On the Western Tip of the United States stands San Diego California, beautiful landscape merges into the ocean with a plethora of marine life that call these waters home.
Temperature is pleasant all year round which ranges from 57.3 °F in January & 76 °F in July. San Diego presents a host of activities for visitors who love the outdoors both on and off the water.
Given the oceanic topography and climate of the waters of San Diego and the proximity to Mexican waters, which you can fish from out here, makes some of the best fishing in west coast United States.
With Kelp beds surrounding San Diego as close as a mile offshore one need not travel far to enjoy tight lines and screaming reels. The proximity of these marine havens gives you more time to fish the grounds. In the local kelp beds, you can catch Calico Bass, Sand Bass, and the strong and much desired Yellowtail (AKA yellowtail amberjack) in other seas.
If the inshore bite is not so hot within the short ride to the 9 Mile Bank, you still have the chance to run into the prized trophies like Yellowfin and Bluefin Tuna. These species have been caught in recent years from as close as 5 miles offshore. Kelp paddies, which you also run into during the ride, also yielded 40+pound yellowtails as well as schooling Dorado.
The peak fishing season in San Diego tends to be in the summer months where the bite really lights up from May to September with a lot of the pelagic species coming closer inland. In winter months you can find resident Yellowtails as well as a whole host of Rockfish, Halibut, and the ever so misunderstood Barracuda.
Aside from the fishing, San Diego offers opportunities for diving, snorkeling, kayaking, hand gliding and many other activities for the outdoor enthusiasts. If that’s not your thing you can spend time cruising and people watching in Little Italy whilst savoring mouthwatering food from the many restaurants. La Jolla or Mission Bay Boardwalk make great places for people watching and just hanging out. If a family affair is in order, Disneyland is a short drive away. The San Diego Zoo are SeaWorld are great places to spend a day or a few. This is, after all, sunny California.
The Bluefin Tuna is one of the most prized fish off the coasts of San Diego. Average fish size being caught off the coast has been about 30 pounds although fish as big as 300 pounds have been landed in offshore waters.
Bluefin is some of the strongest fighting fish in the ocean, plummeting to the depths once hooked they exhibit the might of a bull and have to be worked hard to be landed. At times one is not sure who will win the fight the angler or the fish. This is what makes these fish a much celebrated catch for any angler.
The Bluefin bite is hot in the summer months between May & September.
Around these waters the preferred method for anglers is live bait casting using sardines or mackerel as bait. Since the majority of the fleet has live bait tanks with fresh bait being sold at most landings this is the preferred method.
Recent years have seen the rise of casting irons or stickbaits which have yielded results when the fish are boiling on the surface.
The Yellowfin Tuna is on the top list of species for most salties around the world and luckily can be found of our waters. Like its cousin the Bluefin, this fish is no pushover. Many anglers lost to Yellowfins after an arduous battle.
Once hooked, it usually only heads down to the depths. It is up to the angler to try and get them back up to the surface with most fish coming back to life once they see the boat. Most anglers seek battle with this species.
The yellow fin bite is hot in the summer months between May & September.
As with the Bluefin Tuna the preferred method for anglers is live bait casting using sardines or mackerel as bait. Sinking stick baits as well as surface poppers have been yielding fantastic results for this species and are quickly becoming an essential tool in all anglers tackle boxes.
These acrobatic fish also make an appearance over the kelp paddies that are common on the coastal waters of San Diego. These fish when they are around will take a jab at any bait that’s placed in front of them. Known as the acrobats of the sea, when hooked these fish normally take to the skies breaking the surface in an effort to throw the hook off.
Dorado have not always been a common catch within reach of the half day and one day trips out of San Diego, but as with other pelagic species their journey inshore is on account of the warmer waters in recent years.
The Dorado bite is hot in the summer months between May & September.
With the Dorado the preferred method for anglers is trolling or live bait casting. Once a school of Dorado have been spotted off one of the kelp paddies surface fishing with lures & plastics have delivered results. Being an aggressive fish when the bite is hot they will bite on many a presentation and take to the skies.
A close relative of the greater amberjack The Yellowtail as they are known in California are found in droves especially around the kelp. These fish are some of the greatest fighting fish around and can be targeted close by around the inshore kelp beds or offshore at the floating kelp paddies.
For those who have not hooked one before having a yellowtail on the line is kind of like fighting a train once they reach a certain size. On these waters these fish are plentiful once found and will give even the most avid anglers a run for their money.
The yellow fin bite is hot in the summer months however they are present all throughout the year at various depths.
As with the other ocean pelagic species these fish can be targeted with an array of fishing methods. On this coastline the casting Irons are a popular method when surface fishing. These are used by casting at the kelp paddies and retrieved. This unlike trolling leaves the angler alert and holding the rod when the strike happens. Sizes of these fish vary but the larger specimens have been caught in excess of 50 pounds.
YoYo jigs are also quite effective fishing for these fish as they cover the entire depth of the water column and unlike high speed jigging can be used even by the novice angler. Local tackle shops readily stock surface irons and YoYo jigs and will recommend the most effective color at that time of year.
In our humble opinion, if you ever get a chance to visit these waters yellowtail fishing is a must if you ever get a chance to fish through San Diego. It is also great Sushi grade fish and will leave you with pleasant memories and sore forearms.
One of the strongest fighting fish in the ocean and definitely one of the most acrobatic fish around. This is a big target for many a saltwater angler and luckily can be found offshore around the waters in San Diego. When fishing for these fish make sure you have the right licensing on the charter as that situation can quickly get messy with the department of fisheries.
Makos are shark with attitude, once hooked there is no telling what they will do and depending on the size of it is often a game of angler vs. fish and a fair game as to who will win that fight. It is also risky fishing as it is not uncommon for these sharks to have a run at the boat and sometimes landing right in them.
When fished you better make sure if you are keeping the fish not to land one that you aren’t sure is 100 percent exhausted. As an avid anglers I recommend that you catch and release these oceanic predators to live and fight another day.
These fish are around all year and make for a great day on the water if you manage to hook one.
The most popular method to catch these fish is to run a chum slick in the water to attract them to within biting range, they will take dead bait or live bait. If live Bonito or Skipjack can be found they make for great bait for these oceanic predators. Make sure that you have the right tackle and leaders as these toothy fish can chomp down hard on Mono leaders. Steel is the way to go if you want to stand a chance at fighting these fish for while.
Trolling for them with deep diving Jigs also yields results often. Hooking them is only part of the challenge landing these fish or at least touching the leader is a whole other ballgame.