Water trickles through a restored section of the Los Angeles River. (Photo: David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images )
When it comes to fishing, Los Angeles is probably known for its saltwater piers and offshore hot spots, but freshwater anglers can also find plenty of freshwater fishing opportunities in and around the city. Bass, trout and other game fish are available in the area’s rivers. The Los Angeles River winds its way through the city for several miles before emptying into the ocean, and a few other rivers and streams offer a variety of options in the surrounding area.
Los Angeles River
If you’ve ever seen the Los Angeles River, the phrase “fishing hot spot” probably didn’t spring immediately to mind. The majority of the L.A. River flows through controlled concrete channels, fenced off to prevent access, and in years past the trash that littered the banks was among the river’s most immediately noticeable features. That being said, a major effort is underway to revitalize the waterway, return it to its natural state and open it up for fishing and other recreational use. The trout that once spawned in the river are mostly gone, but you might still catch a few bass and panfish. The most abundant fish species are suckers, carp and tilapia.
San Gabriel River
Much of the lower San Gabriel River flows through concrete urban channels similar to the Los Angeles River, but other sections have rocky banks and riverside vegetation, making the San Gabriel considerably more scenic and inviting to fishermen. The river is accessible from the San Gabriel River Trail, which parallels the river for more than 20 miles through several urban and suburban neighborhoods. Numerous public parks and parking areas along the trail provide entry points. You can catch a few bass and panfish in these areas, but the best fishing in the San Gabriel River is farther upstream. North of Los Angeles, the San Gabriel flows through Angeles National Forest, where it splits into three forks. The north, east and west forks of the San Gabriel River all offer productive trout fishing is a quiet forest setting. The river can get crowded, especially on spring weekends, but both stocked and native trout populations bite flies, live baits and a variety of lures.
Other Rivers and Streams
Angeles Crest National Forest is home to several smaller rivers and streams, including Big Tujunga Creek, Little Rock Creek and Big Rock Creek, all of which provide trout fishing opportunities. Nearby Los Padres National Forest offers fishing in Piru Creek, Bouquet Canyon Creek and the Ventura River. Freshwater lakes in Los Angeles County also provide some of the best fishing opportunities in the region. Castaic Lake, Pyramid Lake, Crystal Lake and several others offer excellent fishing for largemouth bass, along with trout, crappie, catfish and more.
Licenses and Regulations
A current California fishing license is required to fish in any of the rivers, streams or lakes in the Los Angeles Area. Licenses are available through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website, or at most bait shops and sporting goods stores across the state. Be sure to pick up a copy of the California Freshwater Sports Fishing guide, which includes all the seasons, limits and other fishing regulations you’ll need to know. This guide is available as a download from the Fish and Wildlife website, or as a free printed pamphlet anywhere licenses are sold.
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About the Author
Richard Corrigan has been a full-time professional writer since 2010. His areas of expertise include travel, sports and recreation, gardening, landscaping and the outdoors. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from SUNY Geneseo in 2009.
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