Fishing in Idyllwild

Lake Fulmor in fog. Photo by Ellen Feeley

Lake Hemet, the largest lake in the San Jacinto Mountains, is a fisherman’s paradise, stocked throughout most of the year with rainbow trout by the State Department of Fish and Game. Natural channel catfish, big-mouth bass and bluegill also provide good sport fishing.

Located at an elevation of 4,340 feet, the lake is 1-1/2 miles long, 1/2 mile wide and 135 feet deep when full.

The lake is about 4 miles east of Mountain Center on Highway 74 in Garner Valley. It is owned and operated by the Lake Hemet Municipal Water District.

Two public recreation areas are on the lake’s shores.

The U.S. Forest Service maintains a picnic area for day use only along the north shore. The entrance is west of Lake Hemet Market, on Highway 74. You do need an Adventure or Recreation Pass to park in the Forest Service area. See the section, “Adventure Pass,” on page 30 in this magazine for more information.

The water district also owns and operates the Lake Hemet Campground. It has been open to the public on a fee basis for more than 30 years along the north shore, toward the eastern end of the lake.

The campground also encourages family recreation, with a water playground, camping, picnic areas, boating and kayaking along with fishing. No swimming or water skiing is allowed because they conflict with fishing.

Lake Hemet offers scenic mountain views and quiet lakeside mo­ments to many visitors to the Hill area.

Contact the camp­ground personnel at (951) 659-2680 for more information.

About 10 miles north of Idyllwild on Highway 243, Lake Fulmor is stocked with trout by the Department of Fish and Game from spring through summer.

The 2-acre serene lake on Forest Service property offers good trout fishing during spring, summer and fall months. Occasionally, the lake freezes over in winter.

Lake Fulmor is on National Forest land. The lake provides day use activities for the public. Fishing and picnic areas with grills, an encompassing trail that crosses a bridge, and beautiful surroundings make this an enjoyable spot for locals and tourists.
A parking area is across the highway from the lake so use caution when crossing to and from the lake. You do need an Adventure or Recreation Pass to park.

Strawberry Creek is the only stream where fishing is allowed in the San Jacinto Mountains. California Department of Fish and Game no longer stocks fish in Fuller Mill, North Fork and Dark Canyon creeks because the streams are suitable habitat for a protected species, the mountain yellow-legged frog.

The fish-planting program is financed through fishing licenses and stamp sales. Licenses are required for anglers age 16 and over and there is a daily bag limit of five trout during the year-round season.

One-year licenses are available to California residents for $41.50 at Village Hardware and Lake Hemet Market. Cost to nonresidents is $111.85. Residents and nonresidents can purchase a one-day license for $13.40 or a two-consecutive-day license for $20.75 at those locations. A 10-day nonresident license costs $41.50.

Visit for 2010 license rates and free fishing days throughout California.

Equipment and bait can be purchased at Lake Hemet Market, Pine Cove Market, Village Hardware and Village Market. Fairway Market and Forest Lumber also stock some supplies.

Adventure or Recreation Pass required to park if not camping.