San Diego Southern California Fish Calendar - Best Time to Big Game fish off San Diego - Sportfishing Fish Targets Year-Round

Sportfishing San Diego Booking Info Request

Book Now!Not sure what boat to choose? Can't find an open date? Ask our Sportfishing Concierge

So Cal Fishing Seasons San Diego - Southern California Best Time to Fish - Sportfishing Calendar

San Diego, Mexico Sportfishing Peak Seasons Chart

Yellowfin Tuna
      * * * *
Albacore Tuna
* * * *  
Big eye Tuna               * *  
Dorado             * * *  
Yellowtail * * * * * * * * * * * *
Barracuda         * * * * * *    
Calico Bass         * * * * * *    
Bonito         * * * * * *    
Sand Bass         * * * * * *    
Rockfish * * * * * * * * * * * *
Halibut   * * * * * *     * * *
Rock Cod * * * * * * * * * * * *

San Diego - So Cal Fishing Targets

The diverse underwater environment off the San Diego coast offers a plethora of year round fish species to target. About 1/2 mile offshore most of San Diego County are thick kelp forests home to countless species of fish.

This provides some great fishing grounds for kayaker's ('yakers), private boaters and party boats based in San Diego. Even better the ride to the grounds is very short for most boats. Trips to the Kelp areas averages about 20-30 min. ride. The Coronado Islands and areas off Imperial Beach (near the Mexico Border) run about 45-60minutes. Roughly 20min. north of Mission Bay fleets and closest to boats out of Mission Bay like Seaforth and Dana Landing are the La Jolla Kelp Beds. For boats out of San Diego Bay including H&M Landing, Pt. Loma Sportfishing and Fisherman's Landing, the Pt. Loma Kelp Beds (my favorite) are right around the Cabrillo Monument point at Point Loma. As a bonus the scenery is awesome, especially for those seeing for the first time.

Most common targets you will be fishing for in these fishing grounds are (note some species are part of random and scheduled DFG closures and are off limits during certain months of the year:

(Refer to the fish images chart below for a picture of the fish)

Fish Targets - Images of current targets as of May 2009

Yellowtail - Targeted year round but mostly caught during late Spring through Fall. This fish gives one of the best fights pound for pound of any fish in San Diego and Mexico waters. Fishing Information: Prime yellowtail areas are found around the Coronado Islands, La Jolla Kelp, the area between Oceanside and Dana Point, Horseshoe Kelp, Palos Verdes Peninsula, Santa Catalina Island and San Clemente Island. Most yellowtail taken by California anglers are landed on boats which anchor at spots where yellowtail are known to aggregate and then chum the fish to the boat with live anchovies. As the fish mill about the boat, anglers then use anchovies, mackerel or squid to catch them. Small boaters may take yellowtail by trolling jigs or feathers in areas where these fish occur.

White Sea bass- Spring time is the best time for this awesome fish. Caught all along the San Diego coast and around San Clemente Island (Hot Spot!) this enormous fish is fine dining. During peak season there is a one fish limit. If you plan to release it or catch one too small to keep proper and careful handling and release technique is essential for this fish to survive. Squid is candy for this fish as well as I like a white plastic swim bait with a squid strip bait and fished tight along the outer edge of the kelp beds.

Tuna and other game fish (Dorado, Marlin & Wahoo) - From about late Spring into late Fall many of San Diego's enormous fleet heads south to fish the rich waters off Baja, California to these days as far as Panama for tuna and other exotic game fish. Yellowfin Tuna to over 300+ pounds are a popular target later in the Fall into the winter months as well as Wahoo and other exotics. Late Spring to late Fall is the main season for Albacore, Bluefin and Big Eye Tuna's.

Bonito - Another explosive fighting surface feeder caught sporadically year round but mostly summer months through Fall.

Calico Bass - My favorite target when fishing the kelp. The highly respected and elusive Calico Bass can be evasive to catch and a local San Diego favorite and my personal favorite to both catch and eat, especially for fish tacos. Bigger "Bulls" or females I release and encourage others to do the same as this fish is a slow grower and doesn't produce many babies. Caught Spring through Fall mostly when the surface temp rises. Bites well in a strong current and tide.

Sand Bass - Caught year round, spring through summer most popular. Usually caught off or near the bottom, these fish are hardy and abundant off San Diego at the kelp beds or various popular way points between Pt. Loma and the Coronado Islands. Also big north out of Oceanside Harbor and south to Encinitas. Another good eating fish. Again the bigger fish and breeders I prefer to release and only keep a couple for eating. Please consider releasing big females as they keep the populations up and as size of this fish has decreased in past years the females not being as large carry less eggs.

Halibut - January through May and again September through December. California Halibut avg about 15-30 lbs but get up over 50lbs. I prefer to drift fish for these fish either off Imperial Beach or North out of Oceanside Harbor along the flats offshore the golf ball on Camp Pendalton Marine Base. They take anything from jigs and scampi's lined with strip bait squid or sardine and using special rigs like a carolina rig with red beads fishing the bottom with squid, Sardine or anchovies. If you want to specifically target this fish in San Diego consider fishing times of grunion runs as the summer spawning Halibut will gorge themselves on this rare treat.

Sculpin and rockfish - These fish are caught off the bottom between September and April except during periods of DFG closures. Keep in mind though of closures for some species during breeding months. Best to ask the boat or landing before planning your trip what targets are currently open season. Sometime boats will make the trip a little farther into Mexico where these fish are fair game for fisherman. Sculpin is fantastic eating, especially in fish tacos. Just don't poke yourself as they have very poisonous spines that inflict big pain when stuck. Be familiar with what this fish looks like and ask the deckhand or captain if unsure what you are bringing aboard.

Barracuda - Targeted year round. Summer months this fish is everywhere you look it seems at times. Unlike east coast "logs" west coast Barri's are smaller or "twigs". They are long and slender with sharp teeth so use caution when bringing aboard and handling. Contrary to what many locals say, this fish when properly prepared is ok to eat. I really like it smoked or if bbq'd, soak the fish in milk for awhile before putting on the grill. This fish will strike most any jig or take live bait, but a blue/chrome is irresistible to them amongst other colors and bait options.

There are countless other fish you make hook into in these areas, including Thresher Sharks but this provides a foundation for what to expect and how to gear up for the popular 1/2 and 3/4 day trips.

Thanks for taking time out to read this and tight lines,

Rob Mailly

Avet and Accurate Conventional Fishing Reels Great For Southern California Sportfishing

Accurate Boss Conventional Fishing Reels are one of the most popular Southern California angler fishing reel picks for Tuna and Big Game fish - Search or browse for the new Boss Fury single star best price point reel!

Best Fishing Reels Accurate & Avet for San Diego Tuna & Yellowtail

The Accurate Boss Single Speed Boss Series X Single Speed or for turning bigger game fish the BX-2 Series. Both Accurate Boss 400x, 500x or 600x have huge 6:1 ratio great for popular Southern California - San Diego deep "Yo-Yo" technique where dropping deep and cranking in at blazing speeds trigger the Yellowtail bite. Spend the money for an Accurate or Avet one piece aluminum body work horse reels for San Diego game fish like we witnessed in 2015!

Accurate Boss Valiant Fishing Reel

A favorite reel for local tuna and Yellowtail is Accurate Boss Valiant, a saltwater fishing reel every Southern California angler needs in their mix of tackle. Help support if you buy one of these reels by making purchases from Amazon. I've searched and selected my local favorites for San Diego and SoCal sportfishing where diversity and several rod/reel combos come in handy when on a moments noticed you hook-up a 100#-200# class Bluefin Tuna show up at the side of the boat just five miles off San Diego as visiting and local San Diego, CA anglers have been blessed with this 2016 summer.

Multiple Rod/Reel Combos Rigged and Ready!

Big events happen fast and unforgiving when tuna fishing - the key is to be ready seconds after you hear the angler or deckhand yell hook-up! - If you can have multiple rod/reel fishing combos you can be ready for any change in conditions or fish target when that precious moment hits on troll when an angler yells, "HOOKUUUPPPP!" The boat then does what's called "slide" into nuetral and immediately the Captain calls out to the deckhand how much live bait to pitch to keep the tuna on the surface and biting angler lines who should already have a bait or jig in the water. Timing and teamwork is essential in successfull tuna fishing Southern California stand-up hook and line style. When the Captain calls out on com what size fish are being marked under the boat, the listening angler then picks up and casts the saltwater fishing rod/reel combo right for the bite. Having multiple setups all ready to go is awesome and can mean the difference between that bucket list 150# class Bluefin Tuna I mentioned earlier just five miles from San Diego ending up in proud pics and on the plate that night over a beer telling the story how glad you are you invested in all this top-quality saltwater fishing tackle this guy Rob at suggested he get! lol jk of course again I just love helping fellow anglers land those hard to get once in a lifetime fish.

On the same 5am to 5pm offshore trip you can hook up a 20-30# class Yellowtail on the Yo-Yo Iron Jig, a bucket-list San Diego 2016! 150# Bluefin Tuna on a light Tady 45 surface iron, a 50# White Sea Bass or a 50# class Halibut on live squid or a personal favorite of mine (Rob Mailly Owner, a old timer slow-growth lunker elusive Calico Bass while flippin' 3-6' plastics using either my Shimano Calcutta 400

or for lower price and unbelievable casting distance my Daiwa Sealine X SLH20! I sell all fishing tackle I mentioned here and truly part of my personal tackle (I chose fishing tackle over a snappy car and wife, lol jk of course) Here's the best deals on Amazon I found for the Boss Valiant BV-300, Daiwa Sealine Series, Avet and Shimano...I haven't left out the first and very best most trusted fishing reel ever made - Penn's Jigmaster 500. My father taught me as a little kid fishing local 3/4 day Coronado Island's trips to learn how to cast a conventional (bait casting) reel using a Penn Jigmaster 500 and a rent rod. He said "son if you can learn to cast a inexpensive old die-hard like a Penn 500, every saltwater fishing reel you cast from now on no matter how expensive and full of features will be a piece of cake and envy of other anglers. It's all about picturing a pendulum and not how hard you cast but proper technique that takes years to perfect for most. Also thumb pressure and controlling backlash which newer high-end saltwater fishing reels like Accurate and Avet have engineered into their respective products. That's another article I will cover.

Link to buy Accurate Boss Valiant BV-300 for $399 at Amazon! Accurate Boss Valiant BV-300 - Link to Buy Now at Amazon for a great deal at $399 w/free shipping

Shimano Calcutta Series - Best Fishing For Yellowtail

I love this old school reel! Although demands more frequent cleaning and maintenance, it's well worth the relatively good bang for the buck solid live bait or plastics flippin' reel I personally used my Calcutta 400. If you like throwing the plastics (plastic swim baits) this is a solid reel for the job and smooth as silk drag for burning Yellowtail.

Request info on planning and booking a private charter or open party San Diego sport fishing trip - image