February 29, 2024

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California Coast: Best Family Fishing Spots

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There seems to be a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel as mask mandates are lifted and travel returns to normal. Boy, are we ready! And there’s more good news: summer is on its way! 

We figured it was time to sit down and plan the perfect family vacation. Everybody knows a great summer begins in California, but what makes it perfect is great fishing, too. Whether you’re looking for a safe, low-contact way to get out again or just a way to spend all that pent-up energy with the kids, our advice is to cast a line and soak up the sun. 

With so much coastline to drive, you might be wondering, “Where to?” Well, we put ourselves in your shoes and went in search of the best family fishing on the California coast. Our top picks offer angling that’s both popular and beginner-friendly. Having the whole family in mind, we also made sure to include kid-friendly activities as close to the dock as possible. 

So find those beach towels you stuffed somewhere in the back of your closet last fall and stock up on sunscreen, because all that California Dreamin’ is about to come to life.


Thinking of fishing in San Diego? At first glance, Oceanside might seem like a compromise, but anyone planning a family trip should put this city at the top of their list. With access to all the local favorites, it feels a lot like fishing in San Diego – only here you get the added benefit of that small town charm. 

Half day trips are the ideal choice for any family that’s looking for a few hours of fun. These will see you bottom fishing near the coast for Calico and Sand Bass, Sheepshead, Rockfish, and Halibut. Avid angling families won’t be let down either, because a full day of fishing in late summer can put you on Yellowtail, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and even Billfish if you’re lucky. 

So if the fishing is more or less the same as San Diego, what makes Oceanside so special? This town came out on top because of everything to enjoy before and after getting on the boat. The waterfront is scenic, clean, and small enough to keep an eye on the kids. Stroll past the lighthouse, take your pick of classic seafood joints, scour the gift shops, and top it all off with a giant scoop of ice cream.

When you’ve had your fill, just stroll on over to the beach so everyone can bury their toes in the sand or burn off that last bit of energy.

Newport Beach

There’s no shortage of harbors to choose from around LA, so coming up ahead of the rest really says something about Newport Beach! Just a half-hour drive from Disneyland, this city is a great place to make yourself at home for the week because there’s so much you can add to the agenda.

People walking down the waterfront at the Balboa Fun Zone in Newport Beach with shops and palm trees and a ferris wheel behind them

In particular, we recommend the Balboa Fun Zone. This area needs no introduction because it’s a go-to destination. Here, families can enjoy a classic, carnival vibe with all the timeless treats like deep-fried twinkies, fortune-telling, and a Ferris wheel. But did you know all of that is just steps away from some of LA’s best sportfishing boats? 

Hop aboard an open boat for the afternoon or book a private charter for your next big family reunion. Close to shore you can fish for Rockfish, Lingcod, and Halibut, while a deep sea trip gives you the chance to catch Yellowtail, Mahi Mahi, and Tuna. The sky’s the limit when you’re fishing in Newport, which makes this our “Happiest Place on Earth.”

Morro Bay

For families that aren’t drawn to the hustle and bustle of Southern California, we recommend the central coast. Nowhere lays on the small-town charm like Morro Bay. From Foster’s ice cream and a classic candy shop to a hint of ’60s flower power, these streets are a throwback to California’s heyday.

A clear view of Morro Rock with boats drifting past on a sunny day

You won’t find many big chain stores around here, just a lot of local passion that shines through every storefront. Whether you prefer surfing, sun tanning, or playing mermaid for the day, these shores are your haven. Strolling the waterfront toward Giovanni’s Fish Market And Galley will bring you straight to local charter boats, as well as a perfect view of Morro Rock.

Morro Bay sees its share of tourist action during summer, but you can enjoy great weather and fewer crowds in spring and fall. In fact, autumn is one of the best times to cast a line around here because the waters are calm and the bottom fishing is hot. 

Top targets include Salmon, Lingcod, and a variety of Rockfish. Halibut and White Seabass are also common. While these fish won’t give you the same adrenaline-pumping experience as a monster Tuna or Marlin, that’s precisely what makes it such a great choice for families. You won’t find a more beginner-friendly experience than this. Frequent otter sightings are the cherry on top.

San Francisco

Surprised to see this one on our list? San Francisco is the only major city that made the cut, because it’s the only one where you can walk right off the boat and into a world-famous tourist destination. From Ghirardelli Square to Pier 39, your family can easily spend the day touring Fisherman’s Wharf. And seriously, the fishing boats are right there.

Fishing boats docked in San Francisco with a smoggy view of Alcatraz Island in the background

Top targets in San Francisco include Salmon, Lingcod, Striped Bass, Halibut, and Sturgeon. These waters are also home to Dungeness Crab, but you’re better off targeting this delicacy in the cooler months when the season is open. 

The spectacular views you’ll get make this the most “Instagrammable” family fishing spot in California. Snap some pics of your family and your catch with backgrounds like the city skyline, Alcatraz Island, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge as seen from the Marin Headlands on a sunny day with San Francisco in the background

Or, head across the bay to Sausalito for the same great fishing and city views, just this time without the crowds and overpriced parking. It offers a scenic, small-town setting as well as gift shops and eateries. Not to mention, it’s a short drive from Muir Woods as well as the Marin Headlands where you can catch a perfect view of the Golden Gate.

Bodega Bay

Looking to slow down a little? We hear you. After all, not everybody had as much downtime during the pandemic. In that case, Bodega Bay is the perfect alternative. An alluring piece of trivia is that these shores were once the film set for Hitchcock’s blockbuster The Birds. But you’ll soon discover that the main attraction here is really the nature itself.

Stock image of Bodega Bay's harbor as seen from a hiking trail

Anyone looking to indulge in California’s great outdoors can take their pick of camping grounds, hiking trails, horseback riding tours, beachcombing, whale watching, sailing, kayak rentals – and, of course, sportfishing. Tasty targets include Salmon, Lingcod, Rockfish, and even Albacore Tuna for a short period. Leopard Shark enthusiasts will have a field day fishing Tomales Bay to the south. 

But wait, none of that sounds like slowing down much, does it? You got us there! Bodega Bay has so much to offer that outdoorsy families might just go overboard. When you’re good and tired be sure to treat the kids to a bit of saltwater taffy and give yourselves a break with some Sonoma Valley wine tasting.


Not everybody likes to be in the thick of the tourist action. That’s why we decided to tip our hat to the sleepy, seaside city of Eureka. This one’s for any families who aren’t afraid to get a little “out there” – in pretty much every sense of the word. Driving up North 101 will take you through stunning redwood forests and into the southern limits of Sasquatch territory. Keep an eye out for billboards pointing you toward wonders like the Skunk Train and Trees of Mystery.

The fisherman's memorial statue of a man hauling a net out of the water with the city of Eureka California in the background

Of course, if you ask us, the only direction you need to head in is the coast, where you can catch more of everybody’s favorites: Salmon, Halibut, Rockfish, and possibly Tuna depending on the season. The docks are clean and you can walk right off the boat and into a local seafood place for lunch. Meanwhile, downtown Eureka still has some old, Victorian charm and quirky gift shops to entertain you.

What may or may not tickle your fancy is Eureka’s pride in their cannabis industry. Emerald runs through their veins, which will certainly leave you with a unique impression. Don’t let that put you off, though! This small community is still kid-friendly. Nearby attractions include the Sequoia Park Zoo and Redwood SkyWalk. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, or SUPs at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center

All in all, it’s not a bad place to spend the day if you’re taking a road trip through Northern California.

California’s Calling

From swaying palms and city skylines to the Sequoia National Forest, it’s no exaggeration to say this state has something for everyone. If anything, it has too much to choose from, which is a problem we’re lucky to have. In fact, why choose at all? You can really make a trip out of it by driving and fishing your way up the coast, just like we did.

A man holding up a little girl as she raises a bait fish to the seagulls flying overhead with San Diego in the background on a California family fishing trip

Our top picks aren’t just about fishing, they offer a memorable experience for all ages. Oh, and there’s one more bonus that will really make your next vacation count: your time in these towns helps support family-owned businesses that made it through tough times recently. Summer fun and a chance to give back to the community – what’s not to love about that?

Where will your family be heading next in California? Have you ever been fishing in one of our top picks? What town do you think we missed? We’d love to get your recommendations below!

The post Best Family Fishing Spots on the California Coast appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Jacqueline
Title: Best Family Fishing Spots on the California Coast
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/best-family-fishing-california-coast/
Published Date: Sat, 28 May 2022 08:01:00 +0000

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