Fishing may take a back seat to sipping wine in the Napa Region, but nothing takes a back seat to fishing when it comes to Napa County’s incredible fishing spot, Lake Berryessa.
Besides big Berryessa, there are a few lesser-known fishing spots that locals and a few visitors in the know like to fish a little more quietly. We’ll tell you about all of them in this article.
In addition to Napa itself, these angling spots are close to home if you live in American Canyon, St. Helena, Calistoga, Angwin, Yountville, and other parts of Napa County.
Some of the other attractions besides fishing and the world-famous vineyards and tasting rooms are Skyline Wilderness Park, Mount Saint Helena, and Old Faithful Geyser of California.
What follows are a handful of fishing waters you simply must go to in Napa County, along with more resources where available.
After checking out the fishing spots, I’d encourage you to scan through the “Fishing in Neighboring Counties” section at the bottom of this article. That section will lead you to even more great fishing spots in nearby areas.
This giant reservoir in the Vaca Mountains of Napa County is one of the great multi-species fisheries in all of California.
With about 13,000 surface acres when full, there’s a lot of room and a lot of fish.
For cold-water aficionados, Lake Berryessa can be good for trout as well as one of the best places in California to catch two types of landlocked salmon: kokanee (sockeye salmon) and kings (Chinook salmon).
Both the salmon species and trout are planted here as juveniles, although the rainbows also are supplemented with an early season planting of catchable rainbows.
Note that this big spot is close to the Bay Area and thus can be a playground for all sorts of water-loving folks. Summer weekends can be particularly busy.
We have a ton of information on this great fishing destination in our full article.
More: Lake Berryessa Fishing
Lake Hennessey is a decent-sized reservoir of about 850 acres, though it looks tiny on the map sitting west of giant Lake Berryessa.
More of a go-to spot for locals than the regionally popular Berryessa, and often called “Conn Dam” by those locals, they come here in the spring to take advantage of freshly (and not-to-bright) stocked rainbow trout and just about anytime that the bass and panfish will be biting.
Take note that there’s a 10hp maximum for outboard motors. Also, you can’t fish from the boat dock.
Camping and fires are not allowed at the lake, but it’s a nice place to lay out a picnic and cast out a line.
See the Lake Hennessy webpage for more information.
The lower river is most popularly fished for striped bass, which push up from San Pablo Bay. The fall season can be quite good for bigger fish in the lower river sections, while summer fishing can provide some good action but for generally smaller stripers.
In the winter, some big white sturgeon are caught here at times when they swim up from the bay.
Catfish fishing also can be fair to good in the river in spots, and starry flounder reportedly swim in from the bay and reach as far upstream as the city of Napa.
There is a small winter steelhead run into the river as well.
The tributaries and upper river are closed to all fishing. Pay close attention to the rules for highly regulated species such as steelhead and sturgeon before fishing anywhere.
This stream has several different characters.
Part of the stream can be fair and occasionally very good for trout, although this fishery is largely below the dam (which sits right on the county line) down into neighboring Yolo County to the vicinity of Lake Solano.
The creek in the past had been stocked but today is managed for wild trout, which includes mostly native rainbows with a smattering of brown trout.
While warm-weather fishing is popular, the biggest trout tend to come in the fall.
Fishing in Neighboring Counties
Lake County: To the northwest, Lake County is most famous among anglers for Clear Lake, simply one of the best bass and warm-water fishing holes on earth.
Yolo and Sacramento Counties: To the northeast, Yolo County has access to Putah Creek wild trout fishing, and we’ve paired that area with all of the fantastic fishing spots a little farther away in Sacramento County.
Solano County: To the east, the Vallejo area sits near San Pablo and Suisun bays, offering closeby fishing for striped bass, sturgeon, and salmon, plus even more options up into the lower Sacramento River and Delta areas.
Sonoma County: To the west, this Wine Country neighbor has some outstanding fishing in the Russian River, Lake Sonoma, and Bodega Bay.