Fishing San Diego Bay or Mission Bay from shore can be very productive with a little bit of know-how and a healthy amount of perseverance.
When it comes to fishing spots, Google Earth is your best friend. You can fish anywhere you want unless there are No Fishing signs posted. In general, fish relate to structure, the fish in both bays are no different. Structure in the bays could be boat docks, boat moorings, sandy flats, rock jetties, eel grass beds or the drop off of a ledge or boat channel. Without the help of a fish finder go look at the spot you intend to fish on a low tide to verify what structure/depths that you’ll be dealing with. Once you’re ready to fish, the quarry that you’ll be going after will dictate the type of gear that you will need.
I like to fish the bays with artificial lures; bait fishing is an entirely different subject that will be covered in another article. The main species caught from shore are bass (spotted bay, sand and calico), halibut and yellowfin croaker, juvenile white sea bass, barracuda, mackerel, bonito and the shortfin corvina. When fishing from shore, I like to travel light. That means one rod and a backpack to hold a tackle box with an assortment of lures. These lures could be 3-5 inch plastic paddle tail swimbaits or grubs paired with a 1/4-1/2 oz. leadhead or Texas rigged with an appropriate hook and bullet sinker. The plastics allow you to fish the various depths of the water column so they are a versatile tool. I will also have an assortment of hard baits such as Kastmasters, jerkbaits, jointed swimbaits and topwater baits. The hardbaits tend to be my search tools that allow me to cover a lot of water in the shortest amount of time. When it comes to lure color, match the hatch is always a good rule of thumb but don’t let that prevent you from experimenting as the water clarity in the bays can vary from gin clear to chocolate brown.
With only one rod/reel choice, I prefer it to be as close to a “one size fits all” combo as possible. My combo of choice is a 6’8” med/fast action baitcasting rod paired with
a Shimano Calcutta 100 sized reel spooled with 12lb monofilament line. Depending on your budget, a baitcasting reel, in general, has a better drag system than its spinning reel cousin and is better suited for the constant casting and retrieving of various lures. A spinning combo will work just fine if that’s what you are comfortable using. Baitcasting or spinning, keep in mind that you are fishing in saltwater and corrosion is every reels’ enemy. Routine freshwater rinse and maintenance will extend the life of your reel.
Exercise common sense when packing for your outing, sunblock, sunglasses and rubber boots if you’re walking the sandy shoreline during a low tide. Speaking of tides, I like to fish when there is some water movement whether it be an incoming or outgoing tide, fish tend to be more active during those times. I have caught fish during slack tide too so you just never know. Lastly, ALWAYS carry your fishing license and know the size limits and regulations if you’re planning to keep your catch and most importantly, have fun exploring!!!