By: Todd Bluechel
San Diego has over 70 miles of pristine coastline and one of the world’s largest and most important natural bays that in the first half of the 20th century protected the world’s largest commercial tuna fishing fleet. Today, the commercial fleet has been replaced by the world’s largest and most modern Sportfishing fleet.
With the Pacific Ocean as its front yard, San Diego is a Sportfishing paradise and if you have a taste for fresh seafood, there is no more exciting or engaging way to guarantee quality and sustainability than to catch a fish yourself. San Diego’s ideal climate allows year-round access to some of the world’s best saltwater fishing. Anglers can head out to sea aboard a private professionally guided 6-pack charter or they can choose from 70 of the world’s most technologically advanced open party boats berthed at H&M Landing, Point Loma Sportfishing, Fisherman’s Landing and Seaforth Landing all conveniently located just minutes from the airport and downtown San Diego.
With an ever-growing fleet staffed by professional captains and helpful crews, San Diego’s fishing charters offer an exciting and rewarding experience for any fisherman whether he/she is an expert or a beginner. Regularly scheduled open party boat trips depart daily with morning or afternoon half-day excursions lasting about six hours and overnight or multiple-day excursion lasting from 2 to 21 days.
Here’s a brief description about the types of fishing trip options regularly departing from San Diego. If you find a trip you’re interested in call the landings for current information and to make a reservation.
These popular 5-6 hour trips fish the San Diego coastline from Imperial Beach to the Point Loma kelp beds. They typically depart from Point Loma Sportfishing and H&M Landing at 6:30am and 1:00pm daily. During the summer, an additional departure is offered at 6:30pm for a "twilight run." Summer and fall fishing targets yellowtail, bass, barracuda, bonito and tuna; winter and spring fishing targets yellowtail, sand bass, rockfish, sheephead, sculpin, white sea bass and barracuda. Boats provide food service but not sleeping accommodations. A California fishing license is required for everyone 16 years and older.
These 9-10 hour "intermediate" trips depart from Point Loma Sportfishing and H&M Landing at 6:00am daily, taking anglers into fishing grounds along the Baja Coast, to the offshore banks and around the Coronado Islands located just 14 miles south of San Diego in the Mexican waters off Baja. A Mexican fishing license is included in the charter fee. Spring, summer and fall trips target yellowtail, white sea bass, calico bass, barracuda and bonito, while winter trips target sand bass, rock cod and more than 50 species of bottom fish. Boats provide full galleys but no sleeping accommodations.
During the winter, these one-day overnight trips fish the "60-Mile Bank" or "43 Fathom Spot" for more than 50 species of rock cod and bottom fish. Boats leave from H&M Landing at 11:00pm daily, and return late the next afternoon or early evening. Guests can fish popular local species, such as red rock cod, lingcod, cow cod and sculpin. Boats are equipped with full galleys and bunks for sleeping.
Available in the spring and fall, these one-day overnight trips run from 18 to 21 hours and depart at 11:00pm daily from Point Loma Sportfishing, H&M Landing and Fisherman’s Landing. The boats return the next evening between 5:00pm and 8:00pm. Fishing begins at daybreak around the rugged Coronado Islands and continues until early afternoon. Since more time is spent in less heavily fished waters on the trips, these excursions are favored by the more experienced anglers. During the spring and summer, guests can expect to catch game fish such as yellowtail, white sea bass, calico bass, barracuda and bonito. A Mexican fishing license is included in the fare. Boats are equipped with full galleys and bunks for sleeping.
From June through November, these overnight trips target migrating schools of dorado, albacore, yellowfin, bluefin and big eye tuna. One-day trips depart at 10:00pm and 11:00pm daily from H&M Landing and Fisherman’s Landing and travel throughout the night to reach the fishing grounds located 30 to 100 miles offshore. Fishing takes place from dawn till afternoon with the day and half trips fishing until sunset. The extra time on the water and the fishing grounds of these trips offer exciting action. Boats are equipped with bunks for sleeping and full-service galleys. A Mexican fishing license is included in the fare and a California fishing license is required for everyone 16 years or older. At the height of the season when demand is high, several boats in the fleet offer a "limited load" where the boat reduces the number of anglers in order to provide a more comfortable fishing environment for its guests.
During summer and fall, two to five day trips are available to the outer banks and offshore islands off the Northern Baja peninsula. Guests target tuna, yellowtail and dorado, while enjoying comfortable accommodations and fine food aboard boats specially designed for long-range fishing trips. Boats depart from H&M Landing, and Fisherman’s Landing.
Depending on the season, trips of 2 to 21 days are scheduled at various times throughout the year. During the spring and summer, shorter trips of 2 to 6 days take sportfishing aficionados to fishing grounds located 100 to 300 miles south of San Diego, to the coastal waters of Baja California and the offshore islands of San Martin, Guadalupe, San Benitos and Cedros. Here, guests target albacore, yellowfin, bluefin and big eye tuna, as well as skipjack, yellowtail and calico bass. Mid-range trips of 8 to 12 days are available through the fall and winter, when the boats travel 300 to 1,000 miles south of San Diego to fishing grounds known as Uncle Sam Bank, Alijos Rocks, 23 Fathom Bank and Thetis Bank, where catches include yellowfin, bluefin and big eye tuna, as well as yellowtail, wahoo and dorado. The longest cruises of 13 to 21 days fish along the Baja coast and around the distant islands of the Revillagigedos, Clarian, Socorro and San Benedicto, where gear breaking yellowfin tuna from 200 to 300+ pounds reside and where wahoo of over 100 pounds are caught on a regular basis.
Of course, once the boats return to the docks, visiting fishermen need to process and preserve their prize catch. San Diego has three main fish processors who will professionally fillet, vacuum seal and freeze fish for a fee. 5-Star Processors, Sportsman’s Seafood, and Fisherman’s Processing all offer some of the best cutters in the world with expertise that consistently produces the best yields from each and every fish they process. Processing times and fees vary and the angler can choose to have the fish shipped home or the angler can pick up their fillets after vacationing in San Diego.
Ready to begin planning your San Diego sportfishing adventure? Visit our Plan Your Trip Section for information on getting here, getting around, things to do and other visitor services.