Are you an avid surf fisherman living, or perhaps planning on visiting California, and looking for the best spots for surf fishing California? With 840 miles of coastline and over 420 public beaches, California offers a wide variety of fish and surf fishing spots to choose from. In fact, the Golden State is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and rugged coastline in the US, making it a surf fisherman’s paradise whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surf angler.
Having lived in California for several years, I can attest that California offers some of the best fishing spots in the world, and surf fishing is no exception.
The Pacific coasts of California, Oregon and Washington with their miles of beaches and an abundance of marine life, provide plenty of opportunities for surf fisherman to enjoy their favorite pastime.
Come along, and we’ll explore the best spots for surf fishing California, from sandy beaches to rocky shores and ocean front piers.
We’ll also provide some tips on gear and techniques to help you make the most of your fishing experience as well as some local fishing information resources for surf fishing California.
Gear and Techniques for Surf Fishing
Before we dive into the locations, it’s essential to understand what surf fishing is and what equipment you’ll need. Surf fishing is the practice of fishing from the shoreline, where waves break onto the beach. You’ll need a fishing rod, reel, bait, and a fishing license to get started.
It’s also recommended to wear appropriate clothing and footwear, as you’ll be standing in the water for extended periods. When it comes to surf fishing, having the right gear and techniques is essential. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your surf fishing experience:
- Use a fishing rod with a length of 10-12 feet to maximize your casting distance.
- Choose a reel with a high line capacity to handle the strong currents in the surf zone.
- Use a variety of baits such as sand crabs, bloodworms, and shrimp to attract different fish species.
- When casting, aim for the troughs between the breaking waves where fish tend to feed.
- Pay attention to the tide and fish during the incoming or outgoing tide for the best results.
Essential Surf Fishing Gear:
- Surf Fishing Rods, surf rods are typically longer and heavier duty than standard rods. – read more.
- Surf fishing Reels,larger and stronger with greater line capacity to handle big fish. – read more.
- Surf fishing Rod and Reel Combos, pre-matched rod and reel set ups for surf fishing – read more.
- Sand Spike Rod holder, holds your rods securely while you wait for that big bite. – read more.
- Surf Fishing Rigs, terminal tackle for fishing the surf. – read more.
- Surf fishing Carts, for beaches that won’t allow vehicles you need a way to carry your gear – read more.
- Rod Racks for Vehicles, carry your rods out of harms way and easy to access- read more.
- Beach Camping Gear, in case you want to fish all night or for several days – read more.
California Surf Fishing Information
Check the local bait&tackle; shops, Facebook groups and online fishing forums for the latest gear, baits and fishing reports: fishthesurf.com, surffishingsocalsd.com, scsurffishing.com, and pierfishing.com are all good sources of local information on surf fishing California.
10 Best Surf Fishing Spots in California
When it comes to surf fishing in California, these ten locations are among the best. However, it’s essential to check local regulations and restrictions before fishing to make sure you’re legal. As always practice catch and release when you can and, if you do want to keep a few for the fryer, only take what you can use. Check with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for surf fishing rules, regulations, bag limits and licensing requirements. As always, know before you go.
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area is known for its diverse fish population, including halibut, striped bass, sharks and perch. It doesn’t matter if you prefer pier fishing, surf casts, or going off with a charter – San Francisco offers all that and more.
Popular surf fishing spots in the area include Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Pacifica State Beach in Pacifica, and Montara State Beach in Montara.
Ocean Beach offers some of the best surf fishing opportunities in the area. You can catch a variety of fish, including striped bass, perch, and halibut. It’s also a great spot for surfing and beach combing.
Pacifica Pier offers excellent surf fishing opportunities for a variety of fish, including salmon, perch, and rockfish. It’s also a great spot for watching the sunset and taking in the stunning views.
Monterey Bay is located on the Central Coast of California and offers some of the best surf fishing opportunities in California. Anglers can catch a wide range of species such as striped bass, halibut, salmon, rockfish, lingcod, smelt and surfperch. The bay is also home to sea otters and other marine life.
Popular surf fishing spots in the area include Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove, Moss Landing State Beach in Moss Landing, and Marina State Beach in Marina. Fishing from a public pier or public wharf is another surf fishing option. Note that in Monterey fishing is allowed from the Breakwater (Coastguard Pier) and Wharf II (Commercial Wharf), but not on Fisherman’s Wharf.
Santa Cruz is another popular surf fishing destination in California. The area is known for its abundant variety of fish species, including perch, halibut, and striped bass. Popular surf fishing spots in Santa Cruz include Cowell Beach, Main Beach, and Manresa State Beach
Morro Bay is located on the central coast of California and is another popular surf fishing spot. You can catch a variety of fish here, including rockfish, lingcod, and cabezon. It’s also a great spot for kayaking and bird-watching.
Pismo Beach is famous for its awesome surf fishing opportunities. Anglers can catch various species such as barred surfperch, walleye surfperch, and striped bass. The beach also has ample amenities, including restrooms, showers, and camping facilities.
Santa Monica Pier
Located in Los Angeles, this pier is an excellent spot for beginners as it offers easy access to the water. The pier also has plenty of amenities, such as restrooms, restaurants, and parking.
The Santa Monica Pier is an iconic location that offers excellent surf fishing opportunities. You can catch a variety of fish, including halibut, yellowfin croaker, and surfperch. It’s also a great spot for people-watching and taking in the beautiful scenery.
Orange County Area
Orange County, one of the most densely populated areas of California, offers some of the best surf fishing spots in Southern California. Popular surf fishing spots in Orange County include Huntington State Beach, Bolsa Chica State Beach, and Crystal Cove State Park.
Huntington Beach is known as “Surf City USA” for a reason. It’s one of the best surf fishing locations in the state. You can catch a variety of fish, including halibut, perch, and corbina. It also has ample amenities, including restrooms, showers, and restaurants. The best time to fish here is during the summer months when the water is warmer.
Crystal Cove State Park is located in Orange County and offers some great surf fishing opportunities. You can catch a variety of fish, including halibut, corbina, and perch and it’s also a great spot for hiking and camping.
San Clemente Pier is another popular location for surf fishing where you can catch yellowfin croaker, corbina, and surfperch among others. The pier also offers stunning views of the ocean and is a great spot for whale-watching during the migration season.
Newport Beach – This Orange County beach is famous for its abundant fish population, including yellowfin croaker, corbina, and spotfin croaker. It’s also a popular spot for surfers, so anglers should be mindful of the surfers in the water. Early morning before the surfers and beach goers get up is the best time to take in some surf fishing here.
San Diego Area
San Diego is a great surf fishing spot for anglers of all skill levels. Another densely populated area of California, it offers a wide variety of fish species, including yellowfin croaker, corbina, and surfperch. Popular surf fishing spots in San Diego include La Jolla Cove, Ocean Beach Pier, and Oceanside Pier.
La Jolla Cove is a popular tourist destination and an excellent surf fishing location. It’s located in San Diego and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. You can catch a variety of fish here, including yellowtail, surfperch, and calico bass.
San Onofre State Beach – This beach is located in San Diego County and is known for its excellent surf fishing opportunities. Anglers can catch species such as surfperch, croaker, and corbina. However, be aware that fishing is only allowed in designated areas.
Oceanside Pier – This pier, located in San Diego County, is a popular spot for surf fishing. Anglers can catch species such as corbina, perch, and halibut. The pier also has amenities such as restrooms, restaurants, and parking.
Imperial Beach Pier – This pier, located in San Diego County, is another excellent spot for surf fishing.
Anglers can catch a variety of species such as halibut, corbina, and perch. The pier also has amenities such as restrooms, restaurants, and parking.
Now, If you’re already planning on being in the San Diego area, it’s just a short flight to Cabo San Lucas Mexico for some awesome surf fishing.
Shelter Cove is located in Northern California and offers some of the best surf fishing opportunities in the area. The beaches and surf are more rocky and you can catch a variety of fish, including salmon, halibut, and rockfish. It’s also a great spot for hiking and exploring the rugged coastline and forests.
8 miles north of Crescent City you will find the awesome surf fishing spot of Kellogg Road Beach. This part of California is far less densely populated and you will have plenty of room to fish and may have the beach all to yourself.
In addition, driving on the beach is allowed north of Kellogg Rd no need to carry all your gear. A 4 wheel drive vehicle is recommended sand can be very unforgiving. Walk-in only access is to the south of Kellogg Road and, if you’re willing to walk a bit, you can find isolated pockets where large schools of surfperch hangout.
Surf Fishing California Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time of day to go surf fishing?
The best time to go surf fishing is during the early morning or late evening when fish tend to be more active.
Do I need a fishing license to surf fish in California?
Yes, you need a valid California fishing license to surf fish in California. Check with California Fish and Widlife for more on license requirements.
What kind of fish can I catch while surf fishing in California?
California’s surf fishing spots offer a wide variety of fish species, including striped bass, rockfish, California corbina, California halibut, leopard shark, barred and walleye surfperch, and yellowfin and spot fin croaker.
Can I use artificial lures for surf fishing in California?
Yes, you can use artificial lures for surf fishing in California. Popular lures for surf fishing include swimbaits, jigs, soft plastics and crankbaits.
Is surf fishing safe in California?
Surf fishing can be dangerous in California, especially during high surf conditions. It’s important to be aware of the weather and surf conditions before heading out to fish. Always wear a life jacket and never turn your back on the ocean.
Surf Fishing California: Final Thoughts
California’s coastline offers some of the best surf fishing spots in the US, with a diverse variety of fish species and locations to choose from. No matter where you are in California, there is some great surf fishing to be had. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, there’s something for everyone in California’s surf fishing scene.
Make sure to obtain a valid California fishing license and practice proper safety measures when heading out to fish.
With the right gear and techniques, you’re sure to have a memorable and successful surf fishing experience in California’s beautiful coastal waters.
As always, stay safe, enjoy the journey and please try to leave it cleaner than you found it. If you have any comments, questions, ideas or suggestions please leave them in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you asap. You can follow us on Facebook: Rex The Beach Angler, Instagram: thebeachangler7, Twitter: @AnglerBeach, and YouTube: Man Art Creations.
A life long surf fisherman with 50+ years of experience, I am also an avid hunter and outdoorsman. I will be sharing my passion for the outdoors with you so be prepared for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and more. Along with gear reviews and the latest trends and innovations in the outdoor industry.