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San Francisco Bay Fishing

Fishing Notes for San Francisco Bay Area

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San Francisco Bay fishing opportunities are abundant, from the rocky shores, along the modern piers and out in the saltwater regions. In the Bay areas, freshwater steams meet the Pacific Ocean to provide a variety of water-filled habitats for fish to use for their daily survival needs, migrations and spawning grounds. In all of the San Francisco waterfront districts, the sport of fishing can be generational, dating backwards to times before the California Gold Rush days. Bay fishing excursions are popular pastimes near Sausalito.

Fishing fun in San Francisco Bay and Marin County:

The Fisherman’s Wharf section of the San Francisco Bay has always been known for its important commercial fishing activities. Originally, lateen-rigged sailboats were used to harvest the waters along the rocky California coastlines, nearby to the shores. Later, the gasoline fed ‘put-put’ boats ventured further outwards into the less rocky environments that are found along the commercial deep sea fishing routes. Today, boats of all vintages, sizes and makes participate in the exciting sport of sea fishing near San Francisco Bay.

In Sausalito, and in other locations around the San Francisco Bay, it is possible to rent small, medium or large boats, fishing gear or/and a helpful skipper to navigate the hired watercraft into saltwater areas where the harvesting of fish is enjoyable. Fishing vessels are normally available for rent or lease by the half-day, with some price breaks offered for people who need the use of a fishing ‘party boat’ for longer amounts of time. There are guided fishing tours available that include everything except the license for fishing.

Popular fishing trips can include renting a charter boat for:

Halibut: It is possible to catch popular halibut fish inside of the San Francisco Bay and outside of the Golden Gate Bridge, nearby to the coastlines in Marin County. During most years, it is legal to fish for halibut during any month. This type of fish rests in a flat position along the floor of the ocean; while feeding, these large fish chase the schools of smaller fish and are often found chasing the tiny sardines and anchovies.

California Halibut spawn in both the springtime and fall months. Large adult females will swim closer to shore to take advantage of the slight warming of the water in the shallower depths near land. Fishing professionals will often use pieces of squid to entice the halibut fish to bite. While handling halibut on a catch-and-release trip, it is important to use the softer fine-mesh nets to avoid injuring the delicate tail. Caution: Halibut teeth are sharp.

Lingcod: Lingcod fish are bottom feeders, ugly, constantly hungry and brawlers. From the minute that a Lingcod attaches to a line, there is no mistaking the fight that this species puts fishing enthusiasts through before it is brought aboard the boat for a photo. The female Ling grows faster than males; this breed of fish features a large jaw of fangs that adds to its reputation for being one of the ugliest fish living in the San Francisco Bay.

Salmon: Salmon fishing is a popular Marin County pastime during the months when the salmon fish are migrating along the Marin coastline towards Tiburon, and then onward towards the Sacramento River for spawning. To catch salmon, it is important to understand the prey. This type of fish uses sight, sound and smell to choose their meals. Salmon trolling boats move slowly to allow for fishermen to imitate swimming fish.

During the late summer weeks, salmon are found inside of the San Francisco Bay. Many local fishing enthusiasts use trolling boats, and bait that leaves a trail of injured fish smell as it follows beside the boat. If the bait appears to be swimming erratically, the injured fish smells alert the salmon to a chance to find an easy-pick meal. In the San Francisco Bay area, the art of salmon fishing can be a hot topic of conversation on techniques.

Sharks: There are eleven different types of sharks that are found in the waters of the San Francisco Bay. Most of the Sharks, Skates and Rays that frequent the cold waters that are found inside of the San Francisco Bay are reclusive; shy and uninterested in fame received from munching on humans for dinner. However, along other shorelines in Marin County, Great White Sharks have made their presence known to the local populations.

It is possible to lease a fishing boat and skipper for a partial day at sea, for the exclusive purpose of hunting sharks. On January 1, 2012, new laws were created that act to forbid the possession or marketing of shark fins in California. Before planning a fishing trip to harvest a shark, it is best to personally contact the Sacramento Fish & Game office to learn about all new additions to shark laws that could cause problems with authorities.

Striped Bass: In 1879, 132 tiny striped bass fish were brought into the San Francisco Bay area by train, from the Navesink River in New Jersey. In 1882, 300 more fingerling striped bass were imported to the Bay area by train to start a commercial fishing operation. Today, some Bay-area striped bass remain inside of the San Francisco Bay all year long, while others migrate to reach the rivers in the Sacramento area.

It is easy to catch striped bass in the San Francisco Bay, and in other Marin County fishing locations. This type of fish enjoys the saltwater nearby to the shorelines that is diluted with freshwater from the local rivers and streams that run into the Pacific Ocean. In some locations, the striped bass is considered to be an invasive species that is intruding into the regions that are home to other types of water-dwellers in Northern California.

Sturgeon: The sturgeon fish are considered to be a very desirable catch in San Francisco Bay fishing locations. Local sportsmen start to search for the sturgeon fish after the first hard rains in November. Sturgeon fishing season runs from about mid-November through the first signs of warm spring weather. Normally, each person is allowed to catch one San Francisco-area sturgeon that measures between 46 and 66-inches in length each year; however, fishing laws are always changing. Contact Fish & Game for information.

Tuna: Excellent examples of Albacore Tuna can be found about 30-miles out into the ocean from San Francisco-area locations. These fish enjoy a water temperature of about 58.5F which is found at the beginnings of very deep offshore water lines. Local Bay-area charter companies keep helpful maps that explain the best regions to fish in for different species of fish, by water temperature. Anglers can easily catch an Albacore Tuna between the months of June and December each year, with the help of fish finders.

Sausalito Fishing Boat Rentals:

In Sausalito, boat rentals in all sizes and sailing skippers for fishing trips can be found through the Schoonmaker Point Marina complex:

Bay Adventures
85 Liberty Ship Way
Sausalito, California 94965
Phone: (415) 331-0444
Attractions: Rental boats, cruises and yacht charters.

San Francisco Sailing
85 Liberty Ship Way
Sausalito, California 94965
Phone: (888) 566-8894
Attractions: 42-foot Catana catamaran for rent as a bareboat charter to qualified skippers.

Sausalito Waterfront Tours
85 Liberty Ship Way
Sausalito, California 94965
Phone: (415)331-8730
Attractions: 38-foot catamaran, sunset sails, private charters for up to six people, bareboat charters for qualified skippers, 33-foot motor launch for up to 8 people and more.

Other Sausalito Fishing Boat Rentals:

Atlantis Yacht Charters
Phone: (415) 332-0800
Attractions: 30 to 44-foot sailboats, small and large yacht charters with power or sails, skippers for fishing excursions with a maximum of six people and more.

Club Nautique Sausalito
100 Gate 6 Road
Sausalito, California 94965
Phone: (800) 343-SAIL
Attractions: Sailboat school and fishing rentals. There are 25 to 54-foot sailboats, trawlers, bareboat charters for qualified skippers, skippers available and more.

Modern Sailing School and Club
2310 Marinship Way
Sausalito, California 94965
Phone: (800) 995-1668
Attractions: Sailing school, 30 to 44-foot sailboat rentals, skippers available for charters up to six people and more.

Travis Sailing Center
Horseshoe Cove
Phone: (415) 332-2319
Attractions: Sailboat rentals and sailing lessons.

5 Star Yacht of Sausalito
1537 Fourth Street #170
San Rafael, California 94901
Phone: (415) 332-3150
Attractions: Cruises, boats, yachts, charters, lessons and special dining opportunities.

Sailing Education Adventures
3001 Bridgeway Blvd. #199
Sausalito, California 94965
Phone: (415) 775-8779
Attractions: Non-profit community based program dedicated to providing reasonable-cost sailing opportunities. Call for details.

Sausalito Yacht Club
Bottom of El Portal
Sausalito, California 94966
Phone: (415) 332-7400
Attractions: Founded in 1942, call to find members offering fishing excursions.

Helpful San Francisco Bay fishing information:

Sacramento Fish & Game Office: (916) 928-5805

National Weather Service

USGS San Francisco Monitor

San Francisco Area Tide Predictions

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