in Southern California, you have plenty of options including fishing out on a boat with others, trying out fishing in a smaller lake setting, spending a few hours at a popular pier, and more. 

There are so many places to go fishing around Los Angeles and all of Southern California. Some of these spots are open to the public with no paid reservations required, while others require that you pay a fee. At some places, you’ll take your chances at reeling in any fish at all, while others have stocked lakes so you’ll be very likely to catch fish!

Do You Need a License to Fish in California?

According to, you do need a license to fish in California — except if you’re fishing off a pier in ocean waters. There are annual licenses or short-term ones, and you can decide which you’d prefer. The idea behind the licenses is to help fund conservation efforts in the state, managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Beyond licenses, there are other rules about fishing: some are written, and some are unwritten. Catch and release is one of the techniques you and your family will need to learn as you start to fish. In some cases, the fish you catch may be too small or out of season, in which case you ought to release them in a humane way. There are lots of videos showing how to correctly catch and release on YouTube.

What’s the Best Fishing Gear for Kids?

There are a few things you’ll need when you take your kids fishing. Some supplies are basic, and some are a little more involved. To keep it simple, you’ll need to have just a few things:

  • A rod and reel — if your kids are little, get small ones they can hold easily.
  • A bobber — they’re handy because they provide a visual clue when the fish is biting.
  • Bait — whether it’s live or not depends on the type of fish you’re trying to catch.
  • Water, snacks, and sun protection — you may be waiting a while for the fish to take the bait.
  • A lot of patience and a sense of humor — you’re there to have fun!
woman holding a fish she caught
See? It’s fun to catch a fish! (Which I then released because it was too small.)

Best Places to Go Fishing in Los Angeles

Guppies Fishing Adventures
Multiple Locations Around SoCal

Guppies is a Fishing Guide Service for both kids and adults. They will teach you to fish or take you on a fishing adventure, and they can even host birthday parties. Guppies will provide all the equipment you need, and you can choose where you want to fish — at an inland lake or river, or out on the ocean.

Lake Balboa
6300 Balboa Blvd., Lake Balboa, CA 91406
(818) 756-8187

You don’t have to go far from home to fish if you live in Southern California. Lake Balboa, in Van Nuys, is a picturesque setting to have a fun family fishing day or at least a couple of hours. A license is required for everyone aged 16 and older. Be sure to stay in the areas that are open for fishing as some areas — along the walkways, for example — are restricted.  

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area and Park
4100 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008

This State Park, which happens to be run by LA County, is a great spot to go fishing, partly because the lake is stocked by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. You’ll find different types of fish in the lake, depending on the season. For example, in winter and spring, you’re likely to catch trout, while in the summer you may catch catfish. Plus it’s a beautiful place to spend the day.

Go Fishing in Santa Monica

Santa Monica Pier
380 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Did you know fishing is allowed at the Santa Monica Pier? Well, it is. It’s a great place to try out fishing and see if your kids enjoy it. It has proven to be a popular spot to catch mackerel, bass, and perch.

No license is needed. And before you fish, take advantage of the knowledge and supplies you’ll find at the Santa Monica Pier Bait and Tackle Shop. They’ll let you know what is in season, give advice about the best bait to use, and even rent fishing rods. 

Go Fishing in the South Bay/Long Beach

Redondo Beach Pier
100-500 Fisherman’s Wharf, Redondo Beach, CA 90277 

Fishing on the Redondo Beach Pier is relatively easy for families. No permits are required, the equipment can be rented on-site if you don’t own your own, and there are lots of other fun activities to do in case fishing isn’t a hit with your family. And if you find out your family really does enjoy fishing, you can plan a fishing excursion through Redondo Beach Sportfishing & Whale Watch. 

El Dorado East Regional Park
7550 E. Spring St., Long Beach, CA 90815
(562) 570-1771

Families will find two stocked fishing lakes within the large El Dorado East Regional Park. In the lakes, you may catch trout, largemouth bass, bluegill, and more. Remember, a fishing license is required for all those fishing who are 16 and older. Keep in mind that the park also requires a vehicle entrance fee.

Go Fishing Near San Diego

Lake Jennings
9535 Harritt Rd., Lakeside, CA 92040
(619) 443-2510

At Lake Jennings, you may hear someone offering you encouragement in the form of “Don’t Let the Big One Get Away.” Some say Lake Jennings offers “some of the best freshwater fishing” in San Diego County. During the summer the lake is stocked with catfish, and between November and April, the lake is stocked with trout. You may also reel in large-mouth bass, bluegill, blue catfish, and more. 

Go Fishing in San Dimas and Whittier

Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park
120 Via Verde Park Rd., San Dimas, CA 91773

Fishing is just one of the many things families can do at Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park in San Dimas. The facilities also offer horseback riding, hiking, bicycling, camping, and much more. When it comes to fishing, you’ll find catfish, carp, bass, and trout here. Anyone 16 and older who fishes will need a license, and there is a vehicle entrance fee. The park opens at 5:00 am and closes at 8:00 pm. 

Legg Lake at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area
750 S. Santa Anita Ave., South El Monte, CA 91733

Legg Lake in Whittier Narrows Recreation Area is a good place to try out fishing — especially if you’re not sure if your family will enjoy it — because, in addition to fishing, the recreation area has a number of other fun things to do. Available activities include hiking trails, children’s play areas, baseball fields, and much more. The lake is stocked with various kinds of fish including rainbow trout, bass, and more.  

Prado Regional Park
16700 S. Euclid Ave., Chino, CA 91708
(909) 597-4260

Prado Regional Park is home to a 60-acre lake, as well as a campground, pedal boat rental facility, children’s playground, disc golf course, and more. Both experienced and novice anglers frequent Prado. The lake is stocked with trout from November to April and catfish from May to September. A state fishing license is required. Fishing workshops and derbies are also offered throughout the year. Check the website for additional details. 

Go Fishing in Castaic and Santa Barbara

Castaic Lake State Recreation Area
32132 Castaic Lake Dr., Castaic, CA 91384
(661) 257-4050

There are two main areas at Castaic Lake — the lower lake and the upper lake. It also has a 24-hour Fishing Pier available. On-site you’ll also find a campground and picnic areas, making this a popular spot for families to spend some time, as well as a location where you can rent any equipment you may need. The lake is stocked with trout, catfish, and bass. Be sure to check the website for all applicable fishing rules.  

Stearns Wharf Bait and Tackle
230 #B Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 965-1333

If you feel like driving up to Santa Barbara for the day, cast your line at Stearns Wharf. Fishing is free there, and you’ll find Stearns Wharf Bait and Tackle will have everything you may need. You can rent rods there if you don’t have your own. 

mom and 2 sons fishing and holding fish they caught
The whole family can have fun fishing!

Go Fishing in Orange County

Huckleberry Kids Pond at Santa Ana River Lakes
4060 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, CA 92807 
(714) 694-7210

Huckleberry Kids Pond is the place for beginners — children and adults, alike. The pond is heavily stocked, you can bring your own equipment or rent a rod, and staff is available to answer questions and offer tips. In addition to the admission fee, you’ll pay for only the fish you catch. They are open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 9 am to 3 pm. 

Kids Fishing Clinic
Dana Wharf
34675 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, CA 92629

Kids, ages 5-12, are invited to participate in a Kids Fishing Clinic where, dockside, kids will “learn hands-on techniques from the experts.” The experience includes the 30-minute clinic as well as a half-day fishing trip. On Sundays, kids fish for free after the clinic with the purchase of a full-priced adult ticket. Details and booking information are available online. 

Laguna Niguel Regional Park
28241 La Paz Rd., Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
(949) 923-2240

You’ll find a 44-acre lake at Laguna Niguel Regional Park. The lake is regularly stocked with catfish, bass, and during winter months, trout. A fishing license is required for visitors over 16 years old. You’ll also find the park’s 227 acres is a great spot for exploring, picnicking, and spending a day outdoors with your family. 

Don Knabe Community Regional Park
19700 S. Bloomfield Ave., Cerritos, CA 90703
(562) 924-5144

Don Knabe Community Regional Park is a popular spot for families because there is so much you can do in one spot. In addition to children’s play areas, basketball courts, swimming pools, picnic areas, a skate park, and tennis courts (just to name a few of the amenities), you’ll also find two fishing lakes there.

The lakes are stocked with rainbow trout during winter and spring and catfish during the summer. In addition, you may also reel in largemouth bass, carp, or bluegill, among other varieties. 

Santa Ana River Lakes
4060 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, CA 92807
(714) 694-7210

Did you know you could go fishing in Anaheim? Well, you can, at Santa Ana River Lakes. The lakes are stocked every week and are open six days a week — they’re closed on Thursdays for stocking fish. Fish species you can find there vary by season but include rainbow trout, catfish, bass, tilapia, and more. No fishing license is required. Check the website for all the details and prices. 

Go Fishing in Big Bear

Big Bear Lake
40824 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
(800) 424-4232

You already know there’s a ton of fun to be had in Big Bear. But don’t forget to add fishing to the list of family-friendly activities. The most popular fish in Big Bear Lake is rainbow trout, but you’ll also find bluegill, largemouth bass, and other species.

You can choose to fish from the shore or go off on a boating adventure. Be sure to check the website for information about fishing licenses and fishing limits.  

Lake Gregory Regional Park
24171 Lake Dr., Crestline, CA 92325
(833) 360-5253

Lake Gregory Regional Park is often called a “hidden gem.” If you feel like going for a drive, heading out of L.A. for a bit, then this is the spot. The lake is stocked twice a month with 1,550 pounds of golden and rainbow trout.

You may fish from sunrise to sunset with a paid day pass or annual pass. Children 3 and under are free. A California State Fishing License and County Fishing License are required. You may pay all fees online so once you arrive, you’re ready to fish!

Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).

MomsLA is your source for Things to do with Kids in Los Angeles

woman holding the same fish in 2 ways to make it appear larger
Pro tip – make your fish look bigger by holding it closer to the camera!

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