California is known for its beautiful coastline and diverse marine life, including a variety of shark species. Shark fishing in California can provide an exhilarating and rewarding experience for those who are prepared and knowledgeable about the sport. However, it’s important to understand the regulations and guidelines for shark fishing in California, as well as how to handle sharks responsibly to ensure the sustainability of the fishery. In this guide, we’ll provide tips and tricks for successful shark fishing in California, including the best spots to fish, recommended gear and bait, handling techniques, and regulations to follow. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, this guide will help you increase your chances of success and have a safe and enjoyable shark fishing adventure in California.
Best Shark Fishing Spots in California
California has several great spots for shark fishing, here are some of the best:
- San Francisco Bay: This area is home to a variety of shark species, including leopard sharks, thresher sharks, and sevengill sharks.
- Monterey Bay: Known for its diverse marine life, Monterey Bay is a great place to catch species like the blue shark, mako shark, and salmon shark.
- Channel Islands: This chain of islands off the coast of Santa Barbara is known for its excellent shark fishing opportunities, particularly for thresher and mako sharks.
- Catalina Island: This island off the coast of Los Angeles is a popular destination for shark fishing, with species like the white shark, mako shark, and blue shark commonly caught in the area.
- La Jolla Cove: Located in San Diego, this cove is a popular spot for kayak shark fishing, where anglers can catch species like the leopard shark and the soupfin shark.
It’s important to note that shark fishing regulations vary by location, so be sure to check with local authorities before you go fishing.
Types of Sharks You Can Catch in California
California is home to a variety of shark species, and some of the types of sharks you can catch in California include:
- Leopard Shark: This shark is one of the most commonly caught species in California, and it can be found in shallow waters near the coast.
- Blue Shark: This shark is a popular game fish, known for its acrobatic displays when hooked. They are usually found in deeper waters offshore.
- Thresher Shark: This shark is known for its exceptionally long tail, which it uses to stun prey. It is a popular game fish in California and can be found in waters off the coast.
- Mako Shark: The mako shark is a highly prized game fish known for its speed and agility. It can be found in offshore waters and is often caught by anglers using trolling gear.
- Great White Shark: This shark is one of the largest predatory fish in the ocean, and while it is not commonly targeted by anglers, it is sometimes caught accidentally while fishing for other species.
- Sevengill Shark: This shark is unique in that it has seven-gill slits instead of the typical five. It is usually found in shallow waters near the coast and can be caught by anglers using a variety of fishing techniques.
Focusing on specific regions of California can increase the likelihood of catching the intended shark species. By putting in the time, you’re certain to eventually reel in these toothy predators!
Best Time of Year for Shark Fishing in California
The best time of year for shark fishing in California depends on the species you are targeting and the location you are fishing in. Here are some general guidelines:
- Summer: This is the peak season for shark fishing in California, as many species migrate to the area during this time. Species like the blue shark, mako shark, and thresher shark are often caught during the summer months.
- Fall: Fall is also a good time to go shark fishing in California, as water temperatures are still warm and many species are still present in the area. Some species, like the great white shark, are more commonly caught in the fall.
- Winter: Winter can be a challenging time for shark fishing in California, as water temperatures are colder and many species have migrated to other areas. However, some species like the sevengill shark can still be caught during the winter months.
- Spring: Spring is another good time to go shark fishing in California, as many species begin to migrate back to the area during this time. Species like the leopard shark are commonly caught in the spring.
Overall, the best time of year for shark fishing in California is typically during the summer and fall months, but it can vary depending on the species you are targeting and the location you are fishing in.
Best Baits and Lures for Shark Fishing in California
The best baits and lures for shark fishing in California will depend on the species of shark you are targeting and the fishing location. Here are some baits and lures that are commonly used for shark fishing in California:
- Live bait: Live bait is often the best option for shark fishing in California, as many species of sharks are opportunistic feeders and will be attracted to live prey. Popular live baits include mackerel, sardines, and anchovies.
- Cut bait: Cut bait, such as chunks of squid or fish, can also be effective for shark fishing in California. This method is particularly effective for all species of shark, which are known for their scavenging behavior.
- Lures: While live and cut bait are typically the most effective options for shark fishing, lures can also be used in rare circumstances to attract certain species of sharks. Trolling skirts combined with dead mackerel and surface poppers can be used for species like the mako shark and the thresher shark. While not as common, it can still be done.
- Chum: Chumming the water with fish parts and blood can also be an effective way to attract sharks to your fishing area.
It’s important to note that regulations on bait and lure use can vary by location, so be sure to check with local authorities before you go fishing. Additionally, it’s important to handle bait and fish responsibly to minimize harm to the ecosystem and ensure the sustainability of the fishery.
Recommended Gear for Shark Fishing in California
When it comes to shark fishing in California, having the right gear is essential for a safe and successful fishing experience. Here are some recommended gear items for shark fishing in California:
- Rod and reel: A sturdy rod and reel are necessary for shark fishing, as many species of sharks can grow to be quite large and put up a strong fight. A heavy-duty rod with a high-capacity reel is recommended.
- Line: Monofilament or braided line with a test strength of at least 50 pounds is recommended for smaller sharks in California. While some species, like thresher and makos, may require an even stronger line, like 80 pounds or higher. In most scenarios, a braided line is recommended if available.
- Hooks: Circle hooks are the most commonly used hooks for shark fishing, as they are less likely to cause harm to the shark and are easier to remove. Hook sizes will depend on the species of shark you are targeting.
- Leaders: A strong leader is necessary to prevent the shark from biting through the line. Wire or heavy-duty monofilament leaders with a test strength of at least 100 pound are recommended.
- Gaff: A gaff is a tool used to lift the shark out of the water once it has been caught. A sturdy gaff with a sharp hook and a handle long enough to reach the water is recommended.
- Gloves: Gloves can protect your hands from the sharp teeth and rough skin of the shark. Heavy-duty gloves made from materials like Kevlar or leather are recommended, to avoid injury.
- Life jacket: Wearing a life jacket is important for safety while shark fishing, especially if you are fishing from a boat.
Checking with local authorities before going fishing is crucial, as regulations on gear use may differ by location. Using the appropriate tackle is essential for increasing your chances of catching one of these ocean predators.
Best Shark Fishing Charters in California
f you’re looking for a guided shark fishing experience in California, there are many reputable charters to choose from. Here are some of the best shark fishing charters in California:
- San Diego Shark Diving Expeditions: This charter offers cage diving and open-water shark fishing trips in the waters off of San Diego.
- Seaforth Sportfishing: Located in San Diego, Seaforth Sportfishing offers half-day and full-day shark fishing trips for groups of up to six people.
- Shark Drunk: Based out of Santa Barbara, Shark Drunk offers shark fishing charters and educational tours focused on shark conservation.
- Long Beach Sportfishing: Long Beach Sportfishing occasionally offers shark fishing trips in the waters off Long Beach and Catalina Island.
- Flash Sportfishing: Located in San Fransisco, Flash Sportfishing offers day shark fishing trips on the Bay for serious shark anglers.
It’s important to do your research and choose a charter that is reputable, experienced, and focused on the shark species in general. These sportfishing captains spend a lot of time on the water, honing in their shark-finding and catching skills, which gives you the best shot at landing one.
Regulations and Licenses for Shark Fishing in California
Shark fishing in California is subject to various regulations and licensing requirements to ensure the sustainability of shark populations and protect the ecosystem. Here are some of the regulations and licenses you need to be aware of before you go shark fishing in California:
- Fishing license: All anglers over the age of 16 must have a valid California fishing license before they can fish for sharks.
- Size and bag limits: There are minimum size and bag limits for certain species of sharks in California. For example, great white sharks and basking sharks are protected species and cannot be targeted or possessed.
- Prohibited gear: Certain types of gear, such as gill nets and longlines, are prohibited in California for shark fishing.
- Protected areas: Certain areas in California, such as marine protected areas (MLPA’s), may be closed to shark fishing or have specific regulations in place. By checking on a well-documented navigation app, such as CMAP, you will be able to tell which areas are a no-go and which areas you can legally target these predators.
It’s important to check with local authorities and review the latest regulations before you go shark fishing in California. Violating these regulations can result in fines and penalties, and can also harm the sustainability of shark populations in California.
Where to Stay When Shark Fishing in California
When planning a shark fishing trip to California, there are many options for places to stay near popular fishing locations. Here are some suggestions:
- San Diego: This city is a popular hub for shark fishing charters and has many hotels and vacation rentals to choose from, including the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa, and the Bahia Resort Hotel.
- Santa Barbara: Known for its scenic coastline and rich marine life, Santa Barbara offers a range of accommodation options, including the Harbor View Inn, the Hotel Milo Santa Barbara, and the Santa Barbara Inn.
- Long Beach: Located near Catalina Island, Long Beach offers many lodging options, including the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, the Hotel Maya, and the Westin Long Beach.
- Monterey: This picturesque coastal town has many fishing charters and a variety of hotels and inns, such as the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa, the Spindrift Inn, and the Monterey Bay Inn.
It’s important to choose a place to stay that is convenient to your fishing location and offers easy access to the ocean. Consider factors such as proximity to fishing charters, availability of fishing equipment storage, and amenities like on-site restaurants and pools.
Expert Tips and Tricks for Successful Shark Fishing in California
Shark fishing in California can be an exhilarating and challenging experience. Here are some expert tips and tricks to help you increase your chances of success:
- Research your location: Before you go shark fishing, research the specific location you plan to fish in. Look for areas with abundant shark populations and check local fishing reports to see which species are currently active. Anchoring in certain areas with access to deep water, positions you in prime shark water.
- Use the right bait: Sharks are attracted to strong-smelling bait like squid, mackerel, and sardines. Use fresh bait and change it frequently to keep the scent strong.
- Be patient: Shark fishing can require a lot of patience. It may take hours before you get a bite, so be prepared to wait it out.
- Use the right gear: Make sure you have the right gear for the type of shark you are targeting. This may include heavy-duty fishing rods and reels, steel leaders, and circle hooks.
- Handle sharks with care: Sharks can be dangerous and require careful handling. Wear gloves to protect your hands and use extended pliers to remove hooks, and release sharks as quickly and safely as possible.
- Follow regulations: Make sure you are aware of all fishing regulations and licensing requirements for shark fishing in California. This will help protect the sustainability of shark populations and prevent you from getting a costly ticket.
- Fish with an experienced guide: Consider booking a shark fishing charter with an experienced guide who knows the local waters and can provide valuable tips and advice.
By following these expert tips and tricks, you can increase your chances of success and have a safe and memorable shark fishing experience in California.
Shark fishing in California can be an exciting and rewarding experience for those who are prepared and knowledgeable about the sport. By doing research on the best locations, using the right gear and bait, being patient, and handling sharks with care, you can increase your chances of success while also protecting the sustainability of shark populations and the ecosystem. It’s important to also follow all regulations and licensing requirements, and consider booking a shark fishing charter with an experienced guide to get the most out of your trip. With these tips and tricks in mind, you can enjoy a thrilling shark fishing adventure in California.
Meet Nic Armitage, a devoted outdoors enthusiast with an insatiable love for fishing, boating, and a wide range of adventurous activities. His passion for the great outdoors knows no bounds. Nic is your trusted guide into the world of nature, sharing his experiences and expertise on the Shaman Mountain Sports and Outdoors Blog.