5 Favorite Fishing Spots Near Irvine

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Looking for somewhere to go fishing close to Irvine but not sure where to try?

This article suggests four lakes where you and your group are most likely to catch trout, catfish and other species, especially if you time your trip well.

We also include a stream that occasionally acts almost like a mountain trout stream in wilder and more mountainous parts of California but is only a short drive away.

All five of our selections tend to be stocked regularly with rainbow trout or channel catfish, depending on the time of year. Those plantings help ensure that there often are catchable fish on the other end of your fishing line.

After we show you the spots, be sure to see additional resources below that will point you to even more fishing spots in Orange County and neighboring areas, as well as links to some of our more popular fishing guides that will show you simple ways to catch the most popular types of freshwater gamefish in Southern California.

Irvine Lake

Orange County’s largest lake (over 700 acres) is a regional favorite when it comes to fishing.

Most anglers make the 20-minute drive from Irvine into Santiago Canyon looking for trout stocked in the colder months and catfish when the weather warms up a bit, but the lake also has bass, crappie and other sport fish.

The lake is only open on certain days and has a raft of rules to follow, although needing a fishing license isn’t one of them.

Check out our full guide to Irvine Lake fishing for tips and other information.

Irvine Regional Park Lake

The lake is small but offers some very good fishing when it’s freshly stocked with trout or catfish.

Trout stocking generally occurs in the late fall and into winter, when the water is at its coldest so the trout can survive long enough to be caught.

Channel catfish like warmer weather and might be stocked here a couple of times in the spring or summer.

Irvine Regional Park is much larger than its lake and offers a variety of outdoor adventures. 

The park website is a good place to begin your planning.

Laguna Niguel Regional Park Lake

The lake, also known as Sulphur Creek Reservoir, is one of the more popular fishing spots in Orange County.

Laguna Niguel Regional Park is about 25 minutes or so southeast of Irvine if the traffic isn’t bad.

A big reason for this lake’s popularity is that it is among the most heavily stocked water bodies in Orange County, especially at the southern end.

Laguna Niguel Lake also is likely to be stocked with hatchery-raised channel catfish during the spring, summer and perhaps into early fall.

In addition to stocked fish, the 44-acre reservoir on Sulphur Creek is year-round home to several popular gamefish species, largemouth bass, blue catfish, bluegill, crappie and carp. Some anglers have reported catching some impressive bass here, and blue cats and carp can get massive.

The regional park’s Orange County webpage offers additional information.

Mile Square Park Lake

Mile Square Park Lake in Fountain Valley is a bit closer to Santa Ana but a quick drive for Irvine-area residents as well.

This 20-acre lake is an easy place to go fishing. It’s also a reasonable place to go catching, especially after it’s stocked multiple times with hatchery trout in the late fall or winter months.

Mile Square Lake also is one of the Orange County lakes regularly planted with channel catfish, generally beginning when the water starts to warm up in the early spring and continuing into the summer or early fall.

Mile Square Regional Park also has a variety of other outdoor activities, including golf, archery and field sports.

Trabuco Creek

If you’re looking for the closest thing to a remote trout stream in Orange County, Trabuco Creek will have to do.

Head up into Trabuco Canyon and the Cleveland National Forest and look for public access points such as the picnic area. Trout stocking may occur at times including spring and summer.

Flows of this spring- and rain-fed stream will dictate whether CDFW stocks trout here, and that’s when trout fishing will be worthwhile in this hilly environment. At times the flow becomes intermittent and not conducive to trout survival.

This small stream in Trabuco Canyon is spring-fed but can have intermittent flows, such as during the late summer or prolonged drought.

Catch More Fish

Check out our easy fishing guides for: