Southern California is beloved for its beautiful landscapes, the beaches ranking chief among them. More so than for only catching a tan or splashing in the waves, SoCal’s beaches are also excellent for surf fishing. Which beaches should you seek out?
Here are the top Southern California beaches for surf fishing:
- El Capitan State Beach
- Newport Beach
- Huntington Beach
- South Carlsbad State Beach
- Redondo Beach
- Mugu Beach
- Mission Beach
- Coronado Beach
- San Onofre State Beach
- Santa Monica State Beach
- Carmel Beach
- Playa Del Rey State Beach
- Will Rogers State Beach
As the list above illustrates, there exists no shortage of surf fishing options if you live in or are visiting SoCal. Keep reading for more information about each of these amazing beaches as well as what you might hope to catch if you plan a day of surf fishing. You won’t want to miss it!
13 Beaches Renowned for Surf Fishing Throughout SoCal
El Capitan State Beach
In Santa Barbara County near Goleta is El Capitan State Beach, which is a part of the California state park system.
Named after the retired Spanish Army captain Jose Francisco Ortega, El Capitan State Beach is a popular spot in the autumn, as monarch butterflies gather here in large numbers.
So too are the anglers gathering throughout the year, as El Capitan State Beach is a fantastic beach for surf fishing.
Perch are a common catch in the oceanic waters here. Anglers recommend perch grubs in red or brown if you’re into artificial lures. Smaller hooks are better, as is light tackle.
The sandy shoreline and crystal-clear water of Orange County’s Newport Beach make it a popular destination for residents and tourists alike.
You’re also a hop, skip, and a jump away from Balboa Island, which some anglers have called a secret fishing spot (although it might not be so secret anymore!).
On the Balboa Pier, surfcasters have been known to reel in fish species such as jack mackerel, corbina, sardines, anchovies, and bonito, and sometimes even stingrays and sharks as well. The beach itself usually has plenty of California halibut and calico bass.
Few SoCal beaches are as renowned as Huntington Beach in Orange County. Less than 40 miles southeast of the business district of Downtown Los Angeles, Huntington Beach is a lovely retreat.
If you’d rather not get your feet wet, you can always stop by Huntington Pier and fish from there. That’s what a lot of SoCal anglers do. Of course, traditional surf fishing is an option as well.
The myriad of fish species you can catch around this area makes it worth your while. Those species include shovelnose guitarfish, sharks, sardines, stingrays, perch, mackerel, jacksmelt, croaker, corbina, and cabezon.
South Carlsbad State Beach
San Diego County’s South Carlsbad State Beach is a public spot, so it tends to attract larger crowds than perhaps some of the other beaches we’ve discussed to this point and will talk about throughout the rest of this article.
You might want to call it an early night the evening before your fishing trip so you can wake up with the sun the next day.
You should beat out the other surfcasteres and most of the crowds. Then you’ll be free to catch everything from corvina to yellowfin croaker, spotfin, halibut, walleye surfperch, and barred surfperch.
Named after the Spanish word for “round,” Redondo Beach in Los Angeles County is a part of Santa Monica Bay. The Municipal Pier on the beach takes you well out into the Pacific Ocean, which might make it a desirable destination for surfcasters.
When we say well out, by the way, we mean it. Another name for the Municipal Pier is the Endless Pier!
The more common fish species that abound in Redondo Beach’s waters include bat rays, guitarfish, croakers, silversides, jacksmelt, perch, bonito, sardines, and Pacific mackerel.
You just may catch a shark, a white sea bass, some barracuda, sand bass, and halibut, but these species are rarer.
You’ll find Malibu’s Mugu Beach in Oxnard if you keep heading north after passing Mugu Rock. This Ventura County beach is a part of the larger Point Mugu State Beach.
Besides surfcasters, you’re likely to see photographers here too, as some of the sights along Mugu Beach are absolutely breathtaking.
Point Mugu brings in plenty of yellowfin drum, leopard sharks, and barred surfperch, so we hope you have your surf fishing rig ready!
If you want a more laid-back and chill kind of vibe, make a beeline for Mission Beach. This part of SoCal attracts varied crowds with beach volleyball players, sunbathers, swimmers, surfers, and anglers.
You have your pick for where you’ll surfcast around Mission Beach. You can fish from the jetty on the southern side of the beach. You may wish to explore Mariner’s Basin on the east side or stick to the beach on the west.
Mission Beach and its nearby bay are usually well-stocked with yellowfin croaker, turbot, bat ray, spotted sand bass, surfperch, and jacksmelt.
If it’s a truly lucky day, then you might reel in shortfin corvina, sculpin, leopard sharks, calico bass, barracuda, bonito, or halibut.
San Diego’s Coronado Beach is known as the Crown City, and for very good reason. You can select from one of several beaches here, all of which feature sparkling sandy beaches (yes, they literally sparkle, as the sand features mica) and gorgeous, warm waters.
Between Glorietta Bay, North Beach, and Coronado Central Beach, we’re sure there’s plenty you can catch when you go surf fishing.
Some fish species to be on the lookout for are jacksmelt, white seabass, leopard shark, barred surfperch, yellowfin croaker, corbina, California yellowtail, halibut, spotted bay bass, and barred sand bass.
San Onofre State Beach
A popular SoCal beach for surf fishing, San Onofre State Beach in San Diego County includes 3,000 acres of natural space. This spot gets its fair share of visitors, attracting more than 2.5 million tourists and Californians every year.
You too may come back again and again once you begin reeling in California corbina croakers, yellowfin, halibut, and perch with your surf fishing rig.
A tip from the locals? Use sand crabs and/or clams as live bait, especially if you want to reel in some croakers.
Santa Monica State Beach
Along the famed Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll find Santa Monica State Beach.
The 3.5-mile beach features playgrounds, picnic areas, parks, and Muscle Beach. If you’re not tempted by that beach, then the Santa Monica Pier will surely be calling your name as a surfcaster!
The Santa Monica Pier waters get rather deep, especially if you’re surf fishing off the end of it. The breakwaters close to the pier also make this area a great spot for catching plenty of unique species.
Those include halibut, mackerel, bonito, calico bass, sand bass, black croaker, sargo, rainbow perch, walleye, sea bass, and black cod.
What’s not to love about Carmel Beach? This Carmel destination features scenic walking paths, excellent waves for surfing, oh, and it’s dog-friendly as well.
If you don’t have Carmel Beach on your shortlist of SoCal beaches for surf fishing, you should!
About two hours before the high tide starts, the surf fishing here is great. In the summertime, sardines and jack mackerel will pass through.
Throughout the rest of the year, you can catch lingcod, cabezon, rockfish, jacksmelt, and perch.
Playa Del Rey State Beach
Although it’s not the best-known beach, sometimes that’s a good thing. Playa Del Rey State Beach in Playa Del Rey (a LA neighborhood) features grassy parks, paved bike paths, and sandy shores for playing volleyball, swimming, surfing, or fishing.
This area requires a fishing rod length of up to nine inches to reach the best fish. For instance, you could catch leopard sharks, halibut, corbina, croaker, and surfperch.
No bait? No problem! Not only will the staff at nearby Dockweiler Beach provide you bait for free, but they offer fishing rods too at no extra cost to you!
Will Rogers State Beach
The last SoCal beach for surf fishing on our list is Will Rogers State Beach.
This LA beach in the Pacific Palisades area features a bike path, a playground, volleyball courts, and plenty of open sandy areas for surf fishing.
Fun fact: Will Rogers State Beach has been used as a site for many classic movies and television shows. Baywatch was filmed here for a while before the cast went to Hawaii, and Creature from the Black Lagoon has the distinction of being filmed at Will Rogers State Beach as well.
Anglers suggest using #4 hooks, a six-pound line (at least), and eight-foot spinning rod, and light tackle to catch the variety of fish species that swim in the waters here.
Southern California is celebrated for its beaches, many of which allow surfcasters to set up their respective surf fishing rigs and cast out. You usually have the option of fishing from the shoreline or even a nearby pier.
Although the 13 SoCal beaches on this list do permit surf fishing, you should still check in with the local parks and rec association or the city government to confirm that you can go fishing before you head out.