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Top Fishing Charters in Catalina Island

Fishing in Catalina Island

Nothing sums of up fishing in Southern California like Catalina Island. Just 21 miles long and 8 miles across at its widest points, this little slice of paradise offers a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of urban LA. Unless you’re fishing, in which case Catalina is full of action! For anglers in SoCal, this is the go-to place to catch some of the world’s most infamous game fish. Take your pick of Catalina Island fishing charters and come experience the waters that made recreational angling the sport it is today.

Known For

Deep Sea Fishing

Many say that Catalina Island is the birthplace of modern sport fishing, due to a number of incredible Tuna catches here. With some of the world’s best deep sea fishing grounds just a few miles offshore, it’s no wonder where this long-standing reputation comes from.

Anglers enjoy good fishing on the island year-round, but warmer weather definitely brings out the best big game fishing Catalina has to offer. Yellowfin Tuna and other trophy fish such as Marlin, Barracuda, Mahi Mahi, and monster Sharks are the main attraction in summer. You can expect lots of trolling and occasional chumming for these species. Outside of peak season, there’s excellent bottom fishing for Halibut, White Seabass, Calico Bass, and Bonito. These species and a resident population of Yellowtail Amberjack keep local anglers busy year-round, weather permitting.

Shore Fishing

You can also spend time on Catalina Island fishing for a good number species without leaving shore. In some places, the deep water comes right up to the coast. Of course, it’s not as simple as dropping a line wherever it suits you; reaping the rewards of Catalina Island takes a little effort—or rather, a boat in most cases. If you’re so inclined, you can rent a boat from several different services on the island and make your way to one of many little coves. Calico Bass, Seabass, Halibut, Blue Perch, Sheepshead, and the odd Yellowtail are all on the cards. Be sure to use heavier line in rocky areas. Swimbaits and squid or shrimp will entice a bite from many of these fish.

Pier Fishing

Green Pleasure Pier in Avalon is the main pier on Catalina Island. Rocky surroundings make this an ideal spot for fish like Blue Perch, White Seabass, and of course, Rockfish. You can have a lot of success relying on the same bait you would use when shore fishing.

Need to Know

Budget

Fishing trips to Catalina Island vary widely in price, depending on your point of departure and other factors like the quality of the boat and tackle. Most charter operators only offer full day trips to the island (9-12 hours) to make sure you have the maximum amount of fishing time once you get there.

Private charters can cost anywhere from $700 to over $2,000. If you don’t mind sharing the deck and making some new friends, consider an open boat trip for a more budget-friendly option. These can cost as little as $40 per person (tackle may cost extra).

Regulations

Anglers age 16 and older must purchase a CA fishing license. Local charter boats typically do not provide a license for customers.

Fishing regulations are subject to change every year, so make sure you’re up to date before your trip. The season for Rockfish species such as California Sheephead, Lingcod, and Cabezon typically closes at the start of the year and reopens in March or April. Most other species are open to harvest year-round, but may have size and bag limits.

Getting Here

Catalina Island is about 28 miles off the coast of Southern California, directly across the San Pedro Channel from Long Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Dana Point. Catalina Island fishing charters depart from all of these locations, as well as Los Angeles (expect the ride to take about an hour). You can also reach Catalina Island on an extended day (13+ hours) or overnight charter from San Diego. If you’re already on the island, look for charters in Avalon.

If you plan on fishing from shore or renting a boat on the island, you can get to Catalina either by ferry or helicopter. Ferries depart from San Pedro, Long Beach, Newport Beach, and Dana Point. By helicopter, the island is just a 15 minute flight from San Pedro, Long Beach, Burbank Airport, or John Wayne Airport/SNA, where local helicopter services are based.

Whether you’re looking to land your next biggest catch or your very first fish, Catalina Island is sure to keep you coming back for more!

Catalina Island
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Catalina Island Fishing Seasons

Average temperatures range from 46-58°F at the start of the year. Warm up at the annual Avalon Benefit 50 Mile Run from Avalon to Two Harbors and back, then head to the water for some bottom fishing. 

Winter fishing on Catalina Island will have you hooking into Halibut, Blue Perch, and Calico and White Seabass. In some areas, you can catch Lobster, as well.

Rockfish season might open in March, depending on the year. If it does, California Sheepshead, Lingcod, and Cabezon will all be available to you while bottom fishing near Catalina.

By now, you can expect Rockfish season to be open, just as Barracuda and migratory Yellowtail start showing up around Catalina Island. Hot weather and hotter fishing are just around the corner! 

Average temperatures are creeping up to the mid 60s, and the first of the summer’s big game fish are already giving anglers a run for their money. Come catch mega Sharks, Barracuda, and more!

Yellowtail Amberjack and Bluefin Tuna are at their peak near Catalina, along with many other game fish. Work up your appetite offshore and then enjoy one of several food festivals on the island this month.

The legendary Yellowfin Tuna are joining the Bluefins, which makes this month excellent for big game fishing. Mahi Mahi will make a brief appearance, while the usual suspects will continue biting all month. 

Average temperatures on the island reach up to 74°F in August. Escape the heat of the mainland and come cool off while indulging in the hottest fishing action of the year!

Warm weather and big game fishing continue in early fall. Your chances of landing anything from Yellowfin Tuna to Rockfish are excellent.

Lobster season usually reopens in October, just in time to make up for fading numbers of big game trophies. Try bottom fishing and setting a few traps to bring home a cooler full of delicacies!

Average temperatures can still tip the scale past 60°F in November. Weather permitting, you can have great success while bottom fishing offshore or from the coast of the island.

Local weather has the potential to reach its coldest in December, averaging 46-57°F. Those who go out of their way to reach the island or cast a line from its shore can catch Halibut, Seabass, and more. 

Catalina Island Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Catalina Island

"Fishing with Captain Dale."

Allen B. fished with Rockstar Fishing Charters on March 9, 2019

Go outside the Breakwater. But, then I have very, very limited experience to answer this question: just one time out I only know that in 3 hours we got very few bites, and only 1 caught fish.

"Beautiful half day with Gerry "

Dylan L. fished with All Harbors Charter - Long Beach on January 22, 2019

Get a guide because there’s tons of hidden spots!

"Half day fishing with Captain Kevin."

Abraham F. fished with Breakwall Fishing Guide Service on November 10, 2018

Just have a great time and bring a jacket.

"New things"

David P. fished with Dana Wharf Sportfishing - Current on September 29, 2018

Maybe pack a small lunch. The snacks are great, but we were pretty hungry towards the end.

Top Targeted Species in Catalina Island

Yellowtail Amberjack

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Tuna (Bluefin)

Halibut

Top Catalina Island Destinations