Not far from the glitz and glam of Hollywood are some of the best fishing coasts in California. I’ve fished all over the state in the past years, but the south always has a special place in my heart. It makes a perfect fishing vacation spot not just for solo anglers but also for the entire family. In this post, I will share the best place to surf fish in Southern California that you can visit next. Big catches are guaranteed aside from the stunning view!
What is surf fishing?
Surf fishing is a popular sport where the angler casts his or her line by the shore. Some will wade a bit further to reach a deeper spot in the water. This method of fishing is ideal for those who don’t have a boat and not planning to leave the shoreline.
A wide range of baits and lures are used in surf fishing. Some anglers also skip the baits and just trust traditional hooks. It’s an exciting way to fish, and hooking a large catch is nothing but satisfying.
While you can always fish on the nearest beach, it will not always promise the best experience. This is why I listed some of the best surf fishing spots in Southern California that you can visit.
Also, surf fishing takes a lot of practice and the ability to read the waters. Like any fishing trip, the chances of hooking a catch depend on the time, weather, season, and temperature.
Aside from that, surf anglers will often watch for rip currents, which indicates that the fishes will come to feed on the surf.
If you’re still scared to hop on a boat, you can get started with surf fishing. This is a fun experience, and the spots below will make it even more exciting.
Best Place To Surf Fish In Southern California – Top 8 Destinations
Southern California is a mixture of quiet and festive as well as laidback and bustling. But one thing that made it really stand out is its handful of amazing fishing spots. Here are eight of best picks:
1. Coronado Beach
Stretching along the San Diego Bay, Coronado Beach is a favorite among anglers. It’s very rare for anglers to go empty-handed when surf fishing in Coronado Beach. I’ve proven this with my own experience during a short trip to San Diego around two years ago.
Take note that Coronado Beach can get really packed during summer, so it’s important to plan your visit.
Aside from beach fishing, you can also try pier fishing at Coronado Ferry Landing Pier. It’s known for stingrays, among other fish types you can hook.
The best part here is the small jetty of boulders that provides an excellent spot for fish to feed. I’ve brought home corbina and halibut from my trip here, which is decent enough for a short stint. If you want to get the best catch, time your visit in May, which is the peak month for surfperch.
2. Newport Beach
Newport Beach is one of the most diverse areas in Southern California. Anglers, for one, will enjoy such variety in terms of fish species. So far, there are over 30 species of gamefishes that grace the shoreline of Newport Beach.
I recommend casting your line along with the river’s mouth or along 28th street for the best catch. These areas are surrounded by jetties that attract coastal fishes.
However, you should remember that Newport Beach gets really crowded during summer. I suggest that you go surf fishing in the early morning to avoid the crowd.
Newport Beach is known for its halibut population, but you can also chance upon other species like corbina.
3. Oceanside Beach
During early summer, Oceanside Beach is flocked by locals and visitors who want to catch fresh halibut. There’s high marine activity by the shore, so you surely won’t go home without a catch. Aside from halibut, Oceanside is also known for its corbina, croaker, mussels, and cockles.
What I also like about Oceanside Beach is you can hook fishes both on high and low tide. You just have to watch out for tourists that may swim through the waters. Just remember that the waters tend to get narrower as you go south. It also becomes sandy and less appealing for surf fishing.
Aside from that, you can also cast your line on the Oceanside Pier if you want to hook bigger fishes. Overall, this is a family-friendly place since the harbor is surrounded by shops and restaurants where you can unwind.
4. Catalina Island
Off the coast of Southern California is the rocky island called Catalina Island. This is a known dive spot and equally popular for anglers who want to catch a wide range of fishes.
Aside from that, you can chance upon a school of fishes just by the shore as it feeds. You can catch kelp bass and calico bass here.
However, make sure that you bring a long rod and your strongest tackle. Since Catalina Island is far from the bustle of the city, the fishes here can grow really large. Aggressive fishes can bite a weak line. It would be such a waste if it will just slip back to the water when your line breaks.
Catalina Island is also surrounded by hotels and tons of amenities. You would literally forget that this area is part of California. It’s an island escape like no other.
5. Silver Strand
The Silver Strand, locally known as The Strand, is a 7-mile stretch in San Diego County. So far, there are no marine protected areas here during my last visit, but you should still check with the authorities.
The Silver Strand’s sandy and flat shore is home to guitarfish, croaker, perch, and corbina. However, I just want to warn you about the water quality. The Strand is located near the Mexican border, and there are times when sewage runoff can reach the shore. In this case, I suggest that you practice catch and release.
But if the water conditions are good, you’ll surely go home with a fat catch. The Silver Strand shares the scarcely fished waters of Mexico, which is a big advantage.
6. Long Beach Harbor
The Long Harbor Beach is a container port where anglers flock to catch lingcod, halibut, bass, rockfish, and more. There’s also a marina nearby where you can take a break from fishing. You can get some snacks and drinks while walking around to explore the area.
Take note that some areas of the harbor can be closed to fishing due to boat activities. I suggest that you keep in touch with the local authorities to get proper advice about the schedule. You can also check the signage around, which will indicate if the area is open for anglers.
The best part is that the Long Beach Harbor is only an hour away from Los Angeles. If you’re staying in the city, this fishing spot is a very convenient option.
If you want, you can also charter a fishing boat to catch big game fishes.
7. Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is popular among locals for both swimming and fishing. Anglers often catch ocean perch and surfperch here. The good thing is that you don’t need a fishing license to cast a line both on the shoreline and the pier.
For the best catch, the north of the pier is the best spot. You should also bring lighter gear, so you can easily feel a bite. Plastic grub baits are also lucrative options here, though many anglers also swear by artificial worm lures.
Surf fishing in Santa Monica Pier would be a big confidence boost because you’ll be swimming in a net full of fishes in less than a day.
8. El Capitan State Beach
The El Capital State Beach is just 20 minutes away from Santa Barbara, so it’s very popular among tourists. You can also spot a few anglers at any time of the day since this place is home to ocean fishes that you can hook right along the shoreline.
For the best catches, I recommend fishing between the first two breakers because this is where surfperch tends to feed. The beach itself is sandy, so you can also try fishing along the rocks. However, you should practice extra care to prevent your line from getting snagged.
During my visit here, I dug up a few sand crabs and used them as bait. It’s pretty lucrative for a short fishing trip. I also got to hook a few rockfishes and a halibut when I waded deeper into the waters.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the best time of the day to surf fish?
A: The rule of thumb for surf fishing is going before dusk and just after dawn until 10 am. During this period, the water conditions are friendlier, and the fishes are expected to feed on the surfs. However, it also depends on the tidal movements, moon phase, time of the year, and overall weather conditions.
Q: Is it ideal to go surf fishing at a low tide?
A: Low tide is the worst time to go surf fishing. The shallow waters will not bring in fishes since fishes find it dangerous to approach too close. While you can still get a few catches, it’s not as rewarding as when fishing at high tide.
Q: How far should you cast when surf fishing?
A: Most surf anglers will cast at a distance of 60 to 100 yards. This allows them to reach deeper waters and more fishes. While it may look easy, it takes a lot of practice to achieve the pendulum cast technique used for this method of fishing.
Q: Can I catch fish on a rough surf?
A: While the water seems raging, you can actually hook big catches on a rough surf. In fact, the choppy waves give fishes a favorable and safer environment to approach the shoreline. This will let you catch more and bigger fishes with the right technique.
Q: How do you go surf fishing on strong currents?
A: During strong currents, you need a heavier casting weight. You will also have better luck when using a breakaway sinker and a thinner line. Aside from that, I recommend using fast-action rods without the slack on the line. And since the waves can wash out your bait scent, you should use a smellier option.
If you’re looking for the best place to surf fish in Southern California, the eight spots I listed here won’t disappoint. Each of these beaches offers different fish species as well as challenges that will put your angling skills to the test.
Have you been to any of these fishing spots? How’s your experience? Share it with us below!