Is Fly Fishing Illegal in California?

Fly fishing has been a popular sport in California for years, but is it legal? The answer depends on the location and type of fishing.

Many lakes and rivers in California are open to public fly fishing year round, while some require a special permit or license. In the state of California, it is illegal to fish without a valid license and anyone caught doing so can be fined or even jailed.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) strictly enforces fishing regulations throughout the state, including those related to fly fishing. Anglers must obtain a valid sportfishing license before they can legally fish in any body of water in the state.

These licenses are available for both residents and non-residents, with different fees for each group. Licenses must be renewed annually.

In addition to obtaining a license, anglers must also familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations specific to the body of water they intend to fish. Some areas may require catch-and-release policies, while others might have special regulations regarding bait or the number of fish that can be taken in one day. It is important to research these laws before heading out on a fishing trip.

Fly fishing can also be done on private property as long as it’s not done within 50 yards of an occupied dwelling house or within 50 yards of any public highway or road. In addition, no person may take more than five trout per day from any body of water located on private property.


Yes, fly fishing is legal in California as long as anglers have obtained a valid sportfishing license from the DFW and are aware of any local regulations that may apply to their specific location. It is important for anglers to understand all applicable laws before heading out on their next fly fishing trip.

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Michael Allen