A Guide To Where Can You Fish Without A License In California

Fishing is an activity which belongs to the list of hobbies, yet, it is one of the renowned professions for the people who survive or earn by this occupation. Whenever we hear the word fishing, two images become visible to our mind. 

One is a boat full of fishermen catching fish by using professional instruments from seashores. Another image is a person sitting on a vessel right in the middle of a lake or reservoir and holding a fishing rod. 

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, people can do free fishing for two days every year. 

Moreover, a license or a permit is an extra hassle and may cost around $100-1000. Hence, where can you fish without a license in California, let’s find it out in a while. Before that you must know there are plenty of illicit places where fishing is strictly off-limits to civilians.

Places Where Can You Fish Without A License In California

As a Californian, we ought to be familiar with a couple of days named Free Fishing Days. During these two days according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, people of California are free to catch fish as well as enjoy it as their meals.

These two days are randomly selected and 2022’s Free Fishing Days are 2 July and 3 September. For more details and to check the free fishing spots you may directly visit the authority webpage

Where Can You Fish Without A License In California
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Just remain aware, on the off chance of fishing Steelhead, Salmon and Sturgeon, novice fishermen must incorporate the report card; other than that, all fishes are free to catch from the reservoirs. 

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, license is must in terms of fishing from the state-owned waterways, ponds or lakes. Exception is the Piers. 

The piers are generally bridge-like ways from the shoreline. However, the piers must be without access or restrictions to the allowance of the civilians for free. 

Though it requires no license, yet, the other rules are there to maintain the fishing. This list of rules includes-

  1. Minimum size of the fish.
  2. The size of the bag for a person.
  3. Anglers’ report card
  4. Seasonal factors.

Now here are the top piers where you can catch fishes with a fishing rod in California state.

  • San Diego

One of the warm counties in California is San Diego. This is a large coastal city which offers amazing beaches and parks. In addition, one can go to a pier and enjoy fishing as a sport. 

Here are the top piers of this county-

  1. Imperial Beach Pier
  2. Embarcadero Pier
  3. Crystal Pier
  4. Oceanside Pier
  5. Shelter Island Pier
  6. J Street Marina Pier
  7. National City Pier
  8. Coronado Fishing Pier

Enormous people are making crowds at these immensely popular spots for the purpose of fishing from San Diego county.

  • Orange County

Another Southern region of the thereof realm incorporates Disneyland, vast shopping places and plenty of restaurants. Since, this county stands just at the shoreline of the North Pacific ocean, there are several piers for hooking fish

Some most popular piers and jetties are-

  1. San Clemente Pier
  2. Dana Point Harbour Pier
  3. Dana Point Jetty
  4. Newport Harbor South Jetty
  5. Newport Harbor North Jetty
  6. Newport Beach Pier
  7. Seal Beach Pier
  8. Balboa Pier
  9. Huntington Beach Pier
  • Los Angeles County

Another favored place for not only Californians but the whole world is Los Angeles. None can resist themselves from the relishes and welcoming aspects of this county. It is also from the Southern part of California. 

Plenty of places are there for the people who are into catching fish as a hobby. At the free fishing spot you will certainly experience massive crowds of fishermen who take part in fishing as sports during summer and holidays. 

Some of the free piers and jetties are-

  1. Malibu Pier
  2. Venice Pier
  3. Santa Monica Pier
  4. Marina Del Rey South Jetty
  5. Marina Del Rey North Jetty
  6. Warehouse Pier
  7. Shoreline Aquatic Park Pier 1
  8. Shoreline Aquatic Park Pier 2
  9. Belmont Pier
  10. Cabrillo Mole
  11. Avalon Pier
  12. Warehouse One Pier
  13. Redondo Beach Pier
  14. King harbor Breakwater
  • San Francisco County

We can barely find one who has not learnt the name San Francisco. One of the stunning counties in California state offers enormous upper hand priorities and trump cards to the people who desire to be in bait fishing for Striped Bass, Chinook Salmon, Halibut, and White Sturgeon.

The free spots of this counties are-

  1. Islais Creek Pier
  2. Pier 7
  3. Pier 14
  4. Pier 45
  5. Muni Pier
  6. Fort Mason Pier 2
  7. Fort Mason Pier 3
  8. San Francis Jetty
  9. Candlestick Fishing Pier
  10. Torpedo Wharf Pier
  • Alameda County

A small county Alameda lies just next to Oakland and offers the privileges to catch fish to the people with no cost. It is more like an island rather than an inland area. Hence, one can expect a set of stunning emotions towards fishing. 

The cost-free spots of the Alameda County are-

  1. Dumbarton Pier
  2. Doolittle Drive Pier
  3. Arrowhead Marsh Pier
  4. Veteran’s Pier (Except the walking bridge next to it)
  5. Alameda Rock Wall
  6. San Antonio Pier
  7. San Antonio North Pier (Also known as Best Western Pier)
  8. Port View Park Pier
  9. Emeryville Marina Pier
  • Contra Costa County

A huge county with the population of  1.1 million spreads the north part of the East Bay region. The border of this county lies as shoreline by 60%. Therefore, it is obvious that the availability of piers must be high. 

And the free fishing piers and jetties of this county are-

  1. Barbara and Jay Vincent Park Jetty
  2. Barbara and Jay Vincent Park Pier
  3. Martinez Marina Pier
  4. Eckley Pier
  5. Ferry Point Pier
  6. Pt. Pinole Pier
  7. John J Sheridan Pier

There are some other minor counties which offer the free fishing piers, jetties and breakwater. Such as,

Ventura County

  1. Port Hueneme Pier
  2. Ventura Pier

San Luis Obispo County

  1. Avila Pier
  2. Morro Bay South T-Pier
  3. Morro Bay North Pier
  4. Morro Bay South Jetty
  5. San Simeon Pier
  6. Anchor Memorial Park Pier
  7. Pismo Beach Pier

Monterey County

  1. Monterey Municipal Wharf 2
  2. Monterey Coast Guard Breakwater
  3. Moss Landing Breakwater South (Except the Rock Wall Touching Land and Jetty inside the Harbour)

Santa Cruz County

  1. Seacliff State Beach Pier
  2. Capitola Wharf
  3. Santa Cruz Wharf

San Mateo County

  1. Halfmoon Bay Jetty East
  2. Halfmoon Bay Jetty West
  3. Pillar Point Harbor Fishing Pier
  4. Pacifica Pier
  5. Redwood City Pier
  6. Coyote Point Pier
  7. Oyster Point Pier
  8. Sierra Point Pier


  1. Can you fish for free in CA?

Of course you can fish in CA or California without obtaining a license. But there are some conditions to apply. 

The first one is you have to fish from publicly owned water reservoirs. And it is available only for two days a year. If you desire to give your fishing hobby a try, these two days are more than enough. 

You will get to know about the skills you reserve regarding fishing. While catching sturgeon and salmon, don’t forget to bring your report card.

Other conditions are you have to catch fishes from the Pacific sea. In this condition, the size of the bag, the minimum size of fish is mentioned by authority. 

There are plenty of fishing piers and jetties where you can go for fishing. Determine the county first and search for the webpage of CDFW. The free fishing piers are there. You can go to any of those and find the pleasure of fishing. 

During the holidays, enormous people come to enjoy the fishing sport. You can join one of them.

  1. Do I need a license to fish from shore in California?

No, a license is not mandatory when you are fishing from the shore. But it should be only from piers which are free to catch fish.

There are plenty of piers which have no regulations regarding fishing. But, remember the laws regarding bag size and minimum fish size to catch. You may get fined nonetheless. Moreover, the most significant part of this fishing is the weather information. 

Since it is a shoreline of the Pacific, before you go there, search for weather information.

License is necessary for those who desire to fish from the inland or state owned reservoir, lakes or pond. 

The absence of a license can cause $100-$1000 as a penalty. However, in land water sources are free to catch fish during free fishing days. There are two days and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife selects these days.


Here are the top spots that people are choosing nowadays to spend their vacation along with fishing. You rather choose on the basis of the seeking over the map that which one is closer to you. 

And yes, before you dive into fishing, learn the weather forecast of the day and check the sharpness of your hook priorly. 

Hope I answered all of your questions regarding where can you fish without a license in California.

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