Is Magnet Fishing Legal in California? Your Complete Guide to Regulations, Best Spots, and Safety

Kristian Ole



Magnet fishing is a recreational activity that involves using a strong magnet to retrieve metallic objects from bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, and canals.

If you want to try this activity in California, read more about its legality, regulations, and best spots.

In California, magnet fishing is legal as long as you follow certain rules and regulations. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) considers magnet fishing a form of fishing; thus, anglers are subject to the state’s fishing regulations.

Magnet Fishing Regulations in California

California✔️ Yes

Here are some important regulations to keep in mind if you’re planning to go magnet fishing in California:

  • You need a fishing license: All anglers, including magnet fishermen, must have a valid fishing license in California. You can obtain a license online, by phone, or at a CDFW office or licensed agent.
  • No fishing in prohibited areas: Magnet fishing is not allowed in marine protected areas, fishing refuges, or other areas designated as off-limits for fishing.
  • Obtain permission to fish on private property: You must obtain permission from the landowner before magnet fishing on private property.
  • Follow size and bag limits: If you accidentally catch fish or other wildlife while magnet fishing, you must release them immediately. Certain species may also have size and bag limits, so check the regulations beforehand.

Best Places to Go Magnet Fishing in California

Here are some of the best places to go magnet fishing in California:

  • Sacramento River runs from the Sacramento Valley to San Francisco Bay and is a great place to find lost items, including historical artifacts.
  • Lake Berryessa: This lake in Napa County is a popular spot for magnet fishing, and you can find various items such as jewelry, tools, and car parts.
  • Los Angeles River: This river runs for over 50 miles through Los Angeles County and is a great spot for magnet fishing, especially in areas with many bridges or piers.

Tips for a Successful Magnet Fishing Trip

Here are some tips to help you have a successful and safe magnet fishing trip:

  • Research the area: Before you go magnet fishing, research the area to find the best spots. Look for areas with many metal objects, such as bridges, piers, and boat ramps.
  • Use the right equipment: You will need a strong magnet, a rope or line, a bucket or basket, and a retrieving tool. Wearing protective gear, such as gloves and safety glasses, is also a good idea. Check out my recommedations for magnet fishing here.
  • Check the weather: Check the weather forecast and avoid magnet fishing in areas with strong currents or during inclement weather.
  • Respect the environment: When magnet fishing, dispose of trash or debris properly and avoid disturbing the natural habitat.


Magnet fishing is a fun and exciting activity that can be enjoyed in California as long as you follow the state’s regulations and take the necessary safety precautions.

With its diverse landscapes and rich history, California offers many great opportunities for magnet fishing, so grab your gear and start exploring!


About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.

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