Twenty miles south of Oregon, just off highway 101 and at the far reaches of the northern California coast sits Crescent City, named for the crescent-shaped sandy beaches. The city was first settled in 1828 by Jedidiah Smith, and later incorporated in 1854 as a mining town. After the mining industry waned the city’s main business became logging and fishing. The logging industry has since experienced somewhat of a decline, but people will always love nature and fishing. Crescent City, Del Norte County’s seat, is the headquarters for Redwoods National Park, located east of town and connected to Smith River Recreational Area. This location on the Pacific Ocean coastline, south of Lake Talawa and Lake Earl, makes Crescent City an ideal destination for tourists who love raw natural beauty, and especially sport fishing.
Two rivers surrounded by lush North Coast forests and giant redwoods offer prime vantage for spectacular salmon runs and hordes of other local sport fish. Excursions along the Smith and the Klamath Rivers take you through wild, scenic country including further angling spots in trails, creeks, and lagoons. Numerous other prime fishing locations to visit throughout Del Norte County and Redwood National and State Parks include Damnation Creek, Hidden Beach, and Freshwater Lagoon. There are also three major lakes, which provide extensive freshwater fishing in the vicinity of Crescent City: Earl, Tolowa, and Dead Lake. Beachfront Park, South Beach, and Crescent City Harbor allow easier access for saltwater fish; and one can never forget about the Pacific Ocean, itself, practically right across the street.
Crescent City is one of the wettest places in California, with average annual rainfall reaching 70 inches. This keeps inland waters constantly flowing, refreshing themselves and the big fish they contain. The Smith River is the largest undammed river in the United States, and hosts almost 200 miles of hospitable Steelhead habitat, along with some of the best Chinook runs in the country. The California record for largest Steelhead was caught here, weighing 27 pounds, four ounces; as was with the second largest Chinook, at 86 pounds. The Klamath River stretches over 200 miles of prime swimming and spawning waters for Chinook and Silver Salmon, Steelhead and other resident Trout. Though not often approaching such exceptional size as found in the Smith River, these fish provide perfect sport for less experienced fly-fishermen and women. Also only a short trip out of Crescent City is Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, where 30-pound Salmon and 20-pound Steelhead thrive from October through February. During summer, park waters like Jed Smith Trail, Mill Cree, Myrtle Creek, and Stout Grove feature Cutthroat, Steelhead, King Salmon, and many other species. Tolowa Dunes State Park has excellent fishing for Cutthroat and Starry Flounder at Lakes Earl and Tolowa, with limits of Bass and Crappie in Dead Lake. Closer to the ocean and out into deeper water popular local favorites such as Black and Blue Snapper, Lingcod, Rockfish, Sea Trout, and Cabazon are numerous from May until December. Many shipwrecks have occurred in the treacherous waters off the coast of Crescent City, and these are now home to a great number of other sport fish. Charters and guides are available around Crescent City Harbor and within the major river areas, to take you to the best fishing spots comfortably and quickly
Crescent City is home to great natural wonders, from towering redwood forests to vibrant rivers and tranquil forest streams. Along the rocky shores of the Pacific coastline and well inland here are countless opportunities for fun above water, like kayaking, rafting, hiking, and animal-gazing. A vibrant downtown scene hosts museums, cafes, and historic architecture. More sightseeing options include two historic lighthouses: Battery Point at the harbor’s north end, commissioned in 1855, and the Point St. George Lighthouse sitting on a large rock six miles off the coast, brought into service in 1892. All of this only complements the most integral tradition of Crescent City: fishing.