Best Fishing Near Vallejo, Fairfield & Vacaville (Solano County)

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Solano County occupies the northeast corner of the Bay Area, offering anglers a mixture of excellent freshwater and saltwater fishing at just the place where the Sacramento River collides with San Francisco Bay.

In this county of nearly half a million, people live in Vallejo, Fairfield, Vacaville, Suisun City, Benicia, Dixon, Rio Vista, and several smaller communities.

Outdoor spots of interest include Lake Solano, Benicia State Recreation Area, Lagoon Valley Park, Ryer Island, Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, Lynch Canyon, and Lake Herman.

The county also is home to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, University of California Davis (South Campus), American Armory Museum, and the Jelly Belly Candy Company Factory.

We’ve tracked down the best fishing options within Solano County for you.

Once you’ve taken a look at our brief run-down of those fishing spots, also scan through the “Fishing in Neighboring Counties” section at the bottom of this article. That feature will link you to surrounding areas that also have excellent fishing within a reasonable drive.

California Delta

This treasure of a fishing area is massive, with just a portion of it on the southeast edge of Solano County.

The Delta is widely known for a variety of game fish.

Solano County borders on the lower Sacramento River, which is a pipeline for striped bass, sturgeon, and other game fish. Chinook salmon start migrating through in the latter half of summer.

Backwater sections of the delta are lauded as one of Northern California’s best bass fishing spots and also are good for catfish, crappie, and other species.

Access points in Solano County include spots within the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, reached by taking Grizzly Island Road south off Highway 12 in the Suisun City and Fairfield areas. Joice Island also is in the area and provides similar opportunities.

See the link for a complete article on fishing in the Delta.

More: Fishing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Delta

Carquinez Strait and Suisun Bay

The Strait above Carquinez Bridge (I-80) up past the Mothball Fleet and into Suisun Bay offers a variety of fishing options.

The strait, as one might expect, is narrower than the bays on either side, providing a pinch point to intercept large migrating fish.

As with San Pablo Bay below, striped bass and white sturgeon are common targets for anglers looking for big fish to catch in both the strait and in the wider Suisun Bay.

Stripers come up through here in the spring on their way into the California Delta and rivers above. They’ll show up again in the fall, and some are also around in summer and winter.

Sturgeon require extra heavy rods, reels and tackle, not just because they can be the length and weight of a lounging NBA center but also because they are doing that lounging in deep water until you tempt them with a snack.

When the Chinook salmon runs heading into the Sacramento River system are going strong, this is one of the better places to intercept them. Both boaters and shore anglers around Benicia will get in on the act, which usually builds during August.

Boat launch locations on the Solano County side include Glen Cove Marina in Vallejo and Benicia Marina. Several charter fishing services also can take you on fishing trips in this area, depending on the season.

Shore anglers in Solano County will try their luck from the piers in Benicia, hoping those big fish get within casting range.

Lake Chabot

This small lake in Vallejo is most popularly fished when conditions are right for it to be stocked with hatchery rainbow trout.

When it’s stocked, that will usually happen in the winter, when the water is coolest and suitable for trout.

The best access is from Dan Foley Park on the south side of the lake, which includes a fishing dock. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom sits across the lake.

By the way, this is not the larger (and more popular fishing spot) also known Lake Chabot (a.k.a. Chabot Reservoir) in Alameda County.

Lake Herman

This city park lake in Benicia offers a modest fishery for warm-water fish species.

Various sources suggest there are bass and panfish in the lake, and the city lists fishing as an activity at the park. It might just take some trying out to see for sure.

The lake is located in Benicia Community Park and Lake Herman Recreation Area. See the park website for details.

Putah Creek and Lake Solano

This stream and a very small reservoir used to be stocked with hatchery rainbows but today is managed for wild trout.

The stream comes down chilled from Lake Berryessa in neighboring Napa County and remains cool enough for trout to thrive in about four miles of the creek down to the Lake Solano area.

The stream forms the northern boundary between Solano and Yolo counties but quickly becomes too warm for trout to live year-round below Lake Solano.

Fly fishing is popular, with hatches of mayflies and caddis.

There is fishing access at Lake Solano County Park and the Putah Creek Wildlife Area.

Those anglers who are willing and able to hoof it can reach more lightly fished areas. Good things come to those who wade.

You can launch a small boat, canoe, or fish from a float tube in Lake Solano.

Sacramento River

The lower Sacramento River is a pipeline for major fish species running up into the main river and its larger tributaries above.

Striped bass, salmon, sturgeon, and American shad all pass through, sometimes in great numbers. Bass, catfish, and panfish are caught in the mainstem and backwaters, including the part of the river that forms the southeast boundary of Solano County.

There are some good spots to access the river in this region.

A favorite is the Rio Vista Boat Launch, in Rio Vista at the end of Montezuma Street, a block off S. Front Street.

From this launch you can access the Sacramento River, San Joaquin River, and other delta waters here, depending on what you want to catch and where it’s biting. There’s also a pier right here on the river in front of Rio Vista City Hall.

Be sure to read our full article on fishing in California’s largest river system.

More: Complete Guide to Sacramento Fishing

San Pablo Bay

This big bulb-shaped bay on the north side of San Francisco Bay offers some of the best striped bass fishing and sturgeon angling in all of California.

Some years, massive white sturgeon congregate here in big numbers early in the year, part of their migration up into the Sacramento River system to spawn heading into the spring season.

Striped bass fishing can be lights-out here, especially if you are here either in the spring or the fall months.

When the freshwater flow is at its lowest, in the fall, more saltwater-loving fish will enter the bay. This is the time of year when your odds of catching everything from hand-size perch to people-sized sharks improves in San Pablo Bay.

These are mostly boat fisheries in the Solano County section of the bay, although there are some pier fishing options elsewhere.

Fishing in Neighboring Counties

Sacramento and Yolo Counties: To the north and east, Sacramento County in particular has several fantastic fisheries, including sharing productive parts of the California Delta and Sacramento River, Lower American River, and Folsom Lake.

Contra Costa County: To the south, this East Bay county not only has access to many of the bays it shares with Solano County but also is home to some fantastic reservoirs, including Los Vaqueros and San Pablo reservoirs.

Marin County: To the west across the bay, Napa County has easy access to San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean as well as a surprising number of somewhat hidden lakes with bass, trout, catfish, and more to catch.

Sonoma County: To the west, this Wine Country county has a wide variety of fishing opportunities, ranging from heading offshore from Bodega Bay to wading in the Russian River to heading inland to catch bass and more at Lake Sonoma.

Napa County: To the northwest, this neighboring county is most famous (at least after that wine thing) for being home to Lake Berryessa, one of California’s best mixed-fisheries spots with good to outstanding fishing for salmon, trout, bass, catfish, and panfish.