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10 Best Fishing Spots in San Diego

10 Best Fishing Spots in San Diego

Dubbed the West Coast’s fishing capital, San Diego offers abundant saltwater and freshwater fishing options.

San Diego Bay, La Jolla Cove, and Shelter Island are the city’s top pier fishing and surf fishing destinations. At the same time, Fenton Pond in Otay Valley Regional Park and Dixon Lake are must-visit locations for freshwater anglers.

Offshore fishing is also immensely popular in the San Diego area, so chartering a boat and exploring the waters around Santa Catalina Island, the San Clement Islands, or the Coronado Islands might be a good idea if you’re targeting tuna or other large saltwater fish species.

Top Fishing Spots in San Diego at a Glance

Here’s an overview of the best fishing spots in San Diego:

10 Best Fishing Spots in San Diego

Let’s explore some of the best fishing spots in San Diego.

Embarcadero Marina Park

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As one of the most popular fishing spots in the San Diego Bay area, Embarcadero Marina Park is a perfect entry point into the city’s fishing community.

You don’t need a fishing license to angle from a pier in San Diego, so Embarcadero Marina Park could be a great spot for you if you’re visiting San Diego for just a few days.

The park has south and north sections. Both sections have fishing piers and are easy to reach since they’re a short walk away from the city center.

Type of fishing: Pier fishing, kayak fishing

Expect to find: Bass, halibut, black croaker

Rules and safety guidelines: The line can get stuck in eel grass; Daily bag limits apply to all fish species

See Embarcadero Marina Park on the map

Fenton Pond in Otay Valley Regional Park

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Fenton Pond in Otay Valley Regional Park might be the right spot for you if you want to get away from the bustling city and wet a line in peace. The park is open from sunrise to sunset, but public restrooms and the parking lot close at 5 p.m.

Hence, it’s best to arrive early if you’d like to spend a day at Fenton Pond since you may not have much time to enjoy angling due to park regulations.

Type of fishing: Freshwater fishing

Expect to find: Catfish, bass, carp

Rules and safety guidelines: Daily bag limits; Angling without the permit is prohibited

See Fenton Pond on the map

La Jolla Cove

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One of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego is also a popular fishing spot. La Jolla Cove is open to visitors throughout the year, and it’s frequented by anglers in summer and winter.

This is an excellent location for surf anglers, but there are plenty of kayak rentals in the beach’s vicinity, so you can enjoy inshore fishing if the weather conditions are right.

The beach is part of the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Ecological Reserve, which is why you must check the daily bag limits and other fishing regulations.

Type of fishing: Surf fishing, kayak fishing

Expect to find: Lingcod, barracuda, bass

Rules and safety guidelines: Angling at this beach isn’t recommended when the waves are big

See La Jolla Cove on the map

Mariner’s Point Park in Mission Bay

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San Diego’s Mission Bay has numerous stunning fishing spots, including the Mariner’s Point Park on a sandy peninsula near Bonita Cove.

Mariner’s Point is only a 15-minute ride north of the city’s downtown area, and it’s open to the public until 10 p.m. The park’s maximum capacity is limited to just 200 people, which is why finding a fishing spot at this remarkable location can be challenging.

Fishing is allowed year-round, but the best time to visit Mariner’s Point Park is May through October.

Type of fishing: Pier fishing, shore fishing, boat fishing

Expect to find: Bass, bat rays, halibut

Rules and safety guidelines: Fishing without a license is prohibited

See Mariner’s Point Park on the map

San Diego Bay

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Aside from Embarcadero Park, San Diego Bay offers 12 miles of shoreline that contains some stunning fishing spots. It also provides countless inshore fishing options, with plenty of fishing boats you can charter for a day trip around the bay.

The bay is home to a wide variety of fish species, and you can target anything from bass to leopard sharks. Most fishing spots in the bay are close to San Diego’s downtown area, with plenty of parking space and other facilities.

Type of fishing: Surf fishing, inshore fishing, boat fishing

Expect to find: Yellowfin croaker, Bonito, Pacific Markel, Angel Shark, Bay Ray

Rules and safety guidelines: Ocean Enhancement Validation and sport fishing license are required to fish in San Diego Bay.

See San Diego Bay on the map

Dixon Lake

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The Dixon Reservoir, or Dixon Lake, is one of the prime locations for anglers targeting largemouth bass. The artificial lake is famous for some of the largest largemouth bass in the world, and it is less than an hour away from San Diego.

You won’t need a California sport fishing license to angle at Dixon Lake. Instead, you can purchase a daily permit at the location.

Fishing at the Dixon Reservoir is allowed between 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., so you should arrive early to make the most of the fishing experience at this location.

Type of fishing: Freshwater fishing

Expect to find: Largemouth bass, crappie, catfish trout,

Rules and safety guidelines: Fishing permits are mandatory for adults and children older than 8

See Dixon Lake on the map

Shelter Island

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Point Loma Peninsula, Shelter Island, and Shelter Island Pier should be high on your priority list if you’d like to become familiar with San Diego’s fishing community.

The pier is often crowded during summer, so finding a spot can be difficult. Still, there are plenty of sports around Shelter Island where you can cast a line. The only downside is that you’ll need a fishing permit if you can’t find a spot at the pier.

Point Loma Peninsula has lots of restaurants and picnic tables, which makes it a great place to spend a day with your family.

Type of fishing: Pier fishing, surf fishing, kayak fishing

Expect to find: Croakers, bass, turbot, halibut

Rules and safety guidelines: The bag limit for most species is five fish per day

See Shelter Island on the map

Coronado Ferry Landing Pier

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Sandy beaches, stunning views of San Diego’s downtown, and an abundance of fish are among the advantages of angling at the Coronado Ferry Landing Pier.

In addition, Coronado Island has some excellent fishing spots you can easily reach from the pier. You can also charter a boat on Coronado Island if you’d like to cross the Mexico border and go tuna fishing around the Coronado Islands in Baja California.

There’s no place to hide from the sun on the pier, so consider visiting it early in the morning or evening.

Type of fishing: Pier fishing

Expect to find: Bass, bonito, stingrays, sharks

Rules and safety guidelines: This fishing spot is crowded throughout the year.

See Coronado Ferry Landing Pier on the map

Imperial Beach Pier

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Imperial Beach is among the best surfing spots in San Diego, but it’s also a great angling location. The 3.5-mile-long sandy beach has a beautiful wooden pier that attracts hundreds of anglers daily.

The pier is 1,491 feet long and has streetlights, which makes it an excellent destination for night fishing. It also has several fish cleaning stations to clean your daily catch, but remember that you shouldn’t exceed the daily bag limit.

Type of fishing: Pier fishing, surf fishing

Expect to find: Pacific mackerel, California corbina, leopard sharks

Rules and safety guidelines: Using more than one rod is prohibited on the pier

See Imperial Beach Pier on the map

Santa Catalina Island

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Located around 80 miles from San Diego, Santa Catalina Island is an offshore fishing hotspot. The waters around the island are rich with tuna, dorado, yellowtails, and sharks.

You can charter a boat if you want to fish in the waters around the island, or you can take a ferry if you’d like to explore some of the most popular fishing spots on the island. The island has several piers, so you won’t need a fishing license.

Type of fishing: Offshore fishing, kayak fishing, pier fishing

Expect to find: Tuna, white seabass, calico bass, yellowfin

Rules and safety guidelines: A fishing license is required for offshore or inshore fishing at Santa Catalina Island

See Santa Catalina Island on the map

Key Things to Consider When Choosing a Fishing Spot in San Diego

Visiting San Diego is on every angler’s bucket list, or at least it should be. Rich marine life, breathtaking fishing spots, and excellent weather are some of the reasons San Diego is one of the best cities for fishing in the US.

Still, you should consider more than a few factors when deciding where you want to fish in San Diego, so let’s look at some of the most important ones.

  • Top fishing locations in San Diego are often crowded: Coronado Ferry Landing Pier, La Jolla Cove, and other popular fishing spots in San Diego attract large crowds, so securing a good place can be challenging.
  • Some locations aren’t open to the public 24/7: Fishing spots in parks aren’t always available, and you must check the visiting hours before heading there.
  • Stay at a safe distance from swimmers and surfers when angling from the shore: Make sure you’re always at least two hundred feet away from the nearest surfer or swimmer.

Rules for Fishing in San Diego

Although you don’t need a fishing license to fish from one of San Diego’s piers, you still must follow all other fishing rules and regulations.

Daily bag limits apply to all fishing locations in and around San Diego. These limits are different for each species, but you cannot keep more than ten fish per day in most cases. In addition, you must also respect fish size limitations since keeping a fish under a certain length is prohibited.

Different rules apply to offshore fishing trips that last two or more days, as the limit is 20 fish, but you can’t keep more than 10 fish of the same species.

Although fishing season for tuna, sharks, white seabass, or California halibut is open year-round, it’s advisable to check when the fishing season opens and closes for the fish species you want to target.

Most fishing spots in San Diego don’t have catch-and-release policies.

Fishing Licenses in California

Fishing without a license is only permitted on piers, but you must get a fishing license if you want to fish anywhere else in San Diego.

Nonresidents and residents can purchase a sport fishing license online or at local bait & tackle stores. Short-term fishing licenses are available to residents and nonresidents.

Temporary Sport Fishing License

  • One-day sport fishing license – $20.26
  • Two-day sport fishing license – $31.06

Fishing Licenses for California Residents

  • Resident sport fishing (16+) – $61.82
  • Reduced-fee sport fishing – $9.53 or $9.98
  • Reduced-fee sport fishing license for low-income seniors – $9.53

Fishing Licenses for Nonresidents

  • Ten-day Nonresident Fishing License – $61.82
  • Nonresident Fishing License – $166.89

How Salted Angler Selected the Best Fishing Spots in San Diego

Here at Salted Angler, we’re passionate about fishing. That’s why we understand the value of having accurate information when you’re heading to a new fishing location.

We’ve relied on strict criteria to pinpoint the best fishing spots in San Diego, so here’s a quick overview of the most important ones.

  • Location’s accessibility – This article only features fishing spots you can easily reach by car, ferry, or boat.
  • Fishing spot’s popularity – Our list contains some of the city’s most popular fishing locations where you can meet members of San Diego’s vibrant fishing community.
  • Angler’s skill level – We relied on this criterion to identify the best spots for recreational and pro anglers.

General FAQs

What Fishing Gear Should I Use When Angling from a Pier in San Diego?

You’ll need a 6-foot rod and 20lbs line if you’re angling at a section of a pier close to the shore, while a 9-foot rod and 50lbs test line can be a good fit for fishing at the end of a pier.

Is San Diego a Good Destination for Winter Fishing?

Although fishing in San Diego is more difficult during winter due to lower water temperatures, you can still catch halibut, marlins, barracuda, or calico bass.

Is Chartering a Fishing Boat in San Diego Worth It?

Chartering a boat is one of the best ways to visit the best fishing destinations near San Diego and enjoy offshore fishing.

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