The State of California requires anglers to hold a valid fishing permit. If you are 16 or older, you need a license. Fishing licenses are available at most sporting goods stores and marinas.
There are restrictions: Generally the catch limit is 5 in the lakes and two in the streams. Anglers in the wild streams are encouraged to "catch and release." Some fishing also restricts the type of equipment you may use. A basic license is for using one rod at a time. For more detailed information on hunting and fishing in California, contact the California Department of Fish and Game at (916) 227-2245.
Big Bear Lake
Trout, Large and Small Mouth Bass, Crappie, Catfish and Carp - Famed for it's annual May Trout Classic that draws a full field of 400 anglers every year. Big Bear Lake is stocked regularly by the Department of Fish and Game with catchable sized rainbows and by the Fishing Association with fish up to 16 lbs. You can fish from the shore, bring your own boat, or rent one from one of the many marinas. Various colors of Power Bait, still fished or drifted, are always effective as well as trolled or cast C.D. Rapalas, Super Dupers, Needlefish and Flashers with 1/2 a 'crawler. While you can fish all year, (No Ice Fishing!) I always like Spring and Fall the best at this great high altitude lake.
Deep Creek and Bear Creek
Two of the premier wild trout streams in Southern California have benefited greatly from past winters snow and rain. After years of drought, both streams are up and running and should be producing some fine catches. While most Southern California streams hold trout in the six to ten inch class these two streams are notable exceptions. Their limited access and rugged terrain have a lot to do with it. You have to be a dedicated stream angler to fish them. Deep Creek has long been recognized by those in the know as a prime big trout stream. It has, by southern California's standards, a large population of browns and rainbows and some BIG fish. Above its confluence with Holcomb Creek there are mostly rainbow's, but further downstream lie some very large browns.
A few years back the Department of Fish & Game did an Electro-Shocking study on the stream and found areas like Devil's Hole to have browns 18"s and larger. Having lived and fished in the area for the past two decades I can attest to that fact. I still hear an occasional story of the "good old days" when 5 pounders (and larger) were caught in Deep Creek.
Further up the mountain is another good producer of wild brown trout. Running clear and cool below Big Bear dam, Bear Creek also supports a good population of rainbows and, some say, a few salmon. While I've never seen a salmon caught out of the stream, I know they exist in Big Bear Lake. So it is possible. Two trailheads east of Snow Valley Ski Resort provide good access to the stream below. While the fishing is good in the upper reaches of the stream, the further down you go the better it gets and the greater the ratio of browns to rainbows. One year, even before the runoff was complete, I met an angler down near the confluence with the Santa Ana that had caught and released a 19" brown along with a couple of nice 'bows. With the improved water situations and nicer weather it could be even better in the years to come. Effective gear for both of these streams is the same as you would use on any on any smaller Sierra waters. And, like any fragile stream, practicing catch and release, with barbless hooks (it's the law in the wild trout sections!) is the only way to insure a quality fishery for future generations. If you'd like to experience a great angling get away without driving hours on end. Consider the wild trout streams of the San Bernardino's.
Forest service maps are available for $2.00 from the Arrowhead Ranger Station for the Deep Creek area. Stop in their office on Hwy.18 near Arrowhead Villas Road or call (909) 382-2782. Maps for the Bear Creek area are available from the Big Bear Ranger station near Fawnskin. Call (909) 866-3233 for more information.
Green Valley Lake
Trout, Bass, Catfish and Bluegill - The lake has been heavily planted with trout from Fish and Game. Whitewater from several stockings are still showing. Besides the usual floating baits like Power Bait, Zeke's and Sierra Gold, fished on a light three-pound leader or a cast-a-bubble in the deep water, the Super Dupers, Kastmasters, Rapalas and Trout Teaser, lures are also catching them, especially early and late in the day.
Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Bass, Catfish, Crappie, Sunfish and Carp -Arrowhead Lake Association members and guests have the opportunity to catch a nice variety of fish year round. Trout fishing, for fish up to 12 pounds, is the most popular - trout are stocked throughout the season -- but bass and crappie fishing is gaining rapidly. Trout anglers are catching them on the above baits and lures with a cast-a-bubble, or "on the drop" method being one of the most productive during the day for the deep fish. Crappie fishing is good all over the lake on small jigs and baits for fish up to 15-inches, and carp anglers are doing very well with these hard fighting fish in the shallow water on dough balls, worms and even jigs. For details, call (909) 337-2595.
Please note that there is no public fishing - only ALA members and their guests are allowed to fish the lake, and boat launching is prohibited by any persons other than members of the Arrowhead Lake Association. Boat rentals are not available at Lake Arrowhead.
Trout, Bass, Catfish, Crappie, Carp and Bluegill -- The trout fishing usually very good with plenty of five-fish limits caught on Power Bait, (green and rainbow colors) Super Dupers (copper and gold), Kastmasters (gold and silver) and Rooster Tails (all colors). Trolling from rental boats ($20 for half day, $40 all day) is very productive, especially if you bring or rent an electric motor, as well as float tubing ($5 a day) and shore fishing (free) almost all around the lake from dawn to dusk. For boat rental or other information, please call (909) 338-2233.
There's an annual Free Youth Fishing Derby every June for kids under sixteen and a big tagged fish Fishing Derby that happens four times a year with a $2,000 top prize! There's also $1,000, $500, $200, two - $100 and five $50 prizes and lots of other nice prizes (hundreds in all!) to be won. It only costs $10 to enter at the boathouse and it's well worth-it. Historically, most of the tagged fish are caught during the derby! Don't miss out!
Silverwood Lake State Recreational Area
Known for its huge striped bass, plentiful crappie, catfish, largemouth bass and trout. (the trout are stocked during the cooler months in Silverwood's streams) this lake has something for everyone. Popular lures for the stripers and largemouths are the big Rapalas, Z-Plugs, and shad imitators like the Shad Rap, fished on heavier tackle. And remember to use a good attractant, like the new Poer Bait jelly, on these and all lures to mask human scents and get more strikes. Baits for stripers and cats include mackerel, anchovies and nightcrawlers. If you have the right sized net, you can also use live shad which can be caught right out of the lake.
You can float tube, rent a fishing boat and motor, or just fish from shore. Park entrance fees are $6 per car, and $5 to launch your boat. Bait, tackle, food, drinks and more are available at the marina store.