fall & Winter Fishing

A Guide to San Diego Winter Salt Water Sport Fishing


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winter time bite!

San Diego, California

The tuna fishing season is almost over. And I say that with a laugh because my customers are still asking how far they would have to go to catch them. I tell them, “far” and “south”. To have a decent chance at Tuna right now, you would need to schedule a 2 or 3 day trip on one of our faster six-pack boats like the Easter B and head due south at best speed. Even that will soon be over.

However, there is a bright side… Rockfish season is in full swing, and there are still Yellowtail, White Seabass, not to mention Calico Bass, Sand Bass, and Halibut. The awesome thing is, you don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money to enjoy the local fishing just outside of Point Loma, Imperial Beach, and La Jolla. Our ½ day the and ¾ day  and full day trips will absolutely put you on the fish, many times with each Angler catching limits or a really big fish.

Don't have enough people to fill a six pack? No problem! We offer open party four and six pack charters where you can team up with other people to catch fish and SAVE MONEY.
If you are looking for a private party six pack, click here.

In and around San Diego Bay, mexican waters,  & local banks

Hello everyone, Nick here with tips and tricks to have a great winter sport-fishing season. In this article we will discuss what species are available to catch, where we go to hunt them, and exactly how you go about putting them on the deck of the boat. Often times, winter fishing is more difficult than the warmer months, due to the colder weather conditions and colder water temperatures. Rest assured though that with a little perseverance, you can land yourself a nice 5-50 lb fish. We are talking halibut, lingcod, white sea-bass, rockfish, shark, yellowtail, sheepshead, and many other local species. Choose either a private party or open party deep sea fishing trip.

Can you fish in the winter?

Not only can you fish during the winter, but you will find the prices are much lower, and the crowds are gone! Often times, winter fishing is more difficult than the warmer months, due to the colder weather conditions and colder water temperatures. That is why the crowd is much thinner. No tourist either, mostly just San Diego locals. Rest assured though that with a little perseverance, you can land yourself a nice 5-50 lb fish. Our company is offering 1/2 Day, 3/4 Day, and Full Day trips departing daily every single day throughout the winter fishing season. We will be offering shared open party four pack, six pack, and 12 pack charters, running from both Mission Bay and San Diego Bay. Winter fishing is a big part of our sport fishing season. We hope you will come and join us.

Most fish are caught during warmer months rather than winter, but fishing during the cold seasons has advantages too. Cold doesn't mean you need to put away your fishing gear at the end of the season! All serious fishermen should try the winter fish. This brief guide will give you information on fishing during winter as well as discuss some commonly asked topics. 

Find the Right Time to Go

Winter fishing is all about timing. It is more important than anything else to time your trip during a fair weather window! While some people don't have an open schedule, for those of us that do, this can make all the difference. A glance at a forecast can determine how productive a day will likely be. Keep in mind that while good fish conditions are not always the best, certain conditions will definitely increase the chances of success. Weather fronts impact activity levels across all species. Most fish are active before and later on but not during a weather window. The best thing to do is to check your 10 day forecast, and if it look good, book it! The closer your trip is to today, the more accurate the weather prediction, so go as soon as you can. Winter weather can be unpredictable, so pick your date carefully.

Winter Fishing Advantages

Fishing during the cold winter weather has many advantages. I have a list of important ones.

Come and take advantage from Fall to Spring!

Winter Fishing Tips and Tactics

Fishing in the winter can be rewarding in various ways. Cold temperatures keep good weather anglers home and the tourist at bay. During the coolest days of the season, preparation, research and appropriate gear are necessary to make an unforgettable fishing trip.


Dont have enough people to fill a six pack? No problem! We offer open party four and six pack charters where you can team up with other people to catch fish and SAVE MONEY.

Answer a few questions, no credit card required to sign up. Go Fish.

Call/Text 619.508.7823 or LIVE CHAT.

What kind of fish species can you catch during the winter fishing season?

Winter fishing offers a huge smorgasbord of species to catch. On one trip, you may have access to over a dozen species. We will list some of the most popular San Diego species in this short list below. There are many more species on this list, but these are the most common. See the list below;

Believe it or not, that is me. I caught this fish on the Little G in route to Cabo on a nine day trip. I was the helmsman every night for a nine hour shift. I still had the strength to wrestle this monster on the boat to land my first Marlin. It was a very memorable trip and I can PERSONALLY recommend the Little G, Multi Day Trips, into Mexican Waters. These trips run way later than the Socal Fishing season, and the further south you go, the more Marlin you will find. Dorado too. They seem to like to run together. In this video you see the nicest fish I ever caught.

The main season for swordfish off southern California is roughly from late summer into fall and winter. This is a trophy fish, a once in a life time catch. There are few fish on the planet earth that can put on such an aerial show and have the strength and speed of a swordfish. Wheather you decide to release it, or keep the meat, you will always savor the fond memory of catching this rare angler's dream fish. The best location to catch them is the nine mile bank and the inner banks only 15-50 miles offshore. Search for good readings on the sonar, and then drop your bait down to 500 feet using downriggers, and wait! It will only be matter of time before your successful. Keep in mind, this is one of the more difficult ones to hookup.

Rockfish love the cold water, and are one of the main stays of winter fishing off the coast of San Diego. The reasons are numerous. They are the most plentiful, easiest to catch, best tasting fish on the menu. Perfect for beginners and kids who just want to catch some fish, and a lot of them. On good days you will pull 2-5 lb rockfish up 2 at a time. Fishing on the same rock pile will also yield Lingcod, and Halibut, and Whitefish. Sometimes when running multiple hooks you can pull up multiple species also! Anyway, did you know that fish tacos are traditionally made from this fish species, and for good reason, there is no better fish taco.

This fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022

Easy to catch, Almost a sure thing, The Best Taco Around!

Many of our winter trips will focus almost solely on rockfish, but even if we do you will still have a chance at bass, lingcod, and other species at the same spot. Usually, we will find the good rockfishing spots on areas of rock from 100 feet down or deeper.  Usually, a two-hook setup is used, double the fun, double the catch. Just before and just after we drift over the rock patches, there is a sand bottom, and big Halibut tend to hunt here. Lingcod also share this spot too!

Somewhat difficult to hook one, but tend to be one of the larger winter fish.

What makes these fish difficult to catch is not that they are rare, it is that they are subtle and skittish on the bite. They can clean your hook in the blink of an eye without you knowing, unless you are paying attention. You only have a moment of opportunity to set the hook before these flatfish make off with your bait. However, if you do land one, you have dinner for four. My advice, keep your rod in your hand, and your line tight, wait patiently, and be ready for the bite.

These flat fish love winter fishing. In fact, most of all Halibut is a winter fish. They can be caught in 3 feet or 300 feet of water and prefer sandy bottom that are near kelp beds or other structure that hold the bait fish they feed on. Although, in the shallows you can find them lurking just about anywhere, even if no structure is around. In the waters around San Diego there are some big halibut! Both inside San Diego Bay, along the harbor mouth rocks, and on the sand bottom anchorage to the south of the mouth of San Diego Bay. If you want to go further out, and away from the crowds, their are several sand bottom areas next to rock beds that allow you to fish for rockfish, lingcod, and halibut, all at the same time. Winter fishing does not get better than that. Lastly, as I am sure you know, it tastes good! A halibut steak will be your reward if you land one. The pictures here answer the question of can you fish in the winter. The answer is undoubtedly yes.

Hardest fighting and ugliest fish award go to this mean-looking bottom dweller. When this fish picks up your bait, you will instantly know it. Putting up a good fight is what they do, especially on the lighter tackle that we use during the winter and spring season. The meat of this fish can sometimes have a blue tint, but I can assure you that it is quite tasty. It is a strong fighting fish!

These oddly colored fish fight heavier than their weight. If you hook into a 10-30lb Lingcod, you will be what feels like a much bigger fish. Woe to the angler who hooks one of these monsters on super light line. Remember I was telling you to end your line with a heavier leader, this fish is the reason why. With a solid hook up, you will eventually get him over the side. At that time you will see one of the most beautiful colored fish species there is. Did I mention that this fish is great to eat, and considered a delicacy. The meat is sometimes tinted blue. Fish tacos come to mind.

I can recommend several spots right off the top of my head. The Rockpile and the Coronado Islands in Mexico is year round two of the best places I know of to catch them. Passport required for these aforementioned trips. If you don't want to go into Mexico, the Nine Mile Bank also holds them and it is in U.S. Waters, no passport required. There are also a huge number of secretly guarded spots that are much closer.

Ask your crew for pointers on the hot setup, which may be live bait, or live squid if you can get it. Be patient, the fish is worth it. While you are down there, you will also be simultaneously fishing for many other species that have a hunger for the same bait.

Once you do catch one, be sure to check out its camouflage pattern that makes it such an effective deep water hunter, and a beautiful and unique game fish native to Socal.

Calico, Bay, Striped, and Sand Bass - If you get tired of fishing on the bottom, Bass Fishing is the answer. Grab a 10lb test rig and a shiny metal lure or plastic, and start casting. Fishing on the surface down to about 30 feet along the kelp forest is our go-to strategy. Be sure to try several different lures until you find the one they like that day. The secret here is to maximize your time by staying on the job of casting your bait out as many times as possible in the time allowed. Be sure to try several lures, and if no bite happens, try fly lining some live bait with the smallest BB lead you can find. 

Calico Bass, Stripped Bass, Spotted Bass , Sand Bass, are all main stays of the San Diego winter fishing scene. The main reason why, is some people don't like to go rock fishing. They say its boring, they say its too easy, well I have no comment on that. I like rock fishing, but its true if you want a more challenging fish that will absolutely put up a strong fight, then look no further than the Calico Bass. I personally have seen one that was 9lbs, but most of them are in the 3-6lb class. Perfect for a light rod and reel, running 10lb test. The two most popular methods of catching this fish are live bait on a hook with a very small lead, that is free-lined slowly to the bottom and then retrieved quickly. Alternatively there are a myriad of artificial lures for saltwater bass fishing.

white fish

Whitefish are bottom fish that love squid. If you want to catch a whitefish, just put some squid on the bottom hook of a two hook rig and drop it down right in the same area as rockfish, rocky bottom structure deeper than 100 feet. These fish generally only weight a few pounds, but what they lack in size, they make up for in quantity. Also, this is a great tasting, and very easy to prepare fish that can provide a succulent dinner. 

In the wintertime, a large majority of Yellowtail head south for the winter, but some stay. Generally, we catch them in all but the coldest months, along the kelp beds around La Jolla, and at the Coronado Islands in Mexico. Usually, you will catch them using a freeline sardine or anchovy and also occasionally on a crankbait. If you do hook into yellowtail on lighter tackle, be prepared to fight hard, as you will be hard-pressed to land this fish without using the drag to your full advantage. 

Yes, you can catch yellowtail all winter if you following these fishing tips. My top recommendation to specifically target this species is the Coronado Islands in Mexico. You will need a passport to go, but it is worth it. The scenery of the island is amazing, the fishing spot you will be at is protected from both wind and swell, and the fishing is awesome. This is one of the only locations to consistently score yellowtail almost year round. Other winter spots include San Clemente and Santa Catalina islands, and the Rock Pile in Mexican waters. Follow these fishing tips when going for Yellowtail, run slightly heavier test line, and run medium size tackle with a solid drag!

One of the most challenging and rewarding fishing trips we offer. To catch White Seabass, first, you have to find them. There are only a few spots that I know of that can be said to hold a decent year-round population. Now keep in mind, everybody has there favorite spots, and its a matter of opinion, but I generally recommend Catalina Island. This island provides the most consistent bite other than Mexican waters. Farnsworth Bank and the backside of the island near Twin Harbors is my suggestion. Check out our multi-day trips to chase these beautiful fish.

Winter fishing is awesome! Get out on the water and enjoy the beautiful scenery, spend some quality time with your friends and family, and catch some fish!

At SanDiegoTunaFishing.com, all of our boats and Captain’s follow the letter of the law. Please arrive with your one-day or year-round saltwater stamped California Fishing License which you can obtain by clicking here

To look over limit, size, and seasonal restrictions, please go here;

California Fish and Game Regulations 2019-2020

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If you need help picking out your next San Diego based sport fishing trip, let our operators assist you. We offer live chat as well as first-ring customer support by calling 619.508.7823. We are here to help you 24 hours a day. We can go over your departure date range, what kind of fishing you want to do, how many people you have, what you want to spend, and then help you decide you which boats are available, and guide you to choose the offshore charter that best meets your exact needs.

If you prefer to book online yourself, its fast and simple. Just go to the Sportfishing Fleet Page, pick a boat, and then click BOOK ONLINE. You can check availability, pricing, or place an online booking. Don't worry though, if you have questions, we are a call away.

Some things to remember, all prices do include rod rental, bait, fish cleaning, snacks, non alcoholic beverages, chips, coffee. For charters that are 10 hours or longer then one hot meal shall be provided. On overnight and multiday charters, 3 hot meals are provided per 24 hour period at sea. Customers are welcome to bring their own beer in an ice chest. We will provide you your fish at the end of the trip in ziplocks and you can put them in your cooler. If you are from out of state, let us know, and we will hook you up with Five Star or Sportsman's Seafood to get your catch shipped anywhere in the country on dry ice.

On all trips, customers are responsible for bringing a picture ID, Fishing License, and any alcoholic beverages. On trips into Mexico our Captain will assist you in purchasing the appropriate FHM VISA, BioBracelet, and Mexican fishing license that you might need. All trips into Mexican waters require each and every passenger on the vessel to have a booklet form passport that is valid. Charter s going into international waters *where the vessel is outside of the 12 mile mark of Mexican land* passports are not required.

On all trips, our captain and crew is at your service. We are always attempting to make sure you have a great time with us out on the water. If you ever have a question, please let us know. Any member of our staff can help you. Please remember to tip your crew. Thank you.



Your child will thank you for taking them fishing because our crew will MAKE SURE they have a good time and help them try to land fish!

We will provide instruction on how to hold the rod, put on bait, lower the bait, and how to reel it up once there is a fish on.

Join an open party or get a four or six pack private party and head out to sea for your begginers, that still yields the big ones, as you can see in the pictures here.

Age 15 and below

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ADULT SUPERVISION is required for all children 18 years or less. Passengers under 50 lbs, must provide their own USCG approved child life preserver for each child. No exceptions please.

other winter fishing info


California rock fishing season is scheduled for boat-based anglers from March 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022. While this fishery is open during these dates, it's important to note that there are specific regulations in place to protect the rockfish population. With over 100 species of Rockfish in California, these fish can be found all year round, but anglers should be aware that targeting them is restricted in January and February. It is crucial for anglers to adhere to the strict bag limits set forth to ensure the sustainability of the rockfish population. So, mark your calendars for March 1st onwards, but always remember to fish responsibly and within the guidelines to preserve this valuable resource.

San Diego and its surrounding waters are filled with many types of species, both large and small. If you are one person or 40, we have a boat for you. Both Open Party and Private Party sport fishing charters are available. If you have any questions, please give us a call or text.


Alongside rockfish, anglers may also encounter lingcod, halibut, calico bass, stripped bass, spotted bay bass, and whitefish, adding to the excitement and variety of the fishing experience. If you get lucky, you may catch a yellowtail during winter months off the kelp beds, but it is rare. While winter trips often center around targeting rockfish, the fishing grounds hold the potential for encountering bass, lingcod, and other species simultaneously, enriching the overall fishing experience. Landing a halibut, with its promise of a delectable steak, serves as a rewarding achievement for those casting their lines in California waters during the winter season.

February is a prime time for winter fishing in California, with a variety of fish species making their appearance. Rockfish, known for their love of cold water, are a staple catch off the coast of San Diego during this season. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers from March 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022, providing ample opportunities for anglers to reel in these prized catches. Halibut is another winter favorite, thriving in waters ranging from 30 feet to 300 feet deep. These bottom feeders prefer sandy bottoms near kelp beds or other structures that attract their prey. Whether you're fishing in sheltered bays or along the coast, keep an eye out for these elusive but rewarding catches. In addition to Halibut, the San Diego winter fishing scene boasts a diverse array of bass species, including Calico Bass, Striped Bass, Spotted Bass, and Sand Bass. These bass varieties add excitement to the fishing experience, offering anglers a chance to target multiple species in the same waters. 

For those seeking a trophy fish, swordfish off southern California is a coveted catch during late summer, fall, and winter. The nine mile bank and inner banks, located 15-50 miles offshore, are known hotspots for these impressive creatures. Landing a swordfish is truly a once-in-a-lifetime achievement, making it a must-try for passionate anglers looking for a challenge. With a mix of cold-water enthusiasts like rockfish, winter-loving Halibut, and a variety of bass species, California's winter fishing season promises excitement and a chance to reel in some impressive catches. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a novice looking to explore the diverse marine life off the California coast, the winter months offer ample opportunities to cast your line and experience the thrill of the catch.

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