Dana Point fishing is a tale of two halves, with great opportunities both inshore and offshore, but with very different target species. The city has one of surprisingly few proper harbors on the Orange County coast and lots of Dana Point fishing spots are actually quite close to the harbor. Within just a few miles you will find plenty of rocky outcrops and underwater structures, as well as the largest kelp forest in Orange County.
Pretty much as soon as you leave the harbor you will find yourself over The Pipe. This, as the name may give away, is an underwater spill pipe that comes out from the San Juan Creek. Over the years it has grown into an artificial reef, with big populations of Calico Bass, Sand Bass, and other local favorites. Calico Bass can put up a good fight and makes excellent table fare and as such a big part of the Dana Point Harbor fishing scene.
Most inshore charters will head further afield though, fishing a variety of bays and inlets in the local area. You can expect to target Calico Bass, Halibut, and White Seabass, depending on the time of year, as well as the all-encompassing Rockfish. This name covers just about anything you will find feeding or hiding around the rocky outcrops in the bays, from Snapper to Sheepshead. Basically 90% of what you will be targeting inshore will be described by some local anglers as Rockfish, so luckily they are good table fare.
If you feel the offshore bug biting and fancy getting out into deeper waters you will be pleased to find plenty of Dana Point sportfishing charters jostling to welcome you aboard. The majority of the offshore action happens around the Channel Islands, with Santa Catalina drawing most of the crowds. Once you are out there you can expect to battle anything from Yellowtail to Bluefin depending on the time of year.
The summer migrations of Bluefin around Dana Point actually seem to have been growing in recent years. Some say it is because of the large population of Red Crabs which they feed on, other because of changes in water temperature. Whatever it is, it brings in big Tuna in big numbers. Other important summer visitors include Yellowfin Tuna, Blue and Striped Marlin, and Mahi Mahi. Even in the darkest depths of winter (or as close as it gets in Southern California, meaning you may actually need a sweater) you will get some solid catches of large Yellowtail, with some big Sharks wading in to make things even more interesting.