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Fishing Guide for Palm Springs and the California Desert

Things to do / Travel Guide

Believe it or not, even in the arid California Desert region, there are some surprising opportunities to go fishing. Your best bet is to check out the Salton Sea Recreation Area, which has five campgrounds offering easy access to the salty waters of California's largest lake, the Salton Sea. Moreover, there are plenty of fish waiting to be caught in Big Bear Lake, while the northern areas of the region also have some streams into which you can cast your line in the hopes of reeling in a big one.

Fishing in the Salton Sea Recreation Area

The Salton Sea Recreation Area's headquarters, at Varner Harbor, features a fishing jetty where fish are easily caught. Large catches of the ubiquitous Tilapia, a fish that closely resembles a perch, can be expected on any day spent fishing these waters. You can also catch other varities of saltwater fish, including corvina, sargo, and croaker. Other highlights of the area include Salt Creek Beach Campground, where one can see endangered pupfish, and Bombay Beach Campground, where a record-breaking 37-pound fish was caught in the mid-1980s (the normal catch in this area ranges from five to eight pounds). The recreation area covers the area adjacent to the shores of the lake, from North Shore to Bombay Beach in the south. While fishing is best from June-September, those who prefer cooler temperatures are better off fishing in the area during the more pleasant fall and winter months - plenty of fish bite then, too!

Fishing in Big Bear Lake

Beautiful Big Bear Lake is heaven to anglers, and home to abundant stocks of catfish, trout, and bass. A number of fishing charter companies dot the shores of the lake, and offer a wide array of fishing opportunities. As you drive along the coves and bays of the lake, you won't be disappointed by the wide selection of charter companies, as well as boat rental companies at the marinas where, with your tackle box in hand, you can set out to catch some lunch or dinner.
The lake's launch ramps are generally open from April until the beginning of December.

Fishing in the northern California Desert

In the northern reaches of the region, Lone Pine is a great jumping off spot for anglers looking to fish in the shadow of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states (at 14,505 feet). The area's streams are regularly stocked by the California Department of Fish and Game and the trout season runs longer than any other in the state, starting on the first Saturday in March. Rainbow, brown, and golden trout are plentiful in these mountain waters. One enjoyable fishing option is to backpack into the nearby Golden Trout Wilderness Area, where more than enough catch-and-release trout fishing can be found in its streams. Independence Creek and Symmes Creek campgrounds, also in the area, are particularly known for featuring great fly fishing.