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Top Fishing Charters in San Diego

Fishing in San Diego

We’re not 100% sure who first dubbed San Diego ‘America’s Finest City,’ but we’re willing to bet they were a fisherman. Home to one of the largest sportfishing flotillas in the world, this is the number one place for fishing in the whole of California. And with good reason. 

Luckily for traveling anglers, the fleet of San Diego fishing charters is more than capable of showing you what fishing in these parts is all about. Here, charter captains take their job seriously, probably spending more time on the water than almost anywhere else on the planet. With some of the best fishing accessible on a 10+ hour trip, it's no suprise that fishing trips in these parts are fast and furious. But there's something here for everyone, with local fishing also being a great introduction for anyone who wants to try their hand at dipping a line. Spearfishing is also fantastic here, with high visibility and great species to target. 

Known For

San Diego fishing is iconic. Once the home of the biggest commercial Tuna fishing fleet of the early 20th century, San Diego Bay now houses a huge charter fleet and the iconic Fisherman’s Landing, San Diego’s answer to San Francisco’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf.

But what exactly is it that makes San Diego sportfishing so irresistible? Maybe it has something to do with the extremely varied habitat close to shore. Miles of kelp forests stretch around Point Loma and La Jolla, attracting large numbers of baitfish and making the perfect habitat for game fish and anglers alike. Maybe it is the enticing inshore waters of Mission Bay and Oceanside, which offer a welcome relief from the city. Most likely, it is the famous San Diego long range fishing fleet, a large collection of boats that fish long and hard, taking customers out for days at a time to fish the islands and beyond for Tuna, Marlin, Sharks, and Yellowtail.

With Mexican waters just around the corner, come equipped with your passport and experience deep sea fishing for Yellowfin, Bluefin, and Bigeye Tuna all within a few days of California’s southernmost metropolis. With a huge number of species available on these longer trips to the Coronado Islands, San Clemente Island, and Catalina Island, it is no surprise that the term ‘hot railing’ was invented to describe San Diego charter trips. Come aboard, and get ready for an action-packed adventure.

But it is not all about deep sea fishing in San Diego. The county’s lakes are home to some of the best Largemouth Bass fishing in the whole of the United States. A fifth of the top 25 all-time Bass catches came from Miramar Reservoir, with another 6 record-breaking catches coming from other locations in the county. With huge Catfish and Bluegill fisheries also available, don’t miss Barrett Lake (by reservation only), Morena, Lower Otay, El Capitan, and many, many more. Why not try to break a record yourself?

Rules & Regulations

Everyone who catches fish in inland or ocean waters must have a valid sport fishing license. Most San Diego lakes require a permit, which must be purchased in addition to the usual sport fishing license. 

If you're taking a long range trip to fish Mexican waters out of San Diego, make sure to bring your passport and check that your charter captain has covered your Mexican fishing permit. 

Types of Fishing

Bottom fishing for the striking California Sheephead in the kelp beds around Point La Jolla and Point Loma is great fun all year round, while Yellowtail is also a staple: cast bait, fish with metal jigs, or troll for some unbeatable action and very rewarding eating. In the summer troll offshore for Marlin, Tuna, and Albacore, or jig for a huge White Sea Bass with squid.

San Diego
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San Diego Fishing Seasons

The coldest month in San Diego, January is all about fishing for Sculpin, Ling, Bass, and Halibut. Seasonal closures for Rockfish slow down the fishing (regulations vary). Meanwhile, Trout season starts in the lakes.

Weather conditions can be unruly, with winds and high waves a possibility. In good conditions, you can get out to fish for Sculpin, Sand Bass, and Halibut, while Yellowtail can be caught around the Coronado Islands.

Fishing is still affected by wintery weather, with Groundfish being the main target. Head to the kelp beds to catch a Calico Bass or go to the flats for a Sand Bass, with Halibut still very good. This also prime time for Bass fishing.

Spring fishing continues, with Sand Bass fishing in the Bay being the top choice for shorter trips and longer trips taking you out to the Coronado Islands to target Calico Bass, White Seabass, and Yellowtail.

The fishing gradually starts to heat up, with some deep sea fishing trips beginning to leave San Diego. These will see you targeting Pacific Albacore, Bigeye Tuna, and Bluefin Tuna. Inshore, the Halibut season comes to a close.

More and more charters start running long range options, fishing waters 30-100 miles offshore for Bigeye and Bluefin Tuna, Albacore, Yellowtail, and Dorado. Conditions can be bumpy as the north winds stir the seas.

Finally, summertime fishing arrives in San Diego. Make the most of it while it is here! The June winds start to settle and overnight trips and longer will see you fishing anywhere from Catalina to the Coronado Islands and beyond.

The water is the warmest it will be all year, and with the warmth comes exotic species. Dorado and Yellowtail can be caught on a day trip if you are lucky. Albacore can still be caught to the north, to return south later in the month.

Warm water species are still available, with Halibut and Rockfish also starting to reappear on the cards. Marlin, Tuna, and Albacore can be caught close to shore in years when the waters are warm.

Fall sees amazing Yellowtail fishing, with some people considering it the best time of year to catch the species in San Diego. Large numbers are caught on local half day and overnight trips.

The warm water species have definitely left the area, with some overnight trips still taking you south to Mexican waters to follow them. Closer to home, your main targets will be Yellowtail, Rockfish, and Halibut.

Most charter boats run fewer long range trips at this time of year, although if you can take a long trip south to fish the Mexican waters, you will be in for a treat. Local day trips will target Rockfish, Halibut, and Calico Bass.

San Diego Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About San Diego

"Rockfish trip with Captain Shaun"

Loose C. fished with Pelican Sportfishing on March 10, 2019

The fishing is always good in San Diego! Come down and give it a try!

"Half Day"

Michael A. fished with San Diego Charters on March 8, 2019

Very experienced Captain . Half Day trip caught a lot of Fish

"Nice trip"

Ron H. fished with San Diego Fishing Company on March 4, 2019

Take a private boat so a new angler can be taught properly how to fish by a Captain and crew that care

"Awesome Rockfish Trip With Captain Shaun"

Jason K. fished with Pelican Sportfishing on March 1, 2019

If you are coming to fish San Diego in March target Rockfish and Halibut!

Top Types of Fishing in San Diego

  1. Offshore Fishing

Top Fishing Techniques in San Diego

  1. Deep Sea Fishing
  2. Spearfishing

Top Targeted Species in San Diego


Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Tuna (Bluefin)

Tuna (Yellowfin)

Nearby Fishing Destinations