Unique Parks for Fishing in Sonoma County

Lake Sonoma Recreation Area

Fishing is plentiful in Sonoma County, with great spots at parks on the Russian River, along the 55-mile coast, on San Pablo Bay, and by streams, lakes, and ponds.

Note that all anglers 16 years of age or older must carry a valid California sportfishing license. Other fishing regulations, as well as no-fishing areas, can change throughout the year, so it’s a good idea to consult the latest regulations before a fishing trip. Visit wildlife.ca.gov for information on licensing, species, season, size, bag limit and more.

Some parts of the Sonoma County coast are Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and fishing is NOT allowed in MPAs. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife provides details about MPAs.

Together, we can protect and preserve the beauty and natural resources of Sonoma County for generations to come. Check out our page on Sustainable Travel, and look over the Leave No Trace Seven Principles.

A man enjoys fishing in waders in the Russian River at Rio Nido, Sonoma County
Russian River, Rio Nido

Russian River Fishing

The Russian River is a year-round fishing destination, with steelhead runs in fall and winter, shad in the spring, and bass, bluegill, and catfish in summertime.

A few things anglers need to know about the Russian River:

  • Barbed hooks are not allowed on the river at any time
  • Bait cannot be used from November through April
  • Wild steelhead caught in the river must be released

Good parks for fishing the Russian River include:

Cloverdale River Park: The park offers seasonal fishing and a boat launch area with parking for kayaks, canoes, and drift boats.

Del Rio Woods: Just east of Healdsburg, this beautiful park’s gravel beach is a year-round fishing spot.

Steelhead Beach & Wohler Bridge: Both locations offer seasonal fishing and access to the Russian River for small craft such as drift boats, kayaks, and canoes. Access to the gated boat launch at either location requires a purchased gate key.

Sunset Beach River Park: Offering easy access to the Russian River, Sunset Beach is an excellent year-round spot for fishing and other river activities.

A group holds their catch for the day with Fish On Charters, Bodega Bay
Fish On Charters, Bodega Bay

Sonoma Coast Fishing

Sonoma’s 55-mile coastline is a great place to fish from shore or to venture onto the Pacific for open-ocean fishing, whether you launch your own craft or hop on a commercial fishing boat. Species you’ll find hereabouts include salmon, halibut, cod, and tuna — and, of course, our world-famous Dungeness crab.

Great places to head for a day’s fishing include:

Bodega Bay, which has something for all anglers:

  • Doran Regional Park has a rock jetty at the harbor mouth that’s a good place to fish or go crabbing, plus there’s a launch for privately owned boats.
  • Spud Point Marina, managed by the county’s regional park system, is home to day-trip sportfishing adventures offered by Bodega Bay Sport Fishing Center.
  • Westside Regional Park provides a launch for privately owned boats.
  • Fort Ross State Historic Park: Abalone and rockfish abound in coastal waters fronting and surrounding the park. All abalone divers must adhere to current legal limits and carry a current Abalone Report Card.

Gualala Point Regional Park: Offers limited seasonal fishing on the Gualala River (catch-and-release Steelhead fishing), as well as Pacific Ocean surf fishing.

Salt Point State Park: Salt Point is an excellent spot for surf fishing and abalone diving. Note, however, that marine life is protected in the Gerstle Cove State Marine Reserve and the Stewarts Point State Marine Reserve.

Sonoma Coast State Park: The waters of this amazingly beautiful park — a 17-mile stretch of beaches and bluffs — are home to species that include rockfish, perch, salmon, steelhead, and smelt. Two beaches in particular are notable for fishing:

Stillwater Cove Regional Park: Known for abalone diving. A beach launch facility, available year-round, is available to load/off-load boats or kayaks. All abalone divers must adhere to current legal limits and carry a current Abalone Report Card.

People kayak in the peaceful waters of Spring Lake Regional Park, Santa Rosa
Spring Lake Regional Park, Santa Rosa

Fishing in Lakes, Ponds, and San Pablo Bay

Austin Creek State Recreation Area: NOTE: This entire area, including Bullfrog Pond, are currently closed due to damage sustained from the Walbridge Fire. Please visit the official park’s website for reopening updates.

Howarth Park: A 152-acre community park in Santa Rosa, Howarth’s 26-acre Lake Ralphine contains largemouth bass and bluegill; it’s also stocked from fall through spring with catchable trout.

Hudeman Slough Boat Launch: NOTE: Hudeman Slough Boat Launch is currently closed for renovations; learn more about the county’s Hudeman Slough Boat Launch improvement projectThe Slough contains striped bass, among other species, and offers access to the extensive fishing available in San Pablo Bay.

Lake Sonoma: a 2,700-surface-acre lake with 50 miles of shoreline, Lake Sonoma is managed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and located a few miles northwest of Healdsburg. It’s home to largemouth and smallmouth bass, along with redear sunfish, catfish, and non-stocked native coastal rainbow trout. Shorefishing is limited because shore access is difficult, but boat rentals are available at Lake Sonoma Marina and there are two boat launches for privately owned boats.

Riverfront Regional Park: Located along the Russian River just minutes west of downtown Windsor, Riverfront features two beautiful fishing lakes holding bass, Lake Benoist and Lake Wilson (a third water body, Lake McLaughlin, does not have public access).

Spring Lake Regional Park: The county’s most popular regional park is named for its 72-acre lake, which is home to blue gill, bass, and sunfish. You can fish from the lake’s shore, or fish from a small craft (there’s a boat launch for privately-owned craft, as well as hourly boat rentals).

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park: Sugarloaf is home to the headwaters of Sonoma Creek. Trout fishing in Sonoma Creek is best in late spring and early summer (the creek is not stocked).

Trione-Annadel State Park: This park, more than 5,000 acres in size, is home to man-made 26-acre Lake Ilsanjo. The lake isn’t stocked, but maintains a steady population of bluegill and largemouth bass that draws anglers.

Find more fun things to do, or great places to stay when you come fishing in Sonoma County.

Written By Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriquez. 

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