San Francisco, California is a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts due to its unique location along the Pacific coast and its abundance of fish species. The Golden Gate Bridge, a famous landmark in San Francisco, is also known as one of the best saltwater fishing spots in the area. Saltwater fishing in San Francisco offers a variety of fishing opportunities from shore, pier, and boat. The bay area offers anglers the chance to catch a wide range of fish species such as salmon, striped bass, halibut, and rockfish. In this blog post, we will explore the best saltwater fishing spots in San Francisco, recommend gear tips, places to stay, types of fish, and bait. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned angler, San Francisco has something to offer for everyone. Let’s dive in!
Best Saltwater Fishing Spots in San Francisco
- Golden Gate Bridge: The Golden Gate Bridge is a popular spot for fishing with a variety of fish species such as salmon, rockfish, halibut, and striped bass available. The bridge is accessible by car, bike, or on foot, and parking is available at the vista point parking lot on the north end of the bridge.
- Baker Beach: Baker Beach is a beautiful spot for fishing with stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Anglers can fish for perch, halibut, and striped bass from the shore. The beach is accessible by car, and there is a parking lot available.
- Fort Point: Fort Point is a historic fort located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. Anglers can fish for a variety of species, including rockfish, salmon, and striped bass. Fishing from the pier is allowed, and there is a parking lot available.
- Pacifica Pier: Pacifica Pier is located just south of San Francisco and offers excellent fishing opportunities for a variety of species, including perch, rockfish, and salmon. The pier is accessible by car, and there is a parking lot available.
- Ocean Beach: Ocean Beach is great for surf fishing and offers opportunities to catch perch, striped bass, halibut, and sharks. There are multiple access points to the beach, and parking is available.
- Pier 7: Located in downtown San Francisco, Pier 7 is a popular spot for anglers to catch striped bass, halibut, and other species.
- Horseshoe Cove: Located just inside the Golden Gate Bridge, Horseshoe Cove is a popular spot for anglers to catch salmon and rockfish.
- Marin Headlands: The Marin Headlands offer some of the best fishing in the Bay Area with the opportunity to catch a variety of fish such as salmon, halibut, and rockfish.
San Francisco offers a wide range of saltwater fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. Before planning your trip, make sure to check local fishing regulations and be prepared with the right gear to make the most of your fishing experience.
Types of Fish in San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay is home to a variety of fish species, both saltwater and freshwater. Here are some of the most common types of fish you can expect to catch in the Bay:
- Striped Bass: Striped bass are a popular game fish in San Francisco Bay. They can be caught year-round, but the best fishing is typically in the spring and fall. Striped bass can be caught from shore or by boat, and they are known for their hard fighting ability.
- Halibut: Halibut are another popular game fish in the Bay. They can be caught year-round but are most abundant in the summer months. Halibut can be caught from shore or by boat, and they are known for their delicious, white flesh.
- Salmon: Salmon are a prized catch in San Francisco Bay, with both Chinook and Coho salmon being present in the Bay at different times of the year. The best salmon fishing is typically in the fall.
- Rockfish: Rockfish are a bottom-dwelling fish species that can be caught in San Francisco Bay year-round. They are typically caught by boat, and there are several species of rockfish found in the Bay, including black rockfish and vermilion rockfish.
- Leopard Shark: Leopard sharks are a common sight in San Francisco Bay, and they can be caught year-round. They are typically caught from shore or by boat and are known for their hard fighting ability.
- Sturgeon: Sturgeon are a prehistoric fish species that can be found in San Francisco Bay. They are typically caught by boat, and the best fishing is typically in the winter months.
- Perch: Perch are a smaller fish species that can be caught from shore in San Francisco Bay. They are typically caught using bait such as sand crabs or worms.
- Lingcod: Lingcod are a bottom-dwelling fish species that can be caught in San Francisco Bay. They are typically caught by boat and are known for their aggressive behavior.
Overall, San Francisco Bay offers a diverse range of fish species for anglers to target, with something for every level of experience and preference.
Best Bait for Saltwater Fishing in San Francisco
The type of bait you should use for saltwater fishing in San Francisco depends on the species of fish you are targeting. Here are some popular options:
- Anchovies: This is a popular bait for catching halibut and striped bass in the San Francisco Bay. Anchovies can be fished whole or cut into pieces.
- Squid: Squid is a versatile bait that can be used to catch a variety of species, including rockfish, lingcod, and salmon. You can use whole squid or cut it into strips.
- Sardines: Sardines are a great bait for catching larger species like tuna and sharks. They can be fished whole or cut into pieces.
- Shrimp: Shrimp is a popular bait for catching perch, halibut, and rockfish. You can use live or frozen shrimp, or you can buy pre-made shrimp lures.
- Mackerel: Mackerel is a good bait for catching larger species like striped bass and sharks. You can use whole mackerel or cut it into chunks.
- Sand Crabs: Sand crabs are a popular bait for surf fishing for species like perch and striped bass. They can be found on the beach or purchased from bait shops.
It’s important to note that some species of fish have specific feeding habits and preferences, so it’s best to do some research on the species you’re targeting before selecting a bait. Additionally, be sure to check local fishing regulations to ensure you’re using legal bait.
Recommended Gear for Saltwater Fishing in San Francisco
When it comes to saltwater fishing in San Francisco, having the right gear can make all the difference. Here are some recommended gear for a successful fishing trip:
- Rod and reel: A medium-heavy to heavy rod is recommended for saltwater fishing in San Francisco. Spinning reels are the most popular choice for bay fishing.
- Fishing line: A braided fishing line with a test weight of 30-50 pounds is recommended for most types of saltwater fishing in San Francisco.
- Terminal tackle: You’ll need a variety of hooks, sinkers, swivels, and leaders to rig your fishing line properly. Circle hooks are popular for catch-and-release fishing, and live bait hooks are good for using live bait.
- Lures: For lure fishing, some popular options include swimbaits, jigs, and spoons. Be sure to choose lures that are appropriate for the species of fish you’re targeting.
- Bait: Live bait is popular for saltwater fishing in San Francisco. Anchovies, sardines, and squid are commonly used.
- Pliers and scissors: You’ll need pliers for removing hooks and scissors for cutting line.
- Tackle box: A tackle box is essential for keeping all your gear organized and easily accessible.
- Fishing clothing: Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable clothing and shoes that can get wet. A good pair of polarized sunglasses can also help you see fish in the water.
- Fishing license: Don’t forget to purchase a California fishing license before your trip.
By having the right gear, you can increase your chances of a successful and enjoyable saltwater fishing trip in San Francisco.
Best Saltwater Fishing Charters in San Francisco
San Francisco is a great place to go saltwater fishing, with its abundant marine life and stunning natural beauty. If you’re planning a fishing trip to San Francisco, consider booking a charter to make the most of your experience. Here are some of the best saltwater fishing charters in San Francisco:
- Flash Fishing – Flash Fishing offers year-round fishing charters in San Francisco Bay, targeting species such as striped bass, halibut, and rockfish. The company provides all the necessary gear and equipment, as well as a knowledgeable captain and crew.
- Lovely Martha – The Lovely Martha is a popular choice for saltwater fishing charters in San Francisco, with a spacious and comfortable boat that can accommodate up to 30 passengers. The company offers both private and shared charters, and targets species such as salmon, rockfish, and lingcod.
- Bass Tub – The Bass Tub is a family-owned and operated fishing charter that has been in business for over 60 years. The company offers half-day and full-day charters in San Francisco Bay, targeting species such as striped bass, halibut, and sturgeon.
- Reel-Lentless Sportfishing – Reel-Lentless Sportfishing offers private fishing charters in San Francisco Bay and the surrounding waters, targeting species such as salmon, halibut, and rockfish. The company provides all the necessary gear and equipment, as well as a knowledgeable captain and crew.
- Wacky Jacky Sport Fishing – Wacky Jacky Sport Fishing is a popular choice for saltwater fishing charters in San Francisco, offering half-day and full-day charters targeting species such as salmon, halibut, and rockfish. The company provides all the necessary gear and equipment, as well as a knowledgeable captain and crew.
When choosing a saltwater fishing charter in San Francisco, be sure to consider factors such as the type of fish you want to target, the length of the trip, and the size of the boat. With so many great charters to choose from, you’re sure to find one that meets your needs and provides an unforgettable fishing experience.
Fishing Regulations in San Francisco
Fishing regulations in San Francisco are designed to protect the fish populations and maintain a healthy ecosystem. It is important for anglers to follow these regulations to ensure the sustainability of the fishery. Here are some important fishing regulations to keep in mind while fishing in San Francisco:
- Fishing Licenses: All anglers 16 years and older must have a valid California fishing license. Licenses can be purchased online or at local retailers.
- Fishing Seasons: Fishing for certain species may only be allowed during specific seasons. It is important to check the current regulations for the species you are targeting.
- Catch Limits: Catch limits are in place for many species to prevent overfishing. Anglers are allowed to keep a certain number of fish per day or per trip, depending on the species.
- Size Limits: Some species have size limits in place to protect juvenile fish and ensure they have a chance to reproduce. Anglers must release any fish that do not meet the minimum size requirements.
- Gear Restrictions: Certain types of gear may not be allowed in certain areas or for certain species. It is important to check the current regulations before heading out on a fishing trip.
Violating fishing regulations can result in fines or even the loss of fishing privileges, so it is important for anglers to stay informed and follow the rules. For more information on fishing regulations in San Francisco, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
Where to Stay When Fishing in San Francisco
When fishing in San Francisco, there are a variety of accommodation options to choose from, depending on your budget and preferences. Here are some options:
- Hotels: San Francisco has a wide range of hotels available, from luxury hotels to budget options. Some popular hotels in the area include the Fairmont San Francisco, the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, and the Hotel Vitale.
- Vacation rentals: Another option is to rent a vacation home or apartment through websites like Airbnb or VRBO. This can be a good option if you’re traveling with a group or if you’re planning to stay for an extended period of time.
- Camping: If you’re looking for a more outdoorsy experience, there are several campgrounds in the area, including the Rob Hill Campground in the Presidio and the Kirby Cove Campground in the Marin Headlands.
- RV parks: If you’re traveling with an RV, there are several RV parks in the area, including the San Francisco RV Resort and the Candlestick RV Park.
- Hostels: For budget travelers, there are several hostels in the area, including the Green Tortoise Hostel and the HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel.
It’s important to note that San Francisco can be an expensive city to stay in, so it’s a good idea to book your accommodations in advance and to look for deals and discounts.
Tips for Successful Saltwater Fishing in San Francisco
Here are some tips for successful saltwater fishing in San Francisco:
- Research the best fishing spots: As we’ve mentioned earlier, San Francisco has many great saltwater fishing spots. Do some research to find the best spots for the type of fish you want to catch.
- Check the weather and tides: Weather and tide conditions can greatly affect your fishing success. Check the forecast and tide tables before heading out.
- Use the right gear: Make sure to bring the right fishing gear for the type of fish you’re targeting. Consider using a heavier rod and reel for bigger fish.
- Use the right bait: Different fish species have different preferences for bait. Do some research or ask local anglers for advice on the best bait to use.
- Observe local fishing regulations: As we’ve mentioned earlier, make sure to follow local fishing regulations and obtain any necessary permits before fishing.
- Be patient: Fishing requires patience and perseverance. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t catch anything right away. Keep trying and be prepared to wait for the right moment.
- Respect the environment: When fishing in San Francisco, it’s important to respect the environment and leave no trace. Make sure to properly dispose of any trash and avoid damaging any marine life or habitats.
By following these tips, you can increase your chances of having a successful and enjoyable saltwater fishing experience in San Francisco.
San Francisco offers a variety of excellent saltwater fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. Some of the top fishing spots include the Golden Gate Bridge, Baker Beach, Fort Point, Pacifica Pier, and Ocean Beach. Before your trip, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local fishing regulations and make sure you have the right gear and bait for your targeted species. Consider staying in a nearby hotel or vacation rental for easy access to the fishing spots. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to have a successful and enjoyable fishing experience in San Francisco.
Meet Eric McGough, a seasoned adventurer and military veteran who traded his tech career for a life of outdoor exploration and freedom. He plans to travel the world, discover new adventures, and share information about great destinations, gear, and more on the Shaman Mountain Sports and Outdoors Blog.