Best Bass Fishing Lakes in California: Discover the Top 15

best bass lakes california man riding a fishing boat fishing for bass in california
August 19, 2023

You're in for a treat, my friend. We've got the lowdown on the top 15 best bass fishing lakes in California.

Get ready to reel in some big ones! From the California Delta to Lake Perris, these waters are teeming with bass just waiting for you to cast your line.

So grab your gear, hop in your boat, and get ready for the fishing adventure of a lifetime.

It's time to experience the freedom and thrill of bass fishing in the Golden State.

California Delta

Bass fishing in California Delta

You won't believe the incredible bass fishing opportunities you'll find in the California Delta. The Delta waterways, with their interconnected channels and sloughs, create the perfect habitat for bass to thrive. Boating and fishing in the Delta is a true adventure, offering endless possibilities for anglers seeking the thrill of reeling in a trophy-sized largemouth bass.

The California Delta is home to a diverse range of wildlife, making it a truly unique fishing destination. As you navigate through the Delta's waterways, you'll encounter an array of bird species, including herons, egrets, and ospreys. The wetlands and marshes provide a haven for waterfowl, creating a rich ecosystem that supports a variety of wildlife.

When it comes to bass fishing, the California Delta is unparalleled. The convergence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers creates a nutrient-rich environment that sustains a thriving population of largemouth bass. The murky waters of the Delta are known to produce impressive catches, with the potential to reel in a 15-pounder or more.

Whether you prefer fishing from a boat or casting your line from the shore, the California Delta offers countless opportunities to pursue your passion. With its abundance of bass and diverse wildlife, it's no wonder that the Delta is considered one of the top bass fishing destinations in California.

Don Pedro Reservoir

Don Pedro Reservoir at sunrise

Explore the abundant opportunities for catching smallmouth and spotted bass at Don Pedro Reservoir. This beautiful reservoir, located in California's Tuolumne County, is not only a scenic spot for fishing, but also offers a chance to reel in some trophy bass.

To maximize your chances of success, it's important to employ the right fishing techniques and use the best bait for bass.

When it comes to fishing techniques, casting and retrieving is a popular method for catching bass at Don Pedro Reservoir. Try using a variety of lures such as crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and jigs to entice the bass to bite. Experiment with different retrieval speeds and patterns to find what works best on any given day.

As for the best bait for bass, live bait such as nightcrawlers and minnows can be highly effective at Don Pedro Reservoir. Additionally, using artificial baits that mimic the natural prey of the bass, such as plastic worms or swimbaits, can also yield great results.

If you're aiming to catch trophy bass, targeting areas with structure such as submerged rocks, fallen trees, or underwater ledges can increase your chances. These areas often serve as hiding spots for larger bass, so be sure to focus your efforts in these locations.

With its abundance of smallmouth and spotted bass, Don Pedro Reservoir is a haven for bass fishing enthusiasts. Armed with the right fishing techniques and bait, you'll have a great chance of landing some impressive trophy bass.

Clear Lake

serene beauty of Clear Lake California

Located in California, Clear Lake is known for its abundant fish and wildlife, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

When it comes to bass fishing, Clear Lake offers a variety of fishing techniques that can help you reel in a big bass. One of the most effective techniques for bass in Clear Lake is using topwater lures. These lures mimic the movement of baitfish on the surface, attracting bass to strike.

Another popular technique is flipping and pitching, which involves casting a heavy lure or bait into dense cover and letting it sink down to where the bass are hiding.

As for the best spots to fish for bass in Clear Lake, some anglers swear by the areas around the tules, which provide excellent cover for bass. Other productive areas include the docks, rocky points, and submerged vegetation.

Conservation efforts are also in place to protect the bass population in Clear Lake. These efforts include catch-and-release practices, as well as the implementation of size and bag limits to ensure sustainable fishing.

New Melones Lake

Angler fishing bass at New Melones Lake

At New Melones Lake, you'll discover an abundance of fish species, including largemouth bass weighing between two to five pounds. This makes it an ideal location for bass fishing enthusiasts who enjoy reeling in a good number of fish in a day. Although trophy bass may not be as common, there have been reports of some impressive 10-pounders being caught every year.

When it comes to fishing techniques at New Melones Lake, there are a few tried and true methods that have proven to be successful. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your fishing experience:

  • Casting and retrieving: This is a popular technique for catching bass at New Melones Lake. Using a variety of lures such as crankbaits, jerkbaits, and spinnerbaits, cast your line out and reel it in, mimicking the movement of prey that bass are attracted to.
  • Drop shotting: This finesse technique involves using a weight at the end of your line with a soft plastic bait suspended above it. Drop shotting is particularly effective when fishing in deeper water or during colder months when bass tend to be more sluggish.
  • Topwater fishing: During the warmer months, when the water temperature rises, bass become more active and are more likely to strike at surface lures. Using topwater baits such as poppers, buzzbaits, or frogs can be incredibly exciting as you witness the explosive strikes on the water's surface.

The best bait to use at New Melones Lake depends on the season and the preferences of the bass. Experimenting with different types of bait, such as plastic worms, jigs, or live bait, can help you find what works best during your fishing trip.

Keep in mind that the fishing season at New Melones Lake is year-round, but the most productive months tend to be from spring to fall when the water temperature is warmer and the bass are more active. Although, winter bass fishing in California is still good fun too.

Casitas Lake

two anglers fishing for bass on Casitas Lake california

When you visit Casitas Lake, you'll be surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and have the opportunity to catch a variety of fish species. Casitas Lake is renowned for its world-class bass fishing, with four of the largest bass ever caught in California being reeled in here. But it's not just bass that you can expect to find in this scenic lake. Rainbow trout, crappie, red-ear sunfish, bluegill, and channel catfish also call this place home.

To optimize your fishing experience at Casitas Lake, it's important to employ the right fishing techniques. For bass, try using plastic worms or crankbaits near the lake's submerged vegetation. Rainbow trout are often caught using lures such as spinners or spoons. Crappie can be enticed with jigs or small minnows, while bluegill and sunfish are often caught using live bait like worms or crickets. Channel catfish, on the other hand, can be caught using chicken liver or stink bait.

The best time to fish at Casitas Lake is during the early morning or late evening when the fish are most active. Additionally, fishing during the cooler months of spring and fall tends to yield better results. As always, it's important to check local fishing regulations and obtain the necessary permits before heading out to enjoy the freedom that Casitas Lake has to offer.

Lake Sonoma

bass angler at Lake Sonoma at dawn

Now that you've learned about Casitas Lake, let's dive into another fantastic bass fishing spot in California: Lake Sonoma. With its abundance of forage fish, diverse water conditions, and ample cover, Lake Sonoma is a must-visit destination for any bass fishing enthusiast.

When it comes to fishing techniques, Lake Sonoma offers plenty of options. Anglers often find success using a variety of techniques such as flipping, pitching, and drop-shotting. These methods allow you to effectively target the largemouth bass that inhabit the lake's waters.

Lake Sonoma is home to a thriving population of largemouth bass, making it a popular choice for anglers seeking trophy-sized fish. In addition to bass, you can also find other popular fish species such as crappie and bluegill in the lake.

The best time of year for fishing at Lake Sonoma is generally during the spring and fall months. During these seasons, the bass are more active and readily bite on various lures and baits. However, it's important to note that fishing can still be productive year-round at Lake Sonoma, thanks to its favorable conditions.

Lake Oroville

bass fishing Lake Oroville

To make the most of your visit to Lake Oroville, you'll want to explore its diverse underwater structure and try different fishing techniques. Lake Oroville is known for its excellent bass fishing opportunities, and with the right techniques, you can have a successful day on the water.

When it comes to fishing techniques at Lake Oroville, using plastics on a Ned rig, Carolina rig, or wacky-rig in the shallows at depths from 10 to 20 feet is highly effective for catching spotted bass. These techniques allow you to target the bass in their preferred habitat and entice them to bite. The numbers of bass caught using these techniques have been outstanding, though finding larger size bass can be a challenge.

For the best times to fish at Lake Oroville, early morning and late afternoon tend to be the most productive. During these times, the bass are more active and feeding, increasing your chances of a successful catch. Additionally, fishing during the spring and fall months can also yield excellent results, as the bass are more active during these seasons.

If you're looking for a little friendly competition, Lake Oroville also hosts bass fishing tournaments throughout the year. These tournaments are a great way to test your skills against other anglers and potentially win some prizes. Keep an eye out for upcoming tournaments and consider participating for an added thrill to your fishing experience at Lake Oroville.

Overall, Lake Oroville offers a variety of fishing techniques, optimal fishing times, and the opportunity to participate in bass fishing tournaments. So grab your gear, head out to the lake, and enjoy the freedom of exploring the diverse underwater structure while trying your hand at various fishing techniques.

Lake Isabella

Bass Fishing at Lake Isabella california

Anglers can find a variety of cover options in Lake Isabella, making it a challenge to locate largemouth bass. With its shallow weeds, rocky shorelines, submerged timber, sloping points, rocky reefs, and steep drop-offs, this lake offers plenty of hiding spots for bass. But fear not, because with the right fishing techniques and the best bass lures, you can increase your chances of success.

Here are some fishing techniques that can help you catch more bass in Lake Isabella:

  • Flipping and pitching: Use a heavy baitcasting rod and reel combo to accurately cast your lure into dense cover like submerged timber or thick weeds. This technique allows you to present your bait precisely where the bass are hiding.
  • Texas rig: This versatile setup involves rigging a soft plastic bait weedless on a bullet weight and a hook. It's perfect for fishing in heavy cover, and you can use it to imitate a variety of prey.
  • Topwater fishing: Early morning or late evening is the best time to use topwater lures like poppers, buzzbaits, or frogs. These lures create enticing surface disturbances that can trigger aggressive strikes from bass.

Now let's talk about the best bass lures to use in Lake Isabella:

  • Plastic worms: Worms in natural colors like green pumpkin or watermelon are always a reliable choice. Rig them Texas style or wacky style for different presentations.
  • Crankbaits: Choose crankbaits that mimic the local forage, such as shad or crawfish. Vary your retrieve speed to find what the bass are looking for.
  • Jigs: Jigs are perfect for fishing in rocky areas or around submerged timber. Use a jig with a skirt and trailer that matches the local baitfish or crayfish.

With these fishing techniques and the best bass lures, you'll have a great chance of landing some trophy largemouth bass in the beautiful Lake Isabella. So grab your gear, head out on the water, and enjoy the freedom of chasing these elusive fish.

Diamond Valley Lake

Bass fishing Diamond Valley Lake at sunset

Located in Southern California, Diamond Valley Lake is renowned for its abundance of quality fish, including bass over ten pounds that are caught with regularity during the spawn. If you're looking to catch some trophy-sized bass, Diamond Valley Lake is the place to be. During the spawning season, which typically occurs in the spring, the bass are actively feeding and are more likely to take your bait.

When it comes to fishing techniques at Diamond Valley Lake, there are a few that have proven to be successful. One popular technique is flipping and pitching, which involves casting your bait into heavy cover and letting it sink slowly to the bottom. This technique is great for targeting bass that are hiding in the vegetation or near structure. Another effective technique is using topwater lures, such as buzzbaits or poppers, early in the morning or late in the evening when the bass are more active near the surface.

As for the best bait options, it's hard to go wrong with soft plastic worms or creature baits in natural colors. These baits closely resemble the prey that bass feed on, making them irresistible to hungry fish. Additionally, crankbaits and jigs can also be effective in certain situations. It's always a good idea to experiment with different bait options to see what the bass are biting on that particular day.

Bullards Bar

Angler fishing from a rock at Bullards Bar california

Now that you have learned about the fantastic bass fishing opportunities at Diamond Valley Lake, let's shift our focus to another incredible fishing spot in California: Bullards Bar.

Situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Bullards Bar offers a wealth of bass fishing opportunities that are sure to excite any angler.

When it comes to fishing at Bullards Bar, it's important to be equipped with the right techniques and lures to maximize your chances of success. Here are some key fishing techniques to keep in mind:

  • Drop Shotting: This finesse technique works well in clear water conditions, allowing you to target bass in deeper areas.
  • Topwater Fishing: During the warmer months, topwater lures can be highly effective in enticing bass to strike.
  • Flipping and Pitching: When fishing around heavy cover or structure, using a flipping or pitching technique can help you reach those hard-to-reach spots and tempt bass to bite.

Now that you know some fishing techniques, let's talk about the best lures to use at Bullards Bar. Some popular choices among anglers include:

  • Plastic Worms: Texas-rigged or weightless, these versatile lures can mimic a variety of prey and entice bass to strike.
  • Crankbaits: With their lifelike swimming action, crankbaits can be a go-to choice for covering water and triggering strikes.
  • Jigs: Whether you're flipping, pitching, or casting, jigs can be highly effective at enticing bass to bite, especially in rocky or brushy areas.

Lastly, it's important to be aware of the fishing seasons at Bullards Bar, as they can greatly impact your success. The prime bass fishing seasons are typically in the spring and fall when the water temperatures are optimal and bass are more active.

Lake Murray

angler boat fishing for bass on the emerald green waters of Lake Murray

If you're planning a fishing trip to Lake Murray, make sure to bring your favorite lures and gear for a chance to catch some monster bass. Located in San Diego, California, Lake Murray is known for its impressive Florida-strain largemouth bass. These bass grow to enormous sizes in the moderate climate of the area, thanks to an abundance of baitfish and smaller game fish to feast on.

When it comes to fishing techniques at Lake Murray, there are a few tried and true methods that have proven successful. One popular technique is using topwater lures early in the morning or late in the evening when the bass are most active near the surface. This can lead to some exciting strikes and explosive action on the water.

As for the best fishing spots on Lake Murray, there are a few areas that consistently produce trophy bass. The shoreline near the dam is a hotspot, as the bass often gather there to feed. Additionally, the areas with submerged structure, such as fallen trees or brush piles, are known to hold big bass.

Lake Murray has its fair share of trophy bass stories. Anglers have reported catching bass weighing over 10 pounds, with some even reaching the 15-pound mark. These impressive catches are a testament to the quality of bass fishing at Lake Murray.

Lake Camanche

Fishing Lake Camanche in California

The underwater structure of Lake Camanche provides ideal habitat for spotted bass, making it a prime location for anglers. If you're looking to catch some trophy-sized spotted bass, here are some fishing techniques, best lures and bait, and tips to help you locate and target them in Lake Camanche:

Fishing Techniques for Spotted Bass in Lake Camanche:

  • Dropshotting: Use a dropshot rig with a finesse worm or small creature bait to target suspended bass in deeper water.
  • Topwater Fishing: Early morning and late evening are great times to use topwater lures like poppers or buzzbaits to entice spotted bass to the surface.
  • Flipping and Pitching: Flip or pitch a jig or Texas-rigged creature bait into heavy cover, such as submerged trees or weed beds, where the bass are likely hiding.
  • Best Lures and Bait for Targeting Spotted Bass in Lake Camanche:
  • Crawfish imitations: Spotted bass love feeding on crawfish, so lures like crankbaits or jigs that mimic their appearance and movement can be very effective.
  • Soft Plastic Worms: Rig a finesse worm or senko on a dropshot or Texas-rig and work it slowly along the bottom to entice bites from wary bass.
  • Swimbait: A realistic swimbait can be a great choice for targeting larger trophy-sized spotted bass in Lake Camanche.
  • Tips for Locating and Targeting Trophy-Sized Spotted Bass in Lake Camanche:
  • Focus on underwater structure: Look for submerged settlements, bridges, mines, rockpiles, and trees. These areas provide perfect hiding spots for trophy-sized spotted bass.
  • Pay attention to water temperature and clarity: Spotted bass are often found in clearer water and prefer cooler temperatures, so target areas with these conditions.
  • Try different depths: Spotted bass can be found at various depths depending on the time of year and water conditions, so explore different depths to increase your chances of finding trophy-sized fish.

Folsom Lake

Image showcasing Folsom Lake's serene waters

Folsom Lake has an abundance of smallmouth bass weighing up to 5 pounds, making it a great spot for vertical fishing techniques like jigging and drop-shotting.

When it comes to drop-shotting techniques, Folsom Lake offers plenty of opportunities for success. Drop shotting involves suspending a baited hook above the bottom, allowing for a more natural presentation. To effectively drop shot for smallmouth bass at Folsom Lake, use a 6 to 7-foot medium-light spinning rod paired with a lightweight spinning reel.

As for the best lures for smallmouth bass, try using finesse worms, soft plastic jerkbaits, and small crankbaits. These lures mimic the natural prey of smallmouth bass and are highly effective in enticing strikes.

When fishing steep rocky drop-offs, it's important to use fishing strategies that maximize your chances of success. Start by locating areas with depth changes and structure. Cast your lure parallel to the drop-off and let it sink to the desired depth before retrieving it slowly. Pay close attention to any bites or subtle movements on your line, as smallmouth bass can be quite finicky.

With these drop-shotting techniques, best lures for smallmouth bass, and fishing strategies for steep rocky drop-offs, you'll have a great time reeling in some trophy-sized smallies at Folsom Lake.

Millerton Lake

Millerton Lake in california

Millerton Lake, located just north of Fresno, California, is a hidden gem for fishing enthusiasts, especially those with a keen interest in bass fishing. The lake is a reservoir in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California's Central Valley, providing not only an essential water supply but also a prime location for recreational activities.

Millerton Lake's history traces back to the 1940s when Friant Dam was constructed across the San Joaquin River, creating this fascinating water body. Named after the mining town of Millerton, which now lies submerged under the lake, the area breathes an intriguing historical significance. Over the years, the lake has become a hotspot for fishing, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife regularly stocking it with bass, making it a premier location for bass fishing.

The lake's reputation for bass fishing stems from its abundant population of striped and black bass, which thrive in its waters. The varied underwater topography with a mixture of deep holes, rocky outcrops, and submerged structures provide ideal habitats for these species. Anglers enjoy the thrill of the chase, as the bass here are known to put up a good fight, making the catch all the more rewarding.

Visiting Millerton Lake is not just about fishing; it's about embracing the serene beauty and tranquility of Californian outdoors. The lake is surrounded by rolling hills, adorned with oak and chaparral, offering a picturesque backdrop to your fishing expedition. Besides, the lake area also features camping sites, hiking trails, and boating facilities, thus offering a complete package for a perfect weekend getaway.

Lake Perris

Bass fishing beauty of Lake Perris california

You can explore the numerous structures and flats at Lake Perris to find big fish. This lake is a haven for anglers looking for a thrilling bass fishing experience. The key to success here lies in understanding the fishing techniques that work best and using the right bait options.

When it comes to fishing techniques, it's important to note that bass at Lake Perris tend to be more active during the early morning and late evening hours. This means that fishing during these times can greatly increase your chances of landing a big catch. Additionally, using techniques like flipping, pitching, and drop-shotting can be highly effective in targeting bass in the various structures and flats of the lake.

In terms of bait options, it is recommended to use a variety of lures to entice the bass at Lake Perris. Some popular choices include plastic worms, jigs, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits. Experimenting with different colors and sizes can help you find what works best on any given day.

The ideal fishing season at Lake Perris is during the spring and fall months. During these times, the water temperatures are optimal, and the bass are more active and feeding aggressively. However, it's important to note that bass fishing can still be productive throughout the year, so don't let the season discourage you from exploring this incredible fishing destination.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Cost of a Fishing License in California?

The cost of a fishing license in California varies depending on your residency and the type of license you choose. It's important to have a valid license to fish in popular spots and to adhere to fishing regulations in California.

Are There Any Restrictions on the Size or Quantity of Fish That Can Be Caught in These Lakes?

When it comes to bass fishing in California, you'll be pleased to know that there are fishing regulations in place. These include catch limits and size restrictions to ensure the health of the fish population.

Are There Any Specific Fishing Techniques or Bait Recommendations for Bass Fishing in These Lakes?

When bass fishing in these lakes, you'll want to use techniques like flipping, pitching, and drop shotting. For bait recommendations, try using plastic worms, crankbaits, or jigs to imitate the prey bass feed on. Understanding bass behavior is key to success.

Are There Any Camping Facilities Available Near These Lakes?

Yes, there are camping facilities available near these lakes. You'll find nearby accommodations such as RV parks that offer the freedom to experience the beauty of nature while enjoying your bass fishing adventure.

Are There Any Specific Regulations or Guidelines Regarding Boat Usage in These Lakes?

Are there any specific regulations or guidelines regarding boat usage in these lakes? Yes, there are. Boat rentals are available, but be aware of boat speed limits and boat registration requirements to ensure a smooth and enjoyable fishing experience.


So there you have it, the top 15 best bass fishing lakes in California. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a beginner, these lakes offer an abundance of opportunities to reel in some impressive bass.

From the vast California Delta to the serene Lake Perris, each lake has its own unique charm and fishing experience.

So why wait? Grab your fishing gear, head out to one of these lakes, and ask yourself, 'Are you ready to catch the bass of a lifetime?'

Check out my list of the Best bass lakes in the US.

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