Fishing in Emeryville: The Complete Guide

Nov 30, 2022 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Nestled between Oakland and Berkeley, Emeryville is a small place with plenty to offer to an angler. It’s situated in the very heart of San Francisco Bay, giving you a fantastic starting point to explore this entire fishery. So although the city itself is only the size of roughly one square mile, fishing in Emeryville and the grounds you’ll have access to definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.

An aerial photo of the marina and docked boats in Emeryville, California.

If you head straight west from Emeryville’s marina, you’ll be at the Golden Gate Bridge in no time. Go north instead, and you’ll get to fish San Pablo Bay and the Sacramento River Delta. To the south, you can venture deeper into San Francisco Bay and try your luck for numerous species.

In this article, we’ll try and shine some light on this exquisite fishery. So if you’re planning on visiting the Emeryville area, this is where you’ll find out what fish you can catch. We’ll also cover some spots to visit and a few different ways to fish. When you’re ready, scroll down!

Which species can I catch fishing in Emeryville?

Species Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Chinook Salmon Closed Closed Closed Good Great Great Great Great Great Good Closed Closed
Sturgeon Great Great Great Good Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Good Great
Striped Bass Weak Weak Good Great Great Great Good Good Great Great Good Weak
Halibut Good Good Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Good Good
Lingcod Closed Closed Closed Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great
Rockfish Closed Closed Closed Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great
Leopard Shark Great Great Great Good Good Good Good Great Great Great Good Good

We’ll start by covering some of the fish you can catch in the waters surrounding Emeryville. There’s a good variety of both eating fish and others you’ll simply catch for sport. So let’s go over a few you’ll have the chance to run into.

California Halibut

Famous for their divine taste, Halibut are an ever-popular target throughout the West Coast. They’re fun to catch, putting up a fairly easy but still exciting battle. Thanks to this, ‘Buts are the ideal species for beginners and young anglers to practice their skills on.

A woman on a charter boat, posing with a big Halibut she caught fishing close to Emeryville.

California Halibut employ an ambush strategy when hunting for prey. They lie flat on the bottom, melding with it while they wait for unsuspecting food to come by. As luck would have it, much of San Francisco Bay’s bottom is mud, giving them lots of hiding surface. However, for you as an angler, this just means you’ll have more opportunities to present your bait to the lurking Halibut and turn it into their last supper.

What’s also worth noting is that there’s no closed season when it comes to fishing for California Halibut. Since this is the case, you’ll have a shot at catching them whenever you decide to visit.

Striped Bass

Around Emeryville, you’ll also get the opportunity to hook into some Striped Bass. Stripers are decent fighters, especially if you forego heavier tackle and opt for light gear. When hooked, you’ll usually feel a few soft taps, then an aggressive hit before they go on a blitzing run. Once they’ve exhausted their stamina, it’s all about getting them to the boat.

A smiling angler posing with a Striped Bass he reeled in in San Francisco Bay.

In San Francisco Bay and throughout the California Delta, Striped Bass are found year-round. In spring, you’ll often catch them upriver, in the delta, where they go to spawn. During summer and fall, you’ll see Striped Bass spread throughout the bay, often lurking around rocky reefs. Sometimes, they’ll even head out of the bay. That’s when you’ll hear anglers telling stories of catching them in the surf, along San Francisco’s ocean coast.

The only time when Striper fishing slows down is when it gets cold, meaning they’re solid targets for most of the year but not winter. As for techniques, there are a number of them you can employ to reel these fish in. Aboard charter boats, you’ll typically troll or drift with live bait to entice the bite.

Sturgeon

If reeling in all the normal fish has somehow lost its spark for you, you’ll be glad to know that you can have your own little Jeremy Wade adventure in these waters. The river monsters that you’ll face here are called White Sturgeon

An angler posing with a large Sturgeon caught while fishing in the area around Emeryville.

These ancient fish boast a prehistoric appearance, featuring bony, dinosaur-like ridges all over their backs. Also, Sturgeon are the largest freshwater species, capable of reaching lengths of up to 20 feet. Of course, it’s almost impossible to run into one of those, though you may get the chance to wrestle some in the 150 lb range.

Although you can catch them right around Emeryville, most of the Sturgeon fishing is done north in San Pablo Bay and in the delta. These bottom-dwelling monsters like murky waters and estuaries. To get them to bite, you’ll anchor upriver from where you see a prospective hole, lower the smelliest fresh bait you have in the water, and hope they sniff it out. The best time to attempt this? Winter.

Chinook Salmon

They’re called Kings because they’re the biggest in their family, but this moniker could easily be used to describe the supreme way Chinook Salmon fight. They’re intelligent fish that know how to use the current to make the struggle harder for you. If you don’t keep them moving, they’ll find a place to rest, making it even more difficult to tire them out. Oh, and let’s not forget that they’re strong and heavy, so you’ll really need to work to bring them in.

A smiling angler posing with a big Chinook Salmon he caught.

All of this just makes the action more thrilling and the accomplishment of successfully catching a King that much better. And if you hook into a keeper, you’ll have one of the best-tasting fish ready for the dinner table.

The Salmon action around Emeryville and the surrounding waters starts in spring, along the NorCal ocean shores and in the Golden Gate Bridge area. The fish will be here throughout early summer, before eventually moving into San Francisco Bay and heading upstream to spawn. 

The Chinook fishing can last throughout October, giving you a large period of time when you can visit the area and find these fish. There are two caveats though. One is that you’ll have to ride out to them if they’re not in the bay and the other is that the regulations don’t always allow you to harvest these fish.

And Others!

We could go on and cover all the deep sea species you can catch once you leave San Francisco Bay and hit the Pacific, but there’s a separate article if you’re interested in reading about that. Around Emeryville itself, though, there are more fish you can catch in addition to the ones we listed thus far.

A man and a woman standing on a boat, each holding a Leopard Shark the caught while fishing from Emeryville.

There are Leopard, Tope, and Smoothound Sharks swimming in the bay. You can find Rockfish and Lingcod close to the Golden Gate Bridge. Occasionally, you might even hook into the elusive White Seabass. And, for a special treat, you can even go crabbing when the season opens in November. On the whole, there’s a lot of good sportfishing you can do around Emeryville, even if you only stick to the Bay Area.

How to Go Fishing in Emeryville

Since we’ve gone over some of the amazing fish you can catch in San Francisco Bay and the wider delta, it’s worth noting that there are different methods to this fishery’s madness. The approach you take will significantly influence the fish you’ll have available. For those wondering how, we’ll break down the different ways you can fish in Emeryville below.

Charter Fishing

Consider the size of the bay, the number of rivers flowing into it, and even the possibility of going out into the ocean. The local fishing grounds suddenly look pretty expansive, right? Because of this, the most efficient way to fish the Emeryville waters is to hop on a charter boat.

A bird-eye view of docked boats in Emeryville.

Besides the practicality of having a vessel you can easily navigate with, you’ll also have your guide’s experience working in your favor. The fish move around and unless you already know the bay well and you’re reading this article to kill some time, fishing with someone who knows the waters pays off.

Your guide will know which species are in season, they’ll know what fish you can or cannot keep, and where to take you. Most of the time, they’ll even provide you with fishing equipment or offer rental services.

Kayak Fishing

For the more adventurous anglers out there, there’s also the option of tackling these waters aboard a kayak. You’ll need a steady vessel and a safety light or two so the boaters can spot you, but it’s possible to fish these waters from a kayak.

Kayakers passing under the Bay Bridge.

Not only that, but you can also use your kayak to get around and search for Crabs during their season. It’s really the main advantage of having a kayak, you can pretty much go anywhere. In terms of fish you can expect to catch, it’s probably wise to avoid hooking into Sturgeon, but Halibut, Bass, and other smaller fish are all good targets.

Pier Fishing

Emeryville also features an 880-foot-long pier near the marina. It’s public, meaning you can visit it and fish there without a license. There’s also a small pier in Shorebird Park where you can fish, though it’s unknown whether you need a license there or not.

A sunset photo of the Emeryville Pier with waters visible next to it.

When pier fishing out here, you can expect to land Striped Bass, Bat Ray, an occasional Shark, and Halibut. You’ll just need to rent or travel with your fishing gear, pick up some bait at the marina, and you’ll be good to go.

Best Emeryville Fishing Spots

An infographic listing some of the fishing spots around Emeryville, including Berkeley Flats, Bar Channel, San Pablo Bay, California Delta, and Golden Gate Bridge.

We’ve already kind of established why Emeryville is such a great starting point for bay fishing trips. It’s in a central location, giving anglers plenty of choices and paths to take. So let’s delve into some of the areas you can explore out here.

  • Berkeley Flats: Minutes from Emeryville, you’ll get to explore the Berkeley Flats. These prolific grounds are a treasure trove of Halibut with Striped Bass also being a frequent catch. Bat Rays and hungry Sharks may also go for your bait at any moment, resulting in a thrilling battle. Since the flats lie close so to shore, you can even fish them from a kayak.
  • Bar Channel: If you head south from Emeryville Marina, you can fish the Bar Channel which flows between Oakland and San Francisco. Halibut, Striped Bass, Rays, and Sharks are all caught here, however, you’ll also see some Brown Rockfish and Cabezon bite. For shore anglers, Pier 7 on the San Francisco side is a great spot.
  • San Pablo Bay: Although it’s a bit of a ride from Emeryville, San Pablo Bay is such a prolific fishery that it’s worth the journey. Besides the standard bay species we named in the previous two entries, these waters are also prowling grounds for Sturgeon. So whoever tells you that you have to go offshore to fight big fish, refer them to San Pablo Bay.
  • California Delta: Numerous rivers, such as the Petaluma, Napa, and the mighty Sacramento flow into the Bay Area, forming what’s called the California Delta. Some of the best fishing happens on these rivers with ferocious Chinook Salmon, Sturgeon, big Stripers, and Catfish, all being possible catches depending on where and when you go.
  • Golden Gate Bridge: We’ve already mentioned it briefly, but the fishing grounds surrounding Golden Gate Bridge, and the waters just beyond it offer fantastic action. It’s one of the places where you’ll get to catch your fill of Chinook Salmon, since Golden Gate serves as their entry and exit point in the bay. Halibut, Rockfish, Lingcod, Striped Bass, and several other fish can also be found lurking here.

Emeryville Fishing FAQ

Do I need a fishing license to go fishing in San Francisco Bay?
  • Generally, all anglers aged 16 and older need a license to fish in California waters. One major exception applies if you plan on fishing from a public pier. If this is the case, you won’t need a license.
Is Emeryville fishing kids-friendly?
  • Since the waters inside the bay are calmer than the open ocean, fishing here is suitable for children. Also, there are several fish, such as Halibut, that even beginners can handle while still learning a great deal about fishing.
What fish are in season in Emeryville?
  • Size and bag limits, as well as when you’re allowed to target certain fish, can change from year to year. It’s best to get familiar with these as you start planning your trip. It’ll help you set expectations on what you can target and what you can keep. Check out the latest regulations by visiting the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
What is potluck fishing?
  • Occasionally, you’ll see charter captains offering potluck fishing trips. This just means you’ll go for what’s biting on any given day. Instead of spending time searching for a particular species, you’ll just look for fish and catch what’s out there.

Emeryville: Where Bay Fishing Begins

A sunset photo of boats in Emeryville Marina.

We started the article by saying how Emeryville is a small city with plenty to offer to an angler. After reading through the text, would you agree with that? It might not be a destination you go out of your way to visit, at least not until Pixar starts offering tours. However, if you’re already in the area, you might as well make the most of it and hit the waters, because there’s definitely lots of fish to catch.

Have you ever been fishing in Emeryville? What’s your favorite Bay Area fish to target? Hit the comments and let us know!

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