Updated: Mar 23
Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images
Located in the heart of Southern California in San Bernardino County is a mountain destination unlike many others. From epic views and great outdoor activities all year round, it's no wonder Big Bear attracts visitors to their incredible vacation rentals every month of the year.
While many come to ski, snowboard, or hike, fishing in Big Bear Lake might not be on your radar. Let me tell you now though, you’ll absolutely want to add it to your list of things to do while in Big Bear! Whether you’re an experienced angler or want to try your reel at fishing for the first time, Big Bear Lake is the getaway for you.
This Big Bear fishing guide will walk you through everything you need to know before you hit the water, from fish types you can expect to catch, the best spots along the lake, and some reputable tour companies for the best of Big Bear Lake fishing.
Big Bear Lake’s Most Common Fish Species
There are a large range of fish species in Big Bear Lake. Each fish type is best found in a specific area and with a specific type of bait and lure, like crankbaits, powerbaits, or rapalas.
Regardless of if you’re fishing from a boat or shore fishing, there are also a few rules regarding the different species that you should keep in mind. These rules are put in place and regulated by the Big Bear Municipal Water District, or BBMWD.
For anyone over the age of 16, you’ll need to purchase a California fishing license before you hit the water. You can easily purchase these at Big Bear Sporting Goods and other shops surrounding the lake.
Photo Credit: Paul Winterman
Rainbow Trout is the most popular fish species in Big Bear Lake. Over time, the lake has developed a healthy habit of rainbow trout since it's deep enough to stay cool, even in warm summer months.
There’s no limit on the size of trout you can catch here but do keep in mind you can only catch and carry 5 per day.
For the best luck at trout fishing, we recommend you toss your line in a deep section of the lake as Rainbow Trout prefer to hang out in cooler water temperatures.
Photo Credit: bekirevren
Channel Catfish and Blue Catfish are another common type of fish you can catch on Big Bear Lake. In general, these fish tend to feed all day long, so you should see success any time of the day.
There’s also no limit on the size of catfish you can catch but you can only catch and carry 10 per day.
Photo Credit: Brookieland
Panfish is a general term for smallmouth freshwater fish, like bluegill and crappie. Both of these species are common catches in Big Bear Lake. The best chances to catch panfish are by fishing off of the marina docks around the lake.
There’s no weight limit in place for the size of panfish you can catch but you are only allowed to take up to 25 per day.
Photo Credit: Pierre Rebollar
For the best bass fishing, you’ll need a boat. Whether you rent your own or go with a tour company, we recommend you fish the weedy shallow areas that can be tough to reach by land.
The best time of the year to fish for smallmouth bass or largemouth bass is towards the mid-summer, after spawning season has ended.
Photo Credit: Vladimir Wrangel
For carp fishing, there is no size limit or maximum catch. Also, this is the only fish species that you can use a bow and arrow to fish with, so long as the arrow is tethered to the bow.
The Best Fishing Spots Along Big Bear Lake
Photo Credit: Gabriel P Magana
There’s quite a few different spots for great fishing along the lake. In general, the North Shore is the most popular spot for shore fishing. Anywhere from the North Shore up towards Windy Point and the West Boat Ramp, west of Fawnskin in one direction and Juniper Point and the East Ramp on the other are great spots to park and cast a line.
Other than the North Shore, another popular place for shore fishing is across the lake in Boulder Bay and Stanfield Cutoff.
Keep in mind some of the marinas along the lake are private but there are also public launch ramps if you plan to bring your own boat to fish or troll in.
Big Bear Fishing Charters
If you’d rather not take care of your own boat rental but would rather go with a charter service with plenty of fishing experience on Big Bear Lake, we recommend you check out one of these great tour companies.
Fish Big Bear Charter Service
Photo Credit: fish.big.bear.charter.service via Instagram
Fish Big Bear is one of the most popular choices for a fishing charter service on Big Bear Lake. This company offers reservations 7-days a week so they really work with your schedule.
With Fish Big Bear, you’ll fish off of their 22’ pontoon boat. They’ll also provide all the fishing equipment and knowledge of where to catch the best fish in the lake.
This service is based out of Big Bear Marina.
Cantrell Guide Service
Photo Credit: cantrellguideservice via Instagram
Cantrell Guide Service was established in 1991 so they really do have decades of experience fishing in Big Bear. They offer private charters that include the fishing boat, roads, reels, tackle, safety equipment, and guide services.
This service is based out of Pine Knot Marina.
Holloway's Marina & Rentals
Photo Credit: Holloway's Marina & R.V. Park via Facebook
At Holloway’s Marina & Rentals, you can rent your own boat, either a basic fishing boat or a more spacious pontoon boat. While you won’t get a guide to come with you, you can rent everything you need for a successful day on the water and, since you’ll be on your own, you can fish at your own speed.
This is a good option if you have some experience fishing and would rather explore the lake at your leisure.
Keep in mind, there are plenty of other places for boat, kayak, and fishing gear rentals throughout the lake. Just be sure to ask for the fishing report before you hit the water!
Big Bear really is so much more than only a ski resort. Enjoy the warm weather in the summer and head to the water for some relaxing freshwater fishing. If you’re really eager to show off your fishing skills, come to town for one of our fishing tournaments. In May, join us in June for the Fishin’ for $50K event or come in October for the Big Bear Troutfest.
Regardless of when you choose to visit, you’ll love your time fishing in Big Bear.