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Fishing Lake Perris? Here’s What You Need to Know About Licenses!

Lake Perris is a popular fishing destination in Southern California, known for its excellent largemouth bass, trout, catfish, and panfish angling opportunities. Located in the Lake Perris State Recreation Area near Perris, California, this picturesque reservoir attracts thousands of anglers each year looking to hook into a trophy catch.

However, before you can wet a line at Lake Perris, it’s crucial to understand the fishing license requirements. Having the proper permits not only keeps you legal, but also supports conservation efforts to maintain the fantastic fishery. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about fishing licenses for Lake Perris.

Overview of Lake Perris Fishing

Spanning over 2,000 surface acres when full, Lake Perris offers diverse fishing opportunities for both shore and boat anglers. Some of the popular gamefish species found in the lake include:

  • Largemouth bass – Known for trophy-sized fish over 10 pounds. Best areas include the dam, island, and east end.
  • Rainbow trout – Stocked by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in the cooler months, November through April. Look for them near the dam and inlet.
  • Channel catfish – Commonly caught in the 10-20 pound range, with some up to 30 pounds. Target the southwest corner of the dam and east shallows.
  • Panfish – Healthy populations of bluegill, redear sunfish, and black crappie. Fish around structure like docks, weed beds, and submerged trees.

Other species present include spotted bass, common carp, and threadfin shad, which serve as the primary forage. With varied underwater terrain featuring rocky areas, brush, and open water, anglers can employ a range of techniques to catch fish, from finesse plastics to reaction baits.

California Fishing License Requirements

A valid California fishing license is required for all anglers aged 16 and older to fish at Lake Perris and other public waters in the state. You have several license options depending on residency and how often you plan to fish:

  • Annual licenses – Most common choice, valid for a calendar year. Resident $54.00, Non-resident $145.07 (2023 fees).
  • Short-term licenses – Available as 1-day or 2-day permits. Ideal for tourists or occasional anglers. 1-day $17.54, 2-day $27.00 (2023 fees).
  • Reduced-fee licenses – Discounted annual licenses for certain groups like low-income seniors, recovering military, and disabled veterans. Fees vary.
  • Lifetime licenses – One-time fee based on age, allows fishing privileges for life as a California resident. Fees range from $579.25 to $1,054.75 (2023 costs).

You can purchase a fishing license online through the CDFW website, by phone at (800) 565-1458, or from authorized license agents like sporting goods stores and marinas. Note that fishing licenses are non-transferable and must be carried on your person while fishing.

It’s important to remember that a basic fishing license only covers finfish like bass and trout. If you plan to fish for lobster, abalone, or sturgeon, or use a second rod in inland waters, you’ll need to purchase additional report cards or validations.

Lake Perris-Specific Regulations

In addition to having a California fishing license, anglers must follow specific regulations for Lake Perris set by the CDFW and State Parks. These include:

  • Bag and size limits – Bass (largemouth and spotted): 5 fish combined, 12″ minimum length. Trout: 5 fish, no size limit. Catfish: 10 fish, no size limit. Sunfish and crappie: 25 fish combined, no size limit.
  • Bait restrictions – Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used in certain areas like the inlet and outlet. Elsewhere, bait like nightcrawlers, cut baits, and artificial dough baits are permitted. Crayfish may be used as bait but must be purchased from a bait shop, not taken from the lake.
  • Boating rules – All vessels must be inspected for quagga mussels before launching. 5 mph speed limit in designated areas. No boats allowed within 500 feet of the dam or 100 feet of shoreline. Float tubes permitted, but waders must stay within 150 feet of shore.
  • Park fees – In addition to a fishing license, day use and boat launch fees apply. Day use is $10 per vehicle, boat launch is $10 per vessel (2023 rates). Annual passes available.

It’s crucial to review the most current regulations before fishing, as they may change periodically. Check the Lake Perris State Recreation Area website and CDFW Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations for updates.

Fishing Tournaments at Lake Perris

Lake Perris hosts several bass fishing tournaments throughout the year, drawing competitive anglers from across the region. If you plan to participate in or organize a tournament, there are additional permitting requirements.

All tournaments, regardless of size, must obtain a CDFW Fishing Contest Permit. Applications should be submitted at least 60 days prior to the event. In addition, a State Parks Special Event Permit is required, along with proof of liability insurance. Fees vary based on the number of participants and type of event.

Tournament organizers are responsible for ensuring all participants have valid fishing licenses and follow all regulations. Catch and release is encouraged to minimize impact on the fishery. More details on tournament permitting can be found on the Lake Perris State Recreation Area website.

Tips for a Successful Fishing Trip

To make the most of your time on the water at Lake Perris, consider the following tips:

  • Best times to fish – Spring and fall tend to offer the most consistent action, especially for bass and trout. Catfish bite well in summer. Early mornings and evenings are typically most productive.
  • Gear recommendations – Medium spinning or baitcasting gear with 8-15 lb line is versatile for bass and catfish. Lighter line in the 4-8 lb range is better for trout and panfish. Bring a variety of baits including worms, jigs, crankbaits, and topwater lures.
  • Boat rentals – Kayaks, motorboats, and pontoon boats are available for rent at the marina, which is currently undergoing renovations. Call ahead for availability and rates. Private boats can be launched from the ramps for a fee.
  • Camping and lodging – The Lake Perris State Recreation Area campground offers over 400 sites for tents and RVs, plus group camps. Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends and holidays. Several hotels and vacation rentals are also nearby in Perris and Moreno Valley.

By following regulations and investing in the proper licenses and permits, anglers can enjoy a fun and rewarding fishing experience at Lake Perris. As always, practice catch and release when possible, pack out trash, and be courteous to other lake users. Tight lines!


Obtaining a fishing license is a critical step in planning a successful trip to Lake Perris. Not only is it legally required, but it also helps fund conservation and stocking efforts to keep the fishery thriving for generations to come.

By understanding the different license options, following lake-specific regulations, and coming prepared with the right gear and knowledge, you’ll be well on your way to landing that trophy bass, trout, or catfish. Remember to always check for the most current information before heading out.

Lake Perris offers a fantastic fishing experience for anglers of all levels, from first-timers to seasoned tournament pros. So get licensed, grab your rod, and come enjoy the scenic beauty and exciting angling opportunities that await at this Southern California gem. Happy fishing!

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