April 13, 2024

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Morro Bay Fishing Guide

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Nestled halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Morro Bay is a charming city, fantastic for those interested in spending some time in nature. It features calm seas, protected by the famous Morro Rock, pristine beaches, and an abundance of wildlife, both in and out of the water. Among all the different activities you can enjoy in Morro Bay, fishing is one you shouldn’t miss out on. It’s the ideal way to get to know the area and experience it the way the locals do.

Thanks to the protected waters we already mentioned, along with the easy access to the ocean, both novice and experienced anglers can enjoy fishing in Morro Bay. There are numerous fish species you can catch within the bay itself. On the other hand, if you leave the bay and head out to the ocean, you’ll discover one of the best fisheries on the West Coast.

Ready to learn more? If so, stick with us. We’ll present you with all the information you need to go fishing in this part of California. This includes the fish you can reel in, where, and how to go about it. We’ll conclude the article with a few regulations to pay attention to as you plan your trip. Let’s get into it!

Which species can I catch fishing in Morro Bay?

The Morro Bay community is known for its devotion to sustainable fishing. Because of this, fish are able to thrive and anglers can enjoy consistent action. But what’s more interesting is that each species you encounter here could easily be seen on a Michelin-starred restaurant’s menu. So let’s see the luxurious lineup Morro Bay has on offer.


From Vermillion, Blue, and Copper to Boccaccio and Cabezon, there are numerous types of Rockfish you can catch while fishing the waters around Morro Bay. These fish are always fun to catch and a suitable target no matter your experience. In this area, Rockfish are abundant, promising an action-packed fishing adventure.

For shore-based anglers and spearos alike, the Rockfish season goes on year-round. If you plan on fishing from a boat, however, you’ll have to wait until April, when the Rockfish season begins for boaters. Of course, the finest spots lie a little off the coast of Morro Bay. So if you’re intent on filling the cooler with these fish, it’s best to do it from a vessel.


With jaws strong enough to crush crab shells and several hundred needle-like teeth, you definitely don’t want your fingers anywhere near the mouth of a Lingcod. But even though these fish look like something from a low-budget horror flick, they taste absolutely divine. Also, Lingcod can grow impressively large, sometimes reaching five feet in length and weights of up to 80 pounds.

An angler holding a Lingcod towards the camera with its open mouth visible.

Although such trophy specimens are rare, you’ll find plenty of keeper Lingcod off the coast of Morro Bay. They lurk around the same type of structure as Rockfish, making it possible to reel in both in one trip. Their season also starts in April for boat-based anglers. If you’re a diver or fishing from shore, you can target Lingcod throughout the year.


While we’re on the subject of bottom fish, Halibut are another you can add to the list if you’re fishing in Morro Bay. You’ll find them around sandy pathways on the ocean floor, hiding and looking for unsuspecting prey. Since all you need to do is find them and drop the bait down, Halibut are a beginner-friendly species.

A man posing with a big Halibut he reeled in on a Morro Bay fishing trip.

The best part is that you can fish for California Halibut year-round, whether from a boat or shore. This applies to several other species of flatfish, such as Sanddab, Sole, or Starry Flounder. However, Pacific Halibut fall under different regulations and can only be targeted between May and mid-November.

All in all, no matter which species of Halibut you hook into, they’ll make for a fine meal. Also, compared to other bottom fish we mentioned, they tend to lurk closer to shore. This means you don’t necessarily need to hop on a boat to target them.

Chinook Salmon

If you visit Morro Bay between April and July, you’ll have a shot at one of the finest sportfish out there – Chinook Salmon. Also known as Kings, these fish are among the pound-for-pound toughest fighters you can come across. Once hooked, they’ll put up a battle that’s sure to get your adrenaline pumping.

Two anglers posing with Chinook Salmon they caught on their fishing trip, with Morro Rock visible in the background.

To add to that, they’re simply one of the best-tasting fish out there and an absolute treat to put on the dinner table. Trolling is the most effective method of getting Salmon to bite, so you’ll need to hook up with a charter captain who has the proper equipment. You’ll usually find Chinook both up and down the coast from Morro Bay, so it’s all about visiting at the right time of year.


Albacore Tuna have historically been a highly beloved fish among Morro Bay anglers. However, in recent years they’ve tended to migrate away from shore, out of range of most charter boats. Nowadays, the feisty Albacore are considered a rare catch. But fret not, you can go for Bluefin Tuna instead!

Two fishermen posing with a Bluefin Tuna caught offshore from Morro Bay.

Bluefin are among the most prized sport fish you can hope to encounter. Very few other species can compete with their raw strength, endurance, and intelligence. They’re constantly on the move, making it hard to pin them down. When you’ve done that and you finally get a bite, you’ll be facing what’s arguably one of the hardest fighters in the ocean.

The peak months to reel in a Bluefin tend to be June, July, August, and September, although it’s possible to find them outside this period as well. To have a chance at catching one of these ocean brutes, you’ll have to hop on a charter. You’ll need local knowledge to find the Tuna, a boat that can reach the distant waters, and equipment that can withstand the punishment these fish can dish out.

And More!

A man and a woman holding a beautiful Leopard Shark.

While most anglers come to Morro Bay to target one of the five fish we’ve listed so far, there are a few others you might encounter. Leopard Shark, for example, are always fun to battle and you can fish for them even off the beach. You’ll also see Barred Surfperch in the, you guessed it, surf. Away from shore, you’ll occasionally hook into some White Seabass. All in all, there’s more than enough variety. It all depends on what you want to catch the most!

Best Ways to Fish in Morro Bay

Naturally, the way you decide to approach these waters will dictate what you end up catching. So let’s delve into what you can expect when fishing from vessels compared to shore fishing.

Charter Fishing

Hopping on a charter boat will give you the most variety as you explore Morro Bay. You’ll be able to coordinate with your captain and arrange an adventure to suit your exact wishes. You’ll also get to make use of your captain’s experience, boat, and high-quality equipment.

A charter fishing boat docked in Morro Bay.

Most Morro Bay fishing charters focus on bottom or drift fishing because it’s simply too good to pass on. The Rockfish action in this part of Central California is out of this world so there’s rarely a good reason not to go for it.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that this is all you can expect. During Salmon season, many captains will set up a trolling spread so you can catch your fill of Kings. Also, some of them offer long-distance fishing trips, in case you want to get in on the Tuna action.

Shore Fishing

Although your options may be somewhat limited if you only fish from land, this approach does have its own merits. First of all, it’s way cheaper than going on a charter, especially if you already have your fishing gear. It’s also simpler and easier to organize.

A photo of a beach at Montaña de Oro State Park.

On the other hand, if you’re a beginner fishing solo, you won’t have anyone to show you the ropes. You’ll also need to travel with or rent the fishing equipment and transport it to the fishing spot along with everything else you need for the day.

In terms of the fishing itself, doing it from Morro Bay shores can be both productive and extremely fun. Barred Surfperch is one of the species you’ll often come across when fishing from the local beaches. You’ll also see different types of flatfish, Bat Rays, and Skates. Finally, you’ll have the chance to hook into a few Shark species, including Leopard, Thresher, as well as the weird-looking Shovelnose Shark, a.k.a. Guitarfish.

Kayak Fishing

One more popular way to fish along this part of the coast of California is to do it aboard a kayak. The inshore waters around Morro Bay feature plenty of fish holes where you can get some great action going. While exploring these coastal waters, you’ll often see Rockfish, Lingcod, and Halibut bite the end of your line.

A kayak angler posing with a Lingcod caught south of Morro Bay.

Thanks to its secluded waters, Morro Bay itself is great for kayakers. However, you’ll also find other protected spots south toward Pismo Beach. Although the waters here may be calmer than in the open ocean, it’s still wise to keep an eye on the weather. It’s also useful to have at least some experience with kayak fishing because it’ll help you avoid things such as flipping over.

Morro Bay Fishing Spots

A photo of the Big Sur coast and Highway 1.

If you’re fishing aboard a charter boat, you won’t have to spend too much time thinking about where you want to go. The captain will already know what’s biting and where to take you to ensure a productive trip. With this being said, here are a couple of spots you can visit if you want to fish from shore, along with some areas you might visit aboard a vessel.

  • Montaña de Oro State Park: Just south of Morro Bay, you’ll find an oceanside state park called Montaña de Oro. From its beaches, you’ll get to catch Barred Surfperch, different Sharks, Jacksmelt, and more. Spooner’s Cove is also nearby, which is a great place to launch and fish from a kayak. Hazard Canyon Reef, on the other hand, offers some great Rockfish angling.
  • Morro Bay State Park: Located within the city itself, Morro Bay State Park is another great shore fishing spot. Similar to the rest of the area, you’ll find various kinds of Sharks and Rays in the surf, together with Perch. You’ll also have a view of Morro Rock in the distance while you’re fishing.
  • Estero Bay: The waters outside Morro Bay, stretching from Point Buchon and north to Cayucos are known as Estero Bay. This whole area features numerous different bottom fishing spots where you can reel in Rockfish, Lingcod, Halibut, and White Seabass. For anyone looking to reel in a dinner or two, this is where you’ll do it.
  • Big Sur: Head 60 miles north of Morro Bay, and you’ll reach Cape San Martin and the Big Sur part of Central California. Although it may seem like a journey, these waters offer some of the finest fishing in the whole state. Big Rockfish, Lingcod, and Halibut, as well as the seasonal Chinook can all be caught here. Also, if you head offshore, you may even get that Tuna bite.

Anything else I should know?

An infographic image that says "Morro Bay fishing regulations" and "What you need to know" against a blue background.

If you’ve been following along with the article, you can probably tell by now that the charter fishing season in Morro Bay really starts in April. There are some fish you can catch between January and the end of March but with the current regulations, your options will be limited. So if you want to experience the best this area can offer, plan your trip accordingly.

As with everywhere in California, you’ll need to get a fishing license before your trip, whether you’re fishing from shore or a vessel. This applies to most anglers aged 16 and older, with a few exceptions you can check out in our dedicated California Fishing License article.

Morro Bay: The Ultimate Rockfishing Destination

The sunset in Morro Bay with several sailboats visible in the water and Morro Rock in the distance.

With access to some of the best bottom fishing grounds on the West Coast and plenty of local appeal, Morro Bay has all the ingredients for a proper adventure. Whether you’re looking to fish with your family or to reel in some big bottom fish, you’ll find exactly what you need out here. Morro Bay is a one-of-a-kind fishery any angler should be lucky enough to visit.

Have you ever been fishing in Morro Bay? What’s your favorite fish to target out here? Tap the comment button below and let us know!

The post Morro Bay Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Marko
Title: Morro Bay Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/morro-bay-fishing/
Published Date: Tue, 16 Aug 2022 14:40:00 +0000

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