Whether you’re planning to book a fishing charter or a boat rental to fish from, San Diego is a sportfishing mecca. There’s year-round opportunity to experience the thrill of offshore or deep sea fishing in a sportfisher, or to stick to the bay or nearby lakes and reservoirs for light tackle or fly fishing from a smaller boat too like a center console, pontoon, or bass boat.
Fall 2022 offshore fishing tip from Capt. Nathan Beall, 24+ years experience chartering in San Diego: “With the Yellowfin showing up under Porpoise, you should have a few pounds of sardine chunks to fan out in front of the pod. Ease up on them and let them come to you. They will often, if holding Yellowfin, start feeling around your vessel particularly if you can shut off the motor(s). Keep tossing a handful or two every minute until everyone is hooked up. That will keep them at the boat til you limit out.”
Many saltwater fishing charters in San Diego depart from Mission Bay or San Diego Bay.
Most professional fishing charters and fishing guides offer either 4 pack or 6 pack private trips, which means they’re licensed to take up to 4 or 6 passengers. The other common type of fishing charter offered is a public open boat trip, which means the charter is shared by solo anglers or multiple smaller groups of anglers. Here on Boatsetter, the charter prices offered are for private trips.Browse San Diego fishing charters
Many deep sea charters in the area offer 10 hr, 12 hr, 16 hr, 18 hr, 24 hr, and multiday trips to give the option for greater range and time targeting big fish, particularly tuna.Browse San Diego fishing charters
You don't have to go offshore for action-packed fishing in San Diego. Within the San Diego Bay, you can catch halibut, rockfish, and calico bass. Between the calm waters and plentiful fish, shorter fishing trips in the bay are recommended for families and beginners. Book a 2, 3, or 4-hour trip for a fun morning or afternoon followed by tours of the navy ships and downtown.Browse San Diego fishing charters
From San Diego Bay, it only takes 20-30 minutes to get to some of the best locations in the world for ocean fishing. Here are some of the prime fishing locations frequented by charter captains and local fishers.
Local trips often involve heading to the 9 mile bank or fishing in and near the bays with the city as your backdrop. The local kelp beds are fertile feeding grounds for calico bass, yellowtail, and other local species promising plenty of action. Fishing here is a good choice for families since more frequent bites and abundant bottom fish will keep kids entertained.View fishing boats
For the chance to catch the largest fish in waters reachable from San Diego, head south to Mexican waters. You’ll need to book a longer trip (often 10+ hours), but the time is worth it for anglers with experience and looking for adventure. In addition to the memories, if you’re chasing tuna or other fish to catch and keep, you’ll be coming home with a delicious reward of high-grade fish. Note that if you plan to cross over into Mexican waters on your trip, a passport and a Mexican fishing license will be required.View fishing boats
San Diego has great freshwater fishing too for species including largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, sunfish, black crappie, and rainbow trout. Some of the top lakes to hit are Lake Murray, San Vicente Reservoir, Sweetwater Reservoir, and Lower Otay Lake.View fishing boats
Here are three recommendations for preparing for a fishing trip out of San Diego.
Before your trip, remember to buy a California fishing license. If you’re taking a charter to Mexican waters, talk with your captain about whether a Mexican fishing license is needed.
If booking a charter, your captain will have exactly what’s needed for the fish you want to target. Going on your own? You can get recommendations from local bait and tackle shops at many of the marinas. If looking for fly tackle and fly fishing advice for the area, we recommend stopping by veteran-owned Stroud Tackle Fly Shop.
If you're visiting San Diego and catch fish that you want to keep, you can get them shipped to your home with help from a company like 5 Star Fish Processing, recommended by some of San Diego's top captains.
With temperate weather year-round, San Diego is home to a wide variety of fish species. Here are just three of the types of fish you will be most likely to target or catch on a trip.
San Diego was once known as the Tuna Capital of the World, with the commercial tuna fishing industry employing over 4,000 people at its height in the 1970’s. Bluefin Tuna are one of the most sought-after trophy fish and deliver a fight you won’t forget. They can be targeted year-round, though the water temperatures are usually best for bluefin fishing from March through October.
Local vermilion rock cod and halibut are savored as delicious eating fish and plentiful around Mission Bay. With their distinct red color and bulging eyes, they have a fish face you won’t forget!
Yellowtail are a fast and fun fish to grapple with. Since they’re a migratory species, they’re most prevalent in the area from mid-summer through fall, usually July to October.
If you have multiple days in San Diego, the variety of fish species offers plenty of opportunity to mix it up. Here are three types of fishing you might want to try.
San Diego has a long history of commercial and charter fishing. At one point, the tuna fishing industry was the third largest industry by employment for the area. In other words, you have a fantastic oppor-tuna-ty to catch a trophy fish trolling on the open ocean here.
Fishers in San Diego find consistent success targeting fish near rock pinnacles and above rocky bottoms. The kelp beds are also a great bet for high fish activity that’ll keep your rod and reel active.
The coastline may get the most love in San Diego, but don’t ignore freshwater opportunities here. Among the favorite setups of local anglers are drop-shot and Texas rigs, with crankbaits and jigs frequently mixed in too.
Every month is beautiful in sunny San Diego, and there will always be fish to catch whether you’re sticking to the Bay or headed offshore. Demand is higher in the spring through fall, so book in advance if you’re looking for a charter during these seasons.
Catch species that are here year-round, mainly rock cod, rockfish, sharks, and yellowtail.
Like January, the main species to target are rock cod, rockfish, sharks, and yellowtail.
Anglers start to get a better chance at catching bluefin tuna, and calico bass become more active.
Albacore tuna, halibut, wahoo, and white sea bass become more active in addition to bluefin tuna season continuing to heat up.
Barracuda, bonito, and sand bass join the mix of species to target.
Marlin season generally begins, and dorado / mahi mahi as well as big eye tuna start to show up.
The fishing season is in full swing with the option to target just about any species in San Diego’s waters during July and August. Yellowfin tuna typically show up July through October. Book ahead for peak dates!
Book ahead for peak dates for another of San Diego’s prime summer months. Target everything from tuna to marlin offshore or species of bass and rockfish nearshore.
Enjoy the end of the summer season and target just about any species as the weather begins to cool off. September is typically the last month to target big eye tuna, dorado / mahi mahi, and marlin from San Diego.
A few offshore species migrate to warmer waters at this time, but fishing is still good for bluefin tuna, barracuda, bonito, and yellowfin tuna in addition to year-round species like rockfish and yellowtail.
Get a final chance at albacore tuna before winter sets in and target rock cod, rockfish, shark, or yellowtail. Halibut and lingcod can also be good targets late in the year.
Year-round species like rock cod, rockfish, shark, and yellowtail can be fished for through the winter and make for a great winter vacation activity. Get a chance at striped bass, sheepshead, and whitefish as well.