Trout Hotspots: California's Best Trout Streams for 2024

Trout Hotspots: California's Best Trout Streams for 2024CALIFORNIA - with its diverse landscapes – from towering Sierra Nevada mountains to coastal foothills – might not be the first place that comes to mind for trout fishing. Yet, the state harbors some incredible trout waters awaiting avid anglers. Let's dive into the best places to cast your line in the 2024 season.

Coastal Surprise: Trout Streams by the Sea
California's Best Trout Streams for 2024

Golden Trout Treasures in California

Sierra Nevada Classics

  • Owens River (Mono and Inyo Counties): The Owens River offers diverse sections catering to multiple angling styles. Target trophy brown trout in its lower tailwater sections, or head upstream for challenging wild rainbows and browns in a stunning setting.
  • McCloud River (Siskiyou County): This spring-fed river boasts exceptional water clarity and prolific hatches, creating a haven for sight-fishing enthusiasts. McCloud's wild rainbow trout are known to be selective and hard-fighting.
  • Hot Creek (Mono County): Hot Creek's geothermal activity creates unique year-round fishing opportunities with larger-than-average browns and rainbows. Its technical water will challenge even experienced anglers.

Coastal Surprise: Trout Streams by the Sea

  • San Lorenzo River (Santa Cruz County): Steelhead are the main draw in the San Lorenzo, but its resident rainbow trout population provides action even outside the main runs. Enjoy coastal redwood scenery while pursuing these tenacious fish.
  • Scott Creek (Santa Cruz County): This coastal stream might be small, but it offers exciting steelhead runs and the potential to catch both rainbows and steelhead in the same day.
  • Mattole River (Humboldt County): Nestled amongst coastal forests, the Mattole provides a stunning setting to target both steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout. Its remote location adds to the allure.

Golden Trout Treasures

  • Golden Trout Creek (Tulare County): This namesake creek is a must-visit for any dedicated trout angler. Hike into the high Sierra to pursue the rare and beautiful California Golden Trout in its native habitat.
  • Kern River (Tulare and Kern Counties): The Kern River's upper reaches hold vibrant populations of California Golden Trout. Combine the thrill of the catch with breathtaking mountain scenery.
  • Cottonwood Lakes Basin (Inyo County): While these pristine high-country lakes require effort to reach, the reward is plentiful wild Golden Trout set against a dramatic Sierra backdrop.

Important Reminders:

  • Regulations: California trout regulations are complex. Consult the California Department of Fish and Wildlife ( for detailed rules, licensing, and season dates.
  • Wildfire Impacts: Recent wildfires have impacted some California watersheds. Check conditions before venturing out, as stream access and fish populations might be affected.
  • Golden Trout Rules: California Golden Trout have specific regulations aimed at their protection. Know the rules and practice ethical catch-and-release when targeting these special fish.

The California Trout Experience

Trout fishing in California often means unique opportunities and diverse landscapes. From pursuing rare Golden Trout in alpine lakes to battling ocean-run steelhead near coastal forests, the Golden State delivers unforgettable experiences for the adventurous angler.