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Best Places To Go Fishing In and Around The Bay Area

Bodega Bay (credit: Randy Yagi)

Despite the lingering drought in California, many locations across the Bay Area have reported great fishing and reaching daily limits. Now that the salmon season has begun, interest in local fishing has ramped up even further with hundreds of anglers and would be anglers heading out to their favorite beach, lake or river. For those who are new to fishing, it's important to understand the regulations for freshwater and ocean fishing in California. As well as obtaining a California fishing license if necessary. Here is a look at five of the best places near San Francisco to go fishing.

Bodega Bay
Bodega Bay, CA
(707) 875-3866

Visitors can enjoy saltwater fishing out of Bodega Bay amid the spectacular views along the beautiful Sonoma Coast. Anglers can catch several species including surf perch, rockfish, Pacific mackerel and anchovy right from the beach or at the Bodega Bay Spud Point Marina Pier. But the best action can be found on a chartered fishing trip, provided by local businesses like Bodega Bay Fishing, Miss Anita Fishing Charters and Bodega Bay Sport Fishing Center. Sonoma County is also a great destination for freshwater fishing, particularly for steelhead trout and salmon along the Russian River, with public access spots between Jenner near the river mouth and Cloverdale, north of Santa Rosa.

Clear Lake State Park
5300 Soda Bay Road
Kelseyville, CA  95451
(707) 279-2267

Covering more than 43,000 surface acres with a shore length of 100 miles, Clear Lake is the largest freshwater lake entirely in the state of California. Believed to be one of the oldest lakes in North America, this popular destination in Lake County was named last year's best lake for bass fishing from fishing organizations U.S. Bass and Western Bass and second best in the country from Bassmasters. Clear Lake State Park has a boat launch for day use and boat slips are available for registered campers. Other popular fishing spots around the lake include Redbud Park, Edgewater Resort and RV Park and H.V. Keeling County Park.


Lake Chabot
17600 Lake Chabot Road
Castro Valley, CA  94546
(888) 327-2757

The latest report from the East Bay Regional District shows trout fishing at Lake Chabot has been going very well. Limits of trout were reported all over the East Shore Trail from Indian Cove to Raccoon Point. The 315-acre lake is open for fishing throughout the year and is an ideal spot to take kids out on their first fishing trip. Fishing at Lake Chabot requires a current California Fishing License with stamps and a $5 East Bay Regional District Daily Fishing Access Permit for those aged 16 and older. Other types of fish stocked in Lake Chabot are channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill and sunfish. Swimming and water contact is not permitted due to the presence of blue green algae and children and pets must be closely supervised.


Pillar Point Harbor
1 Johnson Pier
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
(650) 726-4382

Located near the northern end of the "Half Moon", Pillar Point Harbor is a prime location along the California coast for commercial and sport fishing. With a favorable preseason report on salmon from the Pacific Fishery Management Council, Half Moon Bay is expected to be one of the prime fishing locations along the California coast when the season opened last week. Especially for the first two months. A number of charting fishing businesses operate from Johnson Pier and the among the best are Huli Cat Sport Fishing and Charter Boat, Queen of Hearts, Half Moon Bay Sportfishing and The New Captain Pete. Visitors can also fish on the pier where no license is required and along the jetty.


Santa Cruz Harbor
135 5th Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(831) 475-3279

Known as the gateway to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the Santa Cruz Harbor is one of the best spots in the Monterey Bay for salmon fishing.The harbor is located a few miles south of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the Santa Cruz Wharf. The harbor has an RV park, boat slip, private fishing charters and a DIY facility for boat owners or registered independent contractors to perform repairs and maintenance. Recommendations for fishing charters are Santa Cruz Charters, Reel Sport Fishing and Stagnaro Sport Fishing. The Santa Cruz Wharf is also a very popular spot for fishing right off the pier without a fishing license. Boat rentals and fishing gear are also available.

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on


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