By Juliet Farmer

Sacramento’s proximity to not one but two major rivers, two lakes within a short drive, and many city-stocked ponds makes for serious fishing heaven. You can drop a line any time of year in Sacramento (if you have a license). For residents who have lived in California for six consecutive months the cost is $43.46 for a year ($116.90 for non-residents). The license fee for low-income seniors (65+) and disabled veterans is $6.44, and for those who are mobility impaired, blind or developmentally disabled, licenses are free. If you only plan to fish for a day or two, a one-day license is $14.04 and a two-day license is $21.86. You can purchase a fishing license online or from a license agent.

Insider’s Note: There are limits to the number of fish and types you can catch, so be sure to check the rules. Use the species regulations on the left-hand tool bar to look up what you plan to fish for before you drop your line.

Once you get your fishing license, head out to any one of these top spots for fishing in the Sacramento area and see what you catch.

Photo Credit: Juliet Farmer

Southside Park
2115 6th Street
Sacramento, CA
(916) 808-5200
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Reviews, Directions & More Info

The California Department of Fish and Game stocks Southside Park’s pond with trout in the winter and catfish in the spring, summer and fall. In addition to Southside Park, they also stock William Land Park, Howe Community Park, Hagan Community Park, Mather Regional Park, and Elk Grove Community Park. The Department of Fish and Game offers free fishing instruction clinics a few times a year at various parks, where, in addition to allowing fishing without a license for that day, there also loan out rods, bait and tackle to aspiring fishers.

Insider tip: On free fishing days, you can fish anywhere in California without a license.

Photo Credit: Juliet Farmer

Sacramento River
Sutterville and I5
Sacramento, CA
Hours: Dawn to Dusk

The Sacramento River hosts steelhead, trout, sturgeon, striper, American shad, and King salmon (though fly fishers have been known to hook wild rainbow trout or steelhead, too). According to the California Department of Fish and Game, about three quarters of a million fish use the Sacramento River annually. If you’re not in a boat, head to the Sutterville exit off Interstate 5 (right by the bike trail), where fishers gather to cast lines and see what they can reel in.

Insider tip: If you don’t get a bite, you can always head to Scott’s on the River, which is a short
walk south down the bike path. And pet-friendly!

American River (credit: Juliet Farmer)

American River
Carmichael, Fair Oaks and Rancho Cordova, CA
Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Along the American River, particularly between Watt and Hazel avenues, fishers can be found along the shore and in boats casting about and pulling in steelhead, shad, striped bass, and other gilled greats. Whether you stay on the north side of the river in Carmichael and Fair Oaks, or stick to the south side in Rancho Cordova, you’ll enjoy fishing along the American River. (Note: Fishing from Nimbus Dam to the Hazel Avenue Bridge is only allowed during daylight hours.)

Photo Credit: Juliet Farmer

Folsom Lake
9875 Greenback Lane
Folsom, CA
(916) 988-0205
Hours: Most areas of the park are open from 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily
Reviews, Directions & More Info

Folsom Lake is home to bog and small mouth bass, trout, Kokanee salmon, catfish, bullhead, sunfish, perch, and crayfish all year long. The fee for admission to the Folsom Lake State Recreational Area is $10 ($18 with a boat), and $9 for seniors (62+). Annual passes are also available. (Note: While many fishers at Folsom Lake prefer to cast from boats, fishing along the shore is permitted as well–whatever catches fish!)

Photo Credit: Juliet Farmer

Lake Amador
Ione, CA
(209) 274-4739
Hours: Early February through Thanksgiving

Less than an hour outside of Sacramento sits a small 425-acre lake with about 14 miles of shoreline. But don’t let the small size of Lake Amador fool you, because it boasts crappie, threadfin shad, catfish (records of up to 40-pound catfish and up to 100-pound stringers have been caught), and trout. Lake Amador Resort’s daily use fees are $9 per vehicle (up to four people), and fishing is $8 per person ($7 for seniors). Boats are $7, and boats are also available for rent.

Juliet Farmer was born and raised in Sacramento, where she resides with her husband, two cats,
and rescued greyhound. She is a freelance writer who regularly writes about food, pets, health
and wellness, entertainment, and more.