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10 Best Fishing Places in Southern California -Saltwater Fishing!

fishing places in southern California
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Fishing is one of the best outdoor recreational sports on the planet. Nothing beats the sound of the waves coming into shore, the gentle salt-air breeze blowing in your face. And the sun warming you to your core. 

Most importantly, the fish that are just waiting to give you a fight at the end of your line. But where is the best place to surf fish in Southern California?

The best spots to fish in southern California will depend upon what fish are wanted and what type of terrain is needed. Ten places consistently appear on any online search, 

so take a peek.

  • Oceanside Beach
  • Silver Strand State Beach
  • El Capitan State Beach
  • Mission Beach
  • Zuma Beach
  • Newport Beach
  • Redondo Beach
  • Long Beach Harbor
  • Coronado Ferry Landing Pier
  • Santa Monica Pier

These top 10 places will be the best spots to hit for most anglers. The surrounding areas can also be great if a short walk is in the future.

The beaches can be fished directly from the shore, piers, or docks. If there are any locations just outside the actual area being discussed, you can bet that they would also be good for fishing, especially if you go when there are not many people.

Let’s dive into these 10 spots a little deeper so you can better understand each spot.

List of Best Fishing Places In Southern California

1. Oceanside Beach

The beaches of Oceanside offer over 2 miles of beachOpens in a new tab. to fish from. Suppose you can work your way around, with everyone enjoying the sun from the land and in the water. 

Some places are a little rough for anyone but an angler, so if you wander the shores, you may find a safe place to cast from on the beach. 

You can find some good places to fish from the pierOpens in a new tab. and harbor because they are designed for people wanting to get their lines wet.

This is a great area to take the kids out for the day because they can catch many different types of fish from the safety of the piers. 

Most of the fish caught here by the majority of people are smaller fish that are easy for small hands to handle, but you never know when that colossal lunker will take a bite out of your bait. 

Better yet, they can splash around in the water when they get bored and still have a good time.

  • Spotted Sand Bass
  • Kelp Bass
  • Barred Sand Bass
  • Halibut
  • Opaleye
  • Yellowfin Drum
  • Leopard Shark
  • Calico Bass
  • Yellowtail Amberjack
  • Tuna

There are many different kinds of fish to catchOpens in a new tab. at Oceanside Beach. The enclosed area makes it perfect for beginning anglers because there is always plenty of fish for everyone. 

You will have the best luck surf fishingOpens in a new tab. in the earlier morning hours, from 6 am to 10 am, and during the early evening hours between 3 pm and 6 pm. 

2. Silver Strand State Beach

Spring through mid-fall is the time to be down on this beach. It is one of the best spots to hit when you are out surf fishing because it is one of the more isolated beaches in Southern California

The reason for this is simple. The parking area is not close to the beach, so you must hike around 7 miles from the highway.

You will have the beach or the jetty to choose from, both of which can yield some good-sized fish. The best times to fish are during high tide, from 6 am to 10 am and 3 pm to 6 pm. 

The times are based on the fishing calendars, so they may not be exact, but since the early morning is always a good time to fish, you can be assured that you will catch one of the types of fish found in these waters.

  • Surf fish
  • Calico Bass
  • Corbina
  • Halibut
  • Stingrays

These are the most common fish caught at Silver Strand State Beach but do not be surprised if you pull out other types of sea fish. 

It is one of those spots you will dread the long walk in, but once you get set up and start fishing, you will fall in love with it.

3. El Capitan State Beach

El Capitan State Beach is a popular site for locals and tourists alike. A big campground is close by and offers excellent opportunities for people wanting to enjoy some ocean water, swimming, or boating. 

When it comes to fishing, you will find many people sitting on the beach with their poles in the water.

You can pick a spot between other surf-fishing anglers or go where it is a bit quieter by walking to the southern side of the creek. 

One of the best baits for surf fishing is sand crabs, which you can find scurrying across the sand or digging around the beach. 

You will quickly find plenty to use for bait to catch the abundant fish just waiting to be caught.

  • Rockfish
  • Halibut
  • Calico Bass
  • Perch
  • Kelp Bass
  • Rock Bass
  • Leopard Shark
  • Shovelnose Guitarfish
  • Yellowfin Drum

As with the other locations in southern California, the best time to fish is early morning, between 6 am and 10 am. You can also try your luck later in the afternoon, between 4 pm and 6 pm. 

4. Mission Beach

When planning to go to Mission Beach, you should have an idea of where you want to go for two reasons. 

One is that there is so much beach to fish from that it might be overwhelming at first. The second is that a beach is a trendy place for beachgoers, swimmers, and water recreationists.

The good thing is that most people like to settle into spots close to the parking areas. 

If you walk a little in either direction, you will find spots open to fishing without worrying about hooking someone on the beach or in the water. 

You can expect to catch fish similar to the other surf fishing locations in southern California.

  • Spotted Bass
  • Sand Bass
  • Calico Bass
  • Halibut
  • Corvina
  • Bat Rays
  • Leopard Sharks

When fishing at Mission Beach, you must keep in mind that it is much shallower than some other popular surf fishing spots. 

The sand bars on the ocean floor are raised relatively high, making it a perfect place to fish for any type of sand-dwelling fish. 

5. Zuma Beach

Part of Zuma Beach is in a protected State Marine Protection Area, so you will need to get the exact regulations for the areaOpens in a new tab. to ensure you are legal. The south end of the area follows along with the standard rules. 

This beach is a hotspot for people, which you can see when you pull into the parking area that is so large that it could hold the amount of parking needed for the Superbowl.

At times, Zuma Beach has some large breaking tides, so the beach has lifeguards posted at intervals to watch over swimmers and water recreationists. 

The south points are a little treacherous to walk around on, but the end game is worth it because of the large fish you can catch.

  • Halibut
  • Surf PerchOpens in a new tab.
  • Thresher Sharks
  • Bat Rays
  • Corbina
  • Mackerel

The waters found at Zuma Beach are colder than most other places, and the water is much choppier. 

This makes for great fishing for the species that prefer colder water temperatures, but it can be miserable if you are not dressed for the trip. 

6. Newport Beach

Newport Beach is one of those fishing destinations that you will never forget. It has places where you can fish from the shore, the harbor, the jetties, the piers, and of course, you can find a boat to take you out a little bit farther. 

Since it is a coastal city, you can take numerous points of access to get down to the surf. It truly is a fisherman’s paradise because of the options that are available to you.

You may find the beaches and harbors busy year-round in the area, so you may have to walk a little to get to a safe fishing spot. 

The piers are always a decent place to go, but there will be other anglers that you will have to contend with. The fish caught in this area make it worth the hassle for most.

  • Tuna
  • Yellowtail Amberjack
  • White Seabass
  • Halibut
  • Calico Bass
  • White Sea Bass
  • Barracuda
  • Sand Bass
  • Rockfish
  • Blue Runner
  • Spanish Mackeral
  • Bluejack
  • Surf Perch

The list can go on because almost every type of fish you would expect in this area has been caught. And maybe even some that you would never have guessed lived in the waters so close to a town. 

7. Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach is over a mile and a half long, with access to surf fishing. If you get there early, which is usually the best time to fish, you have a better chance of finding a safe spot to cast from. 

The beach runs alongside a bustling city, so you can expect to run into masses of people out on the beach all day.

You can always opt to fish from the pier where most of the anglers are casting from. 

You will run into many other anglers of all ages throwing their bait out from this area, especially on the southwest corner, where you are guaranteed to catch some mackerel. 

If you want a good spot, be prepared to be on the water long before the sun rises.

  • Mackerel
  • Kelp Bass
  • Sand Bass
  • Halibut
  • Scorpion Fish
  • Opaleye
  • Bonito

Redondo Beach is a common destination for locals and tourists alike, not just for fishing. There 

is plenty of fish to be caught, so do not let that discourage you. 

A good idea would be to scope the area before you plan to fish so you can find the spot you want to try and get. 

8. Long Beach Harbor

Long Beach Harbor may be one of the busiest marine traffic areas in the world because it is next to the San Pedros Port of Los Angeles. The beach is only an hour or less away, so it is a virtual hotspot for the locals to drive down to for a day of fishing. 

But the ocean has a lot of fish to offer the savvy angler, so do not be afraid to go down early and get yourself a good spot.

If you scout the water before you plan to fish, you will see some areas with nice rock bottoms to cast into or kelp beds that will yield the fish species that prefer to hide in them. 

The choice is yours, depending on the type of fishing you like, but get your spot picked out and get there in time to claim the site so you can get to fishing.

  • Calico Bass
  • White Seabass
  • Halibut
  • Rockfish
  • Yellowtail Amberjack
  • Tuna
  • Red DrumOpens in a new tab.
  • Seatrout
  • Black Drum
  • Blacktip Shark
  • Crevalle Jack
  • Sand Weakfish

Now you wouldn’t think you could catch very many fish in an area so congested with people and marine traffic, but from the list above, you can see how untrue that is. 

Not only are the types of fish you can catch here impressive, but so is the size of some of the species being pulled out of the water from the harbor. 

Like every other location in Southern California, the best time to fish is between 6 am to 10 am and 3 pm to 6 pm.  Make sure the tide is high during those times. 

9. Coronado Ferry Landing Pier

The Coronado Ferry Landing Pier, or as it is commonly called, the Ferry Pier, is nestled behind a large shopping mall that hides it from the average person. 

You may never see it from the road if you do not know it is there. It is easy to get to, though, because all you need to do is go around the mall and walk the short distance it takes to get there.

For the locals, this is a favorite spot because it is one of the free fishing piersOpens in a new tab. in the state of California. 

Surf fishing from it can get tricky at times because it is a small pier with numerous anglers setting up shop along the edges of it. 

Get your spot, and do not leave it until you are ready to call it quits for the day. Once you get your location, get your line in the water as soon as possible to take advantage of the fish you can catch from the area.

  • Stingray
  • Smelt
  • Mackerel
  • Bonito
  • Bass
  • Perch
  • Halibut
  • Turbot
  • Sharks

The Coronado Ferry Landing Pier is a great place to spend the day with the family because you can fish, suntan on the nearby beach, or play in the water when you need to cool off. 

If fishing is your main objective of the day, get to your spot early because the best time to catch fish will be high tide, between 6:00 am and 10:00 am. 

You can also hit the area in the afternoon between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm, but you will have more people to contend with. 

10. Santa Monica Pier

If you have never heard of the Santa Monica PierOpens in a new tab., you need to look it up on Google. It is a public center for relaxation, entertainment, and all-out fun.

Fishing from the pier is like no other place in the world because it was built to go out 100 yards past the tide lines to give access to anglers that want to fish in deeper waters.

Even though the Santa Monica Pier is a go-to spot for local anglers, you can usually find a spot to fish from. Along the pier’s sides, you can also find a few docks designed to fish from.

If you’re lucky, you may find yourself close enough to a local that will share some of their knowledge and experiences with you, especially about all the fish they have caught.

  • Croakers
  • Seabass
  • Perch
  • Stingrays
  • Shark
  • Mackeral
  • Squid

Before you start casting your line into the water, make sure that you have read any of the signs close by to ensure that the area you want to cast out into is a legal spot to fish in.

Even though it is a regular fishing spot for many people, there are changes to the regulations all the time so read the signs. 

As for the best times for fishing, you will see that it is the same as all the other places in southern California.

Conclusion

There truly is nothing like surf fishing. Casting out into the deep ocean with your best bait and lucky pole, waiting for that monster fish to take the hook. 

There are days when you may not catch anything at all, but the point is that you get out of the house and were able to enjoy a day at the beach.

Southern California is one of the country’s premier spots to surf fish because it has so many access points and fish to catch. It may also be one of the most crowded areas, so be sure to have your gear, drinks, and snacks. 

Be prepared to get out of bed well before the chickens if you want a good spot. But in the end, it is well worth the trip because you will catch some nice-sized fish during your outing.

Zaldy G.

I love feeling the cool ocean spray every time I hit the beach with a rod and a bucket of bait. I love the thrill of feeling bites on my line whenever I hook a big one. And I especially love the pride that comes with cooking a fresh catch and sharing it with my friends and family. Thank you for stopping by. Let's go catch some fish!

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