Fishing at Howard Lake: Exploring the Enigmatic Waters for Ultimate Angling

Howard Lake, situated amidst the serene beauty of Mendocino National Forest, beckons anglers with its tranquil waters and abundant fish population, offering a paradise for fishing enthusiasts. At an elevation of 3,852 feet, this pristine lake provides an ideal setting for connecting with nature while indulging in the thrill of fishing. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the diverse fish species that inhabit Howard Lake, uncover its rich history, and offer valuable tips and recommendations to elevate your fishing experience to new heights.

When you cast your line into the clear depths of Howard Lake, you enter a realm inhabited by a variety of fish species, each offering its unique challenge and allure. Rainbow trout, generously stocked by the US Forest Service, dominate the waters, providing anglers with exciting opportunities to test their skills. Largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, and bullhead catfish also call Howard Lake home, adding to the diversity of fishing experiences available to visitors.

The history of Howard Lake is intertwined with the rugged landscapes of Mendocino National Forest, where it stands as a testament to nature’s enduring beauty. Despite its remote location, Howard Lake attracts anglers seeking both excellent fishing and primitive camping opportunities. The unconventional approach of the Department of Fish and Game, which stocks the lake via tanker truck, ensures robust rainbow trout that exceed the expectations of anglers.

For first-time anglers venturing to Howard Lake, we offer five invaluable tips to enhance your fishing experience. Experimentation with a variety of baits and lures, targeting diverse underwater structures, and fishing during optimal times are just a few strategies to increase your chances of success. Patience and persistence are key virtues when fishing at Howard Lake, where dedication often leads to rewarding catches.

As you prepare for your fishing adventure at Howard Lake, consider our top five recommendations for fishing gear to optimize your experience. From selecting the right rods and reels to stocking up on essential lures, our Gearlist provides invaluable insights tailored to the unique conditions of Howard Lake. By equipping yourself with the proper gear and adhering to responsible fishing practices, you’ll maximize your chances of a memorable and fulfilling fishing excursion at Howard Lake—a hidden gem waiting to be discovered in the heart of Mendocino National Forest.

Types of Fish at Howard Lake

When you cast your line into Howard Lake’s crystal-clear waters, you’re entering a realm inhabited by a variety of fish species. The most sought-after catches include:

  • Rainbow Trout: Abundantly stocked by the US Forest Service, rainbow trout in Howard Lake are often foot-long, offering a rewarding challenge for anglers.
  • Largemouth Bass: While not as plentiful as trout, largemouth bass can be found in the shallows and around structures, providing a diverse fishing experience.
  • Black Crappie: Thriving in the calm waters, black crappie frequent weed beds and docks, presenting a unique opportunity for panfish enthusiasts.
  • Bluegill: Prized for its light taste, bluegill can be found in areas similar to crappie, adding another dimension to the fishing experience.
  • Bullhead Catfish: Though less common, bullhead catfish lurk in the deeper areas, particularly around the inlet and outlet, adding to the lake’s varied ecosystem.

Exploring the History of Howard Lake

Tucked between Espee Ridge to the south and Little Doe Ridge to the north, Howard Lake’s history is intertwined with the pristine landscapes of Mendocino National Forest. Surprisingly remote for a drive-to lake, it offers both good fishing and primitive camping. The Department of Fish and Game takes an unconventional approach, sending a tanker truck to stock the lake, ensuring robust rainbow trout instead of smaller counterparts delivered by air. Howard Lake’s allure extends beyond fishing, with Hammerhorn Lake just six miles to the north, providing an opportunity for a two-in-one fishing adventure.

Top 5 Tips for First-Time Anglers at Howard Lake

  • Experiment with a variety of baits and lures to find what works best for different species.
  • Fish near the inlet and dam for trout, bass, and catfish, taking advantage of the diverse underwater structures.
  • Early mornings and evenings during the spring and summer months are prime times for fishing when fish are most active.
  • Utilize live bait like worms and minnows, or try jigs, spinners, and small spoons for trout and bass.
  • Exercise patience and persistence, as fishing at Howard Lake can be rewarding but requires dedication.

Top 5 Strategies and Tactics for Optimal Fishing

  • Seasonal Considerations: Plan your fishing trip during the spring and summer months for the best conditions, especially for rainbow trout.
  • Timing Matters: Fish are more active during early mornings and evenings, especially in the summer.
  • Bait and Lures: Tailor your approach with live bait for all species and experiment with different lures for specific fish.
  • Fly Fishing: Enthusiasts can find success using dry flies like Royal Wulffs and Adams dry flies for trout.
  • Patience and Perseverance: Fishing at Howard Lake can be a test of patience, but persistence is often rewarded with a bountiful catch.

Top 5 Recommendations for Fishing Gear at Howard Lake

  • Rods: Opt for medium to medium-heavy action rods for versatility in tackling different species.
  • Reels: Choose spinning or baitcasting reels based on personal preference and fishing style.
  • Lures: Carry a variety of lures, including spinners, jigs, and small spoons, to cater to the diverse fish population.
  • Check Our Gearlist: Explore our Gearlist account for specific gear recommendations, ensuring an optimized fishing experience.
  • Explore Our Gearlist: Dive into our Gearlist to discover exact gear we use, tailoring your equipment for Howard Lake’s unique conditions.

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.


Howard Lake, nestled within the majestic expanse of Mendocino National Forest, stands as a testament to the timeless allure of nature and the enduring passion of anglers. As the sun sets over the tranquil waters and the last echoes of casting lines fade into the distance, the legacy of Howard Lake continues to thrive. It’s a place where memories are made, where friendships are forged, and where the beauty of the natural world leaves an indelible mark on the soul.

In the heart of Howard Lake, amidst the towering trees and the gentle ripples of the water, anglers find solace and sanctuary. Here, amidst the serene beauty of the forest, the stresses of everyday life melt away, replaced by a sense of calm and contentment. Whether casting for rainbow trout, largemouth bass, or black crappie, every moment spent at Howard Lake is a reminder of the profound connection between humanity and the natural world.

As the seasons change and the cycles of life continue, Howard Lake remains a beacon of hope and inspiration for all who visit its shores. It’s a place where dreams are realized and where the simple act of casting a line becomes a journey of discovery and wonder. With each passing day, Howard Lake reveals new secrets and new wonders, inviting anglers to explore its depths and unlock its mysteries.

But beyond the thrill of the catch and the beauty of the surroundings, Howard Lake holds a deeper significance—a reminder of the importance of conservation and stewardship. As custodians of this pristine wilderness, it falls upon us to protect and preserve it for future generations. By practicing responsible fishing techniques and respecting the delicate balance of the ecosystem, we ensure that Howard Lake remains a sanctuary for all who seek solace in its waters.

So, as we reflect on our time at Howard Lake and the memories we’ve created, let us not simply remember the fish we’ve caught or the landscapes we’ve admired. Instead, let us carry with us the spirit of Howard Lake—the spirit of adventure, of camaraderie, and of reverence for the natural world. For in the end, it is not just the fish we catch that define our experience, but the moments we share and the connections we forge along the way.