The San Diego skyline, sandwiched between the deep blue Pacific and majestic Laguna mountains, is one of the most jaw-dropping city landscapes in the nation. San Diego Bay is home to naval bases, million-dollar yachts and the best inshore fishing on the West Coast. Exploring San Diego by kayak is a great way to combine fishing with discovering the city’s culture, history and people.

Experience Unmatched Urban Saltwater Fishing in San Diego Bay

What’s Biting

Spotted bay bass, barred sand bass, calico bass, halibut and orange mouth corvina. Hard-fighting spotted bay bass get the spotlight as the most reliable and exciting inshore fish.

Fishing Season

There isn’t a bad time of year to fish San Diego. Check local fishing reports and tackle shops for what’s biting during your visit.

man holds up a calico bass caught by kayak in San Diego Bay
There isn’t a bad time of year to fish San Diego Bay. | Feature photo: Howie Strech

Rigged Up

Bay bass are on deep structure and shallow grass beds, shoals and channels. Target deep structures from 25 to 40 feet such as reefs, rock piles and pilings. Use swimbaits, slow-pitch jigs and umbrella rigs. If live bait is your thing, visit the Everingham Brothers bait barge for a “kayak scoop” of live anchovy or sardine.

Kayak Gear

A kayak livewell is essential. Even though San Diego Bay is surrounded by land, it has a big-water feel. To find fish, be prepared to cover some distance with a pedal system or electric motor.

Game Plan

Launch at the sand beach just west of the Shelter Island boat ramp for easy access to the bait barge and the western side of the bay. Launch at Coronado Tidelands Park to fish the world-renowned Coronado Bay Bridge and back bay.

man holds up spotted bass caught on dropshot swimbait in San Diego Bay
Light tackle for spotted bay bass or heavy tackle for big water. | Photo: Howie Strech

Launching from either spot requires a kayak cart with inflatable sand tires. The sand can be soft and sludgy too, so I recommend a pair of waterproof boots or waders.

San Diego Outfitter

Fisherman’s Landing Tackle Shop, located at the famous San Diego sportfishing hub, is well-stocked for everything from inshore to offshore fishing. The experienced staff are dialed in on the current fishing report, tides, locations and best tactics.

Where to Stay

Downtown San Diego is home to a range of hotels and vacation rentals, from posh and upscale to reasonable and modest.

Where to Eat

Enjoy local fresh seafood and watch the sportfish boats unload their catch at Point Loma Seafoods. If you’re looking for the tourist scene, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy offer a vibrant city vibe with a wide variety of dining options. The breaded squid sandwich is popular with locals, but my personal favorite is the combo seafood cocktail and a crisp local IPA.

Cover of Kayak Angler Magazine Issue 50, Early Summer 2023This article was first published in the Early Summer 2023 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

There isn’t a bad time of year to fish San Diego Bay. | Feature photo: Howie Strech



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