Unlocking the Depths: A Comprehensive Guide to Fishing in Monterey

Monterey, a coastal gem nestled between the beauty of Northern and the charm of Southern California, is not just a picturesque town; it’s a hidden haven for anglers seeking a diverse marine experience. Beneath the surface of the Monterey Bay, a marine wonderland thrives, shaped by a 5,000-foot-deep canyon that breathes life into one of the West Coast’s most diverse marine ecosystems.

Types of Fish You Can Expect to Catch:

  1. Rockfish (kings of the kelp): From feisty perch to the prized cabezon, different rockfish species inhabit the kelp forests and rocky reefs. Seek them out with bait or jigs, and be prepared for a fight!
  2. Halibut (flat giants): Lurking near the sandy bottom, halibut love bait presentations bounced along the seabed. Patience and persistence are key for these bottom-feeders.
  3. Striped Bass (powerful predators): These muscular fish roam the kelp beds and river mouths. Live bait, lures, or topwater flies can trigger explosive strikes, especially during migrations.
  4. Surf Perch (shore scrappers): Cast from the sandy beaches like Lover’s Point or Carmel Beach and target these feisty fish with bait or lures. They’re perfect for a quick bite or family fun.
  5. Salmon (seasonal giants): During their runs, Coho and King Salmon grace the waters. Trolling, drifting bait, or fly-fishing can entice these silver warriors.
  6. Sharks (occasional surprises): Depending on the season and location, you might encounter leopard sharks, sevengill sharks, or even the rare thresher shark cruising the kelp beds. Respect their power and practice safe catch-and-release.

Insights into Monterey’s Fishing Haven:

Monterey’s fishing scene is a dynamic tapestry, with seasons dictating the type of adventure that awaits. The salmon season kicks off in April, and Monterey Bay becomes a hotspot for these silvery giants. Most salmon are caught between Moss Landing and Fort Ord, with occasional trips yielding impressive 20- to 25-pounders.

As summer unfolds, the focus shifts to rockfish, rejuvenated by the ban on gillnetting. The edge of Monterey Canyon and spots around Cypress Point, Point Lobos, Carmel Bay, and Big Sur becomes a playground for rockfish enthusiasts. Longer trips south to the Big Sur area, especially in shallow reef areas, promise fantastic experiences.

For those with their own boats, Monterey Bay is an excellent destination, offering calm winds, especially in late summer and early fall. Catches of white seabass on the edge of kelp add to the allure. However, being a world-class destination, Monterey can get crowded, emphasizing the need to plan accordingly.

Top 5 Tips for Anglers Fishing in Monterey:

  • Research seasonal fish migrations for optimal catch opportunities.
  • Check weather conditions, especially wind patterns, before planning your trip.
  • Explore both inshore and offshore fishing spots for a diverse experience.
  • Respect marine life and follow all regulations to maintain the delicate balance of the ecosystem.
  • Dress in layers and pack essentials for varying marine conditions.

Top 5 Strategies and Tactics for a Successful Fishing Expedition:

  • Timing is Key: Plan your visit during the salmon season in April or explore rockfish territories in summer.
  • Explore the Deep Waters: Venture into the Monterey Submarine Canyon for a chance to catch deep-sea giants.
  • Engage in Shore Fishing: Experience the joy of shore fishing at iconic locations like Lover’s Point and Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • Charter a Fishing Adventure: Tap into the expertise of local charter captains for guided trips to hidden honey holes.
  • Master the Art of Fly-Fishing: Experiment with different fly-fishing techniques, especially during the salmon season.

Top 5 Recommendations for Fishing Gear:

  • Rods: Opt for medium to heavy action rods for rockfish and halibut, and a light tackle for surf perch.
  • Reels: Invest in quality spinning reels for inshore fishing and conventional reels for deep-sea expeditions.
  • Lures: Carry an assortment of swim baits, Scampi jigs, and Point Wilson Darts for versatility.
  • Check Our Gearlist: Explore our Gearlist account for specific recommendations on rods, reels, and lures.
  • Party Boats: Consider joining reputable party boats like Randy’s Fishing Trips or Chris’ Fishing Trips for a curated experience.

Check out our Gearlist for the gear we for trips like this

Our Gearlist account lists all of the gear we use. Discover our top picks, where to snag them, and stay informed with our regular updates.

Monterey’s fishing allure extends beyond the catch; it’s an immersive journey into the heart of marine diversity. While challenges like crowded waters exist, the enduring beauty of this area and its returning abundance of marine life make Monterey a perennial favorite. As you cast your line into the deep blue waters, remember, you’re not just fishing; you’re becoming a part of Monterey’s rich fishing legacy. Tight lines and happy angling!