July 23, 2024

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Guide to fishing in Monterey, California

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Nestled on the central California coast, Monterey is a paradise for anglers of all ages. This vibrant, charming town is known for its breathtaking scenery but above all, it’s a place with ideal weather, diverse marine life, a healthy fish population, and excellent spots to wet your line. Fishing in Monterey offers you the chance to land something truly special.

Year-round gorgeous weather and angling opportunities complement the city’s coastline, deep offshore waters, and the beautiful Monterey Bay. Whatever fishing experience you have in mind, chances are you can find it in Monterey.

In this guide, we’ll discuss all the various fish species you can catch, as well as the most popular spots and productive techniques to reel ’em in. You’ll also learn about the local fishing seasons, so you know what to expect. So, let’s dive right in…

What can I catch while fishing in Monterey?

Since marine life is pretty abundant in Monterey, it’s a popular spot for saltwater fishing enthusiasts. It’s home to some of the most sought-after species in the Sunshine State, if not the whole country. Depending on where you drop a line, you could come across anything from Salmon and Rockfish to Tuna and Halibut. Each potential target has its unique characteristics and challenges. Let’s take a closer look.

Salmon

Photo taken by Barbarossa Fishing

From April to November, locals and visitors alike come to Monterey to fish for Salmon. Chinook and Coho are both available, and while the season is generous, you might want to book a trip in June or July for a better chance of landing Salmon.

Some of the most popular Salmon spots are the Carmel River Lagoon and the mouth of the Salinas River. The waters off of Point Pinos and Soquel Hole are also known to produce good results. Note that these spots are just a short drive from the town.

Salmon fishing in Monterey usually happens in the early morning or late afternoon. The majority of local anglers prefer slow trolling with downriggers, although you’re welcome to experiment. Mooching can also produce good results, especially if you’re after Chinook. As for bait, consider packing herring, anchovies, or squid, or use artificial lures like spoons or plugs.

Rockfish

A smiling woman in a baseball cap and a neck bluff holding up two Rockfish, one orange, one brown, with clear skies behind her
Photo taken by Barbarossa Fishing

Rockfish are a common sight in Monterey Bay. While around 60 species of Rockfish patrol California’s waters, Black, Blue, and Vermilion are among the most popular catches in Monterey. The season for Rockfish runs from April through December, although you might have more success in the summer months.

So, where can you find Rockfish in Monterey? You can check out the Point Sur Lighthouse or the Soquel and Carmel Bay canyons, as well as deepwater reefs. Alternatively, you can fish right from the Finerman’s or Municipal Wharf.

The most popular method to catch Rockfish is to use bait and jigs to get these bottom dwellers to bite. You can also practice your hand at bottom bouncing, which involves dropping a weight and lure to the bottom of the ocean and slowly reeling it in, mimicking the movement of your target’s prey.

Lingcod

An angler in a kayak, holding up a green Lingcod to the camera, with murky waters behind him on a cloudy day
Photo taken by Pismo Adventures

Lingcod are aggressive predators that can easily challenge your angling skills. These species are available in the rocky reefs and kelp beds around Monterey anytime from April to September. Anglers can come across 15–30 lb fish, with some catches weighing in at over 50 pounds.

Feel free to explore the nearshore fishing grounds, especially the Big Sur Coast and Point Lobos. Cypress Point is also a good spot to look for Lingcod. Locals typically use a heavy rod with a fast action and a reel that can handle large fish. Lingcod can often be pretty territorial, so you might want to plan the best way to present your bait or lure.

Note that there are certain bag and size limits for the majority of your potential targets, including Lingcod. Make sure to check the local rules and regulations with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife before you hit the waters, and consult with your captain in advance.

Halibut

Three anglers stood on a dock in Cailfornia after returning from a fishing trip, holding a couple of Halibut each on a sunny day
Photo taken by Deadliest Kast Sport Fishing

Whenever the season allows, sportfishermen hop on their boats and head to deeper waters with steep drop-offs, such as the Monterey Submarine Canyon or the Soquel Hole to hunt for Halibut. The best time to lure them in is from May through October, producing serious results.

Halibut fishing in Monterey is all about landing big fish, with some catches reaching way over 100 pounds. To earn your bragging rights you might need to be extra patient while fishing. Halibut often bury themselves in the sand, waiting for the opportunity to ambush their prey. Some locals use live bait, such as anchovies or squid, to entice the bite, while others opt for lures.

Tuna

Four anglers, two male and two female, holding two Tunas each at the back of a fishing boat, with the water behind them and a bird flying above them in the distance
Photo taken by Fish Taxi Sportfishing

Tuna fishing in Monterey keeps a lot of anglers busy from July through October. Catching Yellowfin, Bluefin, or Albacore Tuna is a thrilling experience that draws anglers from all over the world. You can find these fish around the deep underwater Monterey Canyon, the 267 Spot, and the Soquel Hole – an offshore trench.

It goes without saying that every angler needs to put in a lot of effort to land Tuna. Get ready to use heavy-duty rods and reels, and a selection of live bait. Tuna react best to sardines, anchovies, mackerel, or squid. Locals often go for chunking or chumming, which involves throwing cut up bait into the water to attract Tuna. You can also mix it up with some trolling with artificial lures or surface plugs to get them to bite.

And More!

While Monterey is predominantly a saltwater fishing destination, freshwater enthusiasts can also enjoy some pleasant inland spots. El Estero Lake is located right in the city, offering Rainbow Trout and Catfish fishing opportunities. There’s also the Carmel River nearby with good Trout fishing during the winter months. Note that the river is a strictly catch-and-release Trout fishery.

Where can I go fishing in Monterey?

A round blue and red sign with yellow lettering saying "Old Fisherman's Wharf: Monterrey Harbor" behind some bushes on a clear day

There are various spots for you to discover in and around Monterey. If you’d like to fish in the bay, you can launch out of Monterey Municipal Wharf II, El Estero Park, and the Breakwater Cove Marina. Moss Landing, as well as the mouth of the Carmel River, are excellent spots to check what’s biting inshore. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, try fishing around the reefs and rocks, or venture out to the canyons and seamounts.

Here’s a quick list of spots you might want to consider:

  • Monterey Bay: The bay is widely known for its rich marine life and plenty of opportunities for anglers. Rockfish, Tuna, and Halibut, as well as Salmon, are the most popular bay catches.
  • Del Monte Beach: Surf fishing enthusiasts can enjoy this beach in Monterey. If you’re lucky, you could even catch a smaller Halibut!
  • Stillwater Cove: This cove is located in Pebble Beach, just a short drive from Monterey. Rockfish and Halibut are on the menu in Stillwater Cove.
  • Point Pinos: This rocky point located in Pacific Grove is another great spot for some surf fishing action. Depending on when you’re planning to go, you can target Rockfish and Halibut.
  • Del Monte Beach: This is a long, sandy beach known for its good population of fish. It’s also a great spot for surf fishing.
  • The Soquel Hole: While it takes a boat ride to reach the hole, this offshore trench drops down to depths of over 2,000 feet. These deeper waters are home to Tuna, Halibut, and who knows what else.
  • Monterey Canyon: This is a deep underwater canyon that reaches depths of over 10,000 feet and runs for more than 60 miles along the coast. Aside from Tuna, you can also hunt for Swordfish and Sharks.

How can I go fishing in Monterey?

Now that you know what species are on the fishing menu and where to find them, it’s time to discuss the how. In general, there are various fishing techniques that locals use – the exact method you employ depends on the species you’re targeting.

You can try your hand at different methods all in the same day if you’re targeting Halibut and Tuna, for instance. Even if you’re after Salmon, chances are you won’t be limited to just trolling. Let’s talk some more about what that all means.

Monterey Bay Fishing

A view from the town of Capitola Wharf fishing pier just after sunset, stretching out into the water on a clear night

Start exploring the bay by fishing the shallow waters along the coastline. If the season and conditions allow, the list of your potential catches includes Rockfish, Halibut, and Salmon. These species also bite well as you head further out in the ocean. For even more adventure, you can fish the reefs and rocks with live bait, jigs, and swimbaits.

Monterey Bay also offers a unique fishing experience for Squid. These trips usually take place at night, when Squid come to feed closer to the surface. Locals often use squid jigs or specialized lures to hook these elusive creatures. They spawn during winter, so plan your trip around the colder months.

Monterey Deep Sea Fishing

Sharks, such as Mako, Blue, and Thresher, various types of Tuna, and other large predators are among the most typical Monterey deep sea fishing targets. Plus, you might get the chance to see whales, dolphins, and sea birds.

A typical deep sea fishing trip in Monterey includes a variety of techniques, such as chumming, trolling with live bait or lures, jigging, and even kite fishing. The best way to make your bluewater trip as productive as possible is to hire a local charter company or a fishing guide. Just note that you’ll normally need to start working the water at depths of 100 feet or more.

Monterey Charter Fishing

A view of an angler over the side of a boat, fishing in the nearshore waters of California near Monterey on a day with sunny intervals
Photo taken by Deadliest Kast Sport Fishing

Booking a Monterey fishing charter is an excellent way to catch fish and learn from a pro. The expertise and guidance of a knowledgeable captain can make all the difference, no matter if you’re fishing inshore or offshore.

There are various crews in and around Monterey that cater to anglers of all skill levels. A professional guide doesn’t just take you to their honey holes; they’ll take you to the best spots based on current fishing conditions, maximizing your chances of a successful catch. Plus, a charter trip usually comes with all the necessary gear on board.

Monterey Shore Fishing

If you don’t feel like fishing from a boat, you can cast a line from shore or one of Monterey’s purpose-built piers. Fisherman’s Wharf, Lover’s Point, and the Municipal Wharf are good spots to start your adventure. The Municipal Wharf and the Pacific Grove Municipal Pier are also popular among pier fishermen. If you’re interested in shore fishing, consider heading to Del Monte Beach.

When can I go fishing in Monterey?

A view across a grassy beach towards some rocks in the Pacific Ocean and a lighthouse in the distance in Monterey, CA

In general, there’s no bad time to go fishing in Monterey, with its rich waters providing a diverse range of fishing opportunities throughout the year. Fishing seasons vary depending on what species you’re after. Even during the winter months, you’ll have the chance of landing a variety of species, including Dungeness Crab. Winter fishing in Monterey Bay can be especially productive, as the cooler water temperatures can bring in more aggressive fish.

Summer is usually the hottest time of year to get a mixed bag, although you can check the bite as early as April. If you’re after Salmon, you can fish for them well into fall. This applies to Tuna and some bay species, too. The bay fishing season is good year-round, although Halibut bite best in summer. As for deep sea fishing, consider hitting the offshore grounds during the summer months.

Fishing in Monterey FAQs

Fishing in Monterey: Where the Ocean Meets Your Passion

A view across a road bridge in Monterey, CA, with the ocean on the right-hand side of the image and mountains and cliffs on the left and in the distance on a clear day

This beautiful Californian town is diverse and never boring. If you’re looking to switch it up, nearby cities offer additional fishing opportunities, and you can even fish nearby lakes or rivers. When it comes to fishing in Monterey, there’s always something to catch. But don’t take our word for it. Pack your sunglasses, head to the Pacific Coast, and enjoy everything Monterey has to offer!

Have you ever been fishing in Monterey? Do you have any fish stories to share? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Fishing in Monterey: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: Fishing in Monterey: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/fishing-in-monterey/
Published Date: Tue, 23 May 2023 16:38:00 +0000

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