Deep Sea Fishing in California
Santa Monica, 8 a.m., on a Saturday morning. You step out your hatchback and pop the trunk. The pneumatic-powered trunk rises with a satisfying hissss.
Some parents store their kids’ ballet shoes or soccer cleats in the hatch.
Well, you bought this car for one purpose and one purpose only: to carry all your fishing gear.
You open your tackle box, the contents neatly organized by color, size, and shape. You grab your rod and tackle box, and you pay for 3 hours of parking at the meter.
You walk towards the Santa Monica Pier. A school of chattering teens swims across your path, jostling the contents of your tackle box. You arch you neck, but you can't see the pier above the crowd.
By the time you reach the pier, there are forty other anglers--forty other competitors--lined up along the pier.
You wedge into the space between two fishermen.
It’s going to be a long three hours.
Why Go Deep-Sea Fishing in California?
California is a biodiverse haven and every fisherman’s dream. At 840 miles (1,350 km) long, California has the 3rd-longest coastline in the U.S. rockfish, cabezon, California sheephead, California halibut, and white seabass are only five of the 500 marine species that call California home.
Sightseeing in California’s Open Ocean
There is seldom a boring moment while fishing in California. California sea lions and common dolphins ride the waves in groups, ten to fifty strong. Occasionally, dozens of pods may group together and form a superpod of 1,000 or more dolphins.
From mid-December through mid-April, you may spot migrating gray whales, orca whales, and dolphins. From mid-April through mid-December, you may also see humpback and blue whales, the largest animal in the sea.
The best part of sighting these large predators? They will often lead you right to the best fishing spots in California. Dolphins go to where the fish are, and non-toothed whales go to where the krill and plankton, a favorite treat of smaller prey fish, are.
Best Time to Go Deep Sea Fishing in California
Water along the northern coast of California hovers around a refreshing 52°F (11°C), and the southern coast is a warm 68°F (20°C). This relatively narrow range in water temperature make California waters a great place to go fishing year-round.
But whether you're in Monterey or San Diego, summertime is the best season for deep sea fishing in California. Fish are cold-blooded. Warm water encourages both predator and prey animals to become more active in the ocean, and many species follow migratory patterns home to California in the summer.
The combination of warm water and an abundance of prey fish not only mean more fish, but more well-fed, larger fish. Small fish are like your tax dollars: as much as you want to keep them, you legally can’t. If a fish is smaller than the legal limit, you have to release it. Larger fish mean that your catch is more likely to pass minimum catch size regulations, and keep more of your catch.
Open Fishing Seasons
These are some of the many types of fish that you can catch in Southern California. For a visual guide, check out the California Marine Sportfish Identification page by the California Department of FIsh and Wildlife.
- California Sheephead
- Federally Managed Groundfish (certain species of sharks, ratfish, skates, morids, grenadiers, roundfish, scorpionfish, thornyheads, and flatfish)
- Ocean salmon
- Spotted Sand Bass
- California Halibut
- White Seabass
- California Grunion
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Deep Sea Fishing in Florida