Did you know? San Diego is America’s second-best fishing city. It features 70 miles Pacific Ocean coastline and also has numerous fishing lakes. Anglers are always anxious for the trout season to set in.
Trout are restocked in spring winter and late fall. The lakes are also stocked with Channel Catfish in the summer and spring. Other species stocked regularly include catfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, and more.
8 Best Trout Fishing Spots in San Diego
1. Lake Cuyamaca
Lake Cuyamaca covers 110 acres and sits at an elevation of 4,620 feet. Its elevation facilitates the longest trout fishing season in San Diego. The lake sits within the Cuyamaca mountains. It has a beautiful shoreline that features lineups of pine trees. Some parts of the lake freeze during winter.
The trout in this lake is the purest and one of the largest populated in San Diego. There are at least three sources of trout in Lake Cuyamaca. They include the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Jess Ranch, and Mt. Lassen.
The trout comes in almost every month of the year. July is the only month when the trout restock doesn’t happen. However, the lake’s weight record trout for the lake is 15.19 pounds, and it was set in July.
Restocking in Lake Cuyamaca focuses more on quantity than size. Anglers can look forward to a good fly-fishing experience. They get to explore the creeks that supply the lake as they fish. Lake Cuyamaca’s accessibility is the best in San Diego. You can fish on any day of the week, it offers boat rentals, and you can participate in any form of angling which includes float tubing, kayaking, private boat launch, and shore fishing.
2. Lake Jennings
Lake Jennings has undergone major improvements that help it contest for the best trout fishing locations in San Diego. The lake’s trout program is a significant part of these improvements. Stocking takes place twice a month. During the winter, there are times where the management stocks the trout weekly.
Collaboration with the anglers’ needs was also part of the improvements. The anglers requested Nebraska Tailwalkers and Sierra Bows. These are two of the most popular trout. Part of the reason is that they put up a hard fight. The anglers also appreciate the stocking of lighting trout in recent years.
Lake Jennings is open to the anglers on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Campers, however, can visit any day of the week. The management adopts this timetable to give the trout time to settle in, disperse, and grow. It is a convenient timetable as most anglers fish on the weekends.
The lake’s neighboring hills seclude you from suburban life. They take away visual and noise distractions that start on Interstate 8, which is half a mile away. You can rent a boat from a fleet of 16-foot Carolina Skiffs and Yamaha four-stroke outboards.
3. Dixon Lake
Lake Dixon is well known for trout and monster bass. You may get lucky to catch a trout derby in progress and get in on the fishing experience and fun. The lake attracts numerous expeditions and such events due to the trophy-sized fish stocked in the village. There are weekly reports of fish that weigh more than 7 pounds.
Lake Dixon and Lake Wohlford are sister lakes and are usually stocked around the same time, which is during winter. However, Lake Dixon is usually busier and may stock its trout earlier than that. You can access Lake Dixon on any day of the week.
There are rental boats available. Float tubes and private boats are prohibited in this lake. There is limited shoreline access because there are rules on some parts of the shore. However, the lake makes up for this with great access points and numerous fishing piers. Some of the most popular spots include Whisker Bay and Trout Cove.
4. Santee Lakes
Santee Lakes is a unique and attractive fishery that is made up of 7 lakes. The lakes are surrounded by a family-friendly park that undergoes proper maintenance. Lakes 3 and 4 of the seven lakes are stocked and used for trout fishing. Campground guests use lake 6 and 7 exclusively.
The lakes are restocked with trout from November to March at an interval of two weeks.
Santees offer exciting activities to encourage trout fishing. For example, you could participate in the tagged trout contest. This is a contest where the lake management will tag trout and release them, and anglers will fish for the tagged trout to win prizes such as motorcycles, flat-screen TV, fishing passes, and more.
The Santee Lakes are human-made, and the builders made sure that the shoreline is almost entirely accessible. Furthermore, regular maintenance is done to remove aquatic vegetation which may block the bait from the fish. They are ideal for the family retreat.
5. Lake Poway
Lake Poway is where you should be in the winter if you are looking for some giant trout. The trout are planted regularly. Its shoreline is highly accessible, and you can rent electric motors from the lake’s fleet.
The lake’s weekly report indicates that fish with more than 10 pounds is a common sight. They also hold an annual trout derby, which has a lot of participants in terms of anglers and trout. This lake is only open for five days a week. Mondays and Tuesdays are closed to the public. Other major lakes like Wohlford and Dixon are open every day of the week.
Lake Poway also has a limit on how many fish an angler can catch to 4. Other major lakes have set the fish limit to 5.
6. Lake Wohlford
Trout season on Lake Wohlford starts later than other lakes. For example, its sister lake, Lake Dixon, starts a month and a half earlier. For a better part of the year, Lake Wohlford is open only on the weekends. When trout fishing season starts, you can access it any day of the week.
Private boats and float tubes are prohibited on Lake Wohlford. This is because of the quagga mussels’ threat and low water levels. You can rent out the available motorboats that run on quiet electric motors.
Right across the street from the lake, you can get a meal, purchase California sport fishing licenses and pay boat rental fees.
7. Lake Morena
Lake Morena was well known for trout fishing, crappie, and giant bass. The drought in the west has presented some challenges, such as lower water levels. A went winter or spring will increase the water levels.
Trout stocking starts in December. Lake Morena has a high elevation or more than 3,000 feet, and this helps prolong the trout fishing season into late spring. It is accessible every day of the week.
They offer boat rentals and still allow you to bring your own boat and float tubes. However, the boat ramp does not provide much help due to the low water levels. Lake Morena has a rural setting with a scenic and quiet atmosphere, which also makes it an ideal camping ground. Its shoreline is a bit muddy and rocky because the water has decreased. However, you can fish easily once you get to the waterline.
8. Lake Murray
Lake Murray gets trout from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. However, the current numbers are lower than before. Lake Murray is open for fishing every day. During trout season, you get to rent boats from Wednesday to Sunday. There are frequent changes in rentals; thus, you should check on availability before you visit the lake.
You can launch your boat from the launch ramp, which is accessible any day except on major holidays. Float tubing is allowed. Lake Murray sits next to San Diego City’s water treatment plants, which help to stabilize the lake’s water levels.
This lake is in the middle of San Diego County, which makes it easily accessible and convenient, unlike Lake Morena, which is several miles from downtown.
What to Consider for a Trout Fishing Spot in San Diego
It would help if you settled on a fishing location after you consider factors like:
- Operating schedule
- Shoreline accessibility
- Other available activities
- Type of fish available
- Access fees
- Licensing requirements
- Distance from downtown San Diego
Fishing License Requirements in San Diego
All fishing activity is authorized and regulated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Everyone who is 16 years and older will require a fishing license. You can obtain the fishing license from the following sources:
- Online purchase from the CDFW website.
- CDFW’s Sales Office
- Commercial Fishing Licenses agents
- Independent License Agents
- Telephone License Purchase. You will call (800) 565-1458.
San Diego has invested a lot in Trout planting and fishing. The trout are stocked regularly and, in some cases, after every two weeks for example in the Santee Lakes. Anglers and visitors are equally as aggressive when it comes to fishing and derby events. There have been numerous catches that turn heads, for example, trout that weigh more than 10 pounds.
Each of the above lakes ranks based on factors such as the amount of trout stocked, shoreline accessibility, opening and closing times, access fees, license requirements, distance from downtown San Diego, private boats, and tubing regulations. Trout fishing in San Diego is licensed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
CDFW only issues licenses to those aged 16 years and above. You can get a license online from CDFW’s sales office, commercial fishing licensing agent, independent fishing license, or via telephone purchase.
The top three of these lakes include Lake Cuyamaca, Lake Jennings, and Lake Dixon. This is based on the number of trout, accessibility, and co-curricular activities available in these fishing locations.