Owen B. shares his favorite East Bay fishing spots as part of our Kid Reporter series.
Covid-19 note: Fishing tends to be a socially distant activity in the great outdoors that is available during shelter-in-place restrictions. Double-check websites below for any parking, boating, swimming, and gathering restrictions. Many, if not all, boat ramps are closed at this time.
Fishing with kids Near Oakland
Have you ever wanted to take kids fishing but not known where to go? My brother and I have grown up fishing in the East Bay and do houseboat vacations most summers. My favorite freshwater places to fish in the East Bay for beginners: Lake Chabot, Lake Temescal, Lafayette Reservoir, and San Pablo Reservoir.
Lake Chabot, Castro Valley-ish
The number one freshwater place to fish in the East Bay is Lake Chabot. For one reason mainly, easy access and ability to get to a fishing spot, followed up by good fishing and a variety of fish to catch. It has the small fish that Temescal has, but also the bigger fish of San Pablo. It has the red meat trout of Lafayette. It does not have one especially good thing, but it has a a little of the best parts of every lake. The fish in Lake Chabot are bluegill, bass, trout and catfish. If you are looking for a combination of the best parts of East Bay freshwater fishing, go to Lake Chabot. [Lots more to do at Lake Chabot with kids]
Website for parking and fishing info >>
Lake Temescal, Oakland
Number two on my countdown is Lake Temescal. This is by far the best place to take first-time fishermen. It has easy access, with two parking lots and a trail around the lake. This lake is the easiest of all of them to catch small fish. Personally, I have caught hundreds of bluegill and redear sunfish out this lake. The smaller fish are very easy to catch and will bite just about anything, from worms to bare hooks, to a small piece of rubber.
If you want to catch trout, this is an average place to go. This place would be my top pick for solely small fish, but it has horrible water quality. The water turns poisonous at least twice a year with blue green algae, and now it is currently treated in an attempt to clean the water. If you are looking to eat fish, this is not the place; the trout are low quality and white meat (the worst of the two types). The trout are also swimming in Montclair’s sewage, so they do not taste too good. If you are looking for easy fish to catch go to Lake Temescal.
Website for amenities and restrictions >>
Lafayette Reservoir, Lafayette
Lafayette Reservoir is the third best fishing place on my list because it is the best place to catch fish with the perfect mix of bigger and smaller fish. It would be my favorite, but it is one of the hardest places to access. If you are looking to catch small fish, this is a great place. In the shallow water around the docks, bluegill are plentiful and easy to catch with just a worm. If you are looking to catch bigger fish, it is also very good.
One of the best features of the lake is that it has a paved path that goes all the way around the lake. If you are looking to catch fish to eat, this is a great place because the water is so pure. The trout are red-meat (the better tasting of the two types), just as San Pablo’s trout are. The fish in this reservoir are trout, bass, bluegill, catfish and crappie. That is why I would go to Lafayette Reservoir in Orinda. [Lots more to do at Lafayette Reservoir with kids]
Website for conditions and restrictions >>
San Pablo Reservoir, El Sobrante
San Pablo Reservoir is next on my list. I consider it fourth best because it lacks the smaller, easier-to-catch fish but still has easy access, pretty location, clean water, and it takes almost no effort to get a line in the water, near the dock. This reservoir is a great fishing place for bigger fish, (2-3 pounds) and nice walks around the lake. If you are looking for fish to eat, this is another great place. Green hills around the lake give the trout high quality water to live in, which makes them good for eating. I would go to this lake after you build up a little experience. If you are wondering what kind of fish are in San Pablo, it is mainly trout, though I have caught bass there. There are some bluegill, which are small fish, and catfish are rare but still catchable. Those are the reasons why I would go to San Pablo Reservoir.
Website for conditions and restrictions >>
Lake Del Valle, Livermore
A great location in Livermore, Del Valle Regional Park provides some of the East Bay’s best fishing opportunities. Although, the lake tends to get hot in the summer, the shore is easily accessible and there are boats available for rental. There are also places to hike in the area.
Website for conditions >>
Contra Loma Reservoir, Antioch
Contra Loma Reservoir in the Contra Loma Regional Park is a great year-round fishing location in Antioch. The lake provides lots of great fishing opportunities with easy shore access. Rental Boats are not available. [Swimming at Contra Loma Lagoon is currently closed, but is incredible]
Website for updates and restrictions >>
Antioch Fishing Pier, Antioch
Another Antioch location provides access to great fishing in the San Joaquin River at Antioch/Oakley Regional Shoreline, located just upstream from Highway 160's Nejedly Bridge in Antioch. This 550-foot freshwater pier has all the fishing without the need to walk around a lake or move around very much. This location tends to get very hot in the summer months, but there is usually a breeze.
Those are, in my opinion, the best freshwater places in the East Bay for beginner fisherman. After you have gone out and tried these places, maybe you can rank them yourself.
Special thanks to Owen for giving us such a great report and photos! If your child would like to send a guest post of 10 sentences or more with two or more photos to firstname.lastname@example.org, we would love to publish it. Last year, Summer Kid Reporters wrote about Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. Get more instructions for writing Kid Reporter guest posts here.