The Pine Ridge Association at Henry W. Coe State Park

Fishing at Coe Park

Bass photo by Marc Cieplinski


Coe Park has great fishing for largemouth bass, green sunfish, crappie, and bluegill in its lakes and ponds. Spring is a very pleasant season in the park, and it's possibly the best season for fishing.  Fall and winter, between storms, can be quite nice, but fishing is usually slow during the cooler months and slow during the hot months of summer.  If you visit the park in the winter, keep in mind that winter rain storms can quickly turn tranquil creeks into raging, impassable torrents.  If you visit in the summer, be well prepared for extremely hot, dry conditions.  Carry extra water; find out which springs, creeks, and reservoirs are reliable sources of summer water; wear a hat; and avoid hiking during the middle of the day.

It's important for you to know that:

  • Coe Park has no lakes or creeks to which you can drive. 
  • The park has very steep, rugged terrain, and can be very hot and dry in the summer months.

Most fishing ventures into Coe's backcountry require a considerable expenditure of time and energy.  To go beyond the relatively close-in lakes (Bass Pond and Frog Lake), you'll be faced with elevation gains (and losses) in thousands of feet. Some of the best fishing is on the far east side of the park, at Jackrabbit Lake, Mustang and Kingbird Ponds. If you'd like to fish in these less accessible areas of the park, you should be in excellent physical shape because it takes at least two days of hard traveling to get to those destinations and at least two days of even harder traveling to get back.

Relatively easier to reach are Coit Lake and Mississippi Lake, two well known fishing destinations. To get from park headquarters to Coit Lake and back, you have to travel at least 23 miles and climb at least nearly 5000 feet. To get to Mississippi Lake and back, you have to cover more than 22 miles and climb about 5,700 feet.

The following table provides information about popular fishing lakes and ponds in the park:

Destination Round-trip mileages and estimated total elevation gain for most commonly used routes Fish
  From Coe HQ From Hunting Hollow From Dowdy VC (Check for seasonal closure)  
Bass Pond 4.7 mi, 480' * * bass, bluegill
Coit Lake 23 mi, 4950' 27½ mi, 4250' 18.6 mi, 3380' 11.0 mi, 3390' bass, bluegill, green sunfish, crappie, catfish
Frog Lake 3.3 mi, 1000' (via monument trail and Hobbs road) 6 mi, 500' (via Corral and Flat Frog trails) * * bass, bluegill
Hoover Lake 18½ mi, 3500' * * No fish
Jackrabbit Lake 44 mi, 8000' 46 mi, 7460' 24 mi, 4140' Bass
Kelly Lake 25 mi, 3700' 16 mi, 2790' 15.3 mi, 3560' bass, bluegill, green sunfish, crappie
Kingbird Pond 35 mi, 7600' 33 mi, 6840' 15 mi, 3320' bass
Mahoney Pond 15½ mi, 2350' 14.2 mi, 1900' 23 mi 4400' bass
Mississippi Lake 22 mi, 5700' 37 mi, 6800' 18 mi 3330' bass
Mustang Pond 40 mi, 8550' 43 mi, 7570' 19.6 mi, 3690' bass
Paradise Lake 44 mi, 8000' 47.5 mi, 7950' 24 mi, 3970' dam breach, No fish
Redfern Pond * 10.7 mi, 1450' * bluegill verified
(Needs to be checked for other species formerly reported present.)
Scherrer Pond * * 4.4 mi, 1050' green sunfish
Tule Pond * 10.5 mi, 2120' 13.6 mi, 3080' bass? (Needs to be checked. Fish may not have survived drought.)
Wasno Pond * 13.3 mi, 2470' 11.6 mi, 2450' bass? (Needs to be checked. Fish may not have survived drought.)
Will's Pond 33 mi, 7400' 30.2 mi, 6740' 12.4 mi, 3160' bass
* Other entrances offer shorter or less difficult approaches

Fishing Regulations

The lakes and ponds in the park are open all year for fishing for all species.

Please note that we strongly encourage catch-and-release fishing with barbless hooks.  Fishing in the park depends upon self-sustaining populations.  There is no restocking program for the waters within the park.

Fishing for Rainbow Trout. These lovely native fish can infrequently be found in Coyote Creek and in the South Fork of Orestimba Creek in the northeast corner of the park. They can only survive in cool water, and so are not found in most of the water resources of the park.  Nearly all of the Park's streams dry up and the ponds get warm in the summer.  The best trout fishing in Coyote Creek is in the upper stretches of the Middle Fork above Poverty Flat, where the water tends to run cool all year.  The streams are open for trout fishing only from the last Saturday in April through November 15.

All California fishing regulations apply in the park. If you're 16 years old or older, you must have a valid California fishing license. All park rules and regulations also apply. If you're going to stay overnight in the backcountry, you must register and get a backpacking permit at the Visitor Center or at Hunting Hollow.

Fishing Guide to Henry W. Coe State Park , a 40-page, color-illustrated booklet is available for purchase at the Visitor Center.

If you'd like, you can order the booklet by mail (allowing two weeks for delivery). The price, $6.75, includes tax and postage.

Make your check payable to the Pine Ridge Association. Address your request and payment to:

The Pine Ridge Association
9100 East Dunne Ave.
Morgan Hill, CA 95037