Fishing in San Diego River, Fish Species & Best Spots

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San Diego city has some of the top fishing spots and opportunities in the united states. It has so many lakes, reservoirs and rivers in near range of the city. That is why it comes in the best cities in america as well and some even call it the fishing paradise in California. While each of these hotspot is special in a different way for different species. The San Diego stream is also playing important role in the rich fish habitat of the area. But fishing in San Diego river is extremely overlooked due to the abundance of great spots all around.

The San Diego river flows from Santee in the east and in the west of some small reservoirs. It flows all the way through different reservoirs and parks all the way to the west. It flows west all the way to the west to center of San Diego city and finally falls into the ocean. On its way to city center of San Diego, the area has several large and famous fishing hotspots.

The priority of fishing in San Diego river over other spots its great surrounding. It has the forester creek flowing near and falling into it near Kumeyaay lake campground.

Fish species in San Diego river

The San Diego river has multiple famous species having very large populations. The major and most widely available fish species are bluegill, bass and common carp. However other species like black crappie, channel catfish and spotted bass also has visible presence in the water. Anglers fishing in San Diego river are mostly targeting for blue gill, carp and catfish. Easily available largemouth mostly overlooked for no reason.

Here is the guide for fishing each of the major fish species and their best spots at San Diego river.

Bear river is also an amazing fishing river near San Diego river, you can read about fishing in bear river here.


The river of San Diego is full of large and good quality blue gill fish from end to end. The quality of fish in the area is amazing and many anglers including those living near are always busy fishing the bluegills. Size of these fish are usually near 10 to 14 inches and mostly near half a pound. Large bluegills are have been caught but they are usually at the peak of its season.

For bluegills the best spots you should look for are on the reservoirs and large waterbodies on the stream. The areas near the Kumeyaay lake are incredibly great for the species. Including the lake the whole area of the waterway is deeper than other parts of the stream.

Generally you should target for moderate waterflow areas. Targeting timber and large rock covers are more impactful for fishing Bluegill. Anglers who has experience of bluegill in the area always recommend the upper San Diego river.

Carp fishing San Diego river

The whole waterway is extremely famous for common carp population and its great quality. This waterway is one of the most famous spots in California for its decent size carps. The species really attracts people towards fishing especially during the season. Except for the very cold months when carp presence decrease in its waters due to very low temperature. All the other months are good for fishing carp in San Diego river.

You will find carp mostly in spring and summer, spring is great for large fish overall. And the best places to find them on the river are the places that has a little more depth. The lake on the stream is also known for good quality carp during spring months.

Rainy weather gives further confidence to the fish to stay near to the bank. You can use a fly rod or white bread is also known well to lure them in the river.

Largemouth bass

If you want to target largemouth bass somewhere near in San Diego. Then this river is literally the best place that anyone can recommend. That is not just because there are many largemouth bass living in the waters. In the area there is no lack of largemouth fishing spots, but this spot is special. It usually has near to no anglers fishing for bass in the area, the competition for the species is almost zero.

Here are some great tips that will help you find bass in the river.

Despite having many of big largemouth this river has no trend of catching bass on it. All the spots considered better for bass are usually free of people and anglers can enjoy spending time in peace.

The best months for fishing bass in San Diego are August to October. However you can find it any time of the year as the spot is full of fish.

Most of the times bass on the river are decent size but not very large. And small under-spin lures are most of the time affective to attract fish.

Black crappie fishing in San Diego river

Crappies are usually found in the river but it is not very common in most of its areas. The most common species is black crappie mostly found in the are of forester creek tributary and further downriver. They are usually near hard muddy bottom and usually hangout in shallow water.

You can go through these techniques to locate crappie at the spot.

You can easily spot them from the bank if you find a good population. The best season for crappies in the river is spring when they are yet thinking of spawning.

Covered areas by wood and other places near the bank having bushes are the best places to find a good population of crappie. You can enjoy fishing crappie in the river from end to end during the top months.

Channel catfish

Cannel catfish has been seen hanging out in the waters many times. But the species is still rare and hard to find, if you have much experience to spot them at the waters. Then San Diego river can be lucky spot for fishing catfish. Each time a catfish is caught at the bank is more than average size, sometimes even more than 10 kg.

If you are a catfish lover then here are some of the best catfish fishing spots for you.

Spotted bass at San Diego river

These are more like largemouth bass having almost the same season and spots to find. However these can be a little more deeper and the lakes over the San Diego river are having more spotted bass.

Final thoughts

From bluegill to crappie or common carp all the fish living in the river are having extreme quality. It is a great fishing spot for all of the species it has. Its amazing location and the lower competition makes it even better.

You can read about these great fishing rivers too.