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Top 5s & 10s From California Boating

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1. San Diego Deep Sea
San Diego Bay is a world-class fishing destination, and boaters will find that the remarkable marine beauty, warm water, and benign seas put the bay and the nearby coast on a level rarely seen anywhere in the United States. There are trips that run to nearby Coronado and Catalina Islands for albacore, yellowtail, and white sea bass. Then there are trips lasting from a week and longer that head south of Cabo San Lucas to Clarion Island and other regional hot spots. When there are multiple hookups, it can be absolute bedlam, with anglers ducking under each other's rods and lines as they chase the fish along the railing, often in opposite directions. In other words, it's some of the most exciting fishing in the world. See chapter J6, page 488.

2. Lake San Antonio
Can you imagine catching 100 bass in a day? At San Antonio, that fantasy can become a reality. This lake is now one of the best in California for high catch rates of largemouth bass, which makes the whole San Antonio experience very special. Lake San Antonio is a long and narrow lake, covering 5,500 surface acres and offering 60 miles of shoreline. It is set at an elevation of 900 feet in the dry, hilly woodlands/grasslands of southern Monterey County. See chapter G2, page 401.

3. Golden Gate, San Francisco
A salmon-fishing trip here starts with a boat ride past such national treasures as Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. How can you beat that? Many people know they can't. Trips heading out beyond the Golden Gate venture to the richest marine region on the Pacific Coast, where anglers often get the highest catch rates for salmon anywhere. See chapter E1, page 272.

4. Santa Barbara Deep Sea
Beautiful beaches? An emerald-green sea that's warm to the touch? Waves that often lap at the shore? An excellent boat ramp and harbor that offers easy access to nearby fishing grounds? Perhaps the best climate anywhere on the California coast? Right on all counts, and that's what makes the Santa Barbara coastline extraordinary. Powerboaters who launch at the harbor can embark on an odyssey through dense kelp forests, oil platform drilling rigs, and the offshore Channel Islands, an abundant and varied saltwater habitat that will fulfill any angler's dream. See chapter H3, page 427.

5. Smith River
Smith River is unforgettable, thanks to its great natural beauty; redwoods, firs, and pines; granite-lined gorges; and the free-flowing water. There's no place like it. There's also no place else in California with more big steelhead in the winter. The average catch here is a 10-pounder, and more 20-pounders are hooked, sometimes even caught, than anywhere in the state. See chapter A-, page 51.

6. Lake Cachuma
Cachuma has become one of the hottest bass lakes in America, for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. About 48,500 trout are stocked here yearly, and they are like growing pills for the bass. The lake is set at an elevation of 780 feet in the foothills east of Santa Ynez. When full, it is lovely and big, covering 3,200 acres. See chapter H3, page 425.

7. Lake Almanor
Lake Almanor is big and beautiful, featuring sapphire-blue waters and views of snowcapped Mount Lassen to the northwest. In the spring and fall, fishing for trout and salmon is often excellent, not so much for the number of fish, but rather for their size. Excellent, that is, providing you can handle them. Once you figure out this lake, trout and salmon in the four- and five-pound class might be your average catch. See chapter C3, page 164.

8. El Capitan Lake
The bassers call this place 'El Cap,' usually with a hint of reverence in their voices. While you might hear stories about the bass at other lakes, El Cap is the one that produces them. The water clarity is typically only fair here, which makes the bass far less spooky than at most lakes. Catch rates are high. See chapter J6, page 487.

9. Convict Lake
Although this lake features spectacular high mountain scenery, it is known primarily for fishing, particularly for the good catch rates of rainbow trout and the rare but huge brown trout. See chapter E5, page 355.

10. San Pablo Reservoir
Daybreak at San Pablo Reservoir is one of the prettiest boating scenes in the Bay Area, highlighted by blues and greens, placid water, and fishing boats trailing fresh, white wakes. Trout fishing serves as the main attraction here. The lake gets the highest trout stocks of any lake in California, with a large number of 12- to 15-inchers and a sprinkling of 8- to 15-pounders. See chapter E1, page 280. For detailed fishing information, see the companion book California Fishing.

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