March 1, 2024

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Deep Sea Fishing Los Angeles: This Complete Guide

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Wherever you are in the world, the “City of Angels” needs to introduction. The entertainment capital of the world, it’s also home to various angling opportunities, and deep sea fishing in Los Angeles is world-class.

Why Los Angeles? Well, you have easy access points to the Pacific Ocean’s offshore grounds within the city limits any time of the year. Islands such as San Clemente, San Nicolas, Santa Barbara, and Catalina are also within a boat ride. If that’s not enough, you can explore dropoffs, ledges, and kelp jungles that hold some of the most exciting trophies of the Golden State.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the LA deep sea fishing scene. We’ll discuss the best spots, most exciting trophies, effective techniques, and seasonality. If you’re ready, let’s dive right in!

What can I catch while deep sea fishing in Los Angeles?

In short, you can target over 30 kinds of game fish of all shapes and sizes while deep sea fishing in Los Angeles. There are many possibilities that depend on the exact time you’re planning to fish, although the waters stay warm throughout the year.

In this section, we’ll talk about our personal favorites, in no particular order. Just note that the list is far from complete.


In California, the term Rockfish refers to a whole range of bottom dwellers. In addition to at least a few dozen species, Rockfish include Boccaccio, Vermilion “Red Snapper” Rockfish, Sculpin, and Black Rockfish. Don’t confuse this with East Coast Rockfish, though, who are known as Striped Bass.

While deep sea fishing in Los Angeles, chances are you’ll be looking to land at least one type of California Rockfish. They are the absolute stars of any bottom fishing trip and are pretty fun to catch. These fish hide on the bottom, so, naturally, you’ll work the ocean floor by dropping bait down and waiting for your prey to bite.

Most deepwater Rockfish are caught in depths from 180 to 360 feet around reefs and underwater debris. Note that there are open and closed seasons for rockfishing, and only certain species can be harvested. It’s never a bad idea to check out the rules and regulations in advance.

Mahi Mahi

Four anglers on a boat near the coast, with three of them holding a Mahi Mahi, and a large haul of Mahi Mahi in front of them near Los Angeles, California

It’s hard to imagine a deep sea fishing trip without Mahi Mahi – a true luminary of the sport fishing world. Come May, Mahi from 12 to 25 pounds migrate up from Mexico towards California’s waters. Around this time, anglers head to SoCal’s offshore grounds to hook a couple of these delicious fish. Mahi Mahi fishing remains strong during summer before the waters cool down in late fall.

These fish are perfect for beginner anglers, since they’re not too hard to catch. Mahi are caught by trolling artificial lures or live bait. While anglers usually get to the fishing grounds as early as possible in the morning, Mahi Mahi can also bite well in the late afternoon.

Unlike Rockfish, Mahi Mahi don’t have a lot of specific regulations when it comes to seasonality. Note that there’s a general bag limit, though, which is no more than 10 fish of one species.


Three anglers on a charter fishing boat out of Los Angeles, California, each holding a Yellowtail Amberjack

Yellowtail fishing in Los Angeles is so popular that you simply won’t find an angler that doesn’t fish for them. There’s a good reason why these fish are among the favorites. Yellowtails are tough fighters, dashing into the kelp beds to shake off the hook. And, of course, they’re known for their sushi-grade meat.

Yellowtails are the number one LA game fish, especially during El Niño years (every three years, to be precise). During this climate pattern, the surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean enter their “warm phase”. However, locals target Yellowtail pretty much any time they’re biting. In fact, “homeguard” fish stay local year-round. You just have to know where to find them.

Some of the most productive deep sea fishing spots include Catalina and San Clemente Islands. As well as that, you can check out offshore kelp paddies.


An angler wearing an orange shirt and holding a freshly-caught Lingcod that came all the way from Alaska to Los Angeles, California

Southern California Lingcod tend to grow to over 50 pounds, winning their rightful spot among the potential trophy catches. These fish are neither Lings nor Cod, although they resemble a Ling and taste similar to Cod.

Lingcod fishing in Los Angeles takes anglers to deeper waters around the offshore islands, from 100 up to 600 feet deep. No matter the depth, the key to success is bottom fishing on rocky reefs and wrecks, as well as structure along drop-offs, caves, and cuts. They live around underwater structure and in rocky crevices, promising to give you a run for your money. Luring them out of their home is tricky, and fighting them is a whole other challenge.

Lingcod fishing is heavily regulated, and there’s a closed season. You can fish for them 10 months of the year, from March through December.


A charter fishing captain taking a selfie with another angler holding freshly-caught Tuna out of Los Angeles, California

Catching a 100 lb Tuna off the coast of Los Angles gives anyone bragging rights. These fish are ferocious fighters that present a challenge even to the most experienced angler. In LA, you can get your hands on Bluefin Tuna, although you may have to make a run offshore.

But what does a typical Tuna deep sea fishing trip in LA look like? On your way to the deeper waters, your captain will use the boat’s sonar to look for a school of Tuna. Once you’ve located it, you’ll most likely try slow trolling to entice the bite or cast right to the fish. The rest is down to you.

Tuna season begins in summer since it’s around this time that the fish begin to arrive. Bluefin are found near Catalina Island along with Yellowfin from summer through fall.

Where to go deep sea fishing in Los Angeles?

The Los Angeles metropolitan area is really big. Naturally, it has various marinas, ports, beaches, and access points you can use to venture out offshore. Deciding where to go first can be overwhelming. A lot of Los Angeles deep sea fishing charters depart from Marina del Rey or Long Beach. Alternatively, you can use Newport Beach as your departure point, which is a bit further away from LA.

Aerial view of Catalina Island and its Two Harbors, off the coast of Los Angeles, California

Here are some options to consider for a full deep-sea extravaganza:

  • Catalina Island: To understand the beauty of Catalina Island, you’ll need to go there yourself – approximately 25 miles from LA. Its unique wildlife and natural beauty draw visitors and local anglers alike. Yellowtail, California Sheephead, White Seabass, and many other species hang out around the several kelp forests that surround the island.
  • Catalina Channel: This channel, surprise surprise, runs between Catalina Island and Los Angeles. While periods of rough seas aren’t uncommon here, you can enjoy calmer waters and Tuna runs quite often. Anglers fish the Catalina Channel during the summer and fall months, and sometimes work the area on their way to the island.
  • Santa Barbara Island: As Santa Barbara Island is a marine reserve, there are a couple of spots just outside the island where you can fish. The list of potential catches includes Yellowtail, White Seabass, Tuna, and even Sharks, to name a few.
  • Huntington Flats: Los Angeles anglers come to this area to enjoy year-round fishing around its artificial reefs, as well as shale and hard bottom areas. Barracuda, Yellowtail, Halibut, and White Seabass are among the most popular catches in Huntington Flats, so come and do as the locals do!.
  • San Clemente Island: To reach San Clemente, you’ll need to leave Catalina Island and move further offshore. Saying that it’s worth it is an understatement. Around the island, you’ll be able to fish for Yellowtail, White Seabass, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and even the occasional Marlin if you’re lucky.
  • San Nicolas Island: San Nicolas Island isn’t the closest to the coast, but a trip there adds a whole range of pelagic species you can hunt. Plus, the area is practically a bottom fishing paradise. All kinds of Rockfish, Halibut, and Lingcod call these waters home. If you’re looking for an overnight trip to get as much fishing as possible, consider paying San Nicolas Island a visit.

How can I go deep sea fishing in Los Angeles?

Two male anglers on a boat with fishing rods in their hands, facing the Pacific Ocean out of Los Angeles, California

Now that you know where and when you can go deep sea fishing in Los Angeles, you now need to know how to catch the fish. First of all, you’ll need a boat that can handle the bluewater grounds comfortably. As well as that, you’ll need the right fishing equipment. The best idea is to book a trip with a local captain. They’ll provide you with all the gear, tackle, and local knowledge to make sure you have a productive trip.

In this section, we’ll discuss some of the techniques you might use on your deep sea fishing trip in Los Angeles. The majority of fishing is done by trolling and bottom fishing, although jigging is also among the popular methods. However, your captain can also go for fly-lining live bait, use a dropper loop, or any other local technique.


As we mentioned earlier, species like Tuna and Mahi Mahi are normally caught by trolling. It’s a tested method that involves setting up a trolling spread, baiting the hooks, and trailing the bait behind the boat. Like that, your bait will appear as if it’s swimming through the water.

Trolling is a good technique for first-time anglers. However, you’ll still need to fight the fish once it’s hooked. To get the fish to bite, you’ll need to use the right bait. The choice of bait depends on where and when you’re fishing, as well as what fish you’re after. For instance, anglers use a selection of trolling lures for Tuna, such as flying fish, metal jet heads, and more. When choosing live bait, locals use herring and mullet among others.

Bottom Fishing and Jigging

A group of male anglers standing on a charter fishing boat with fishing rods in their hands, near Los Angeles, California

With various bottom dwellers hanging out on the ocean floor, bottom fishing and jigging are other popular techniques in Los Angeles. Species like Rockfish and Halibut can be found all the way down on the seafloor, around underwater reefs and wrecks.

A typical bottom fishing flow includes reaching the desired fishing ground, scanning the depths with the fish finder, and lowering the bait all the way down. Similar to trolling, once your target takes the bait, it’s game on. The choice of bait also depends on your targeted species.

With jigging, you won’t need to drop the bait all the way to the bottom. Instead, you’ll lower the jig to a suitable depth, right where you spot the fish. To attract the target, you’ll jig the rod up and down, imitating bait movement. The motion might differ, though: when targeting Yellowtail, anglers go for yo-yo fishing. It involves dropping the bait to the bottom and quickly reeling it back in.

When should I go deep sea fishing in Los Angeles?

A group of male anglers standing on a charter fishing boat, with four of them holding a Yellowtail each, and the fifth holding a Rockfish, near Los Angeles, California

Any time of the year is good to go deep sea fishing in Los Angeles. However, certain species have closed seasons, while others migrate during certain periods of the year.

Winter is perfect for targeting Halibut, Sculpin, Calico Bass, White Seabass, and Rock Cod, as well as Yellowtail. You can also target Sharks during the colder months. Come spring and anglers switch their attention to Lingcod, Sheephead, Barracuda, and Sand Bass in May. Note that some species, including Sheephead and Rockfish, can’t be targeted from boats from January until the end of March.

The peak season is summer, which starts in June and lasts into early fall. Tuna and Mahi Mahi are on a feeding frenzy offshore, and so are Yellowtail. Tuna, Calico Bass, Bonito, and Halibut, as well as Lingcod bite well into November.

One of the most important factors to consider is tidal movement. The rule of thumb is the greater the variance in high and low tides, the greater the movement of water. In general, the incoming tide is considered to be the best time for fishing.

Typically, fish feed best in Los Angeles waters during tidal movement. The greater the variance in high and low tides, the greater the movement of water. Incoming or the time leading up to high tide is a favorite for good fishing.

Deep Sea Fishing in Los Angeles F.A.Qs

Do I need a license to go deep sea fishing in Los Angeles?
  • Anglers aged 16 and over need to get a Caifornia fishing license, although there are exceptions to that rule. There’s also an Ocean Enhancement Validation, which you’ll need to get if you’re fishing for more than two days.
Are there any deep sea fishing tournaments in Los Angeles?
  • The area isn’t known for its deep sea fishing events, aside from the SoCal Chapter Challenge.
Is deep sea fishing in LA child-friendly?
  • The short answer is yes, of course! However, it depends on several factors. As a parent, you know your kid better than anyone, and each young angler reacts differently to being on a boat for around 8 hours or more. In addition to that, you might want to book a child-friendly charter, and discuss the details with your captain before you head out.

Deep Sea Fishing in Los Angeles: SoCal at Its Finest!

A bird's-eye view of docks with yachts in Marina Del Rey, near Los Angeles, California.

Deep sea fishing in Los Angeles doesn’t require a lot of effort. You pick the right charter, eat your breakfast, and hit the waters. What you get in return is what matters most. And the area has so much to offer, from a million types of Rockfish to beautiful offshore islands and trophies that lurk in the bluewater. But don’t just take our word for it. Get booking and see for yourself!

Have you ever been deep sea fishing in Los Angeles? Did you fish around the islands? What’s your favorite catch? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Deep Sea Fishing in Los Angeles: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: Deep Sea Fishing in Los Angeles: The Complete Guide
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Published Date: Wed, 08 Feb 2023 12:50:00 +0000

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