Castaic Lake, California, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - California - Los Angeles County -

Also known as:  Lake Castaic

Almost every lake promises something for everyone, but Castaic Lake in Los Angeles County, California delivers. With separate sections of its 2,427 acres of water designated for different uses, there is truly room for everyone. Surrounded by the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area and just 45 minutes north of Los Angeles, Castaic Lake has world class fishing and easy access to world-renowned shopping and museums.

Castaic Lake is the terminal on the west branch of the California Aqueduct Project and one of the largest recreation and water supply lakes in the state’s water project. Supplying the western region with irrigation water, the lake was created by the massive 425-foot high Castaic Dam. Started in 1967, construction on the dam was completed in 1972. The resulting reservoir is V-shaped with a lagoon or lower lake on the southside of the dam.

The shape of Lake Castaic plays to it strengths, allowing each section to have a separate use. The main lake measures 2,230 acres, with 29 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 330 feet. The west arm of the main lake is used by power boats, jet skis and for water skiing, and the east arm is restricted to sailboats, slow boats and for fishing. Access to the lake is from boat launch ramps on the east and west sides of the dam, and there are picnic areas at both launch sites. A marina and bait and tackle shop have snacks and any amenities a boater or angler might need, including boat rentals. The lower lake or lagoon is 197 acres with three miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 70 feet. Lower Castaic Lake is only for canoes, kayaks, and boats with electric motors and for fishing. Swimming is also allowed in the lower lake from mid-May through mid-September and there are sand beaches on the west shore.

Fishing in Castaic Lake is spectacular, and the lake holds the state record for largemouth bass – a monster fish weighing 21 pounds 2 ounces. The California Department of Fish and Game stocks the main lake with largemouth bass, rainbow trout and catfish and the lagoon with rainbow trout. Anglers will also find healthy populations of crappie and the striped bass fishery is improving every year. The catfish hang out near the dam and in the coves, and there are really big trout, often in excess of ten pounds, in both lakes. It is the largemouth bass fishing, however, that gives Lake Castaic its world class reputation; anglers come from all over to catch a trophy fish. For years the only scale to weigh catches was at a market near the lagoon. As a result, many large bass were released into the lower lake rather than being taken back to the main lake. Some anglers think lower Castaic Lake holds the next record fish.

Managed by the Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area stretches out over 11,200 acres, with trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, including the seven-mile trail overlooking the main lake. Camping and picnic areas are available, including tent and RV sites around the lagoon. Open from sunrise to sunset every day except Christmas, the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area charges a per-car fee for its use. The lower lake, however, is open 24 hours for fishing.

Originally spelled “Kashtuk,” Castaic means eyes. The area that became Castaic Lake was settled by the Tataviam Indians and Spanish explorers. Today the city of Castaic is growing and there are lake-view vacation rentals and real estate for sale in the area. Lake Castaic is just north of Santa Clarita and only 15 minutes north of Six Flags Magic Mountain. Add in the City of Los Angeles and there is any amenity a visitor could want, including world-famous dining, shopping and museums.

Castaic Lake is also surrounded by the wilderness of Los Padres National Forest. With nearly two million acres of coastal mountain land in central California, Los Padres National Forest rounds out any visit to Castaic Lake. The natural beauty and easily accessible urban amenities, along with more than enough water for everyone, makes Castaic Lake a lake that delivers on its promises. It is somewhere everyone should see with their own eyes.

Things to do at Castaic Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • National Forest
  • Museum
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Castaic Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Striped Bass
  • Trout

Castaic Lake Photo Gallery

Castaic Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Los Angeles County

Surface Area: 2,427 acres

Shoreline Length: 32 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,500 feet

Maximum Depth: 330 feet

Water Volume: 100,000 acre-feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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