One of the most important questions when you are planning a fishing trip is what to fish for and when. California offers some of the best fishing in the world for largemouth bass, striped bass, surfperch, California halibut, steelhead, white seabass, yellowfin tuna, crappie, and so many more fish species. Knowing when the best seasons, and best months to fish for specific species, is important for a successful fishing trip. In this article, we are going to discuss the best months and seasons to fish in the state of California. Some of the best times to fish most fish species in California are spring and fall. Especially for striped bass, trout, bass, and halibut. Summer offers the best fishing for salmon, tuna, and seabass.
January Fishing In California
Sturgeon Fishing in San Pablo Bay starts to pick up as the waters are churned up from the shifting tides and the heavy rains bringing in freshwater flows from the Petaluma River, Napa River, and Sonoma Creek, creating perfect conditions for sturgeon fishing.
February Fishing in California
Halibut Fishing along the California Coast from as far down the coast line as San Diego, all the way up to Eureka, halibut begin to arrive in the sheltered bays. Halibut prefer large areas of sandy bottoms and is a favorite for fishermen as these fish typically weigh between 10 and 25 pounds, with the rare catch of fish up to and over 40 pounds.
March Fishing in California
Rainbow Trout in the Sacramento River starts to get a super hot bite between March and May up towards the Redding area where anglers can catch large three to five pound rainbow trout.
April Fishing in California
Striped bass fishing can be done all year, you just have to find them, and go to where they are at. During the winter the striped bass are spread from the San Francisco Bay throughout the Delta system and fishing is not as productive because stripers do not actively feed when the water is cold. But, you can still catch them. As the water warms up in March, the stripers begin to migrate upstream to fresh water for spawning. In the spring, the stripers are spread throughout the Delta and as far north as Colusa and Princeton on the Sacramento River. Some hot spots for striper in April are Point Pinole, Red Rock Pier, the Vallejo Wall, McNears Pier, Fort Point, Fort Mason, and Candlestick Point. As the heat of summer hits in mid June, the stripers move out of fresh water and returned to the bays. During the summer and fall stripers can be caught in the San Francisco Bay, and you can also catch them from the local beaches as they travel out to the Pacific Ocean. Summer surf casting from the San Francisco beaches is occasionally very successful, and from the local fishing charter boats. Shore angling can be good in some areas of South San Francisco Bay during the spring and summer. The fall migration of bass back up into the Delta may start as early as October. Bait fishing in the Delta improves gradually with the movement of bass into the area, and will start to drop as the weather continues to get colder.
May Fishing in California
Yellowfin Tuna action picks up in Southern California Offshore. Anglers can target Tuna in the area around Catalina Island. These huge tuna are typically enticed to bite by drifting Bait Balls of anchovies.
June Fishing in California
Largemouth Bass really start to bite in the spring and summer months. Large lakes like Clear Lake, Folsom Lake, and Lake Amador, are known for producing large numbers of Bass, and trophy sized largemouth bass as well. Large numbers of bass can be caught in the 5 to 10 pound range, with a few rare occasions to catch fish in the 15 plus pound range.
July Fishing in California
White SeaBass fishing picks up in July in the San Diego area. The size of these monster sea bass regularly exceed 30 pounds. They are primarily caught towards the Southern California offshore waters, and are great to catch with a tough fight.
August Fishing in California
Chinook Salmon fishing picks up in the Bodega Bay area in July and August. Many bay area anglers like to travel to this small fishing town with great beaches to take a guided fishing trip for their chances at catching some great Salmon averaging from 8 to 10 pounds. Fall run Chinook Salmon migrate upstream as adults from July through December and spawn from October through December. Spring run Chinook Salmon migrate up into the Sacramento River from late March through September.
September Fishing in California
Landlocked Kokanee Salmon Fishing tends to get some hot action in lakes like Don Pedro Reservoir, and Union Valley Reservior, with healthy fish raning from a pound and a half to two and a half pounds with top spots being in the area around Middle Bay and Jenkins Hill. From August to December you will have the best chance at catching them, with September being the best month overall. Large schools typically like to hang out in the depths ranging from 30 to 80 feet deep. Coho Salmon fishing picks up in the river and delta system from September through January. In the short coastal streams of California, migration usually begins between mid-November and mid-January. They move upstream after heavy rains open the sand bars that can form at the mouths of many California coastal streams, but may enter larger rivers a bit earlier.
October Fishing in California
Surfperch can be caught year round. They school up along sandy California shorelines for spawning in the early spring and early summer. September through May are the best times to target catching surfperch from the beach, with October being one of my favorite times of year to fish for them. The incoming tide is the best time to catch them. During the low tide, you can look for good areas that you would like to fish for them when the tide starts coming back in. Look for deep holes, troughs, or depressions in the sandy bottom that the surfperch will like to hold up in. These perce are typically about 12 to 15 inches long and weigh about one to two pounds. They eat sand crabs and other tiny crustaceans.
November Fishing in California
Steelhead Fishing in the Klamath River picks up in November between Iron Gate Reservoir and Somes Bar, which can be reached from shore, or by using drift and jet boats. Steelhead migrate upstream during most months of the year typically starting in July with the peak time being in September, and will continue until about March. November is a great time as it’s just before the spawn, which begins in late December and runs through April.
December Fishing in California
Rainbow Trout Fishing action gets hot up in Owens River around Law’s Bridge, Collins Road, Steward Lane, and Westgard Road. The best bet is for some kayak fishing to explore twisting oxbows and undercut banks in these areas.
California Fishing Guides and Charter Boats
There are many different fishing guides that offer guided fishing trips for California fishermen. Whether you are looking for a salmon, halibut, rockcod, trout, steelhead, striper, or any type of fish, these California fishing guides will put you on some fish. FishingBooker is a service of local guides that you can choose from and schedule your next guided fishing trip, charter boat, or fishing party boat. Book yourself a California Fishing Guide Today! Also other states, countries, and more, book your travel destination fishing trip today.About The Author Mike Mendenhall is the the founder of Mendenhall Outdoors. This website is an extension of the Mendenhall family’s lifestyle and passion for the great outdoors. Everything that they learn, and experience, along the way that they find may be valuable to our website visitors is on the site for you to enjoy. We highlight products and services that you might find interesting. We frequently receive free products from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you, and does not impact the purchase price of any products that you may purchase. The Best California Fishing Experience Awaits!