With this much land, there must be some good fishing, right?
It’s true, San Bernardino County is the biggest county in the contiguous United States and for anglers has just about everything, from high-mountain lakes and streams to desert reservoirs, all teeming with fish.
Throw in some city park ponds stocked with trout and catfish to wet a line closer to home, and you can’t go too wrong.
With a population of more than 2 million people and an area of over 20,000 square miles, San Bernardino County by itself has more people than 14 U.S. states and is larger than nine states.
Most of the fishing is pinned into the western end of the county, where the San Bernardino Mountains rise up into lush forests blanketed by winter snows that melt into streams that feed great fisheries like Big Bear and Silverwood lakes and then tumble down into more arid valleys.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of the county stretches out into the broiling Mohave Desert, where for many miles in any direction you won’t find enough water above ground to catch a guppy.
That is, until you reach the excellent fisheries along the Colorado River, including Lake Havasu.
This is the county you drive across through the desert if you take a road trip from Southern California to Las Vegas.
Parts of Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks are out there in the desert. National forests, wilderness areas and wildlife refuges dot the landscape that ranges from over 11,000 feet to below sea level, the most dramatic elevation changes in Southern California.
Most of the county’s population is found in the southwestern corner of the county, within the sphere of the greater Los Angeles area.
If you live in or are visiting larger cities such San Bernardino, Fontana, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville, or the many communities around them, you’re plenty close to some great fishing spots.
Communities that dot the map outside the suburbs include Barstow and Needles.
Enough of that, because you came here for the fishing, and that’s why we compiled a listing of the best places in San Bernardino County to catch fish.
As a bonus, with several of the very best spots you’ll find below, we also have complete articles covering the fishing opportunities in detail. Follow the links in those listings to set yourself up for a better fishing trip at those prime locations.
Before we get there, remember to stick around and check out the Fishing in Nearby Counties feature at the end of this article. The links there will take you to neighboring areas that also have lots of great fishing holes.
This 5-acre high-mountain lake is stocked with catchable rainbow trout some seasons, though not if there isn’t enough water to handle it.
The lake is within a mountain resort community loosely located between the much larger Big Bear and Arrowhead lakes. Most supplies are available locally.
Unfortunately, this good-sized lake is only accessible to owners in the Arrowhead Woods development 45 minutes in the mountains north of San Bernardino.
But if you have friends who own property there, hit them up because the lake is generously stocked with trout (including some real trophies) and also has bass, panfish, carp and other fish.
The smaller Grass Valley Lake west of Lake Arrowhead is similarly open only to card-holding property owners and their guests.
This stream below Big Bear Lake has wild rainbow and brown trout as it tumbles down from 6,700 to 3,800 feet in elevation.
This is a remote setting with steep canyons and many waterfalls … plus some rattlesnakes. People with sporting guns also are drawn to this area, so be extra aware of your surroundings and don’t walk into a makeshift firing range.
Check the regulations for fishing specifics.
Big Bear Lake
This is Southern California’s mountain lake, complete with very good rainbow trout fishing and a variety of other game fish all at above 6,700 feet in elevation.
It’s a good place to go to escape the summer heat closer to sea level, or to find some snow in the winter.
It’s located on the Rim of the World Highway in the San Bernardino Mountains, about two hours east of Los Angeles.
You’ll pretty much find whatever you need here, including arina, bait and tackle, store, propane, resort and RV sites with hookups. There also are more primitive campsites.
More: Big Bear Lake Fishing
This tributary of Silverwood Lake at times has been stocked with hatchery trout.
The creek is seasonal with a low gradient and good access from a road along it. There aren’t many trees here.
The river in the Needles area, between Lake Mohave above and Lake Havasu farther downstream, is most often fished for catfish, panfish, striped bass and other gamefish, including increasingly good smallmouth bass fishing.
At times the river in this area has been stocked with trout in the colder season.
The river below Lake Havasu (Parker Dam) has some excellent flathead and channel catfish fishing, as well as panfish, bass and other fish.
Fishing access permits are required on the Colorado River Indian Tribes reservation, but that area should be worthwhile because fewer people are likely to be on the water there.
Cucamonga-Guasti Park Lake
This small lake in a county park in Ontario is popularly fished when trout are stocked during the cooler months, perhaps around November.
The lake also is popular for catfish fishing, as these whiskered fish tend to be planted for spring and summer angling.
The lake also hosts a catfish fishing tournament.
You may catch the occasional bass or other fish as well.
Visit the Park’s website for more detailed information.
Deep Creek is on the north slope of the San Bernardino Mountains about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.
Originating at approximately 6,200 feet in the mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest, the stream drops about 3,000 feet in its 22-mile course before flowing into the East Fork Mojave River. Check Sport Fishing Regulations.
Deep Creek is in remote country, featuring deep pools and boulders in its rush down the mountains.
It’s also prone to torrential flows during rainstorms and is a favorite among rattlesnakes, so be aware of your environment. Oh, you’ll also be better off with a high-clearance 4X4 or plan to hike in if you take the Prius.
Check with U.S. Forest Service for a map and road conditions. High clearance 4X4’s or hike in.
Glen Helen Park Lakes
These well developed regional park lakes just north of San Bernardino offer a closeby fishing spot with several types of fish to catch.
Glen Helen Regional Park Lakes are typically stocked with catchable rainbow trout, possibly during the fall or winter time frame.
The water here will get too warm for trout in the summer, but by then it might also have been stocked with catfish. There also are some resident warm water species, including bass.
This location also takes part in the catfish derby and offers supplies, RV hookups and other amenities.
For more detailed information, check out the Park’s website.
Green Valley Lake
This 10-acre lake in this residential mountain community of the same name is frequently stocked with catchable trout.
The water also is home to bass, catfish and panfish.
This high-mountain location, at about 6,750 feet, is located between Big Bear and Arrowhead lakes, will be quite cold with snowfall during the wintertime.
You can get bait and tackle and other supplies in the area.
This developed mountain lake in Lake Gregory Regional Park is in the vacation community of Crestline, located in the mountains at about 4,500 feet in elevation.
Lake Gregory is a decent-sized lake at roughly 100 acres, give or take depending on the source.
It’s planted with hatchery trout and is known as a reliable trout fishery from late winter on into the spring.
While trout fishing slows for summer, Lake Gregory also has bass, catfish and panfish to catch, especially in warmer weather.
The lake is on the edge of the San Bernardino National Forest and there are fishing and other supplies available nearby.
This famous Colorado River impoundment is one of the best all-around fishing lakes within reach of both California and Arizona.
Lake Havasu is well known for its fishing for striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and channel and flathead catfish.
If you like panfish, it grows some huge redear sunfish that feed on the invasive Quagga mussels here. Bluegill, crappie and even the occasional trout round out the catches.
We cover it all in a detailed profile article.
More: Lake Havasu Fishing
This tributary of Deep Creek (see above) is located northwest of Big Bear Lake and at times is stocked with hatchery trout.
But you probably shouldn’t bother in times of significant drought, because this little stream all but disappears.
When the fishing is good, you’ll still have to contend with steep terrain in a landscape mixed with forests, willow trees and sage.
This 5-acre lake south of Big Bear Lake is at times stocked with hatchery trout to provide fishing opportunities.
The lake also is home to bass, catfish and panfish.
You can hand-launch a small boat but power boats aren’t allowed.
The lake is in the San Bernardino National Forest and close to campgrounds along the nearby Santa Ana River.
It’s about an hour or so east of San Bernardino on Highway 38.
Parts of this high-elevation stream have at times been stocked with hatchery trout, but recent records indicate the plantings have been inconsistent.
Miller Canyon Creek
This tributary to Silverwood Lake at times is stocked with hatchery trout.
It is mostly a gentle stream due to low gradient, with pools and riffles in a forested setting just southeast of the reservoir. Access is good from a bike path.
There is an accessible restroom.
Mojave Narrows Park Lake
This small lake in Victorville at times is a worthwhile destination for seasonal fishing.
This lake within Mojave Narrows Regional Park is stocked with trout in the cooler months, typically starting about November.
The lake is also stocked with catfish in the warmer months, and there are resident bass that can provide a bit of action at times.
This is one of the suburban county lakes that hosts an annual catfish derby.
More: Mojave Narrows Regional Park
Prado Park Lake
Prado Park Lake is a 60-acre lake in the Chino area of southwestern San Bernardino County, a quick drive from parts of Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties as well as San Bernardino.
The lake is stocked with rainbow trout in cooler months and catfish when things start to warm up.
Other fish including bass also can be caught.
There are RV sites with hookups, a snack bar along and other amenities in Prado Regional Park. Electric and human-powered boats can be used here but bring your own fishing craft, as at last check only paddle boats were available to rent.
Santa Ana River
The upper Santa Ana River southeast of Big Bear Lake is a mountain stream that at times is stocked with hatchery trout.
The main fishing area is accessible from Seven Oaks Road for about seven miles downstream from the confluence with the South Fork. Look for access points, especially those that can accommodate a hatchery truck near the stream.
The lower South Fork of the Santa Ana River also is stocked with trout.
Up here in the forested mountains, it snows in the wintertime and visitors camp in primitive campsites in the warmer months.
Lower reaches of the Santa Ana River flows into more populated areas while transforming into a slower valley stream with populations of bass, catfish and panfish.
Seccombe Park Lake
This San Bernardino neighborhood park lake has at times been stocked with catchable hatchery trout.
Silverwood Lake is one of the better fishing lakes in this part of Southern California, with everything from stocked trout (including some bigger ones) in the cooler months to striped bass.
Other game fish found in good numbers at this popular getaway include largemouth bass, channel catfish and several types of panfish.
Camping, RV spots and day-use areas for fishing and picnics are favorites among visitors.
More: Silverwood Lake Fishing
This 50-acre lake in a developed urban county park on the north side of Yucaipa at times can offer some good fishing options.
The fishing lake (one of three total lakes in the park) at times is stocked with catchable rainbow trout in the colder months.
Later, as things warm up, catfish might also be stocked here.
There are resident bass and panfish to go along with the stocked fish.
There are RV sites with hookups.
Check out the Park’s website for more detailed information.
Fishing in Nearby Counties
Los Angeles County: To the west, a county of roughly 10 million people has some surprisingly world class fishing options, from huge bass to gigantic saltwater trophies.
Kern County: To the northwest, starting in Bakersfield, this county offers an array of fishing options including the fantastic Lake Isabella and Kern River.
Riverside County: To the south, this long county’s western end is stacked with some of the best fishing reservoirs in Southern California, including Diamond Valley Lake, Lake Perris and Lake Skinner.
Orange County: To the southwest, the home of Disneyland also has some magical fishing opportunities along its famous coast and within nicely stocked lakes.