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Top Fishing Charters in Newport Beach

Fishing in Newport Beach

Spend a little time in Newport Beach fishing for the hottest game fish in Southern California and you’ll see why this city has made a name for itself among anglers. Here, iconic big game fish like Marlin and Bluefin Tuna cross paths with delicacies such as Halibut and Lobster. There’s a fish to suit everyone’s fancy, from the islands and outer banks offshore to the kelp beds along the coast. Add to that SoCal’s world famous sunshine, and it’s easy to see where Newport Beach fishing charters got their reputation. 

Newport Beach Fishing Spots

The Coastline

The coastal waters of Newport Beach are rife with sand flats, artificial reefs, and kelp beds. Naturally, this is where many game fish make themselves comfortable, including Halibut, Calico Bass, White Seabass, Bonito, Rockfish, Yellowtail Amberjack, and seasonal visitors such as Sand Bass and Barracuda. Half day trips (5-7 hours) take you to a number of hot spots where these fish are readily abundant. Well-known fishing grounds include the Huntington Flats, Izors Reef, Crystal Cove, Horseshoe Kelp, and the Newport Artificial Reef.

The Huntington Flats

The flats near Huntington Beach are a favorite among local anglers. You’ll find all of the species mentioned above while fishing here, depending on the season. What makes these fishing grounds special is the variety of bottom structure. Stretches of hard, sandy bottom contrast with underwater shelves of flat shale, oil-drilling platforms, kelp beds, artificial reefs, shipwrecks, and a sunken airplane. The structure here that many call “Izors Reef” is one of the most popular destinations for charter boats.

Horseshoe Kelp

Another hot spot near the coast is Horseshoe Kelp, a cluster of kelp paddies which host many inshore species as well as occasional deep sea visitors. From summer through early fall, migratory big game species like Mahi Mahi, Yellowtail, and Tuna make a pit stop here to fill up on baitfish.

San Clemente and Santa Catalina Islands

If you’re ready to step it up a notch, look for a full day trip (9-12 hours) that will take you to the islands offshore. Heading about 30 miles off the coast of Newport Beach brings you to Santa Catalina Island, and heading 30 miles beyond that brings you to San Clemente Island.

Fishing the rocky coastline of these islands produces a variety of species. Anglers bottom fish for Halibut, Calico, and White Seabass here year-round. In April, the Rockfish season opens, putting Cabezon, Lingcod, and California Sheephead on the menu. Yellowtail and Barracuda start showing up around the islands in spring.

In summer, trips to Catalina and San Clemente Island are all about deep sea fishing. The bluewater surrounding these islands see Marlin and Mahi Mahi in the hottest months of the year. Bluefin Tuna appear from May to September, followed closely by Yellowfin Tuna.

Offshore

The deep sea fishing Newport Beach has access to goes far beyond a day trip to the islands. A nine-hour trip might take you 50-60 miles offshore for a chance to hook into more big game fish like Wahoo, Tuna, Mahi Mahi and monster Mako Sharks.

With a little more time on your hands (try 14-20 hours), you can charter an overnight excursion to the waters even farther from shore. Trips of this sort typically leave in the evening so you can hit the fishing grounds at dawn the next morning. If the season is right, you might intercept the Albacore Tuna run.

Fishing Types

Flats fishing

It’s common to fish for Halibut, Sand Bass, Barracuda, and other fish on the flats by drifting and bottom fishing. Cut squid and live Sardines or Mackerel are both effective as bait, but sometimes hard metal jigs or rubber swim baits work better.

Fly lining

Many anglers in Southern California rely on fly lining live bait while bottom fishing near structure like artificial reefs. This method involves fishing a baited hook without a weight so that the bait (Anchovies, Squid, Sardines) can swim freely. Barracuda, Bonito, Calico Bass, Yellowtail, and other species which feed closer to the service respond well to fly lining.

Deep sea fishing

Fishing the deep water offshore calls for a combination of trolling and bottom fishing, depending on your target species. Bottom fishing produces Rockfish, Halibut, and other species near reefs and the seafloor. Fast trolling is the main method used to target pelagic fish like Marlin, Tuna, and Mahi Mahi. You may also chum for Tuna and Sharks before casting a bait.

Pier Fishing

If you’re eager to wet a few lines before heading out on a charter, spend a little time pier fishing in Newport Beach. The Balboa Pier and Newport Pier produce regular catches of Surfperch, Corbina, Jacksmelt, and Bonito. Anchovies and Smelt are effective as bait.

Need to Know

Anglers age 16 and above must purchase a California fishing license before boarding a Newport Beach fishing charter. A single day license costs about $15 and a 2-day license is a little over $23 (prices subject to change).

Anglers fishing from a public pier are not required to have a fishing license, but must follow all local fishing regulations including size and bag limits.

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Newport Beach Fishing Seasons

With average temperatures as high as 50-60°F, January is a great time to get out on the water in Newport Beach! Fish the Huntington flats or the coast of Catalina for White Seabass, Calico Bass, and Halibut.

Winter fishing continues, with excellent prospects anywhere (and everywhere) close to shore. Set some traps for Lobster and bring home a little something extra in your cooler!

The weather is still a balmy 60°F in early spring. In some years, Rockfish may already be open to harvest. Head to Catalina or San Clemente Island and beat the heat as well as the summer crowds.

High temperatures are still months away, but the fishing is about to get hot here in Newport Beach! Rockfish season is open, and Barracuda and Yellowtail will start showing up along the coast soon.

May is a great time to venture offshore, with early Bluefin Tuna and monster Sharks making their entrance 60+ miles out. Meanwhile, bottom fishing will produce all of SoCal’s delicacies, including Halibut and Rockfish.

The deep sea fanatics are just getting started out on the water as Marlin, Tuna, and other big game fish start appearing offshore. Look for a massive Mako Shark if you’re in the mood for a real wrestling match.

Celebrate the Fourth of July, then head offshore for some fireworks of a different kind! Mahi Mahi are finally on the scene, accompanied by Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna in full force.

You’ll be spoiled for choice in August, as the fishing continues to thrive everywhere from the Huntington Flats to the deep sea. Average temperatures reach their height in July, soaring above 70°F.

Early fall is a great time to fish the reefs for Barracuda, Rockfish, and Seabass. Keep an eye out for schools of Yellowtail and Tuna passing close to shore in the Catalina Channel. Or, why not try your luck offshore?

Lobster season is open, giving anglers all the more reason to test the waters at the bottom of the sea. Barracuda and Yellowtail are still in season, accompanied by Halibut, Rockfish, and Seabass.

There’s not much biting in the Bluewater at this time of year, but the rocky shores of the islands and the coast of Newport Beach still have plenty to offer. Come catch anything from Yellowtail to Calico Bass!

Be sure to squeeze in one more fishing trip before the end of the year! Depending on regulations this year, you might still have a chance to keep anything from Lobster and Rockfish to Barracuda.

Newport Beach Fishing Calendar

What People Are Saying About Newport Beach

"Family Fishing with captain Matt"

fished with Old Spool Fishing Charters on May 30, 2018

Sunscreen, even when its grey and cloudy. This isn't like fishing in Seattle, seas were calm and it was warm even though it was cloudy to start out with. Cant wait to do this again!!!

"Killer day on the water with Old Spool Fishing"

Justin Boudreau fished with Old Spool Fishing Charters on May 20, 2018

If you want to catch amazing Calico Bass, Newport Beach is the place for you!

"Excellent Fishing Trip with Captain Matt"

Thea Palima fished with Old Spool Fishing Charters on March 4, 2018

It was a little chilly so bring a warm jacket and dress in layers.

Top Fishing Techniques in Newport Beach

  1. Deep Sea Fishing

Top Targeted Species in Newport Beach

Yellowtail Amberjack

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Tuna (Bluefin)

Tuna (Yellowfin)

Nearby Fishing Destinations