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Deep-Sea Fishing Near San Francisco

I'm a Northern California native who can offer insider tips on the best SF fishing locations.

Deep-sea fishing charters off the San Francisco coastal area are among the best fishing excursions in the world!

Deep-sea fishing charters off the San Francisco coastal area are among the best fishing excursions in the world!

Deep-Sea Fishing in the Bay Area

Deep-sea fishing is an outstanding way to fulfill an array of summer adventure activities and desires. Beautiful scenery, physical challenges, and pure family fun. Yep, Deep-sea fishing has it all, and today you will find a number of charters that will get you and the family deep-sea fishing off the San Francisco coast while putting excitement and family bonding on the end of your hook!

Think about it, a city that sports the well-known Fisherman's Wharf is going to offer some really great deep-sea fishing. The richest fishing region on the Pacific coast of North America is the strip that lies right off the San Francisco Bay. One of the main reasons for such good fishing is the shallow water and the related upwelling in the spring, which brings cold, mineral-rich water to the surface where sunlight reaches tiny water organisms causing them to blossom in huge numbers. These little creatures provide a base for the food chain, bringing ascending fish sizes up to the mighty great white sharks that are known to prowl the area in the fall.

You will find your San Francisco deep-sea fishing tour brings a number of wonderful fish species for you to catch; each is certain to look great once they land on your family dinner platter! Now that's a real San Francisco treat!

San Francisco Deep-Sea Fishing Methods

You can fish the San Francisco waters a couple of different ways: trolling and "mooching," or simply throwing a line in the salty waters and waiting. Trolling results in bigger catches, while mooching gets you the big fish since you can feel every tiny hit on the line. Of course, mooching is a little more fun, too, because you actually get to "catch" the fish, instead of having your hook whiz by to snag the fish.

Before you go deep-sea fishing:

As a general rule, anyone over 16 years of age has to have a legal, current, and proper fishing license before going out on even a charter to deep-sea fish. Your local sporting goods store should be able to provide you with one immediately or GET FISHING LICENSE ONLINE HERE.

About the Fish in the San Francisco Waters

If a monster fish is your goal, then salmon is going to be your aim; these guys get downright beastly, ranging in size up to 50 pounds—substantially more than enough for a summer family barbecue! The fishing season starts in March and usually goes into October; in the summertime, though, massive schools of anchovies migrate inshore off of Half Moon Bay, Pacifica, and Marin County, causing the salmon to band together and follow these fishy delicacies to the shore. The result: insanely good fishing, with glassy calm seas and big packs of starving salmon that will bite on the bait you toss into the briny ocean. Don't think you will only be pulling up salmon during this time of the year; other fish follow the salmon's lead such as Striped bass, leopard sharks, and about a ton of other fighting sport fish. During the summer months, you are likely to feel any of these grand ocean fish tugging away at the end of your line!

Be prepared to spend a few bucks to undergo a chartered deep-sea fishing excursion in San Francisco. Depending on the boat, how long you are going out for, and which fish you set your sights on, the average rates are between $90 and $300 per person (group and corporate rates are available with most deep-sea charter companies). Here's how it works for most places;

Average individual rates may vary with season and charter provider:

  • Salmon $90
  • Rockfish $69 - $75
  • Tuna $300
Deep-sea fishing charter boats have a remarkable amount of ropes, nets, and gear, that are called "rigging."

Deep-sea fishing charter boats have a remarkable amount of ropes, nets, and gear, that are called "rigging."

San Francisco Deep-Sea Charter Boats

A large number of charter boats run out of San Francisco and the surrounding cities. You will probably want to stick with a day trip, as this is your best chance to get out on the water quickly. Some companies offer multi-day trips if you're interested, but be sure you have experience with the motion of the ocean before setting out for a few days.

One of the absolute coolest things about San Francisco-area fishing is that the best of it takes place no more than 30 miles offshore. This means you can get some fantastic fishing done without having to sign up for a week-long excursion. Making your San Francisco deep-sea fishing family activity a weekend escape that leaves you plenty of time to experience the fantastic city of San Francisco when you return.

Endangered Species of Wildlife in San Francisco Bay Area


SpeciesCommon Name Scientific Name 


Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse  

Reithrodontomys raviventris 


San Joaquin Kit Fox

Vulpes macrotis  


California Brown Pelican

Pelecanus occidentalis californicus  


California Clapper Rail

Rallus longirostris obsoletus


California Least Tern

Sternula antillarum brownii


Northern Spotted Owl

Strix occidentalis caurina


Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrinus


California Tiger Salamander

Ambystoma californiense


Red-legged Frog

Rana aurora


Delta Smelt

Hypomesus transpacificus


Steelehead Trout

Oncorhynchus mykiss


Ohlone Tiger Beetle

Cicindela ohlone


Zayante Band-Winged Grasshopper

Trimerotropis infantilis


San Bruno Elfin

Callophrys mossii


Callippe Silverspot Butterfly

Speyeria callippe callippe

Sea Sickness Can Ruin a Perfectly Good Day’s Fishing Trip

If you haven't done a lot of boating before, you want to consider bringing along some medication to help with seasickness. Know that you will in no way be able to enjoy anything aboard the boat if you are fighting with a queasy stomach. Seasickness will ruin your good time in a second, making you incapable of fishing or anything else for that matter. But don't worry, with good preparation and the best over-the-counter medications (or a prescription from your Doctor) you will be just fine out there, even if you have never tossed a fishing line into the deep blue sea before.

To help you understand just what is happening to you when seasickness sneaks up here is a tiny little lesson.

Seasickness starts with your balance system, found in your inner ear. With all of the symptoms, nausea, headache, and feeling weaker than ever, you are not truly sick, you are simply "out of balance." Even when your skin has turned that lovely shade of green, you have to remember you are not sick, but experiencing a motion problem. Knowing there are several things you can do to cure yourself can ease your mind. To find just a few, check out the list of helpful pointers below for heading off the awful sea-sick feeling that comes to those who have sensitive inner-ear balance systems.

Help for Seasickness

  1. Fresh air is a big help.
  2. Stay low in the rear of the boat. This is where the least motion on the boat occurs. The higher you ride on the boat, the more motion you are going to encounter.
  3. Try keeping your eye on the horizon, gaining your balance and taking some deep breaths.
  4. Try to return your body to a relaxed state; the balance issue causes your muscles to go rigid.
  5. Sometimes taking a nap can help.
  6. Use a medicated patch (Scopolamine patch by Transderm is a good choice). This patch requires a prescription but is easy to get from your doctor. Expect to have a dry mouth when using it—just like most seasickness meds.
  7. A good over-the-counter medication is Bonine. It causes drowsiness, much less so than other brands like Dramamine. Take this at least 8 hours before boarding the vessel and again when you step on deck.
  8. If you get sick enough (because you didn't take medications) be sure to drink as much water as you can manage to keep down--dehydration only makes things worst.
  9. Using the medications in accordance with the directions will remedy the seasickness you feel, leaving you ready to pull that big salmon over the boat rail and onto your dinner plate!

Let's Talk Deep-Sea Fishing Outfitters

San Francisco has a ton of charter boats; most operate independently (rather than as part of a large company). Check their information thoroughly and call around to see which one feels the most comfortable for you and your family.

Reeling in a San Francisco Deep-Sea Fishing Summer Trip

Don't be afraid of the water even if you're a beginner—this is a great summer activity for anybody, even those landlubbers out there. If you're looking for a chance to take in the Pacific ocean while bringing a cash of fish home, deep-sea fishing off the San Francisco coast is a perfect getaway. Whether you go for a day trip or longer, you can count on reeling in a good time and loads of fish.

Comments for "Deep-sea fishing off San Francisco - Fun Summer Family Fishing Activity"

william.fischer29 on September 13, 2011:

Deep-sea fishing must be very fun.Cool hub.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 26, 2011:

cardelean~ Given the chance I would go deep-sea fishing everyday! Knowing that right off of the San Francisco coast resides some of the best fishing, makes me wish I really did have the chance. I am pleased that you enjoyed the hub, and I hope you someday get the opportunity to toss a line into the deep blue sea!

Thank you for the comments!



cardelean from Michigan on July 26, 2011:

This was a very well put together hub. I've never been deep sea fishing but I think it would be an amazing experience. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 25, 2011:

Rose West~ The fishing off of the coast of San Francisco is some of the best in the world! Taking a charter out (no more than 30 miles) will allow you to drop a line into some feisty fighting fish like Salmon, and even tuna! I sure appreciate your comments and I hope next time you land in the city by the bay, you find a great charter to take you deep-sea fishing!



Rose West from Michigan on July 25, 2011:

Sounds like a lot of fun! San Francisco is such a cool place, but I never thought about deep-sea fishing there. Would love to do it someday!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 22, 2011:

Mrs M~ Thank you for stopping by today. Awesome that you found the endangered species list worthwhile!



ChatKath~ Always glad when you stop by! If you ever make it to the Bay Area I hope you hop a charter and make time for a deep-sea fishing trip. A day of fishing followed by an evening in the beautiful city of San Francisco would make for an outstanding get-away! Thank you for your comments my friend!



Kathy from California on July 21, 2011:

Great information K9 - Your hubs are always so well done so I am not surprised but I love your endangered species list and all the other little goodies! I haven't been out in the Bay for decades I am sorry to say but I love Fisherman's Wharf and would love to try deep sea fishing again! Good Job!!!! Up awesome interesting and useful!!!!

Mrs. Menagerie from The Zoo on July 21, 2011:

This is great! I love that you include a list of endangered species and help for sea poor husband is always turning green!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 21, 2011:

Thanks Audry!



Audrey Kirchner from Washington on July 21, 2011:

Cool hub and love the pictures~

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 20, 2011:

Simone~ You have got my interest for sure...I can only imagine what sort of "thing" you pulled from the ocean that was not meant for the table--Funny stuff!

Thank you for swinging by for a read about the lovely Bay area deep-sea fishing!



Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on July 20, 2011:

How cool is this??? I've only done one boat-related thing in the bay in which we've pulled up fish, but it wasn't for fishing! I'd be loathe to eat anything local that *wasn't* from the deep sea, but this sounds like a lot of fun! Great Hub!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 20, 2011:

Robin~ I know what you mean, nothing taste better than a slab of fresh caught salmon! I read that "How to BBQ a whole Salmon" hub Paul, (I think it was Paul) wrote about and it looks out of this world good! I hope the next time you enjoy a whole fish on the Grill, it's one you guys caught yourselves. Thank you for stopping by.



India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 20, 2011:

Gordon! Thank you so much for the added information regarding sea sickness cures (eating a large meal). You sound like San Francisco deep-sea fishing is right in your wheel-house my friend~ A few new species on the end of your line would certainly and "doubly" increase the fishing fun! I appreciate your coming by for a read today sir, much appreciated.

PS-- it would seem "doubly" is a wonderful word indeed; spell check had no feeling about it at all! ;)



Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on July 20, 2011:

Being that we live in the Bay area, this is a definite possiblity! We cooked a whole salmon a few weeks ago, it would have been so much more memorable had we caught it ourselves. Bookmarking this Hub for future reference, thanks!

Gordon Hamilton from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on July 20, 2011:

Love it K9. This is my idea of fishing and the species which you mention are in many instances unknown to me, so it would be a doubley (is there such a word??) exciting adventure.

You offer some good tips on sea sickness and although I'm glad to say I'm not a sufferer, I have seen some people in terrible conditions through it. I was once told by a right old salt of the sea that the best cure for sea sickness is eating substantially before and during your trip. This means that even where you are subsequently ill, there is no painful retching to place extra strain on your stomach and make you feel worse. I have passed this info on to a couple of people before who were sufferers and they said it at least helped! :)

Great Hub and good luck with the fishing.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 19, 2011:

Flora~ Honored you made it by today. The city is incredibly beautiful, you are correct. From the morning sounds of the seabirds and ocean rhythm, to the nighttime lights that scamper across the bay, San Francisco is hard to beat in sight or sound.

Nice that you mention the endangered list. I thought since I was talking about sport fishing, it was only right to add a short list of endangered species for good measure. Glad you approve! Appreciate your swinging by today.



India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 19, 2011:

Suramya.K~ Very nice comments, thank you. Glad you enjoyed the hub! I hope you can make it to the San Francisco area some day; so many cool things to see and do here. And the charted deep-sea fishing is simply out of this world good!

Happy Hubbing~


India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 19, 2011:

AllieRambles~ Thanks so much for the comments. It sounds as if your boys (hubby included) have found the grand secret to the San Francisco coastal area! You are correct, the charters are very helpful and they know right where to drop the lines for the best fishing results. I may have to plan an escape to the big blue coast line for some deep-sea fishing myself; it's been too long!

I appreciate you stopping by Allie.



FloraBreenRobison on July 19, 2011:

I love that you list endangered species. I've never been deep-sea fishing. I've never been to San Francisco before either. It must be beautiful in person.

Suramya.K on July 19, 2011:

Although I haven't been to SF, hopefully I'll be able to visit some day. Your hub is really wonderful and interactive. Thanks!

AllieRambles from Bay Area, California on July 19, 2011:

What wealth of knowledge you just gave us!

I am not the fisherman in the family but my husband and son are. They have gone fishing out of SF and Santa Cruz and you can't get the grins off their faces! I get jealous when they come home with stories of the wildlife they see, so abundant! Blue whale, Orcas, Grey Whales, sharks, and sea lions.

The charters they have gone on are always helpful. And the scenery is to die for.

Thanks for such a wonderful post on the fun you can have here in the Bay Area.