I have fished and hiked at Lake Skinner for over 15 years so it would be accurate to say that I know the lake very well. This is one of the more challenging lakes in Southern California to fish because of the frequently fluctuating water depth. This is a man-made freshwater reservoir and is usually one of the first to be drained down when there is a drought, 2014-2015 has been some of the worst that I have seen with record low water, but I was able to use that opportunity to record future spots to fish later when the water rises back to normal conditions.
We’ve all wondered just how many fish are hanging out under those docks that are posted “No Fishing Allowed”, so I obtained permission from the local Park Ranger to do some underwater video with my GoPro beneath the dock, you will be amazed at what I found!
It was like a virtual fish bonanza down there! I almost swallowed my gum when I reviewed this video for the first time! It just goes to show you that fish are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, one of the few places that fishing is off limits and sure enough that is where the crowd is hanging out. I showed the Park Ranger before I left and he was amazed at the numbers of bass in that one small area.
The best thing I love about this lake isn’t the fishing however, it is the uncrowded quietness that you can have here, all within 15 minutes of the city. During the week that is! on weekends it can become very crowded especially with campers, Friday’s you will see a line of RV’s traveling down to the lake. However, during the week it is one of those lakes that you can spend hours at and probably only see one other person on a distant shoreline, which is a rare thing in California.
A lot of fishermen love to flip plastics in the bulrush around the lake, but I have to be honest I have never been a plastics fishermen, I just don’t have the patience it takes. I’m more of a top water fisherman, I love the rush you get when a big fish slams your bait on the top! When the Striped Bass bite is on at Lake Skinner, usually mid to late September, I love catching them. I pointed out on the map below one of my favorite places to Striper fish, off the point is a submerged island in deeper water that the Stripe like to chase bait-fish across, a Lucky Strike Sammy top water bait in clear or silver can be deadly at that time.
There used to be a restaurant over by the store, well actually there have been several in the past, but none seem to be able to make it very long because of the low attendance that this lake receives, and the high pricing. Riverside County Parks recently increased prices across all parks, to fish at Lake Skinner you have to pay both a “day use” fee of $6 and a “fishing” fee of $8 ($14 to fish per day), it used to be only $7 total to fish. Boat rentals are way overpriced, many years old, and in bad condition, I would not recommend renting a boat here. Best bet is to look online, there are several people that rent very nice bass boats and will deliver/pickup right at the lake for you.
Camping is mostly limited to RV’s or Campers, all sites are charged for either water/electric or both, so if you are wanting to camp in a tent you will still pay for one of the other as part of the site. All of the sites are dirt camping only, meaning you are not allowed to put a tent on any grass areas, I’ve done enough dirt camping in my life that I’m not going to pay to do it.
Use the interactive map below to find out more about the lake, I’ve also marked some of my own personal best fishing spots, and many tips about the areas around the lake.
|Group Campsite||33.59361796266566, -117.03772866734653||This area is designated for large group camping.|
|No Hiking or Fishing Allowed||33.58120396336342, -117.0520083932206||The area outlined by the orange line, fishing and hiking is prohibited.|
|No Hiking or Fishing||33.593959651451414, -117.05685782711953||The area outlined by the orange line, fishing and hiking is prohibited.|
|Covered/Uncovered Picnic areas||33.58917321235562, -117.03906458620622||Lots of nice shade trees and area to play. During the summer the gnats in this area are at times unbearable though.|
|Food and Drink||33.59064787029063, -117.0362321734865||Convenience stores foods and drink. Try one of the ice cream sandwiches! Good on a hot day|
|RV and Tent Sites||33.588183894948074, -117.03702887894906||This area is a mix of RV and Tent camping.|
|Water Park||33.58760915353141, -117.04023402933672||Kids Splash Park|
|Submerged Sandbar||33.58422175208999, -117.04126399759843||This is a huge sandbar that is normally submerged just under the water. I have walked across it during 2015 when the water was extremely low due to drought.|
|Bluegill Beds||33.59471422066453, -117.03704756502702||During spawning season this area is full of Bluegill spawn beds.|
|Snake Sighting||33.5862454954128,-117.04239736514864||I encountered a large Rattlesnake on this trail.|
|Fishing Spot||33.58643962172418, -117.04340180756844||Good calm water location for bass fishing|
|Fishing/Picnic Spot||33.58519459354392, -117.04310140015878||This is one of the most popular fishing areas on the lake, I normally avoid the crowd here. There are covered picnic sites in this area.|
|Snake Sighting||33.58242186602609,-117.04332272709507||I encountered a Rattlesnake in this area. Be careful walking through the low brush.|
|Snake Sighting||33.59023416089661, -117.04610889413743||Be careful in this area, twice I have seen a snake in this area while hiking. One was a rattlesnake, the other a black snake.|
|Relaxing Area||33.588241404843885, -117.04780063068029||This a nice quiet spot where you can have a good picnic, it's never been a good fishing spot because of the shallow sandy area.|
|Fishing Spot||33.59241313705221, -117.04523583510309||This is a nice rocky area which has held some good bass fishing for me in the past, the best bait to use is a jig. I have also noticed on a couple occasions crawfish in the area, which is a prime natural bass food.|
|Boat Rentals||33.592117227901724, -117.04289755260106||Fishing boat rentals are available here, the prices are very steep $$$ so I would avoid this if possible, however they are there if you need one.|
|Boat Launch||33.59133360900818, -117.04228064420022||This is one of two boat launch areas at the lake. When you are going to leave the lake your boat must be inspected by the onsite Ranger because of the freshwater mussels infestation in the lake.|
|Boat launch and dock||33.585640151474635, -117.04262933169957||This is one of two boat launch areas, fishing from the dock is not permitted. However you can fish the shoreline around the dock and I have caught many bass this way here.|
|Wildlife Sanctuary||33.581532716228246, -117.04443714057561||From this are to the dam is closed to any traffic, including hiking.|
|Hiking Trail||33.58013613660432, -117.03756254915788||Use this wide trail to access the fishing areas.|
|Stripe and Bass Fishing||33.58265328987433, -117.04472145473119||This is one of my favorite spots to catch large stripe, as well as many largemouth bass. The water drops off deep here which makes a perfect habitat. In the summer try a Lucky Strike clear floating minnow (Sammy).|
|Fishing Spot||33.582102379829436, -117.04106430710453||This is another popular fishing spot, I've seen many people fish here but never seen anyone catch a fish.|
|Stripe Fishing||33.58159960552292, -117.03811655956088||This is a popular spot for people looking to catch stripe or catfish. It's usually more used because it is the first fishing spot along the trail.|
|Parking||33.58025506740709, -117.03528544308938||This is as far as you can go in a vehicle. Park in this area to hike to the lake. Remember to lock your vehicle! and leave nothing valuable visible.|