California is an excellent fishing destination, and the Golden State is filled to the brim with a wide variety of aquatic animals. If you’re interested in fishing in California, you should spend a little time familiarizing yourself with all the rules and regulations that govern this pastime. Fishing at the wrong time or without the proper paperwork could result in huge fines. Here’s what you need to know about fishing regulations in California, brought to you by the friendly folks at ASO Mammoth, your year-round one-stop shop for everything from fishing equipment and licenses to Mammoth bike rentals.
Trout and Freshwater Fishing
California is known for its beautiful rivers and lakes packed with brown, golden, and rainbow trout. While every county and body of water is slightly different, trout season usually ends on November 15th. After November 15th, you’ll need to check the local regulations. You can continue to fish in certain rivers and lakes, but most of those areas will be restricted to catch-and-release fishing, which means you’ll have to use barbless flies and lures. Some organizations stock their own private ponds that can be fished year-round, but those bodies of water can’t be connected to any public streams or rivers.
Sport Fishing in the Ocean
The regulations on sport fishing in the ocean are slightly more complex, but you can legally fish in the ocean year-round. As the seasons change, various fish are going to breed and move along the coast, which means you’ll be able to catch a wide variety of species throughout the year. Once you’ve decided which type of fish you want to catch, you must look up all the gear, license, and size requirements. Some species can only be caught with very specific gear, and you’ll be fined if you’re using the wrong lures, weights, or rods. The size restrictions are also very rigid, and those rules must be followed to keep the populations at healthy levels.
As a general rule, every angler must apply for a fishing license online or through a state-approved agent. Luckily, there are multiple agents near most major bodies of water, and you shouldn’t have any difficulty getting a license as long as you have a valid form of ID and the license fee. The total cost of the license depends on a few different factors, including how long the license is going to be active, your age, and which state you reside in. If you plan on fishing for more than a week or two, you might want to invest in an annual pass.
Best Times to Fish in California
Most anglers agree that the best sea fishing takes place during the warmest months of the year. As soon as the water starts to heat up, many species become much more active. For fishing in the Eastern Sierras, early fall is one of the best times to plan your trip. While some catch-and-release fisheries are open all year long, seasoned anglers usually prefer fall fishing in Mono County and the surrounding areas.
If you want to experience some of the best fishing in the state, come to beautiful Mammoth Lakes. No matter which sport brings you to Mammoth, stop by and see the knowledgeable staff at ASO Mammoth. Whether they need fishing gear, mountain biking equipment, or high-quality snowboard rental, Mammoth visitors can find everything they need at our shop. Drop by on your way to the lake or give us a call at 760-965-3444.