State politics isn’t the only thing fishy going on in Sacramento, which is practically within casting distance of some of California’s best fishing spots.
Sacramento County borders parts of the Sacramento River and California Delta (Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta), some of the most productive waters in the entire state containing salmon, striped bass, and lots more.
The county is also home to the lower American River, an excellent tributary in its own right, as well as numerous lakes and ponds filled with trout, bass, catfish, and other game fish.
This article also includes neighboring Yolo County, which shares part of the Sacramento River but otherwise has modest fishing options within its borders.
Besides Sacramento, Sacramento County’s 1.5 million people live in Elk Grove, Arden-Arcade, Citrus Heights, Folsom, Carmichael and Rancho Cordova and other areas.
Prominent sites include the California State Capitol and its museum, California State University Sacramento and the Sacramento Zoo.
Yolo County’s communities include Davis, Woodland, West Sacramento, Winters and Esparto. It’s also home to the University of California Davis, Tower Bridge, and lots of farmland, including wineries.
Natural attractions include Cache Creek, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Grasslands Regional Park, and Valley Vista Regional Park.
Where to Fish
Below, we’ll tell you a bit about fishing in the Sacramento River and its delta with the San Joaquin first, then fishing spots in Sacramento County, then finishing with Yolo County.
We also want to let you know that at the bottom of this article, you’ll find a section called “Fishing in Neighboring Counties,” which will let you explore nearby areas where we’ve finished compiling similar roundups of fishing spots.
Sacramento River Fishing
The lower Sacramento River in Sacramento and Yolo counties is excellent for a wide variety of game fish, including several runs of fish that bring out anglers in droves.
A favorite, in good return years when there’s a fishery, is the Chinook salmon run that starts up in the second half of summer and continues through fall.
The striped bass anglers are equally as fervent and get an earlier start, with the best fishing in the spring and early summer.
Steelhead and American shad runs pass through on their way to upper reaches and tributaries. Big white sturgeon lurk in the depths.
Black bass are widespread in the system, depending on species and location, and catfish, crappie, and other panfish can be found in the lower main river as well but often provide better angling down in the backwaters of the delta (see separate listing below).
Access spots include Hogback Island Recreation Area (includes wheelchair access), Miller Park and Sherman Lake Boat Ramp.
Part of this vast marshy area where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers come together is in Sacramento County.
The delta includes flowing rivers and lots of sloughs, canals, and other water interspersed with low-lying land. It’s a tremendous fishing resource with something for just about any angler.
The delta is often listed among the very best bass fishing places in America, and if you choose your spots right you can catch striped bass, catfish, panfish and maybe even passing salmon when the state allows.
Sacramento County Fishing
This (very) artificial pond in an industrial setting has at times been stocked with hatchery trout for special events, such as fishing days for children with disabilities.
It’s otherwise not noteworthy for general fishing.
American River, Lower
The lower section of this major tributary stream is located below Folsom Lake and has several very good fishing options.
American shad, steelhead, striped bass, and Chinook salmon are main species that bring anglers here. Steelhead runs include “half-pounders,” which are trout-sized males that return to the stream early to spawn.
Anadromous salmon and steelhead runs, in particular, are highly regulated, so be sure there’s an open season before fishing.
Shad and stripers arrive in the best numbers in the spring, then salmon, and finally steelhead during the coldest months.
County park access and boat launching are available, but coming here requires a pass or daily fee.
More: American River Fishing
Arden Bar Pond (William Pond)
This pond is located in the William B. Pond Recreational Area (American River Parkway) and at times has been stocked with trout and catfish.
Even if not stocked, it has a resident population of bass, bluegill and tule perch.
There is accessible parking and fishing.
Watch out for poison oak.
There is a fee to access this county park, which is located at the south end of Carmichael.
Bond Road Pond
This small pond in Camden Park in Elk Grove has at times been planted with fish and been available for angling, but it doesn’t appear on recent stocking schedules and there’s not much information out about it.
Elk Grove Park Pond
This small pond in Elk Grove Regional Park is most popularly fished during a small window after it’s stocked with hatchery trout.
Planting is most likely to occur when there is cool water in the pond, which we’ve seen scheduled as early as October or November and also later around February.
Trout cannot survive the warm summer temperatures here but are generally caught out quickly, so watch the stocking schedule.
Florin Creek Park Pond
This tiny pond, located in a park near State Route 99 on the south side of Sacramento, has been stocked at times with rainbow trout.
However, at last check, it had been a few years since planting occurred here. If it’s scheduled in the future, expect it to happen in late winter, before the pond warms up or the water levels drop. At times, the water gets very low.
The pond is in the Florin Creek Recreation Area.
The dam and very lower end of this giant reservoir favored for a number of different types of fishing is in Sacramento. (The reservoir also sits in El Dorado and Placer counties.)
Folsom Lakes is among the best largemouth bass lakes across the northern two-thirds of California and also rates high for spotted bass and even some smallmouth bass.
The lake is also prized for its sometimes excellent fishing for landlocked Chinook salmon and its many rainbow trout.
Other fish you might catch include catfish, panfish and potentially some kokanee (landlocked sockeye salmon).
Get the full scoop on how to catch the different species here in our full fishing guide.
More: Folsom Lake Fishing
Gibson Ranch County Park Pond
This pond in a Sacramento County park offers fishing for bluegill, catfish and some bass in a park setting also used by picnickers, hikers and other day-use visitors.
There is a fee to use the park.
No boats are allowed.
You’ll find the pond in the Gibson Ranch Regional Park, located about a half hour northeast of downtown Sacramento, at the edge of the suburbs.
Granite Park Pond
Another small pond in Sacramento, just 15 minutes east of downtown.
This pond is of most interest to anglers when it’s freshly stocked with catchable rainbow trout. Plantings tend to occur in late winter but haven’t been done every year.
This park is located in Granite Regional Park, located near the El Dorado Freeway south of the Howe Avenue interchange.
Hagan Park Pond
Hagan Park Pond is a small urban pond along the banks of the American River in Rancho Cordova.
It is most enthusiastically fished when the state plants it with trout, which is most likely in the late winter, perhaps in February.
This pond is located in Hagan Community Park near Cordova High School.
Howe Park Lake
This residential-area park pond has been stocked with catchable trout in the late winter, when the water is cool and the trout will bite the best.
This one-acre lake will slow greatly for trout in the weeks after a stocking, especially as the water warms, but you’ll still be able to catch resident fish such as bluegill and bullhead catfish.
Howe Community Park is located along Howe Avenue and Cottage Way, about 15 minutes northeast of downtown Sacramento. Other amenities include picnic tables, sports facilities, and a dog park.
Land Park Pond
At last check, this park no longer offered fishing opportunities.
This nearby lake in a regional park next to a golf course offers early-season trout fishing.
The lake is typically stocked in the late winter, perhaps in about February but potentially January or March.
The pond and golf course are located within Mather Regional Park, near Rancho Cordova.
This smaller American River reservoir, which functions as an afterbay below Folsom Lake, is best known for producing the state-record rainbow trout, an incredible 27-pounder caught in 2005.
The 540-acre lake, which tends to run cooler than neighboring waters due to releases from the depths of Folsom Lake, is also home to resident bass (including smallmouths) and some panfish.
The water releases can result in swift currents near the upper end, and there are large boulders, trees and brush that cause some hazards along the banks. Not to mention poison oak and some rattlesnakes.
There are some facilities, including camping and RV sites, in the state recreation area.
North Natomas Regional Park Pond
This pond in the North Natomas neighborhood of northern Sacramento has some years been stocked with catchable rainbow trout.
North Natomas Regional Park is located along Natomas Boulevard.
Rancho Seco Lake
Rancho Seco Lake is a 160-acre reservoir that offers several good fishing opportunities for anglers in a rural area about 45 minutes southeast of Sacramento.
The lake generally has more stable water levels than many California reservoirs and typically is stocked with trout at regular intervals in the fall, winter, and early spring.
On top of that, the lake has populations of Florida-strain largemouth bass (the ones that get big!) and redear sunfish. Additional panfish and catfish might also be caught here.
Boats with electric motors are allowed and there is a place to launch.
Rancho Seco Recreational Area, in the southeastern corner of Sacramento County off Highway 104, offers campsites along with other amenities.
Southside Park Pond
This city park pond, which is very close to downtown, in the past has been stocked with trout but recently may be better fished for resident species, including catfish.
There are accessible spots to get to the water and fish.
Southside Park is located between 6th and 8th streets.
William Land Park Pond
This Sacramento park has two ponds at the south end of this park, located south of downtown.
Bass and other species have been reported here.
Willow Hill Reservoir
This is basically a pond in the Willow Hill Reservoir Community Park in the Folsom area that some years is stocked with catchable rainbow trout.
Other species you might catch here include sunfish.
The park and pond are near Folsom High School, and there’s a very nice fishing dock on the south side, not far from Prairie City Stadium, plus trails that lead to other good casting spots.
The pond can get pretty weedy at times.
The reservoir is just north of El Dorado Freeway at the Prairie City Road interchange.
Lake Solano and Putah Creek
Lake Solano in the past was stocked with hatchery trout, but that practice has given way to managing this waterway for native trout.
Today this small reservoir and about four miles of the stream above it to Monticello Dam (Lake Berryessa) are known as a catch-and-release fishery for wild trout.
Fly fishing is very popular, with several insect hatches that anglers try to match. Only artificial flies and other lures may be used with barbless hooks (no bait fishing is allowed).
Putah Creek is a Sacramento River tributary via the Yolo Bypass. Its headwaters are in the Mayacamas Mountains, and while releases from Lake Berryessa help cool the upper stream, the reaches below Lake Solano quickly become too warm for trout to inhabit year-round.
The stream forms the border between Yolo and Solano counties.
Fishing in Neighboring Counties
Amador County: To the east, contains or shares a trio of very well-known fishing spots in Lake Amador, Lake Camanche and Pardee Reservoir.
San Joaquin County: To the south, the Stockton area also has a share of the great California Delta fishing, as well as part of Lake Camanche and other fishing spots.
Contra Costa County: To the southwest, a Bay Area county with saltwater, delta and several excellent freshwater fisheries.
Solano County: To the west and south, this county not only shares part of Putah Creek and the lower Sacramento River and Delta, but it also offers access to the bays below where anglers catch striped bass, sturgeon, and salmon.