Big Bear Lake: A Mountain Oasis for Rainbow Trout and More

Big Bear Lake, nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains, is a fisherman’s paradise. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a curious first-timer, this 3,300-acre lake offers breathtaking scenery, diverse fish, and a unique alpine experience. Here’s the scoop:

Fish You Can Expect to Catch:

  • Rainbow Trout:
    • The stars of the show! This lake is renowned for its trophy rainbow trout, especially during spring and fall. Early mornings and evenings near inlets and deeper areas are prime times. Spoons, spinners, and flies that mimic insects will get them hooked.
  • Largemouth Bass:
    • Year-round residents lurking in coves, weed beds, and rocky structures. Mornings and evenings are best, especially during spring and fall. Crankbaits, jigs, and plastic worms are their weaknesses. Be prepared for acrobatic leaps!
  • Catfish:
    • Channel catfish and bullhead catfish rule the warmer months (May to September). Nightcrawlers, stink bait, and cut bait are their favorites, especially near the bottom. Be prepared for powerful pulls and tasty fillets!
  • Crappie and Bluegill:
    • These panfish love the shallows and structures like docks and submerged trees. Live minnows or small jigs are their irresistible invitations for a tug-of-war. Kids will love reeling these feisty friends in.
  • Bonus Beauties:
    • Keep an eye out for the occasional carp, kokanee salmon (stocked in spring), or even the rare native arroyo chub. They add an element of excitement and surprise to your catch.

Locals’ Insights:

  • Early Risers Rule:
    • The golden hours after sunrise and before sunset are magic, especially for trout and bass. Match the hatch for fly fishing, and use live bait for catfish and crappie.
  • Shore or Boat:
    • Both have their advantages. The shoreline offers easy access and a relaxed atmosphere, while boats allow you to explore deeper waters and hidden coves.
  • Family-Friendly Fun:
    • The area boasts campgrounds, hiking trails, and even swimming beaches. Make fishing part of a fun-filled outing, and let the kids enjoy catch-and-release for many fish.
  • Seasonal Shifts:
    • The fishing experience changes throughout the year. Spring and fall are prime for trophy trout and bass, while summer heats up with catfish action. Winter can be quieter, but you might find lurking monster carp or the occasional kokanee surprise.

Unique to Big Bear Lake:

  • Mountain Charm:
    • Breathe in the crisp mountain air and soak in the stunning scenery of towering pines, snow-capped peaks, and the glistening lake. It’s fishing with a view!
  • Historical Significance:
    • Native American tribes used the lake for centuries, and remnants of their settlements can still be found. Cast your line where they once fished and hunted.
  • Unexpected Bounty:
    • While trout and bass are the stars, Big Bear Lake occasionally surprises anglers with catches like pike, piranha, and even the rare tiger muskie. Be ready for anything!

Top Fishing Spots (specifics may depend on your target species):

  • North Shore:
    • Shallow coves for sunfish and crappie. Inlets and deeper areas for potential trophy trout and bass, especially in the mornings and evenings. This area is also great for beginners and families.
  • East Shore:
    • Rocky points and submerged trees attract bass and catfish. This is a good spot for boat fishing or trying your luck from the shore.
  • West Shore:
    • Enjoy the solitude and cast towards the deeper center for potential monster catfish and bass, especially during the evenings.
  • Docks and Bridges:
    • These structures offer ambush points for crappie and hungry bass. Experiment with different depths and presentations to see what gets them biting.

Check out our Gearlist for the gear we for trips like this

Our Gearlist account lists all of the gear we use. Discover our top picks, where to snag them, and stay informed with our regular updates.

Bonus Tip:

  • Be mindful of park regulations and water levels. Obtain a fishing license, practice catch-and-release for specific fish (check regulations), and dispose of trash properly. Also, be aware of potential algae blooms, especially during the warmer months.

Big Bear Lake is more than just a fishing hole; it’s a gateway to a mountain adventure. So pack your sense of wonder, grab your rod, and cast your line into an experience that’s as unique as the fish you might reel in.