This is a great question I am commonly
asked by visitors planning a sportfishing trip on one of San Diego's
many open party or private charter boats. As with any popular fishing
destination, San Diego has its own local lingo and definitions
for type of sportfishing trips available.
San Diego offers one
of the most diverse and unique fishing destinations anywhere in
the world with access
to some of the best fishing in the world just across the USA/Meico
border and south down the Baja coastline rich with exotic species
like Tuna, Wahoo, Dorado, lunker-size Yellowtail and some of the
largest Yellowfin Tuna in the world.
Locally, just minutes
away from San Diego Bay, Mission Bay and in North San Diego Oceanside
at Helgren's popular daily half-day and three-quarter day trips
target the plethora of species available in local kelp beds and
other popular spots. These trip types more popular species include
Yellowtail, Bonito and White Seabass
At any time of year there are fish targets
available. What type of fish you would like to go after, what time
of year and group size are the main considerations for length of
triphowever our peak season with the best chance of catching fish
is between June and October.
There are four common trip types: Open Party, Limited Load Open Party,
Private Charter and "Six Pak" (a sportfishing vessel made for up
to 6 people). Here is how San Diego boat owners and landings define
these trips when making your reservations or inquiries:
Open Party - Local term for 1/2, 3/4 and multi-day
trips open to the public. Weekday trips are generally less crowded
and it's not uncommon for a 1/2 or 3/4 day trip to run with as few
as 8 - 10 where on weekends during peak season (June - September)
boats may run at or near capacity with 35 - 80+ passengers depending
on boat size. With plenty of rail space, bait capacity, roomy galleys
and many with sundeck seating these boats are set up for handling
potentially large crowds or group charters. Spring - Fall half-day
boats run twice daily at 6am and about 12:30pm. Three-Quarter day
runs leave at about 5:00 - 6:30am with a 4 - 5 pm arrival. Open Party
tuna trips take fewer passengers, up to about 30 or less depending
on boat size. Generally boats like to see at least 10 fisherman to
run which can be an added bonus during the fall when fishing is generally
still good but many visitors have gone home, students are back in
school and many freezers are full of tuna.
"Limited Load" Open Party is the same as open party except
the price per passenger is higher because of the benefit and comfort
of limiting the passenger load to a fraction of its capacity. This
is beneficial on longer trips and offers more rail space and personal
service from the crew.
Full Day trips can mean a 5 am - 5 pm for charters
and open party boats targeting the local inshore (coastal) fishery
or it can mean a offshore trip targeting tuna and exotics like Dorado
and Yellowtail which is commonly called (overnight or "overnighter")
and the boat leaves about 10 pm the night before for the sometimes
long run to the fishing grounds. Overnighter's return about 2 pm
- 4pm the day of fishing. If the fish are biting late as the past
couple years then 1.5 - 2 day trips can be far more productive. Whichever
trip you choose the landings and boat owners offer the best recommendations
as they are out daily.
Chartered trips are private group trips not open
to the public. The price varies dramatically depending on the season
and peak times during weekends and holidays. Most boats in San Diego
are available for private charter and range in size from the popular
6 pac (boat licensed for up to 6 fisherman) all the way up to a 100ft.+
long-range tuna trip.
6 - Pack sportfishing vessels are smaller boats
usually from 35-55ft that are licensed to take up to six persons
and is usually a private charter although some may occasionally run
open party spots.
Most trips can be booked by calling or visiting the landing office
or sometimes the direct phone to the owner or captain is available
and is the best bet. San Diego has 6 major "Landings" which are home
to a majority of the sportfishing boats and all of the 1/2 and 3/4
day open party boats. A landing is the term used for a fleet of boats
manged through one office. There are several sportfishing fleet landings
throughout San Diego.
Fisherman's Landing, Point Loma Sportfishing and H&M Landing
are all located on San Diego Bay near Shelter Island. Each has it's
own reservations office. These boats are closest to the Pt. Loma
Kelp Beds and Coronado Islands and 9-mile bank, popular fishing grounds
for San Diego fisherman.
Seaforth Sportfishing, Mission Bay Sportfishing and Dana Landing
are all located close proximity on Mission Bay at Quivera Basin. Dana
Landing is San Diego's only dedicated 6-pack landing however
all San Diego landings have 6-pack boats available. Mission Bay area
boats are closest to the La Jolla Kelp Beds and popular target areas
around La Jolla. Pt. Loma Kelp Beds and Coronado Islands are also
popular destinations from Mission Bay.
Farthest North in San Diego County next to Camp Pendalton Marine
Base at Oceanside Harbor is Helgren's Sportfishing. Helgren's is
in range of the popular San Clemente Islands White Seabass grounds
as well as some great areas for Halibut in the near by mud flats
and the plethora of species caught at nearby popular spots and Kelp
Beds South to Encinitas in North San Diego County.
Well that wraps it up on the San Diego
fishing scene. All San Diego local fishing grounds are a short
ride under an hour except for the popular Coronado Islands just
South of the USA/Mexico Border which varies on weather, landing
and boat speed but run about 1.5 hours from Mission Bay and San
Diego Bay areas. I
hope this helps. Have a great San Diego fishing adventure.