When it comes to fishing, Ventura County doesn’t have as many options as some places in California, but several of those spots it does have are top-notch.
From a pair of Southern California’s better lakes to bountiful ocean fisheries stretching out to the Channel Islands, great fishing is usually a short drive away.
This article looks at the fishing options near Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Ventura and other communities in the county, which is just northwest of Los Angeles.
Besides the great Pacific Ocean and the rugged inland mountains known for endangered condors soaring overhead, Ventura County is home to Ventura Pier and Promenade, Serra Cross Park and the outdoor retail clothing maker Patagonia.
Other outdoors-oriented destinations and natural features include Point Mugu State Park, Emma Wood State Beach, Mt. Pinos and Alamo Mountain.
Below you’ll find the major fishing waters in Ventura County.
After that, watch for the “Fishing in Neighboring Counties” features to find even more fishing spots a short drive from Ventura County.
This 2,500-acre reservoir just west of Oak View gained fame for producing one of the biggest largemouth bass ever landed, a giant just shy of 22 pounds and not all that far off from the world record.
The reservoir also tends to be planted with trout a couple times each year, typically in the late winter or early spring, when trout fishing will be at its peak for the year before giving way to fishing for bass and other warmwater species.
The lake also often has very good fishing for catfish and panfish species including crappie, bluegill and redear sunfish.
Amenities include camping, boat ramps, bait and tackle and other types of supplies, and a modest restaurant.
Note that there are special rules in place, so look at the most up-to-date regulations before fishing.
More: Lake Casitas Fishing
Let’s face it: If you want to catch more and bigger fish, go fishing in a bigger pond. And there’s no bigger pond than Big Blue.
In Ventura County, fishing in the Pacific Ocean ranges from catching perch out of the sandy surf to landing giant barracuda and other huge fish many miles off-shore.
Ventura County shares the Channel Islands with Santa Barbara County to the north. San Nicholas Island is a bit over 60 miles from the mainland, which is a long haul in most watercraft and a bit too far for comfort for amateurs in small boats.
The larger Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands south of Santa Barbara are a bit closer and more popular fishing spots.
Offshore trips are available out of Ventura Harbor in Ventura and Channel Island Harbor and Port Hueneme in Oxnard. Private boaters with the right combination of watercraft and skill can reach many of the same fishing spots.
Anglers might catch a variety of fish on these longer trips, depending on the trip and what’s biting at the time. Halibut, lingcod, a variety of bass and rockfish, and at times tuna, barracuda and yellowtail, are among the possible catches at times.
If you or your equilibrium don’t like bobbing on the ocean or the expense of hiring out a charter, maybe try fishing from a pier.
It’s not as much of a sure thing, but at times pier fishing can be fantastic for perch, corbina, and even at times halibut in the spring and early summer.
Some good options for pier fishing include the Port Hueneme Pier in Oxnard and the Ventura Pier in Ventura.
Fishing from the beach can be productive as well. From the open sandy beach, perch are the most likely catch but occasionally you’ll get lucky and catch something bigger. Find some rocks and species of bass and rockfish are more likely to bite.
Some fishing access spots at state beaches in Ventura County include McGrath and Mandalay beaches in the Oxnard area and San Buenaventura and Emma Woods state beaches in the Ventura area.
Lake Piru, at about 1,240 acres when full, is a modest-sized reservoir with fair to good year-round fishing for bass, catfish and panfish.
Lake Piru also is historically stocked with rainbow trout, but this may not occur every season so be sure to check in with local operators. If stocked, it likely will fish best for trout in the late winter into mid-spring before petering out with hotter weather. If not, focus on bass and other warm-water-loving species.
Sitting just inside the eastern boundary of Ventura County, Lake Piru is fairly close to a couple of Los Angeles County’s best fishing lakes, especially the more famous Castaic Lake.
This reservoir is only about a half hour off I-5 exiting north of Santa Clarita at Castaic Junction (Magic Mountain).
There is camping at the lake and some services and supplies here and in nearby communities.
Note that Lake Piru is infested with quagga mussels. Boaters should be aware of inspection requirements.
For more info about visiting and fishing at the reservoir, check out the Lake Piru Recreation Area website.
Rancho Simi Park Lake
This small pond in a Simi Valley city park along the Arroyo Simi Greenway is stocked with trout in the late winter and early spring.
It may also then be stocked with catfish later in the year.
The key here will be finding out when new fish are stocked and getting there as soon as you can. Smaller waters tend to get fished out fairly quickly after being planted, and trout cannot survive the warmer waters found in typical Southern California low-elevation ponds.
The pond is easy to fish and also has good wheelchair access.
This higher-elevation stream in the mountains an hour north of Ojai is typically stocked with trout a couple times in the early season, often in February and March.
Fishing will be best when water flows are decent and temperatures are cool, plus the creek has been recently planted.
Reyes Creek Campground sits at about 3,900 feet and would be a good place to start. The stream is in the vicinity of Camp Scheideck and Ozena Recreation Site.
Upper Sespe Creek near Pine Mountain, south of Reyes Creek, also has at times been stocked with trout near the Potera John Creek Trailhead off Maricop Highway.
However, it doesn’t appear to be as consistently stocked with trout as Reyes Creek in recent checks of stocking locations.
If you’re adventurous, you can hike downstream and might be able to catch wild trout, but be sure to check out the regulations before angling for wild fish. Water flows can get very low, especially later in the season.
Also be sure to look upward from time to time, as this is condor country.
Fishing in Neighboring Counties
Santa Barbara County: To the west, this county is home to the excellent Lake Casitas and a similar menu of excellent ocean fisheries as found in Ventura County.
Kern County: To the north, the mountains outside of Bakersfield are home to a couple of very prominent fishing spots, Lake Isabella and the Kern River.
Los Angeles County: Surprisingly, given how many people live in this county, there are a wealth of great fishing spots. To just scratch the surface, the big bass factory of Castaic Lake is nearby, and there are ocean-fishing opportunities and small freshwater ponds and lakes galore.