Your first thoughts may be sunny beaches, fancy hotels, or fish tacos when someone mentions San Diego. What you may not realize is how much the city is a fisherman’s paradise. According to San Diego’s tourism website, it ranks no. 2 on Field and Stream Magazines list of “America’s Best Fishing Cities.” But how do you get the best San Diego fishing experience? We can’t think of a better way than a day out with a tip-top captain on a San Diego fishing charter.
Taking a charter out on the bountiful waters of the Pacific Ocean isn’t just fishing, but also a chance to create memories of a lifetime. To ensure your fishing experience is everything you’ve imagined and more, we’ve rounded up 8 of the best San Diego fishing charters.
How to Choose a San Diego Charter Fishing Trip:
Before we dive into our favorite fishing charters off the southern coast of California, let’s talk about what you’ll want to consider before choosing which type of trip will best meet your needs.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before starting your research on which type of charter to choose fisherman’s landing san Diego
1.) What length of fishing trip best suits your needs? San Diego Fishing Charters are as short as a few hours and as long as 2 weeks or more.
2.) How many people will be in your group? You’ll need to be sure that the charter you choose can accommodate your group’s size.
3.) What type of fish do you want to catch? Many of the charters will have you catching the same types of fish such as California Halibut, Rockfish, White Seabass, and Tuna. Anglers have aslo had a lot of success in catching bluefin tuna in recent years, as we discussed in our article, “The San Diego Bluefin Tuna Makes a Comeback.”
4.) When do you want to go? The summer months are best to catch most species of fish, but late spring and early October can bring success as well. The shark and yellowtail are biting all year long if you want to plan a winter trip.
5.) Will you have kids with you? Many of the best San Diego Fishing Charters organize half-day trips that are perfect for the youngest fishers. Just be sure to seek out one that touts itself as being “kid-friendly.”
6.) What level of angler are you? As a beginner, you don’t want to find yourself on a charter full of experienced anglers who know exactly what they’re doing. Keep this in mind when you’re making your booking.
7.) Lastly, what kind of overall experience do you hope to receive? If there is something specific that you want, such as a more intimate experience where you learn the tricks of the trade one-on-one or a certain type of fishing, such as spearfishing, be sure that’s your priority when you make your choice so you won’t be disappointed.
Now that you know what it is you want from your offshore fishing excursion, let’s go deep and find out what makes the following San Diego fishing charters some of the best around.
Top 8 San Diego Fishing Charters
With the abundance of San Diego Fishing Charters available, it can be difficult to know which to choose. We’ve narrowed the list down to our top 8, based on different specialties. But remember, many of these fishing charters offer lots of different services to meet varying needs, so just because we may list it as “best for XYZ” we still recommend them checking out to see what they can offer you and your group.
So, let’s get to it!
1. Best Fishing Charter for Bluefin tuna: Billy K. Fishing
“The relentless pursuit of fishing perfection is alive and well in Billy K.” – Customer Rich Holt
If your ultimate goal is catching a coveted, giant Bluefin tuna, Billy K. Fishing is where it’s at. Not only will successful fisherman, Billy K., teach you everything you need to make the catch at every step of the way, he’ll also offer an intimate fishing experience that’s difficult to come by at larger fishing charters. As someone who’s spent almost his whole life fishing the local waters of San Diego, you’d think he’d be set in his ways, but Billy is always learning new tactics to pass on to the anglers he takes out to help them get that “catch of a lifetime.”
On top of a full-day private charter, Billy K. will also take boat owners for a guided charter on their own boat. This is an incredible experience Billy offers for boat owners who just don’t have the skill quite yet to catch a Bluefin on their own.
For more, check out a bit of Billy K.’s history and catches on this BD Outdoors forum.
2. Best Fishing Charter for a Personal Experience: Boundless Boat Charters
“The Premier San Diego Fishing Charter”
At Boundless Boat Charters, they’re all about catering the fishing experience to meet your adventure needs. From the youngest beginners to those fisherman chasing the once in a lifetime trophy catch, they are there to do everything they can to get you that first bite and then some. It doesn’t take long to see that Captain Mark loves what he does and can’t wait to share the experience with everyone he meets. If you’re the angler seeking a guide who not only knows what he’s doing, but truly cares about making your experience the most memorable it can be, you can’t go wrong with Boundless Boat Charters. And if you’re seeking something a bit different, lobster fishing and whale/dolphin watching are options, too.
For more, check out this page to find out exactly what you can catch and when.
3. Best San Diego Fishing Charter for Large Groups: Colletta Sport Fishing
“The trip was absolutely fantastic! Chris Coletta made everything very easy and it was no problem booking 2 boats for three days for 12 people. We did a mix of local Rock Fishing, Halibut, Yellow Tail, and long-range tuna. We caught limits, had fun, and everything was easy. “ -Customer Becky Green
Think you can’t organize a corporate event on a San Diego fishing charter? Think again. Fishing charters are also a great option for birthday parties, family reunions, and bachelor(ette) parties! It will certainly be an event no one will ever forget. At Colletta, they are ready to customize a trip for your group’s needs. Just keep in mind that each vessel can accommodate 6 clients, but they’ll get you the number of boats you needs while keeping it interesting between boats by organizing a “fishing tournament” between boats. Spending a day on the San Diego Seas with friends and family, led by captains who know their stuff, could only be better by making the perfect catch.
4. Best San Diego Fishing Charter for Kids: Fisherman’s Landing
“San Diego’s Finest Fishing Charters”
As a leader in San Diego deep sea fishing for 53 years, Fisherman’s Landing has something for everyone, and that includes the kiddos. The Dolphin, a vessel that seats up to 60 people in its galley, is the perfect way to get the family out for a full morning of fishing in San Diego’s waters. Though you can count on the fishing to be amazing, we all know how short a child’s attention span can be. The crew on the Dolphin will make sure everyone in the family has what they need (think drinks and food) when they need to take a little break. Some fish the kids can hope to bring home include Calico Bass, Rockfish, Barracuda, and more. Because let’s be honest, the kids aren’t there just for the experience…they’re there for the catch!
Oh and did I mention…kids fish free!
Looking for more? Check out the fish counts for each Fisherman’s Landing charter here.
5. Best Long Range San Diego Fishing Charter: Point Loma Sport Fishing
“Biggest, fastest, most luxurious long-range sportfishers offer the ultimate in big-game sportfishing adventures.”
What better way to ensure a catch then to go for a multi-day fishing trip? Anglers looking for big game (think 300+ pound yellowfin tuna) will love the option of heading out for more than 1,000 miles south into Mexican waters on a 2-3 week excursion. If that’s a little too long you can opt for a 4-6 day trip that will still get you loads of fish variety. Expect the most experienced captain and crews, gourmet meals, and comfortable staterooms aboard Point Loma’s premier sportfishing vessels. No matter what month you head to San Diego, this charter will be sure to get you out on a long-range fishing trip of a lifetime.
Though we recommend a satellite phone or satellite hotspot for anyone taking a fishing charter, it is an absolute must if you’ll be gone for days at a time.
6. Best San Diego Fishing Charter for First Timers: Brothers Sport Fishing
“Leading the next generation of San Diego sport fishing.”
When looking to get the full San Diego experience, a Pacific coast fishing trip is a must. Worried that you don’t know a thing? Many fishing charters in San Diego cater to newbies, and Brothers Sport Fishing loves to be the ones to help new anglers as they get their sea legs. Though anyone is welcome to bring along their own rod/reel combo, you can count on Brothers to provide all the gear (including individual safety equipment) you need for a successful and fun day out on the water.
Trips available: Half-Day local, 3/4 day on the coastline, Coronados Islands, or offshore, and full day at Coronados Islands or offshore.
7. Best San Diego Fishing Charter for Catching Sharks: World Class Shark Fishing
“Shark Fishing was on fire the last few trips! Two small makos for the kids along with numerous bigger models from 250 – 900 pounds. Top it all off with 2 white sharks!” @fishing_charters_of_san_diego
Did I say shark fishing?! One of the best parts about shark fishing is that it’s a year-round sport (unlike the fishing of many other species that’s limited to the warmer months). If you have a winter trip planned to San Diego, this just may be your best bet. Mako shark, Thresher shark, Blue shark, and Hammerhead sharks are all fair game when cruising with the charters fo World Class Shark Fishing. Though catch and release is encouraged to preserve resources, anglers can keep one Mako or Thresher per trip. Beginners or families with kids as well as big game fishermen will appreciate the knowledge and expertise provided by World Class Shark Fishing in pursuit of a unique catch.
8. Best San Diego Spearfishing Charter: ZenMar Offshore
“We put you on the fish.”
If actually getting in the water to make that big catch appeals to you and face-to-face encounters with the likes of large bluefin excites you, perhaps a freedive spearfishing trip is for you. Though Zen Mar offers the other types of fishing you’ll see available on other fishing charters, guided spearfishing is their specialty. Between local kelp and bay spearfishing or heading offshore in search of jumbo bluefin tuna, seasoned spearfishers won’t be disappointed.
Spearfishing Trips available: 9-Hour Spearfishing Trip ($1300) and 12-Hour Spearfishing Trip ($1500)
There are just so many great charter fishing options in San Diego that it can be hard to narrow it down. We have two more recommendations we can’t leave without mentioning:
- for a custom charter fishing experience to meet your exact needs check out Pinnacle Sport Fishing
- for various year-round options, you can’t go wrong with owner Ryan Bostian on The San Diego.
What to Bring On a San Diego Fishing Charter
No matter which San Diego Fishing Charter you choose to go on, there are certain items you’ll need to bring. Some of the top items you’ll want to be prepared with (but not limited to) include:
- Windproof and Waterproof Jacket
- Polarized Sunglasses (Straps will ensure you don’t lose them!)
- Closed-Toed Shoes
If you’ll be going on a long-range fishing trip, preparation will be even more important since you’ll be staying overnight and at sea for multiple days. We recommend you consider the following items for longer San Diego deep-sea fishing excursions including (and they may be required):
1.) Satellite Phone – If you’ll be fishing alone, a satellite phone is an absolute must. With a charter, you can be pretty confident that they’ll have emergency communication taken care of, but that doesn’t help you if you’ll be needing to conduct personal communication. Additionally, when it comes to your safety, we never suggest leaving it up to someone else and assuming they have it covered. Your best options would be the Iridium 9555 satellite phone or if you prefer to have a way to turn your own smartphone into a satellite phone, the Iridium GO Satellite Wi-Fi is perfect for this (and works for up to 5 mobile devices).
2.) Passport – Most day San Diego fishing trips won’t require a passport or Visa, if the trip falls within 12 miles of Mexico it will be necessary.
3.) Cash – there may be instances where only cash is accepted.
4.) Seasickness Medication – Even if you don’t think you’ll be afflicted by motion sickness, wouldn’t you rather have it just in case?
We also recommend you print off our Deep Sea Fishing Checklist so you don’t forget the little things. Be sure to check with your charter in advance to make sure you have everything you’ll need.