How to Go Long Range Fishing in San Diego: The Complete Guide for 2024

Jun 11, 2024 | 9 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

San Diego is among the largest and most unique sport fisheries in the world. People often say that anglers fishing in these waters see as much action in a year as other anglers see in five. How? It’s all thanks to a fishing style that’s unique to San Diego – a multi-day, all-out fishing expedition. This is all you need to know about San Diego long range fishing.

An angler in sunglasses, a hat, and a face buff, standing on a San Diego long range fishing boat, holding a Bluefin Tuna he caught, with the ocean visible behind him.
Photo courtesy of Silva Scales N’ Tales Sportfishing.

First of all, what is a long range trip? There are a number of fishing charters in San Diego that specialize in multi-day fishing excursions. Depending on the captain and the boat, you can book a trip that lasts anywhere from 3 to 10 days, and even longer – up to several weeks. However, most long range trips fall in the 5–10 day range. Needless to say, the experience can differ pretty widely depending on how much time you spend on the water.

The Boats

San Diego long range fishing boats are big, sturdy vessels, built to handle the open ocean. They come in various shapes and sizes, but what most have in common is that they’re decked out with high-end fishing equipment and luxury amenities.

A long range fishing boat riding through the waters in San Diego, California, with an overpass visible in the background.
Photo courtesy of Lucky Charm Charters.

Where are they?

When they’re not out at sea, you’ll find them moored in one of the renowned boat landings in San Diego. Some of these places specifically serve to house multi-day fishing vessels. These include Fisherman’s Landing, Point Loma Sportfishing, and H&M Landing, among others.

A photo of the San Diego harbor and one of its long range fishing boats in the forefront.
Port of San Diego, Flickr CC BY 2.0

What to Expect Onboard

Most boats are designed to comfortably fit large groups of anglers and can travel for thousands of miles on end. Boasting long rails, wide decks, and seemingly endless storage capacities, “big” is the name of the game when it comes to long range fishing.

And while many anglers tend to bring their own, you’ll often find quality rods and reels on board, including specialized gear for techniques such as kite fishing. If not, renting is a good option for those who like to travel light. Typically, you can rent the equipment from your captain or from boat landings in San Diego.

The boats are also equipped with the latest, state-of-the-art navigational and fish-finding technology, leaving as little room for error as possible. Many of them are fitted with gyro stabilizers, making long journeys much more comfortable and safe.

A photo of the back deck of a long range charter boat in San Diego and multiple fishing rods lined up in their holders, behind them, there's a man standing on the deck looking out to sea.
The gear on board is top-notch. Photo courtesy of Lucky Charm Charters.

Equally as good, but arguably more important, are the crews. If you’re a first-timer, you’ll probably be taken aback by the expertise and knowledge the captains and mates display. But consider this – these guys have been fishing in some of the most productive big game fishing grounds on the planet for almost their entire lives.

Creature Comforts

We all know that fishing comes first. But when you’re out there on the water, enduring the sun and wind for days, a few creature comforts are more than welcome. This isn’t a luxury cruise, but you might have a few second thoughts about that by the time your trip ends.

The decks are equipped with comfortable lounging areas, where you can sip drinks after a hard day of fishing. Inside, you’ll find air-conditioned twin-bunk rooms, many of which have their own bathroom. Lastly, you’ll enjoy larger-than-average lobbies where you can unwind and discuss the day’s catch with your fellow anglers.

Fine Dining

Long range trips offer some of the best food you’ll ever eat. Your breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be prepared by expert onboard chefs, with snacks of all kinds between meals. Sashimi right off the rail, roast meat, various appetizers, and desserts will make most restaurants look shabby. If you’re following a specific diet, the staff will be happy to oblige, just be sure to let them know ahead of your voyage.

A wooden sushi platter filled with all kinds of sushi, arranged in an appetising manner, on a white background.

When should you go?

One of the things that makes San Diego long range trips special is that normal fishing seasons don’t apply. For example, while Bluefin Tuna might have stopped showing up along the California coast, the bite could still be on for another few months further south.

Long range trips can take place throughout the year. In summer, shorter trips, ranging from three to seven days are common. During the colder months, you can expect the excursions to get longer. This is mainly because of fish migration patterns. For instance, Bluefin Tuna prefer temperatures of 62–68°F, while Yellowfin favor 68–76°F.

The most extreme trips take place in wintertime. It’s when you’ll see some of San Diego’s long range charters offer trips that last two weeks or more. But for anglers willing to brave the conditions, it’s the perfect opportunity to fish your heart out in some of the finest waters on the planet.

What You’ll Catch and Where

An infographic listing some of the long range fishing spots reachable from San Diego, including Todos Santos Islands, Guadalupe Island, Cedros Islands, Escollos Alijos, and Hurricane Bank.
Some of the long range fishing spots in the Mexican waters.

Many San Diego long range fishing trips follow similar trajectories, at least at the beginning. You’ll be going south along Baja California, stopping at islands, ridges, and banks renowned for amazing big game fishing.

Generally speaking, captains look for temperature breaks, ridge dropoffs, kelp paddies, dead whales, and islands to find fish. Obviously, the fishing spots and species you’ll be able to target will differ depending on the length of your adventure.

3–6 Day Trips

While we’ve grouped them together, there’s a big difference between spending three and six days on the water. Three-day trips are usually the perfect starting point for anglers new to long range fishing. They’ll usually give you the chance explore the offshore banks or places such as Catalina, San Clemente, Coronado, or Todos Santos Islands.

A photo of the rocky cliffs of Guadalupe Island in Mexico, one of the premier long range fishing destinations out of San Diego.

On 5 or 6 day trips, you can make it to spots such as Magdalena Bay, San Quintin Banks, and even Guadalupe Island. Guadalupe is one of the best Yellowfin Tuna hotspots in the world, and this is where you’ll get a true taste of big game fishing. The island is just 220 miles away from San Diego. In the waters surrounding it, Yellowfins in the 120 lb range are not uncommon.

One thing to note, however, is that Guadalupe Island is also a favorite feeding ground for Great White Sharks. Just as you think you’ve got a keeper, they’ll snatch your Yellowfin right out from under you. If they see a lot of Great Whites in the area, your captain might decide to switch fishing spots.

On your way to these places, you might pay a visit to San Clemente Island or spend some time fishing the offshore kelps. When the conditions are right, 3–6 day trips will net you everything from Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna to Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Yellowtail, and more. Sore hands and brimming fish tanks are all but guaranteed.

7–10 Day Trips

For most long range fishermen, 7–10 day trips will hit that sweet spot. Often scheduled for summer and the beginning of fall, these trips will take you to the most distant hotspots and offer the most variety. On these trips, you’ll be going further down the Baja coastline, past Magdalena Bay, all the way to Cabo San Lucas.

A group of angler sitting on the deck of a charter fishing boat, posing for a photo with a big Marlin across their laps.
Photo courtesy of Primetime Sportfishing.

Following the Pacific ridge, you’ll have your fill of trophy Wahoo, Yellowtail, Dorado (Mahi Mahi), and even Marlin. If bottom fishing is your thing, you’ll be thrilled to know that you can catch Giant Seabass in this area. However, you should be aware that they are critically endangered.

On your way back, you might venture deeper into the ocean to Escollos Alijos (Alijos Rocks), if the weather allows it. This is perhaps the best Yellowfin Tuna fishing spot you’ll ever see, as well as a Wahoo and Yellowtail hotspot.

Among other destinations, you can also explore the Cedros and San Benito Islands, as well as the aforementioned Guadalupe. When you’re spending this much time on the water, it’s more about where the bite is rather than what you can reach. If you’re ready to invest a week or more into exploring these rich waters, long rangers like Primetime Sportfishing will ensure you have everything you need for your angling adventure.

11+ Day Trips

These are the hardcore trips. Venturing well over a thousand miles from San Diego, trips lasting for more than 10 days will let you cast at some of the world’s finest big game fishing spots. On your way south, you’ll be able to enjoy spectacular action in the tropical waters of Puerto Vallarta. Get ready for some huge Wahoo!

The locations you’ll fish on these trips include the ones we mentioned in the previous two sections. However, if you hop on a charter lasting two or more weeks, you’ll get the rare occasion to head even further into Mexican waters.

An aerial view of San Benedicto Island which is part of the Revillagigedo Archipelago and one of the farthest long range fishing destinations from San Diego.
San Benedicto Island, a part of the Revillagigedo Archipelago.

Some of the ultimate long range fishing destinations include the infamous Hurricane Bank and Revillagigedo Islands, both of which lie about 1,000 miles from San Diego. On rare occasions, charters will even journey out to remote Clipperton Island, located an astounding 1,600 miles from America’s Finest City. These are the places where you’ll get your chance at world-record Yellowfin, big Bluefin Tuna, as well as Marlin and various other big game fish.

Most San Diego long range fishing companies schedule these types of outings for winter and early spring. Often booked well in advance, sometimes you’ll have to get on a waiting list to even get the chance to hit the waters. After all, these trips represent the ultimate big game fishing adventure and there’s no shortage of hardcore anglers looking to experience them.

A Tuna in the water next to a boat, with two hooks visible as the anglers holding them prepare to take the fish out of the water.

Out there, it’s not uncommon to come up on a school of giant Tuna in the middle of the night. Here, you’ll be presented with a choice: get a few more hours of sleep in, or get out and try your best to catch that record-breaking fish. One thing’s for sure – when story time comes at tomorrow’s dinner, you’ll wish you’d been there.

What to Bring

There’s nothing worse than realizing your fishing experience could’ve been perfect if only you remembered to bring those damn sunglasses. Before you leave, make a checklist of essentials, so that when the time comes, you can focus on what matters – fishing.

Clothing and Protection

  • A pair of short boots for the deck (the decks can get wet and slippery, so no tennis shoes)
  • A windproof jacket
  • At least two sets of pants and shirts for the deck (preferably fast-drying material)
  • Two pairs of socks and underwear for each day
  • A toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, shower gel, etc.
  • A couple of towels
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Seasickness medication (and any other medication you might need)
  • Sneakers or sandals for lounging
  • Lounging and sleeping clothes

The Gear

Depending on the fish you’re targeting, you’ll need a few different outfits. You won’t be targeting big Tuna all the time, there will be a lot of live baiting and smaller fish going around. Usually, the crew will provide you with a list of tackle to bring. This will include the kind of rods, reels, lures, and hooks you’ll use on the trip.

As mentioned earlier, renting is often possible and some charters might even provide certain kinds of equipment. But if not, make sure to buy everything you need prior to the trip. That way, you’ll ensure you have the right type of tackle for any situation you run across in the deep seas.

Documents

Since most of the fishing you’ll be doing on long range trips is in Mexican waters, you’ll need to get some documents in order to do so legally. These include getting a valid passport, an FMM Visa, and a Mexican fishing license.

The visa and the fishing license can be obtained online, and the charter you book with will usually be glad to help you through the process. Also, if there’s anything else required (such as the biosphere bracelet for Coronado Islands), they’ll let you know well ahead of time.

An Adventure of a Lifetime

There’s a lot to consider when going on a long range fishing trip. Spending days out in the open ocean certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. But, nothing good comes easy, and this is the pinnacle of sportfishing, after all.

An angler on a boat, smiling and holding a Mahi Mahi he caught, with blue seas behind him.

People come back to long range fishing year after year, and it’s not just because of the fishing. There’s a distinct sense of camaraderie on these voyages. Whether it’s helping each other out, or sharing laughs and stories over drinks, long range fishing makes people bond. Anglers from completely different walks of life make long-lasting friendships here, often planning next year’s adventure together.

No matter who you are, a San Diego long range fishing trip is not something you’ll be forgetting any time soon.

What do you think about San Diego long range fishing? Have you ever been on a long range fishing trip? What do you think is best about these types of voyages? Let us know in the comments below.

Author profile picture

Sean is an optometrist who left his day job to write about fishing. He calls himself a lucky angler because his favorite fish, Mahi Mahi, can be found almost anywhere – even though he’s lost more of them than he’s willing to admit. Obsessed by all forms of water sports, you’ll find him carrying one of three things: a ball, a surf board, or his fishing rod.

Comments (16)

Charlie & Penny

Sep 23, 2022

LOVE to fish but can’t handle the smokers. Are there Tobacco-free trips??

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    Andriana

    Sep 26, 2022

    Hello Charlie and Penny,

    Thanks for the question. When it comes to smoking on these long rangers, a lot depends on the onboard policies. Most boats have non-smoking sections and rooms for your convenience. The best thing to do is get in touch with the company that’s arranging your trip, and ask them about their onboard smoking policy.

    I hope this helps, Charlie and Penny.

    All the best!

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Nick Bronson

Jan 16, 2022

The information here regarding, specifically, “San Diego Long Range Fishing,” is extremely outdate, inaccurate, and lacking in actual information regarding true Long Range Fishing out of San Diego. I appreciate the effort to help people out with fishing information, but this is not the place I would go for info on true SD Long Range Fishing.

-Nick

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    Rhys

    Jan 17, 2022

    Hi Nick,

    Thanks for reading and for your feedback. We’re sorry to hear that you feel our information is lacking. Judging by other comments we’ve received people have found the article useful, but we’d love to hear from you about what more we could include to make it more accurate. Please feel free to let us know what you’d like to see more of in the article and we’d be happy to update.

    Tight lines,

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Matt

Mar 11, 2021

Looking for a two-three day trip first full week of July for anniversary get away will be staying in San Diego for the week. Looking for potential guides and prices

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    Sean

    Mar 11, 2021

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for getting in touch.

    Sure thing, I’ll have our Customer Service team reach out to help you find the right guide.

    We’ll be in touch soon.

    Hope you’ll have a great anniversary!

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Marv

Mar 9, 2021

Looking for a 5 days long range fishing trip out of San Diego in August or September for 5 people

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    Sean

    Mar 9, 2021

    Hi Marv,

    Thanks for reaching out.

    No problem, I’ve forwarded your inquiry to our customer service team so that they can get in touch with you to help you find a guide most suitable for your needs.

    I hope you’ll have a great time.

    Tight lines!

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John Abel

Aug 17, 2020

How can I find out prices ? Do you offer any discounts?

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    Sean

    Aug 18, 2020

    Hi John,

    Thanks for reading.

    You can check out and compare San Diego’s offshore charters here.

    Please note that not all offshore charters offer overnight trips. To see which ones do, simply select a charter from the list available through the link above.

    I’m afraid that we aren’t offering any discounts at the moment, but you are free to contact any of the captains through the website and ask if there’s a possibility of a discounted trip.

    I hope you’ll find this helpful.

    Should you need any further assistance, feel free to contact our Customer Service.

    Have a great day!

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rene

Feb 27, 2020

can I pay with PayPal?

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    Sean

    Feb 27, 2020

    Hi Rene,

    Thanks for reaching out!

    Yes, you can book your trip using PayPal. Please note that this goes for your deposit only. For the remaining balance that’s due to the captain, please check which payment methods they accept (you’ll be able to see this as you’re going through the booking process).

    Feel free to contact our Customer Service should you need any assistance.

    Tight lines!

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Bill

Nov 11, 2019

Like to book a 3 day targeting tuna.

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    Sean

    Nov 11, 2019

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for reading.

    Sure thing, our Customer Service team will be reaching out to you very soon to help you arrange the details.

    Tight lines!

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    Mar Sussman

    Jan 9, 2020

    Also looking for 3 day trip

    Mark

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    Sean

    Jan 9, 2020

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for reaching out!

    No problem, I’ll let our Customer Service team know about your inquiry, and they’ll be in touch very soon.

    Tight lines!

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