Top Lakes for Fishing in San Diego County

Lake Cuyamaca
Chris Palmer/Flickr/CC

San Diego has a rich fishing culture and was once known for its thriving tuna fleet. Although many tourists now associate San Diego with deep sea fishing on the Atlantic Ocean, San Diego County has a freshwater system of lakes that's ideal for all anglers.

If you're looking for a place where you can spend a pleasant day on the water, these lakes offer a variety of opportunities to catch all types of fish. While trout can be snagged during the right time, largemouth bass is king in San Diego, and no matter what kind of fish you want to catch, you don't have to go too far from the city to find them.

01 of 10

Lake Cuyamaca

Lake Cuyamaca

Jon Peverall/Getty Images 

Address
Lake Cuyamaca, California 92036, USA

San Diego's only true "mountain lake," Lake Cuyamaca is a great destination for its scenic setting alone. Nestled in the Cuyamaca Mountains, this small 110-acre lake sits at 4,620 feet above sea level, making it the ideal spot for trout fishing. 

Boats are allowed on the lake, but there is also good shoreline fishing, making this a great destination if you want to fly fish from the shore. Campgrounds are available onsite as well, so you can even spend the night if you want to get in a whole day of fishing.

Fish in Lake Cuyamaca

  • Rainbow trout
  • Sturgeon
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Crappie
  • Bluegill
02 of 10

Dixon Lake

Address
Dixon Lake, Escondido, CA 92027, USA

Dixon Lake, located northeast of Escondido, has made news in recent years for a record-setting 25.1-pound largemouth bass that was caught (and released) from its waters. This small lake has since become known for the larger-than-average bass that call the lake home.

However, there a wide variety of fish is also stocked in Dixon Lake throughout the year, including rainbow trout in the winter. While not immediately next to the lake, campgrounds can be found nearby. Additionally, private boats and float tubes are not allowed, so you'll have to do all of your fishing from the shoreline.

Fish in Dixon Lake

  • Largemouth bass
  • Rainbow trout
  • Catfish
  • Panfish
03 of 10

Lower Otay Reservoir

Address
Lower Otay Reservoir, California 91915, USA

Located east of the booming Chula Vista subdivisions, the Lower Otay Reservoir is best known as San Diego's bass master tournament lake. This is the lake where the hardcore bass fishermen go, and you'll generally find it rich in quality bass fishing as well as some very underrated catfishing. 

Private boats, kayaks, float tubes, and canoes are allowed on the reservoir but entail fees to launch. Largemouth bass and blue catfish are the main varieties of fish found here; bass caught here are often over 18 pounds, and the catfish here are often over 100 pounds.

Fish in Lower Otay Lake

  • Crappie
  • Catfish
  • Bullhead Carp
  • Largemouth bass
  • Sunfish
04 of 10

Lake Jennings

Address
Lake Jennings, Lakeside, CA 92040, USA

This 85-acre lake between El Cajon and Lakeside has a huge reputation for giant-sized catfish. Lake Jennings is also home to a variety of larger-than-average rainbow trout, and every year there are reports of catfish being caught in the 12 to 15-pound range.

Shore fishing along Lake Jennings is typically very good, and there is an adjacent campground where you can stay overnight any time throughout the year. However, Lake Jennings is only open for fishing and boating on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. 

Fish in Lake Jennings

  • Blue catfish
  • Rainbow trout
  • Largemouth bass
  • Bluegill
  • Wiper
Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Lake Miramar

Address
Lake Miramar, San Diego, CA 92131, USA

For an urban lake, Lake Miramar has some heavy urban legends. This is where a 21-pound bass was discovered to have a lead diving weight in its stomach, and an angler once tried to pass off a dead 20-pound bass as a record-breaking catch here.

Located in the Scripps Ranch area, Lake Miramar is a popular recreation lake, with bicycling, jogging, and rollerblading popular around the perimeter. Picnic facilities are available, but there is no camping on-site.

Fish in Lake Miramar

  • Crappie
  • Blue catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Bullhead
  • Carp
  • Channel catfish
  • Largemouth bass
  • Rainbow trout
  • Redear sunfish
06 of 10

Lake Morena

Address
Lake Morena, California 91906, USA

Lake Morena is probably considered the most remote of San Diego's fishing lakes, as it's located at an elevation of 3,000 feet and found in the Laguna foothills.

For campers, Lake Morena is heaven, with two excellent campgrounds that offer both convenient and primitive camping. The fishing's pretty darn good, too. Lake Morena is typically stocked with catfish, largemouth bass, and crappie, but it's especially good for rainbow trout in the winter.

Fish in Lake Morena

  • Black crappie
  • Blue catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Largemouth bass
  • Rainbow trout​
07 of 10

Lake Murray

Address
Lake Murray, San Diego, CA, USA

If you were to list all the desirables for a recreational suburban lake, then Lake Murray delivers in spades. Located smack dab in the middle of San Diego's San Carlos neighborhood, Lake Murray is extremely popular for picnics, joggers, bicyclists, and rollerbladers—and the fishing is a killer for big bass.

Lake Murray is also routinely stocked with rainbow trout, which is the main fish of the lake, and you can rent motor boats, rowboats, and paddleboats to fish from or take out your own canoe or float tube instead.​

Fish in Lake Murray

  • Black crappie
  • Blue catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Bullhead
  • Carp
  • Channel catfish
  • Largemouth bass
  • Rainbow trout
  • Redear sunfish
  • Striped bass
08 of 10

San Vicente Reservoir

Address
San Vicente Reservoir, California, USA

San Vicente is one of the largest lakes in the country—at nearly 1,100 acres and 14 miles of shoreline—and it's also known for its record-breaking catches, including a 101-pound blue catfish caught here in 2000.

San Vicente often hosts bass tournaments and is a popular water recreation lake; it is also the only freshwater lake allowing water-skiing, wakeboarding, or towing inflatables. For fishing, this is a lake for bass and catfish, along with some big bluegill and crappie.

Fish in San Vicente Reservoir

  • Largemouth bass
  • Black crappie
  • Redear and green sunfish
  • Bluegill
  • Bullhead
  • Channel, white, and blue catfish
Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Chollas Lake

Address
5850 College Grove Dr, San Diego, CA 92115, USA
Phone
+1 619-527-7683

This tiny (16-acre) lake is an urban oasis in the Oak Park area of East San Diego (near College Grove). What makes this park unique is that fishing is allowed ONLY for kids under 15 years. Additionally, free fishing clinics are conducted and day camps for kids are offered here throughout the year.

Shaded by stands of eucalyptus trees, the park is popular for picnics and walking along the dirt path perimeter. Basketball courts and playgrounds are also available, and the resident geese are great entertainment.

Fish in Chollas Lake

  • Bluegill
  • Largemouth bass
  • Catfish
  • Rainbow trout
10 of 10

Santee Lakes

Address
9310 Fanita Pkwy, Santee, CA 92071, USA
Phone
+1 619-596-3141

What makes Santee Lakes unique is that this chain of seven small lakes was created using reclaimed water. Located in the middle of Santee, the lakes have become a popular recreation area, with picnic and camping facilities available on-site.

Unlike at all the other lakes, a California Fishing License is not required (though you must pay a daily fee) in order to fish in Santee Lakes. Although the recreation is the main draw to these lakes, each one has its own fishing specialty and is stocked throughout the year with a variety of fish.

Fish in Santee Lakes

  • Rainbow trout
  • Channel and blue catfish
  • Largemouth bass (catch and release only)
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
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The Best Lakes for Fishing in San Diego