The Ultimate Guide to Big Bear Fishing Spots

big bear fishing spots

Step into the renowned fishing haven of Big Bear Lake! Tucked away amidst the stunning San Bernardino Mountains, this charming destination isn’t merely revered for its skiing and hiking opportunities; it’s also a sanctuary for fishing enthusiasts. Within this detailed handbook, we’ll escort you to the premier fishing locations in and around Big Bear Lake, impart knowledge on the distinct fish species inhabiting the region, and offer advice straight from local aficionados. Whether you’re a novice eager to cast your initial line or a seasoned expert in pursuit of trophy catches, this comprehensive fishing guide is your ultimate companion for maximizing the thrill of angling in Big Bear.

Understanding Big Bear Lake Fishing: A Primer

Before you start planning your fishing escapade, it’s crucial to understand the conditions and regulations you’ll be encountering. Big Bear Lake, at an elevation of over 6,700 feet, offers a semi-alpine climate that varies dramatically throughout the year. The lake sits within the captivating San Bernardino National Forest, which means fishing here comes with a responsibility to respect the natural environment. This segment of the guide will provide you with the fundamental information you need to begin your angling expedition.

The Weather and Best Times to Fish

Big Bear Lake experiences a variety of weather conditions, from warm and sunny summers to cold, snowy winters. The ideal fishing season stretches from late April through mid-November, with the most favorable times being early morning and late afternoon. During the summer months, the lake’s temperature stratifies, meaning you’ll need to adjust your fishing depth accordingly.

Rules and Regulations

To fish legally at Big Bear Lake, you’ll need a valid California fishing license, which can be purchased online or at local sporting goods stores. Specialized permits may also be required for certain areas or types of fishing, such as trout or kayak fishing. Be sure to review the current California fishing regulations for up-to-date information before your trip.

Fishing Guides and Charters

For those new to the area or to fishing, the value of local expertise cannot be overstated. Fishing guides and charters, who are intimately familiar with Big Bear Lake, can teach you the ins and outs of the fishing scene and help you land the big one. We’ll explore the most reputable services operating in the region and the best ways to book a trip with them.

Top Big Bear Fishing Spots: Where to Cast Your Line

Big Bear Lake is home to an assortment of stunning locations, each offering its own unique angling advantages. Learn about the most beloved fishing spots, and decide which is the perfect match for your preferences and skill level.

Mallard Lagoon

Mallard Lagoon boasts serene surroundings and is a top destination for those seeking their first fishing experience. The lagoon is stocked with rainbow trout during the peak season, providing ample opportunities for a successful catch.  The lagoon provides a great pportunity to ease into the world of fishing without the pressure of a competitive angling environment.

Boulder Bay

Boulder Bay is known for its picturesque rock formations and tranquil waters. Here, you can fish from the shore or rent a boat to access deeper waters. The bay is a favorite among fly fishermen due to its clear, shallow flats, and it’s an excellent location for catching trout, bass, and catfish.

Pleasure Point Marina

Located in Fawnskin, Pleasure Point Marina is a full-service marina with a tackle shop, boat rentals, and a public fishing dock. The marina’s convenience and prime position on the lake make it a popular hub for fishermen, offering good chances to reel in rainbow trout, bass, and carp.

Stanfield Cutoff

Stanfield Cutoff is a deeper area of the lake, ideal for those seeking out larger game fish such as bass. Shore fishing here is productive, but many anglers opt for the use of a kayak or canoe to reach the optimal spots. This is also a preferred location for those targeting catfish at night.

Targeting Big Bear’s Fish Species

Big Bear Lake is teeming with a variety of fish species, each presenting its own set of challenges and techniques. We’ll take a closer look at the most prevalent fish you’re likely to encounter on your angling expedition.

Rainbow Trout

A prized catch in Big Bear, rainbow trout are regularly stocked in high numbers and can reach considerable sizes. These fish are favorites among anglers due to their remarkable fighting prowess.


The lake is home to both largemouth and smallmouth bass, offering a thrilling chase for these popular game fish. Bass can be found in shallow waters around the lake’s edges, particularly during spawning seasons.


Big Bear Lake’s catfish can grow to impressive sizes, and whether you’re fishing from the shore or a boat, these opportunistic feeders can provide an exciting night of angling.


Often overlooked but plentiful in the lake, the carp is a hardy and robust species that can be found in the shallow bays and coves of Big Bear Lake.

Enhancing Your Big Bear Fishing Experience

A man fishing in a river with a fly rod, enjoying the tranquility of nature and the thrill of angling.

Now that you’re familiar with the essentials of fishing at Big Bear Lake, it’s time to elevate your adventure. We’ll reveal expert tips on gear selection, bait and tackle choices, and even successful fishing methods you can apply to any of the spots we’ve mentioned.

Gear Essentials

The type and quality of your fishing gear can significantly impact your success on the water. We provide a detailed breakdown of the must-have gear for your Big Bear fishing trip, including fishing rods, reels, lines, and other essential equipment.

Bait and Tackle Tactics

Understanding the diverse palette of Big Bear fish can help you choose the most effective bait and tackle. From artificial lures designed to mimic local prey to classic baits like nightcrawlers and powerbait, we cover a range of options tailored to different fish species.

Fishing Techniques

Tried and true fishing techniques can be the difference between landing your dream catch and coming home empty-handed. We highlight a selection of effective methods, including trolling, fly fishing, and still fishing, and offer advice on the best times and places to use them.

Planning for Big Bear’s Fishing Tournaments

For anglers who crave competition, Big Bear Lake’s fishing tournaments are a fantastic opportunity to test your skills against others. We’ll provide information on the most popular tournaments, their formats, and how to participate.

The Big Bear Lake Troutfest

This annual event features a fishing derby, a lucrative raffle, and a festive atmosphere that’s perfect for families and competitive anglers alike. Whether you’re vying for a prize or simply looking to enjoy the sport, the Troutfest is a highlight of the Big Bear fishing calendar.

Other Local Tournaments

In addition to the Troutfest, Big Bear Lake hosts a variety of other fishing competitions throughout the year. We break down the highlights of each tournament and offer advice on how you can join the action.

Wrapping Up Your Big Bear Fishing Excursion

As your fishing adventure in Big Bear comes to an end, there’s one last thing to take care of—cleaning your catch. Learn the best practices for fish cleaning, as well as local regulations and services that can assist you.

How to Clean Your Fish

Cleaning your fish is an essential step in preparing your catch for consumption. We share step-by-step instructions on how to fillet and debone your fish to ensure a tasty meal.

Local Services and Fish-Cleaning Stations

If you’re not keen on cleaning your own fish, Big Bear Lake offers convenient stations and services where you can have your catch processed with ease.

Sustainability and Ethical Fishing Practices

At the heart of every angler’s pursuit should lie a commitment to conservation and ethical fishing practices. We explore the importance of sustainable fishing and share tips on how you can enjoy angling in a responsible manner.

Leave No Trace

Practicing “leave no trace” principles will help preserve the beauty of Big Bear’s natural surroundings for future generations. We detail the steps you should take to ensure that your fishing outing has minimal impact on the local ecosystem.

Catch and Release

For those who wish to preserve the natural fish populations or simply enjoy the sport of fishing, catch and release is a valuable practice. Discover the proper techniques for safely releasing fish back into the water.

Conservation Organizations

Engaging with local conservation organizations can provide you with a deeper understanding of the environmental challenges facing Big Bear Lake. We’ll introduce you to the most prominent groups and explain how you can support their efforts.

Additional Sources for Your Big Bear Fishing Expedition

For those eager to enhance their fishing knowledge and stay abreast of the latest developments and conditions at Big Bear Lake, we’ve assembled a collection of supplementary resources. Ranging from online platforms and discussion forums to regional publications, these channels offer indispensable insights for anglers seeking to optimize their aquatic pursuits.

Big Bear Fishing Reports

Keeping abreast of current fishing reports significantly enhances your prospects for a fruitful outing on the lake. We’ll guide you towards the most reliable outlets for up-to-the-minute updates on fish behavior, weather forecasts, and recommended tactics.

Fishing Communities and Forums

Connecting with fellow anglers through online communities and forums can provide a wealth of knowledge and camaraderie. We’ll point you in the direction of the most active groups where you can share stories, tips, and advice.

5 Fascinating Facts About Big Bear Fishing Spots

  1. Historical Haven for Angling: Big Bear Lake has been a popular fishing destination since the early 1900s. Originally, it drew anglers from all over for its abundant trout population, and over the years, has become home to a diverse range of fish species.
  2. The Underwater Forest: Parts of Big Bear Lake are over a century old, with submerged tree stumps and forest remains creating a unique underwater landscape. This environment provides an excellent habitat for fish and a fascinating scene for anglers.
  3. Big Bear Lake’s Record Catches: The lake is known for record-breaking catches, including some of the largest rainbow trouts and carp caught in the area. Anglers come hoping to make their mark with a record-breaking catch of their own.
  4. Moon Phases Influence Fishing Success: Local anglers swear by the lunar calendar when planning their fishing trips to Big Bear Lake. Certain moon phases seem to increase fish activity, leading to more successful catches.
  5. A Year-Round Angler’s Escape: Unlike many other fishing locations that have a specific season, Big Bear Lake offers excellent fishing year-round. Winter months provide unique ice fishing opportunities, while the warmer seasons are perfect for boat and shore fishing.

Local Publications and Guides

In-depth publications and guides specific to Big Bear Lake’s fishing scene can offer a close-up look at the unique attributes of the area. We list the most respected resources that can serve as your go-to references.

By utilizing the information provided in this comprehensive guide, your next fishing trip to Big Bear Lake is bound to be an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re soaking up the tranquility of Mallard Lagoon, navigating the clear waters of Boulder Bay, or casting lines at Stanfield Cutoff, the thrill of the catch and the serenity of nature await you. Take a deep breath, cast your line, and immerse yourself in one of California’s most prized fishing destinations.

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