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4 of the Best Winter Fishing California Spots You Don't Want to Miss

Written by: Catchmefishing
Date:  December 1, 2022 

The winter months are a great time to get out on the water, and California has some excellent spots for anglers to go during the cold season. Whether you're looking for a comfortable spot that won't take up your entire day or something more challenging with better rewards, there's plenty of places in California that will be perfect for you! 

People think that fishing is only an activity you can do in the summer, but there are many winter California fishing spots to try your hand at. I have selected these locations because they offer a variety of species and different types of habitats!

Winter fishing in eastern California is great, and here are 4 trout spots you don't want to miss.

Lower Owens River

The Owens River flows south from Crowley Lake outlets across the Owens River Gorge and into Pleasant Valley Reservoir. Lower Owens River is a popular section among anglers and is situated at a lower elevation which means its weather can be warmer in winter.

Winter regulations: Catch and release only with artificial lures and barbless Hooks only from October 1 to December 31.

The lesser Owens River from the footbridge at the lower end for Pleasant Valley Campground east (downstream) 3.3 miles along Chalk Bluffs Road to the redwood sport fishing regulations sign has been closed year-round. All fake. A lure in barbaric hair. Hooks are possible.

East Walker

East Walker River has long been considered the best brown trout fishing flora in the state. However, flows on the East Walker can vary depending on the season, the snowpack, and the source water for the dam.

The Walker River East Fork from Bridgeport Dam to the Nevada State Line is open to year-round fishing under seasonal rules.

From November 16 to the Friday preceding the last Saturday in Apr, only artificial lures with barbless hooks are acceptable. From November to October. - Thursday prior.

Last. Saturday, April only artificial. There's a right to rely on the lure, from 14 to November 17. I have an appointment for yesterday.

Hot Creek

California officials have counted between 8 000 and 250,000 trout, making Hot Creek the most trout dense stream in the state. Mammoth, Sherwin, and Laurel streams are tributary of Hot Creek, which later flows into the Upper Owens River. In addition, Spring Creek hosts a fantastic amount of bug population, making for an ideal feeding habitat for trout.

Winter regulation: Hot Creek from the State hatch farm at the confluence with Owens River is open throughout the year. Only artificial flies with barbs are allowed on those hooks.

Upper Owens River

The Owens River is the underlying watershed for the Eastern Sierra. Known for its grassy meadows, alpine views, and oxbows, the Upper Owens is one of California's most famous trout fishing streams.

During the Winter months, regulations change, although fishing is still open using special regulations. For example, from September 16 to the Friday preceding the last Sunday of April, you can carry no real artificial lures with the barbless hook.

The Lower Owens River from Benton bridge to the monument is closed. In addition, the section from the fishing monument to Crowley Lake is closed every year on November 15. Access behind the Benton bridge depends on snow collection.

Recommended Gear

Using the correct gear can make a big difference for your fishing experience. I usually recommend using a lighter rod, with a quick tip to give you the best control over your lure.

A lighter rod is easier to move and pick up, allowing you to better control your lure. The tip of the rod should be more sensitive to give you an idea of what is happening with your line, but still have enough backbone for when you need it.

Here's a list of equipment I recommend:

  • Lightweight rod and reel setup to allow easy detection of bites and give the best chances of success in these winter months. For fly fishing, I use the Redington fly fishing combo. For spinning rods and reels I have reviewed the best ones here.
  • Sunglasses: Even on cloudy days ultraviolet rays can damage your eyes quickly. Sunglasses with UV protection will keep your eyes clear and focused on the catch at
  • Fishing Backpack: You'll need somewhere to keep your gear. A well-organized, comfortable backpack makes it easy to carry equipment wherever you go.
  • Fishing Gloves: These will give you the extra grip and protect your hands from the cold weather.
  • Waders: These are a must if you plan on fishing in the cold water. I recommend waders if you want to keep dry and warm during your fishing trip.

Winter Fishing California Tactics

California has a lot of great winter fishing spots. Cold water slows down a fish's metabolism, which is an important factor to remember when fishing for trout in these conditions.

This is why a sinking or intermediate line should be used, as well as a slower retrieve, as it will increase your chances of catching fish. In fact, there is no such thing as a clear cut where fish feel comfortable.

Fish react differently depending on factors such as size, depth, and degree of mixing. In general, deeper water has a more stable temperature than shallower water, which usually warms up quickly on sunny days.

Explore the deeper water, though warmer water can often be found in shallower spots. Typically, the highest water temperature is in the afternoon, so try to time your fishing accordingly.


Keep mobile and keep searching as you should explore all depths, but don't stay too long in one spot if you don't get any action. The fish may, however, be shoaled tightly during the winter, so if you do get a take, you may wish to spend a little more time scouting the area.

Regulations on fishing (effective March 1, 2021)

Owens River from Pleasant Valley Dam downstream to the footbridge at Lower End of Pleasant Valley Campground. Last Friday, April 15 - November 15. No restrictions on one catch of two fish in possession.

Owens River from 5 Bridges Road to Tinemaha Lake: During the entire season. You can use a synthetic lure with a barbless hook.

Owens River: November 16 until the day before this Friday. October 16. November 16. November 16. Until October 16. All the other streams and rivers. All other. A river. Everything in a season.

Get up to date information here:

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