Looking for a place to go fishing in Sonoma County?
If you want to go fishing in Sonoma County you’ve come to the right place.
If you’re looking to plan a family fishing trip, teach your son or daughter how to fish for the first time, or want to find a close place to go fishing after work or school — Kyle Kazak has the taken the time to assemble a comprehensive list of places to fish throughout Sonoma County, California.
The Fishing in Sonoma County list includes lakes, ponds, rivers and streams along with details about each location such as surface area, elevation, Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) ID and the fish species present.
Fountaingrove Lake Freshwater
- Type: Reservoir (Fountaingrove Dam)
- City: Santa Rosa, CA
- GNIS ID: 1799345
- Area: 33 acres (13 ha)
- Surface elevation: 495′ (151 m)
- Fish: Bluegill, Brown bullhead, Largemouth bass
Lake Ralphine Freshwater
- Type: Reservoir
- City: Santa Rosa, CA
- GNIS ID: 231194
- Area: 19 acres (7.7 ha)
- Surface elevation: 256′ (78 m)
- Fish: Bluegill, Brown bullhead, Carp, Channel catfish, Largemouth bass, Rainbow trout
Lake Sonoma Freshwater
- Type: Reservoir (Warm Springs Dam)
- City: Healdsburg, CA
- GNIS ID: 234892
- Area: 3,600 acres (1,500 ha)
- Surface elevation: 200′ (61 m)
- Fish: Largemouth bass, Bluegill, Channel catfish, Brown bullhead, Redear sunfish
Lucchesi Park Pond Freshwater
- Type: Reservoir
- City: Petaluma, CA
- GNIS ID: n/a
- Area: 4.5 acres (1.8 ha)
- Surface elevation: 36′ (11 m)
- Fish: Black crappie, Brown bullhead, Channel catfish, Common carp, Bluegill, Largemouth bass, Koi carp, Smallmouth bass
Petaluma River Brackish
- Type: Stream
- City: Petaluma, CA
- GNIS ID: 253749
- Area: 5,000 acres (2,023 ha)
- Length: 18 miles (29 km)
- Surface elevation: 332′ (101 m)
- Fish: Black bullhead, Bluegill, Central Coast coho salmon, Common carp, Golden shiner, Green sturgeon, Green sunfish, Heardhead, Inland threespine stickleback, Pacific lamprey, Redear sunfish, River lamprey, Sacramento hitch, Sacramento pikeminnow, Sacramento splittail, Sacramento sucker, Striped bass, Western brook lamprey, Western mosquitofish, White sturgeon
Roberts Lake Freshwater
- Type: Reservoir (Roberts Lake Dam)
- City: Rohnert Park, CA
- GNIS ID: 1799646
- Area: 5 acres (2.0 ha)
- Surface elevation: 98′ (30 m)
- Fish: Black crappie, Bluegill, Brown bullhead, Channel catfish, Common carp, Green sunfish, Koi carp, Largemouth bass, Rainbow trout
Salmon Creek Freshwater
Salmon Creek is an 18.3-mile-long (29.5 km) stream in western Sonoma County, California that springs from coastal hills west of the town of Occidental and empties into the Pacific Ocean north of Bodega Head. Salmon Creek is home to Steelhead Trout and the nearly extirpated Coho Salmon.
- Type: Stream
- City: Occidental, Freestone, Bodega & Salmon Creek
- GNIS ID: 232281
- Source: 2 mi (3 km) west of Occidental, CA
- Inflow: Nolan Creek, Tannery Creek, Fay Creek, Coleman Valley Creek, Finley Creek
- Outflow: Pacific Ocean
- Length: 18.3 miles (29.5 km)
- Surface elevation: 0′ (0 m)
- Fish: California Roach, Coastrange Sculpin, Coho salmon, Pacific Lamprey, Pacific Staghorn Sculpin, Prickly Sculpin, Steelhead/steelhead trout, Riffle Sculpin, River Lamprey, Sacramento Sucker, Shiner Perch, Starry Flounder, Surf Smelt, Threespine Stickleback, Tidewater Goby, Topsmelt, Western Brook Lamprey
- Additional resources: Salmon Creek Estuary Study
Spring Lake Freshwater
- Also known as: Santa Rosa Creek Reservoir
- Type: Reservoir (Santa Rosa Creek Dam)
- City: Santa Rosa, CA
- GNIS ID: 232564
- Area: 154 acres (62 ha)
- Surface elevation: 292′ (89 m)
- Fish: Black crappie, Brown bullhead, Channel catfish, Common carp, Bluegill, Largemouth bass, Smallmouth bass, White crappie
26 comments on “Fishing in Sonoma County”
I have picked up fishing as a hobby in the past half-year or so. Had it as a hobby as a younger man! Have been to Lake Ralphine and Spring Lake a couple of times. No luck there. Spring lake is now FULL of weeds and water is low. Water is low anywhere these days due to an exceptional drought. I went to Ralphine a couple of times but with a spinning rod and reel combo. Did not know what I was doing. Had never used a spinning rod. There is a lot of fishing pressure near the dam, and lots of people there. Don’t even try to fly fish if you’re near the dam. You’ll catch an unhappy passer-by and open yourself to liability. At Ralphine, actually saw a school of trout pass by, and there were several people there. Hilarious and ironic! Have gone to Fountaingrove Lake quite a few times, and have not caught anything, plus had bad backlash on my reel quite often. Had to have it adjusted. Most people actually catching bass there have been in either boats or kayaks. Most of the shore is inaccessible due to the golf course being private land.
I would say your best bet is either the Petaluma River or Russian River, when the water gets higher, and a few days after a decent rain. (If it ever really rains in this area regularly again!) Please do not go to Roberts Lake anymore. There is trash all over the golf course side, and homeless people hanging out there regularly. Not a good place to be, esp. after dark. I have even heard of heroin needles being found there as well. No bites there either. If you do go to the Petaluma River get a big rod and at least 14 lbs. test, and anchovies. Put some decent weight on the line as well. I have heard it’s good fishing out there, and will need to try it. I guess you have to have patience, and I am not a patient guy. I will say that Spring Lake and Lake Ralphine have tons of people walking by. If you are a solitary person like myself, fish elsewhere. Another funny note: One time at Fountaingrove, it was spring and spawning was going on. I did see while i was fishing with a lunker lure, two big largemouth bass spawning, right in front of me. Best bass porn I have ever seen!! Fishing has been pretty bad this year, hate to say it. Had lots more luck when I fished years ago.
Lucchesi Park pond:
what should i use for bass:
what should i use for carp:
what should i use for catfish:
what should i use for: panfish
I apologize for the delayed response. When fishing at Lucchesi Park, I’d recommend using a live worm with a bobber, especially if you’re going for the smaller (pan) fish. I’d also recommend using really a really small hook with or without added weight(s).
If you’re looking for some of the elusive catfish and the occasional bass, I’d recommend hot dogs and fishing them off the bottom.
I hope that helps and good luck!
Thanks for putting this guide together! I’m teaching my kids to fish and we live in Petaluma. Spent a couple hours at Lucchesi Park yesterday and got one bite off a small Panther Martin but didn’t set it. Pretty sure it was a largemouth. I put different spinner baits on my kids hooks with no success. What do you recommend for baits or lures there?
I personally have had great success using hot dogs. They stay on the hook really well and you can get like 6 baits out of a single one. At Roberts Lake especially, hot dogs should work well since the turtles won’t be able to eat them as easily as other baits like worms (I’ve caught 3 red-eared sliders out of Roberts Lake while catfishing with worms).
If you’re not having luck I’d keep switching spots. I’d stick to the road-side of Roberts Lake while when fishing for catfish where I’d recommend the opposite (golf course) side for bass fishing. If you’re looking for carp/koi they’re most often concentrated on the dog park (North) side near the reeds (just watch for them boiling up).
Let me know if you have any other questions.
I hope that helps and good luck!
Hi Kyle, thanks for the smallmouth spots. One more quick question. I have never fished for catfish and carp in my life and I want to start. I am planning to go to roberts lake around 6:00 pm. Do you suggest any baits for the catfish and carp in there?
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of smallmouth bass spots in Sonoma County but there are a few.
Regarding fishing for smallmouth bass on the Russian River, there’s an old Press Democrat article from May 24, 2016, titled Chasing smallmouth bass on the Russian River you should check out.
Hope that helps and good luck!
Good smallmouth bass spots?
In my opinion the fishing in Santa Rosa is terrible. I don’t Bass fish anymore unless I am really bored. Apparently there are Bass in these waters but I’ve never seen them or seen anyone catch one. Many years ago Spring Lake produced a record largemouth, but those days are long gone now I’m afraid. I am mainly after catfish, trout and edible-size sunfish. I have fished Lakes Ralphine and Spring a half dozen times in 2020 and only caught one fish – the smallest bluegill I have ever caught. I have never even had bites that would suggest that these waters contain adult fish – lots of minnows though!. I have fished Fountaingrove Reservoir a few times and never got a single bite. Fish and Game should focus their stocking efforts to channel catfish in Sonoma County and put less emphasis on trout. It’s too hot up here and the fisheries are too shallow, warm and full of weeds. Perfect for catfish!!! Reservoirs experience heavy fishing pressure and the fish have nowhere to go. People also tend to pollute the area with all their trash.
Many many years ago I did a fair amount of fishing on the Russian River in the Guerneville area. The fishing isn’t great on the Russian but there is much more variety and opportunities throughout the year as fish make their runs. The river is the only place I would expect to get any action or catch anything edible here in Sonoma County – unless you enjoy catching and releasing the ever present and somewhat redundant under sized Bass.
Lately I have been going out to Bodega Bay in search of surf perch. I haven’t had much luck. I used to catch a lot of perch In Humboldt County, but the ocean was a lot calmer up there. Around Bodega Bay the tides surge and the waves are big enough to surf which means my measly fishing tackle cant reach the 100 yards that I need to in order to get passed the breakers. I guess I need a bigger pole and larger weights. I also don’t pay enough attention to the tide charts.
I have not yet fished Lake Sonoma or Petaluma River. I will try Petaluma River soon, it has what it takes to produce fish. I read that Lake Sonoma has poor shore-fishing access which seems stupid. Why hasn’t/doesn’t government agencies or a nonprofit clear a place for people to access and enjoy the Lake? I guess they don’t want people’s business/recreation there.
Fishing is Santa Rosa isn’t what I’ve heard stories about from 20 years ago . I haven’t even got a single good bite! It is fine for kids or as an excuse to get out of the house, but Santa Rosa is known for good vineyards, not good fisheries.
In Sonoma County, I’d recommend going to fish at Robert Lake in Rohnert Park. There are lots of panfish like bluegill and green sunfish and they’re pretty easy to catch using very small hooks with cheese or bread. I like using the Kraft Singles because it’s really malleable and you can roll it into a small ball around the hook. Bread works really well too but it’s harder to mold onto the hook and you run the risk of catching a carp when fishing at Roberts Lake using bread. I’d also recommend using a bobber when fishing for sunfish.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
Where can my grandkids and I catch blue Gil. They just want to catch something ? Also what bait to use ?
In Sonoma County, your best bet is to go to one of the lakes where the California Department of Fish and Wildlife regularly plants catchable rainbow trout. As of right now, Lake Ralphine is your best bet.
I would keep your eye on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fish Planting Schedule for Sonoma County. As of right now, it doesn’t look like they’ve planted rainbow trout in Lake Ralphine since the middle of March (03/08/2020 – 03/14/2020). The trout plants can happen anytime so it’s best to check that link daily.
There still could be some holdover trout lingering around and your best bet to catch them from the shore would be right in front of the dam. The dam at Lake Ralphine is along the same shoreline as the little boat launch. You can’t miss the large earthen dam. The trout like to sit out maybe 50 feet or so in the deeper, cooler water.
Let me know if you have any other questions and good luck!
Kyle, I’ve been taking my 6 year old grandson fishing to many lakes in Sonoma County during this COVID-19 summer. Thanks to your website we found Lake Nagasawa. He’s happy catching bluegill and sunfish and has caught several large bass on private property ponds so he knows how to fish. He really wants to catch a trout that he can eat. It looks like our only option is Lake Ralphine. We have been there a few times so far. Is it possible to catch a legal size trout from the bank? If it is do you have a recommendation of where that would be? Or is there another location for trout?
Thank you, Carolyn
I have not been to Robert Lake in about 18 months or so.
The largemouth bass population seems that it has always been scarce but there is plenty of small panfish (bluegill, green sunfish and hybrids) and the occasional white crappie. Roberts Lake is also home to a thriving population of common and koi carp. I’d recommend using small baits like jigs or rooster tails along the side closest to the dog park.
If you’re bottom fishing with worms be careful since I’ve accidentally caught 2 turtles using that method.
Hope that answers your question.
Have you caught anything in roberts lake recently? like within the past 6 months to a year? I have been there multiple times and no bites. Anything I have seen online either says they stopped stocking the lake or are videos of people catching fish but over three years ago. Thank you.
I don’t have too much experience fishing in saltwater from the beach but I like the beaches in and around Bodega Bay. They have plenty of parking and usually don’t have as many swimmers.
As far as catfishing I recommend either Lake Ralphine in Santa Rosa or Stafford Lake in Novato. Both of those lakes I can confirm both have lots of channel catfish but the ones coming out of Stafford Lake are definitely larger fish on average.
I hope that helps.
Hi Kyle, great website. I have a walking disability and have a couple of questions. I would like to know which beaches are best for fishing and where would you recommend for catfishing?
The best places to catfish at night in Sonoma County would be somewhere like Roberts Lake in Rohnert Park or Lake Ralphine in Santa Rosa. They’re both easily accessible by car and I’ve caught catfish at both lakes in the evening time so I know they’re channel catfish in there.
Best spots to go catfishing at night? Going up to sonoma county to visit my bestfriend that I havent seen in a couple of years and we want to go catfishing.
The best places to fly fish for trout in Sonoma County would be Lake Ralphine/Ralphine Lake in Santa Rosa. I’d back that recommendation because Lake Ralphine is the only Sonoma County lake that the California Department of Fish & Wildlife regularly plant with catchable Rainbow Trout.
As far as fishing Sonoma County rivers I’d have to say the Russian River would have some trout but less reliable targeting.
According to “Fishing in the City“:
I hope this helps and good luck!
— Kyle Kazak
Where’s the closest and/or best places to fly fish for trout around Sonoma County, lake or stream?
A great place to start fishing for panfish in Sonoma County would be Roberts Lake in Rohnert Park, or Lake Ralphine in Santa Rosa.
The California Department of Fish & Wildlife plants Rainbow trout in Lake Ralphine about once per month or so. Take a look to see past and future plans scheduled.
Hope this helps and good luck!
Any good spot for crappie or blue Gil fishing? New to this whole fishing thing and would like to get my son started on a good hobby and start off with some smaller fish.
Howarth Park also good for Fishing of the bank. They stock the lake with fish every 3 weeks I believe. I go with my baby in her stroller and fish with her next to me.
In Sonoma County I’d recommend going to the dock at Roberts Lake in Rohnert Park or Lucchesi Park in Petaluma. The entire shore of Lucchesi Park is completely accessible using a wheelchair since it’s all paved. You can definitely catch largemouth bass out of both bodies of water. Hope that helps!
Like to know where I can fish for large mouth bass from shore because I’m in a wheelchair?
Any access to any lakes for wheelchair user would be appreciated .