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Top Fishing Charters in Dana Point

Fishing in Dana Point

Dana Point fishing has it all: The fish fight hard and taste great, the boats are modern and well-equipped, and if you ever find the bite dropping off the area also has one of the largest whale populations in the country. Dana point has big year-round populations of Yellowtail and Rockfish, as well as seasonal visitors such as Halibut, White Seabass, and of course Bluefin Tuna, all of which are great table fare. You really need to make room in the freezer before heading out in this part of the country!
One thing worth mentioning about Dana point sport fishing is the length of most charters. Half days generally run around  the six hour mark and multi-day trips are very common, heading out to the Channel Islands or down into Mexican waters. You should generally expect to be out for at least 12 hours if you want to experience the best deep sea fishing Dana Point has to offer. You won’t get bored though, with plenty of chances to watch whales breaching when you are not hooked up. 

Known For

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.

Rules & Regulations

You will need a saltwater fishing license for everyone aged 16 or over, as these are generally not supplied on Dana Point charter boats. There are various closed seasons throughout the year, most notably for California Scorpionfish or Sculpin, which is closed from September 1st through January 1st and Spiny Lobster, which is closed mid-March through October 1st. Many other species have yearly federal quotas, which your captain will advise you on during your trip.

Types of Fishing

If you are thinking of heading offshore you will have plenty of quality equipment to play with. Most Dana Point deep sea fishing charters offer several ways to target big offshore pelagics, from trolling and chumming with live squid to kite fishing with surface lures. Offshore kite fishing was pioneered in Southern California, and is still a personal favorite of many local big game experts. 
Run-and-gun fishing is also very popular, with captains chasing birds or hitting a variety of their favorite spots to try and track down the best catch. This is as much the case for Yellowtail as it is for Tuna, and you will be given a serious workout yo-yoing heavy jigs in front of schools of Yellowtail in spot after spot offshore.
Dana Point
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Dana Point Fishing Seasons

January 1st kicks off the Sculpin season. Also known as Californian Scorpionfish, these tasty little guys may be hard to handle, but their delicious meat is worth the effort once in a while.

Halibut show up in February, to accompany the year-round populations of Yellowtail and Rockfish. You really are never short of great food fish in Dana Point!

The Dana Point Festival of Whales has been thrown every March since 1972, celebrating the California Grey Whale migration with a variety of family-friendly activities and events.

The bays are alive with more species than you can shake a stick at. Rock Cod Halibut, Calico Bass, Sheephead, Lingcod, and Sculpin are all on the cards, so get out there and grab some!

May marks the start of great offshore fishing. Barracuda and Bonito start to show up, heralding the big game pelagics of the summer. Halibut are still around in big numbers and there are always plenty of Yellowtail.

You can spend a productive day inshore, but let's get real, the Bluefin here! Everyone wants a piece of the action with these awesome fish, so get out there and get ready to eat like a king!

Yellowfin, Bluefin, Albacore, Bonito. If it's shiny on the outside and red on the inside it's here in July! Mahi Mahi also turn up this time of year, just in case there aren't enough fish to target.

The Bluefin start to drop off in August, but they are but Bigeyes quickly take their place. There are still tons of other delicious fish inshore if you don't have the time to get out into the blue.

The Dana Point Tall Ships Festival is held every September, gathering together the biggest fleet of these impressive vessels on the whole of the West Coast. 

Spiny Lobsters come into season on October 1st, so remeber to lay your traps at the start of your trip. Even if you don't hook a single fish you will still have plenty of delicious seafood at the end of the day.

Things finally start to cool down in November, both above the water and below. The big game madness may be over but the inshore fishing is still great, with Rockfish, Halibut, and Lobsters around in force.

Dana Point is a great place to spend the holiday season, with average temperatures of around 68° and plenty of seasonal events, not to mention loads of delicious Halibut and Rockfish just waiting to be caught.

Dana Point Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Dana Point


Robert P. fished with RockenReelSportfishing on July 3, 2019

Beautiful Water - Rocken Locken Tours is the best. Captain Steve is awesome.

"Full Day of Fishing with Captain Steve"

Joe K. fished with RockenReelSportfishing on June 22, 2019

Dana Point is a beautiful harbor with all the amenities and not too crowded! If you're going for your first time, make sure to look up Rocken Locken, He has knows the spots!

"Half day trip with Captain Chuck aboard the Boardroom 2"

Carlos S. fished with Dana Wharf Sportfishing—Boardroom 2 on June 20, 2019

Weather can be cool and wet, not necessarily what one envisions for southern California.

"4 hour fishing trip "

Jennifer P. fished with Seaworthy Charters – Dana Point on October 19, 2018

They made the whole event simple from planning, getting ready and the trip itself! Followed up to ensure that they had everything they needed to have a great experience.

What would you recommend to anglers fishing in Dana Point, California for the first time?

Top Fishing Techniques in Dana Point

  1. Deep Sea Fishing
  2. Fly Fishing

Top Targeted Species in Dana Point

Tuna (Yellowfin)

Tuna (Yellowfin)

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)



Yellowtail Amberjack

Yellowtail Amberjack

Tuna (Bluefin)

Tuna (Bluefin)

Seabass (White)

Seabass (White)



Barracuda (Pacific)

Barracuda (Pacific)

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