Say what, the land of Disneyland and oh so many beaches also has fishing?
We’d be stretching the truth to say the OC is among California’s best fishing counties, but there’s more here than might meet the eye.
Much of Orange County’s fishing options revolve around artificial lakes in its many suburban parks. Some of these waters are stocked regularly with trout in the colder months and catfish when things start warming up again.
The biggest freshwater fishing spot is Irvine Lake, but many smaller lakes and ponds dot the landscape.
The Pacific Ocean also offers a wealth of ocean fishing opportunities, from casting into the surf to catching a charter for some deep-sea action.
Anaheim, Irvine and Santa Ana are three of the bigger cities in this county. Some of the beach towns may be as well known, including Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Seal Beach. I myself lived much of my childhood in Yorba Linda.
What follows are some of the very best places to cast a line in Orange County.
After you check those out, see the “Fishing in Neighboring Counties” for plenty more angling options a short drive from the OC.
Carbon Canyon Regional Park
The small lake in this park east of Brea is stocked with catchable rainbow trout several times during the mid- to late winter and channel catfish during the warm months.
The park also offers a variety of activities such as picnicking, hiking and sports.
See the park website for visitor information.
Carr Park Lake
This small urban park lake in Huntington Beach is a popular seasonal fishing spot.
Carr Park Lake is typically stocked with catchable rainbow trout at least once in the winter and then planted with catfish in the spring.
Fishing will be best soon after the pond is stocked.
The park is located at the intersection of Heil Avenue and Springdale Street.
Centennial Lake is in a regional park of the same name in Santa Ana. a small county park lake just south of Santa Ana community.
It has been stocked at times with trout in the late fall or winter as well as with catfish when the weather starts to warm in spring.
The 10-acre lake features flat, grassy areas open for day use.
The lake is on Edinger Avenue near Fairview Street.
Clark Regional Park Lake
This lake in Buena Park’s Ralph B. Clark Regional Park offers anglers with a closeby fishing spot.
The park’s centerpiece lake has historically been stocked with catchable rainbow trout during the winter (often January to early March), and then catfish may be stocked in the warmer months, possibly including spring through fall.
Ralph Clark Regional Park is off Rosecrans Avenue between Los Coyotes Country Club and the Coyote Hills and offers other family activities such as sports, picnicking and a play area.
Eisenhower Park Lake
This 16-acre park lake just west of Orange Hills is most popularly fished for its hatchery trout, usually stocked in mid- to late winter.
Eisenhower Park Lake also is stocked with catfish, usually in early spring.
Eisenhower Park offers other amenities as well.
The park is located on Tustin Avenue in the north part of Orange.
Greer Park Lake
This small park lake in Huntington Beach at times has at times been stocked with trout and catfish.
The lake is originally known as Brunswick Park Lake.
Greer Park Lake can be located along McFadden Avenue west of Goldenwest Street.
Huntington Park Lake
Huntington Central Park offers anglers with a closeby fishing spot with a variety of fishing options.
Huntington Lake is stocked with catchable rainbow trout in the winter season and might also be planted with catfish when it warms up.
The lake also is home to other warmwater species such as bluegill, crappie and carp that anglers have a reasonable chance of catching. You also might catch the occasional largemouth bass here but don’t expect it to be among the Southern California’s best bass lakes.
Anglers can also hook occasional largemouth bass in the lake.
Check out Huntington Central Park’s website for more detailed information.
At over 700 acres, this is Orange County’s largest freshwater fishing hole and often one of its best.
Those best times are most likely to be when it’s freshly stocked with trout or catfish.
The trout fishing is a wintertime activity, with plants beginning in December or January and continuing with regularity through February or early March.
Success rates will be best during and soon after this time frame, as anglers’ catches and later the lake’s warming waters will fairly quickly take a toll on trout catches.
The lake also is stocked each summer with catfish, which can be caught year-round but may be slowest in the cold water of trout season.
Other fish you might catch include bluegill, crappie, carp, largemouth bass and even sturgeon.
There are a bunch of special angling rules and limited fishing hours here, so be sure to check out Orange County’s website for all the details before heading to the lake.
You’ll find Irvine Lake in the hills about 20 minutes east of Tustin, off East Santiago Canyon Road.
More: Irvine Lake Fishing
Irvine Regional Park Lake
The small lake in this recreational destination park is typically stocked a few times with hatchery rainbow trout each winter, when fishing will be most popular here.
The lake also is likely to be stocked with catfish during the summer.
Irvine Regional Park also offers horseback trails, paddle and pedal powered rentals, large group picnic areas, and a variety of other activities.
The park is located east of Orange.
See the park website for details.
This park lake in a suburban neighborhood in northern Fullerton offers seasonal fishing for cool-season stocked trout along with some catfish when the weather warms.
There is plentiful shoreline access along Lakeview and Lakeside drives as well as from a trail that follows the southeast bank.
Laguna Niguel Regional Park Lake
The lake in this popular park is one of the most frequently stocked trout-fishing spots in Orange County.
The lake also is stocked with catfish, often both in summer and fall, and may have some big blue catfish in addition to more common channel cats.
The lake also has been known to produce some surprisingly big largemouth bass, and other fish you can catch include bluegill, crappie and carp.
The lake, previously known as Sulphur Creek Reservoir, is 44 acres.
Check the park website for more information.
Mile Square Park Lake
Mile Square Park Lake is a 20-acre lake in Fountain Valley is most popularly fished when it’s freshly planted.
Stocks of catchable rainbow trout are typically added in mid- to late winter.
Catfish are often stocked in late winter or early spring.
Mile Square Regional Park is a day-use only area loaded with a variety of recreational activities.
Near-shore fishing can be fair to good for a wide variety of fish species.
Pier anglers are able to get out farther and will hook into kingfish, perch, mackerel, bonito, halibut and a host of other types of fish, depending on the pier, the season and the techniques and bait employed by the angler.
Some popular fishing piers in Orange County include Balboa Pier, Dana Harbor Pier, Newport Pier and Seal Beach Pier.
Fishing right off the beach or around the rocky jetties also can be productive at times. State beaches with fishing access include Corona Del Mar, Doheny, Huntington and San Clemente.
Heading for deeper waters? Launch your own boat in Newport Bay or boost your odds further and book a trip through a fishing charter service.
This small stream just south of Trabuco Canyon is spring fed but has intermittent flows, especially during the summer.
The creek is historically stocked with catchable rainbows during the cooler season, when conditions allow.
The stream is typically stockedin O’Neill Regional Park.
This small urban fishing spot, also known as Anaheim Union Reservoir, is in Tri-City Regional Park in Placentia.
It is a popular trout fishing spot whenever it’s planted with catchable rainbows, which may happen a couple times most winters.
Anglers can also hook other fish species such as catfish and bluegill, especially during warmer months.
For more detailed information, visit the park’s website.
Yorba Linda Regional Park Lake
This community park just north of Anaheim Hills is most popularly fished for its catchable rainbow trout, which are typically stocked in the winter season.
January and February are good times to keep watch for trout plantings.
Come back again in the summer and early fall for likely catfish stocking.
The park also offers various other amenities for daily use.
Check out the park’s website for more detailed information.
Fishing in Nearby Counties
Los Angeles County: To the northwest, California’s most populous county has a surprising number of great fishing spots, from the near-world-record largemouth bass pulled from Castaic Lake to the wealth of game fish in the Pacific Ocean.
San Bernardino County: To the northeast, from excellent fishing lakes in the mountains like Big Bear and Silverwood lakes to the desert oases like Lake Havasu and the lower Colorado River, this massive county has something for every angler.
Riverside County: To the east, this long county has some excellent reservoirs like Diamond Valley Lake and Lake Perris in its western side clear out to the Colorado River on the Arizona border.
San Diego County: To the southeast, this highly populated county is chock full of great fishing opportunities, especially in its many water storage reservoirs and along its Pacific Ocean coastline.