Where to Fish in Southern California: Santa Ana River Lakes

If you are looking for somewhere close to Los Angeles and Orange County to fish, then Santa Ana River Lakes may be your answer. Located in Anaheim where the 91 and 55 freeways meet, this heavily stocked but not attractive lake awaits. Loaded with tons of catfish in the summer and loads of trout in the winter, the fishing can be quite good. This is not a pretty body of water, more like a muddy pond really, but it is close and is always full of fish. On weekends in the summer they even allow overnight fishing. Maybe you don’t have much time but want to catch one or bring young kids ? Try the Huckleberry pond. They charge by the pound so don’t catch too many.


4060 La Palma Ave.

Anaheim, CA



The warm summer months mean one thing here, and that is big catfish. Even the small ones are big. It doesn’t take much to catch them, just some stinky bait. Recently they have been biting only a few feet from shore on fresh shrimp, the uncooked kind with the shell still on. Simply peel off the shell, bait the hook and toss out 10 feet or so. No weight needed, just leave a little slack and let the fish take the bait a couple of seconds. Then BAM, set the hook. Cut pieces of makerel work too as well as good old nightcrawlers. Of course catfish tend to be nocturnal feeders so plan an evening trip if you can. Enjoy the warm summer nights lakeside catching some nice whiskerfish. Night fishing sessions are from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and overnight 24-hour sessions are available Friday and Saturday.  The best catfish spots are the Bubble Hole, Sandy Beach and the Pump House. A minimum of 6 lb test line to a recommended 10 lb test fished from a medium heavy spinning combo is what you will want to fish with. Bring a comfortable chair and pole holders. If you are fishing during the day I suggest some sort of shade like an EZ-UP.


Recently the staff has been stocking tilapia, a delicious tasting pan fish. These are nice sized and easy to catch if they can be located. Half of a nightcrawler or a meal worm fished from a bobber works best. An inflated worm is a good choice on warm days when fishing on the bottom is necessary. Again, the evening bite seems to work best. These are fine eating fish. Just fillet them up and make some great fish tacos.


From November to April trout is the name of the game at Santa Ana River Lakes, and big trout. Many near or over 20 lbs are caught almost weekly. Heavy stockings every Thursday ensure the lakes are filled with trout. Try all the usual trout baits like worms, salmon eggs and of course Powerbait. Get there early as few bites come after 11:00 a.m. . The best spots are the Bubble Hole, La Palma Point and Johnny’s Spot. Use light line,2-4 lb test, and ultra light gear. A secret bait is #20 treble hook with a mealworm and Powerbait, I like rainbow glitter garlic. Pinch a small 1/32 oz splitshot 6 inches from bait. Use an indicator bobber to let you know when there is a bite. Simply put, this rig is a bobber with a snap swivel attached to your line below the  first eyelet. The bow in the line gives the trout enough slack to get hooked while the moving bobber alerts you to the bite. I highly recommend using a scent attractant like Berkley Trout Dip in garlic to attract fish to your baits. Bring a comfortable chair, stringer and cooler for a relaxing day on the water without the long drive.

See our trout fishing gear list here. 

While not the most beautiful place to fish, a great time can be had when the fish are biting without giving up the whole weekend. The heavy stocking program ensures the chance to catch a whopper 52 weeks a year. Give it a shot. These fish are not going to catch themselves! 

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” If people concentrated on the really important things in life there would be a shortage of fishing poles.”

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