San Diego Fishing: Best Fishing Lakes in San Diego

Are you planning a San Diego fishing trip? You are in for a treat! San Diego ranks second among America’s cities with the biggest sportfishing fleets. Plus, you can catch fish, including dorado, yellowtail, bluefin tuna, halibut, bass, catfish, and rainbow trout. 

So, prepare your passport and pack your favorite fishing reel, bait or tackle, and some snacks. These best San Diego fishing lakes are great for a full-day trip or a half-day fishing adventure. 

Already visited these lakes? There are many San Diego fishing charters that can take you out on an exciting offshore fishing experience around the San Diego Bay, Coronado Islands, Mission Bay, and other nearby areas. 

1. Lake Miramar

One of the best fishing lakes in San Diego is Lake Miramar. It sits in the Scripps Ranch community, adjacent to Miramar Water Treatment Plant. 

The reservoir’s water comes from the California Aqueduct and Colorado River Watercourse. It has 162 surface acres and 6,682.4-acre feet of water storage capacity. Lake Miramar has a maximum water depth of 114 and four coastline miles. 

It is also the perfect spot for beginners because the lake is stocked with trout, largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, and bluegill fish. 

Lake Miramar is open from sunrise to sunset except on the first Tuesday of every month. 

A fishing permit for adults costs $8, $4 for seniors, $7 for a boat launch, and $2.5 for youths.

2. Lower Otay Lake

Lower Otay Lake is part of the 1897-built dam officially linked to San Diego’s Water System in 1906. 

The reservoir with 7,066.9 acre-feet water storage capacity sits on a 4.452 kmĀ² land surface and has 1,100 surface acres. Its maximum water depth is 137.5 feet, while the shoreline is 25 miles. 

Unlike Lake Miramar, you can only have a San Diego fishing trip at Lower Otay Lake on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. 

This San Diego fishing destination stocks white catfish, bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass, blue catfish, and bullhead. 

3. Sweetwater Reservoir

Sweetwater Reservoir is one of the best state-owned fishing lakes in San Diego. The 960-acre San Diego Lake is part of the Sweetwater dam found along the Sweetwater River. 

The dam construction ended in 1888 and has been under the management of the Sweetwater Water Authority. 

Fish available in this reservoir include carp, largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, and crappie.

If you plan to visit Sweetwater Reservoir, fishing is only limited to its 2.5-mile shoreline. You’ll also need a fishing permit, which costs $5 per angler. 

The lake is open from Friday to Monday from 7 am to 4 pm between February and October. For months between March and September, the lake is open at 7 am and closed at 5 pm. 

4. Lindo Lake

Lindo Lake, a natural lake, is 20 miles northeast of San Diego. 

The 54.5-acre lake is open every day from 9.30 am to sunset. Anglers can find bluegill, bass, channel catfish, and touts while fishing along its 1.5-mile trail. Fishing in this natural lake is free, and no limitations on who can fish in the lake.

5. El Capitan Reservoir

El Capitan Reservoir is part of the 237-foot El Capitan Dam formed on the San Diego River. It has a water holding capacity of 112,800 acre-feet. Out of its 22-mile shoreline, only 4 miles are accessible to hikers and anglers.  

You can try reeling in largemouth bass, green sunfish, blue catfish, channel catfish, crappie, or carp from the bank or on a boat. 

6. Lake Hodges

Lake Hodges is also among the best fishing lakes in San Diego. Its shoreline is 27 miles, and the water depth is 115 feet. It’s open on Sundays and Wednesdays, 30 minutes to sunrise, and closes at sunset. 

Fish available in this lake are carp, largemouth bass, channel catfish, bullhead, crappie, and bluegill.

7. Lake Calavera

This artificial lake, constructed in 1940, is part of Lake Calavera Preserve’s 256-acre surface. The lake has 3624 acres of surface area and a maximum water depth of 45 feet. 

Lake Calavera opens every day from March 15th to September 15th from 6 am to 10 pm. The fish available in this lake include green sunfish, largemouth bass, and bluegill. 

8. Santee Lakes

The Santee Lakes sits on 190 acres of Lakeside Park. 

This San Diego fishing spot is open all year round, except for Christmas and Thanksgiving. You can start fishing from 9.00 am to 6.30 pm. Some fish you can catch are bass, bluegill, catfish, and rainbow trout. 

There are seven lakes at this location. However, only lakes one to five are for fishing. The other two lakes are ideal for camping, only open to registered guests.

9. Lake Murray

Lake Murray is a small artificial reservoir close to Mission Trails Regional Park.

It’s open daily for shore and private charter fishing from 5:30 am to sunset. Don’t forget your California fishing license. You’ll also need to pay an $11 fishing fee. Lake Murray has fish such as trout, largemouth bass, black crappie, channel catfish, and bluegill.

10. Lake Cuyamaca

If you love trout fishing, Lake Cuyamaca is the place for you. 

This 45-hectare artificial reservoir is excellent for year-round trout fishing, thanks to the lake’s low temperatures. They also have other fish species, including white crappie, sturgeon, bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. Since this lake have low temperatures, 

Anglers can start their angling activities as early as 6.00 am but must leave before sunset. You’ll also need to pay a $10 fishing permit fee. 

11. Lake Henshaw

Lake Henshaw is a San Diego city-managed reservoir constructed in 1923 following the construction of the Henshaw dam.

Located southeast of Palomar Mountain, this artificial lake covers a surface area of 460 hectares and holds water equaling 55,000 acre-feet. 

It’s a good fishing destination if you love reeling in carp and catfish anglers. Also stocked in this lake are bluegill, trout, and crappie.

12. Lake Jennings

Helix Water District owns Lake Jennings, a drinking water reservoir.  

This San Diego fishing spot boasts scenic views and rich marine life. As a matter of fact, Helix Water District stocks the lake with almost 30,000 pounds of fish annually. You can catch rainbow trout and catfish. 

Unlike other lakes, this spot is open all year round, seven days a week!

Daily shore fishing is available for expert and beginner anglers. If you want to try night fishing, drop by during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. 

13. Lake Morena

Lake Morena is a 50,694 acre-feet reservoir that produces over 17 pounds of largemouth bass. Don’t worry, though. Lake Morena is also home to various other fish species, including crappie, catfish, and bluegill. 

In addition to its fish diversity, Lake Morena also has 86 campsites. Lake Morena is open daily, from sunrise to sunset. 

14. Dixon Lake

Dixon Lake is a San Diego fishing and picnic destination found in Escondido. It’s open for fishing and other camping activities from 6:00 am. 

This location is well-known for its warm water fish species, including bass and catfish. If you are heading to Dixon Lake during winter, you can also find rainbow trout. 

Although a fishing license is not required, you’ll need to pay $9 for a fishing permit. 

15. Lake Poway

Lake Poway is Poway city-owned lake that offers a variety of recreational activities, including fishing and camping. 

Fish active in this lake include bluegill, trout, sunfish, bass, and catfish. However, there is a daily catch limit. For instance, if you are bass fishing, you can only catch a maximum of five bass fish, with a minimum of 12 inches per fish. 

Like other fishing lakes in San Diego, a fishing permit is required. Permit price ranges from $4 to $7. 

16. San Vicente Reservoir

San Vicente Reservoir is part of the San Vicente Dam, located 6.9 kilometers north of the lakeside California State. 

Fun fact: San Vicente Reservoir is the biggest San Diego country reservoir and the second largest in El Capitan. 

Like other San Diego fishing lakes, warm water species like bass and catfish are predominant. Plan ahead if you want to visit San Vicente Reservoir for your next fishing trip. This reservoir is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

17. Sutherland Reservoir

Sutherland Reservoir is located 45 miles from San Diego downtown on its northeast side.

It’s widely known for its swimming beach, quality fishing, and power boating. The fish at this San Diego fishing dam include but are not limited to yellow perch, channel catfish, smallmouth bass, walleye, wipers, and freshwater drum. 

This fishing location in San Diego is only open from March to September, from Friday to Sunday. You will also need to pay $11 for a fishing permit.