Growing up at the southern tip of Orange County, in Southern California, there really wasn’t much in the way of ‘things to do’ when school wasn’t in session beyond surfing, spending time at the beach and … spending more time at the beach, surfing. So pretty much every summer my parents would drop me off at the YMCA with a backpack, a sleeping bag, a pat on the head and a “have a good time!”
The YMCA, back in those days, would host trips, camps, and other adventures for boys with too much free time on their hands. I got to see some great places, and had some great adventures in the back in the day when you could load 15 kids in the back of a stake bed truck and head off to camp.
One of the places I ended up at was Crystal Lake, California, which is a recreation spot with camp sites, nature trails, and a tiny little lake.
We hiked, we learned YMCA songs, and – most importantly – we fished. This is the place where I caught my very first fresh water fish, a little rainbow trout. Back in those days we didn’t have ‘catch and release,’ we had ‘catch and eat.’ I remember the cleaning, the preparing, and the cooking. I don’t remember the taste of the fish, I just remember the satisfaction of eating something I caught.
Crystal Lake Recreation Area is located in the San Gabriel Mountains, about 26 miles north of Azusa off Highway 39, at the headwaters of the north fork of the San Gabriel River. It’s the only naturally occurring lake in the San Gabriels, and is located at an elevation of 5,539 feet above sea level.
Now that we’re drought free in California (again), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has once again stocked Crystal Lake with rainbow trout.
“It’s exciting to be able to bring back this opportunity for anglers in the San Gabriel Mountains,” said Jennifer Pareti, Inland Fisheries Environmental Scientist. “Prior to the drought, Crystal Lake was stocked by CDFW for more than 70 years. People often share with me their memories of catching fish as kids at Crystal Lake.”
From the CDFW website:
Pareti said recent rainfall, along with efforts by Angeles National Forest to improve the lake’s water quality and habitat, were major factors in the decision to stock the lake again. The fish were supplied by CDFW’s Mojave River Hatchery in San Bernardino County.
“Crystal Lake is a wonderful gem for Los Angeles County. It offers a great opportunity for people to enjoy our local forest and fish this natural lake,” Pareti said.
- Angeles National Forest Crystal Lake Recreation Area Guide. Maps, hours, alerts and information about recreational opportunities.
- CDFW Fishing Guide. View planting and fishing locations and other information on a searchable map.
- CDFW Fish Planting Schedule for Crystal Lake. Updated in real time by hatchery staff.
- CDFW Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations for 2019-2020.
Grab your fishing pool, your kids, and go make some great memories that they will remember for a lifetime!