Catching Tuna in California: Where to Go for Saltwater Fishing

California may be known for the Central Valley farmland, Mojave Desert, Sierra Nevada Mountains and Hollywood, but its beaches and coastal terrains are sure to entice summer tourists and fishing enthusiasts. Southern California waters, in particular, have been the getaway for a variety of tunas that welcome every visiting fisher a really good challenge.

Bluefin Tuna

Today, it is no secret that pacific bluefin tuna have swam their way to California seas. At least eight miles off the coast, fishers have been catching them in excess of 100 pounds. This is something new, however, as they are usually spotted much farther to the south in Mexican areas. Reports of breaking fish from San Diego to Santa Catalina Island have been noted.

Bluefins are said to swim 60 to 100 feet below the surface, sometimes even more. It is therefore important to keep an eye on the fish finder. Some prefer fishing them yo-yo style, which means dropping the jig straight through marks and retrieving quickly. Of course, experimenting on the best methods is encouraged, but safety is always a priority.

The largest recorded bluefin in California weighed 363.5 pounds. They are usually found from May to October.

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin tunas, meanwhile, are often found in warmer waters. They are easily spotted swimming off the coast of California through Baja and around the northern part of the Channel Islands. Its distinguishing feature is the length of its pectoral fin, which stretches beyond the second dorsal. It has a conical head. Anglers can catch as much as 400 pounds, so they are truly tempting to sail for. The limit for catches is 10 a day, while fishing from 3AM to 8AM is reported to be a good window for more harvests.

Pacific versions off California weigh from 50 to 200 pounds. It is regularly fished in other areas, such as in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. They do not spawn off the coast of California, but further south in the eastern Pacific.

Bigeye Tuna

Bigeye tunas are also found worldwide in warmer areas. With a lifespan of 7 or 8 years, they usually visit California from June to November. Because they swim far below the surface at daytime, they are pretty difficult to spot, with a good number of them taken by incident. Most taken in Southern California weigh 50 to 100 pounds.

A Tuna Haven in San Diego

San Diego is generally a good saltwater fishing spot. The Royal Polaris charter, for instance, is able to catch fish more than 300 pounds. Skipper Capt. Frank LoPreste says that for every boat, they “usually catch between five and 15 fish over 300 pounds each trip.”

So how does a charter trip go? The boats leave from San Diego, heading to southern banks and islands. “We fish off the Luisitania Bank off Magdalena Bay, which is about 600 miles from San Diego; or in another area with even bigger success, Hurricane Bank, which is 980 miles south of San Diego. We also hit Clarion Island, which is about 850 miles away,” LoPreste adds.

Fishing for tuna in California will be a great new adventure for tourists as it is a staple activity for local anglers. It is therefore important to have the right gear and accessory to complement a good saltwater fishing experience. offers a good array of items functional in a variety of settings, sufficient to meet your fishing needs.

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