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Top Fishing Charters in Bodega Bay

Fishing in Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay is shaping up to be one of California’s premiere fishing destinations. It may lack the glamour of San Francisco, San Diego, and many other destinations on the west coast–but when it comes to fishing, this hot spot rivals the best of them.

Known For

Many recognize Bodega Bay as the site where Alfred Hitchcock filmed The Birds, but it’s actually the fish here that are catching people’s attention these days. Anglers delight in catching scrumptious Lingcod, Rockfish, Halibut, and Crab through most of the year. In summer, Chinook Salmon and Albacore Tuna turn up the heat with intense fighting action.

The characters in these waters leave a strong impression that keeps visitors coming back for more. Whether you book one of many Bodega Bay fishing charters or choose to cast a few lines from shore on your own, you’ll find that this fishery always has something to offer.

Bodega Bay Fishing Spots

Bodega Bay

What better place to start than Bodega Bay itself? Stretching 5 miles from end-to-end, this bay attracts loads of game fish, followed by crowds of people hoping to catch them. Depending on the season, you’ll find Rockfish, Lingcod, Halibut, White Seabass, and Salmon in these waters. One of the biggest draws is Dungeness Crab. This delicacy is open to harvest from November through July. Other species such as Rock, Red, Yellow, and Slender Crab also skitter about, and you can catch these year-round.

In winter, low tide reveals gooey sand that is perfect for clamming. Casting a line from shore during high tide can produce Flounder and Perch. In summer, anglers fishing from shore can also catch Halibut.

Whistle Buoy

At the north end of the Bay is Bodega Head. From there, the productive fishing grounds of Whistle Buoy are just a quick boat ride away (2 miles out). Anglers head here to catch Chinook (King) Salmon, which is open to harvest from spring through fall. In April and May, you can catch fish weighing 8-10 lbs. July marks the height of local Salmon fishing, with lots of hook-ups and specimens reaching 20 lbs. By August, Salmon are scarce, and many anglers turn their attention toward Rockfish and Lingcod. Bottom fishing for these species is excellent about 25 miles north, off the coast of Fort Ross. 

Point Reyes and Tomales Bay

Tomales Bay is one of the hottest fishing spots in the area. Here you can catch Rockfish, Lingcod, Salmon, Halibut, Striped Bass, and loads of Leopard Sharks. In fact, if you’ve got a soft spot for the cute and cuddly Leopard Sharks, this may be the best place to catch them. You’ll find the best Halibut action near Hog Island, while Lawson’s Landing near the mouth of the bay produces good Striped Bass.

Stretching along the west edge of Tomales Bay is Point Reyes National Seashore. Anglers find this natural barrier between the bay and the ocean to be especially productive. Be cautious when shore fishing, however, because it’s not legal to fish in all areas of the park. You can find out more about local regulations online and feel free to ask a local park ranger for clarification before casting your line.

10 Mile Beach

This 10-mile beach stretching along the northwestern face of Point Reyes National Seashore has many names, including Point Reyes Beach and “The Great Beach.” It also has many fish! Anglers fishing by boat experience great success when targeting offshore Salmon near here, especially in late summer when they catch 15-pounders. Since this beach faces the open ocean, it gets battered by strong winds and the surf is too dangerous for swimming. Shore anglers are better off fishing inside Tomales Bay.

Cordell Bank

Cordell Bank is the place to be if you’re in the market for big game fish. This plateau roughly 20 miles offshore rises up from the seafloor thousands of feet below, drawing more than 240 species of fish toward it. Many charter boats in Bodega Bay come here to fish for Dungeness Crab, Humboldt Squid, Lingcod, and Rockfish. In summer, these are also prime fishing grounds for Salmon and Albacore Tuna.

“Albies” pass by here from mid October through September, resulting in some substantial hook-ups. The sea tends to be calmest at this time of year, giving anglers the perfect opportunity to head offshore. On rare occasions, Bluefin Tuna make an appearance here, too.

Spud Point Marina Pier and More

You don’t have to travel far to find great fishing in Bodega Bay. In fact, you don’t even have to leave dry land. You can catch many local species from the jetties, piers, rocks, and shorelines in the area—ideal for the avid angler who can’t resist sneaking in a little fishing during a family camping trip.

Spud Point Marina Pier is one of best places to cast your line. Located at the north end of Bodega Harbor, this pier offers access to Salmon, Rockfish, Lingcod, Flounder, Cabezon, Sculpin, Perch, Crab, Rays, and even small Sharks. You do not need a license to fish from this pier.

At the mouth of the harbor sits Doran Beach, perched at the northernmost tip of Bodega Bay. The rock jetty here is one of the best local spots for crabbing. The best time to hunt for these critters is around low tide, when they forage for food in the sand. You can also launch a boat or cast lines from any rocky spot nearby to fish for Cabezon, Greenling, and other Rockfish.

Bodega Bay Fishing Styles

Trolling and Mooching

Anglers in Bodega Bay rely on these techniques to catch Chinook Salmon when in season. Around here, it’s common to troll with a flasher or an Apex, sometimes using a plain Apex off a weight. “Mooching” is more akin to drift fishing than trolling, and many prefer this traditional method because it’s more hands-on. Anglers hold the rods in their hands the entire time while mooching, which allows them to feel the Salmon striking the bait. Anchovies are a common bait choice, since Chinook feed on these baitfish aggressively all summer.

Bottom Fishing

As the name of this technique suggests, bottom fishing is the most effective way to catch fish that feed near the bottom of the ocean, including Rockfish, Lingcod, Halibut, and Flounder. Depending on the species, you’re likely to throw in a little jigging, as well. In summer, drifting Anchovies near the beach produces Halibut.

Crabbing

Bodega Bay crabbing is simple and satisfying. Nets and Crab snares are both effective. Snares work well for catching larger Crabs, but can be tricky to use if you’re in a rocky area. Crab traps are very versatile and you can use these from a pier, a boat, or from shore using dead fish as bait. Be sure to bring a container for your catch and some heavy-duty gloves to protect your hands when handling the Crabs. You do not need a license when crabbing from a public pier.

Surf Fishing

You can catch a wide variety of species while fishing from jetties, rocks, piers, and the shore. Common baits include sand fleas, blood worms, cut bait, and live bait. If you’re one for artificial lures, try using feather jigs and plastic grubs to catch Surf Perch and Rockfish. Many locals use Gulp! sand worms on double droppers to catch Barred Surfperch.

Need to Know

Bodega Bay fishing charters do not include fishing licenses. Anyone in your group age 16 and older must buy a CA state fishing license ahead of time. A single day license costs about $15 (price subject to change).

If you plan on fishing from a public pier, you do not need to buy a license. Many species are open to harvest year-round for shore anglers. If you are fishing aboard a boat, however, please note that you cannot always fish for certain species.

The season for Lingcod and Rockfish usually opens in April. Halibut is open year-round, but there are exceptions in some years. (You can usually expect the season for this fish to open by May). You can catch Dungeness Crab from November through July, and there is a limit of 10 Dungeness Crabs per day.

Bodega Bay
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Bodega Bay Fishing Seasons

January is a great time for crabbing! You won’t find many charter boats running trips at this time of year, but shore fishing can be excellent. Average temperatures range from 35-58°F.

If you’re eager to mix things up a little, try clamming at low tide, or fish the incoming tide for Perch and Flounder. The weather is heating up already, with average highs reaching 62°F.

Rockfish season is just around the corner. Until then, most catches will consist of Crab and Leopard Sharks. It’s also possible to fish for Halibut in most years. 

Spring has sprung and Rockfish are open to harvest! In years when plenty of Squid are around, White Seabass will start showing up to feed on them. As always, you can count on plenty of Crab.

Halibut fishing starts to improve in May. By now, most charter boats are fully up and running, carrying passengers offshore to catch Lingcod, Rockfish, and more.

June is one of the best times for fishing in Bodega Bay. You can expect clear, sunny skies all month, with temperatures ranging from 47-82°F. Salmon season is open and Rockfish are at their peak.

Salmon season is in full swing, with plenty of 20 lb fish on the horizon. Halibut are also at their peak, which makes bottom fishing especially productive. The season for Dungeness Crab will close this month.

Dungeness Crab are off the menu, but you can still catch plenty of other Crab species in Bodega Bay. Salmon fishing may still be strong. Rockfish, Halibut, and Seabass are all at their peak.

Come September, ocean Salmon are scarce. But the Tuna action offshore makes up for it! Fall boasts some of the best weather of the year, so indulge in smooth sailing and some awesome catches.

You can still catch Albacore offshore, along with almost every other species. With only a few days of rain in the forecast this month, you can expect fair weather and a full cooler at the end of the day.

Dungeness Crab season opens with a bang, when these delicious critters are at their peak! Fishing for Lingcod is excellent, and you can still catch Rockfish and Halibut while you’re at it. 

December marks some of the coldest and wettest weather of the year, with average temperatures slipping back down to 35-58°F. Bodega Bay continues to offer superb bottom fishing and Crabbing.

Bodega Bay Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Bodega Bay

"Full Day Trip with Captain Aaron"

Michael N. fished with Sva Marine Charters on June 16, 2019

This was our first time fishing out of Bodega Bay - it is a hidden gem.

"Great fishing trip!"

Leigh F. fished with Fish On Charters – Bay Fishing on May 4, 2019

If it’s your first time, make sure to take medicine for sea sickness.

"Fishing with Eric"

William R. fished with North Bay Charters on September 14, 2018

Bring warm clothes for the morning, Bring sun screen, and don't forget to tip the captain.

"Amazing Fishing Trip"

Therese H. fished with Fish On Charters – Bay Fishing on August 21, 2017

Book with Les Hernandez thru fishing booker! Great experience!

Top Targeted Species in Bodega Bay

Tuna (Albacore)

Tuna (Albacore)

Lingcod

Lingcod

Rockfish

Rockfish

Halibut

Halibut

Seabass (White)

Seabass (White)

Salmon

Salmon

Crab

Crab

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