Best Bass Fishing in California - 5 Amazing Lakes

May 13, 2021
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California has some great bass fishing lakes across the state. Some have produced some giant fish over the years and have a stellar reputation for high numbers of above-average fish. This article will take a look and list lakes with some of the best bass fishing in California.

Diamond Valley Lake

Diamond lalley lake best bass fishing in california

Located near the city of Hemet, the lake comes in at a modest 4,500 acres but boasts incredible depths of up to 270 feet.

One of the biggest perks of Diamond lake is that it prohibits any type of body contact. What this means for us anglers is that you don’t have to deal with those pesky jet skis or water skiers.

Biologists from the DFW had a hand in creating the lake's structural makeup, and in turn, has created a habitat for bass that is completely self-sustaining, with plentiful habitat areas and forage.

While Diamond lake doesn’t have a big reputation for producing 20+ pound fish regularly, it has an incredible population of bass that average in the 4 to 9-pound range, with double-digit fish regularly being caught.

Castaic Lake

Castaic lake best bass fishing in california

Since the ’80s, Castaic lake has produced six of the largest bass in bass fishing history, and as a result, has become a legendary destination for serious trophy bass anglers.

Castaic Lake is over 3,000 acres with 29 miles of shoreline and is located near Santa Clarita, just off of Highway 5.

If your goal is to pursue world-class Largemouth bass, your best bet is to fish Castaic lake in the Spring and Winter months, you will find some of the best bass fishing in California here.

In the spring, rainbow trout-style swimbaits are deadly presentations, and the Castaic line of swimbaits is hard to beat. It doesn’t take much investigation into the name of the swimbait company to know where the inspiration for their name comes from.

When fishing these swimbaits in the spring, stay shallow and pound the shoreline to a froth, staying in 15 feet or less.

In the winter months, vertical jigging can be a great tactic to employ. Using spoons, find schools of suspended shad and jig around the school while emphasizing jigging deeper or below the schools of shad. This is where the giants lurk.

Don’t count out late summer and fall, though, as this is a great time to catch large numbers of bass using traditional techniques like soft plastics and crankbaits.

Bullards Bar Reservoir

Bullards bar reservoir lake best bass fishing in california

Located in Yuba County, Bullards Bar has 56 miles of shoreline. It is known for producing some exceptional fishing and supporting a population of trophy world-class spotted bass with a catch of a whopping 11.5 pounder in 2015.

Decades ago, anglers avoided this lake due to having a bass population that was sub-par. Changes in the ecosystem, most notably the decline and stunting of the Kokanee fish population, have led to the recent boom in bass size and numbers, and not just for Spotted bass , but largemouth and smallmouth bass as well.

Lake Casitas

Lake casitas lake best bass fishing in california

Featuring 32.4 miles of shoreline and sporting several fish species popular to anglers, Lake Casitas has a ton to offer. Still, we aren’t focusing on the trout, crappies, and bluegill that are present. We want to talk about the trophy bass population!

The reservoir boasts an incredible number of bass in the 1-5 pound range, but some monsters are lurking in Lake Casitas.

There was a 21.9 pounder caught in 1990, and in 2002 a 19.8-pound fish was captured as well. Don’t let these two old examples of the lake’s potential fool you, though, as double-digit bass caught on here regularly.

The lake is very clear, with the bass feeding primarily on the stocked trout that are regularly introduced.

Due to the water clarity and high levels of fishing pressure, fluorocarbon lines are a must to trick the spooky fish, coupled with long casts and stealth.

Bait presentations like drop-shotting senkos and wacky rigged senkos, and other soft plastic baits used in this method can be very effective.

El Capitan Reservoir

El capitan reservoir lake best bass fishing in california

In terms of California reservoirs, El Capitan is a grandpa, being around since 1935, far longer than many reservoirs.

Coming in with 22 miles of shoreline and considerable depths of up to 197 feet, El Capitan has plenty of places for a trophy bass to lurk.

El Capitan has a considerable number of Florida bass in it, with double-digit fish not being uncommon. During tournaments, it typically takes a 20 plus-pound bag to win it. With 20 plus-pound bags needed to win a tournament on El Capitan, it should come as no surprise that 4-7 pound fish are very common.

Typical of many California fisheries, the reservoir is routinely stocked with trout, and rainbow trout is on the dinner menu for many of these trophy bass swimming in El Capitan.

Trout pattern swimbaits are most effective in the winter and spring months, but during the spawn lures like spinnerbaits, flukes, and rip baits work well.

In the summer months, key in on vegetation and use soft plastics imitating shad to catch these fish, and don’t count out a frog in these locations.

Nothing beats a shad imitating topwater in the fall, and in recent years, Alabama rigs have become increasingly popular.


California is no slouch when it comes to producing world-class bass fishing. The large and incredibly deep reservoirs and the heavy emphasis on stocking trout in these bodies of water create a bass paradise, allowing them to grow to enormous sizes. Trophy fish, no matter the species, require tons of time on the water and due diligence on your part, but when you fish trophy waters like these, your chances will improve significantly. Although there are many more amazing lakes, I hope you enjoyed what we think are some of the best bass fishing in California.

Check out our list of the best lakes in Texas.

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