Lake Cahuilla is a favorite among low desert residents. Just south of La Quinta, it’s one of only a handful of places to cast a line in the desert. It also offers far more than just fishing. There are hiking and equestrian trails in the park. From April through October, there is a swimming pool for visitors to cool off in, because there is no swimming in the lake. There are both developed and primitive campsites. The developed sites have electricity and water hookups to go with the usual fire rings and picnic tables. There is a dump station for RVs, and pay showers are available.

The main draw to the park is the lake. Visitors seem drawn to its shore, possibly because it is rare for an expanse of water to be juxtaposed with the brown desert landscape. A dirt road winds almost all the way around the lake. Fishing access is easy from this road, and people can fish most anywhere along it. Several restrooms are located around the lake. Jetties offer shore anglers access to the center of the lake. One jetty at the northwest end extends almost completely across the lake, nearly bisecting it. Anglers can drive to their favorite spots and practically fish from their cars. Several verandas along the shore provide shade. These fill up, so bring a folding chair and an umbrella. There are shade trees in the campground and day-use area, but the shoreline is pretty much in the open.

Because it’s filled with water from the Colorado River, the lake holds most of the same fish as the river. Anglers can expect to find catfish, striped bass, largemouth bass, carp and panfish. On top of the fish coming in from the canal, the lake is stocked regularly. During the summer, catfish are stocked by the county. Along with the stripers and largemouth, these keep summer anglers excited. During the cooler months, the lake is stocked with trout by two different agencies: the Department of Fish and Game and Riverside County. The state fish are the regular pan-sized planter fish. The county, on the other hand, stocks bigger, better-quality fish. If you hook into a big, strong bruiser trout, it is probably a county fish.

Our bait recommendations

Here's the baits that our Pros love for this lake.