Tips to have the best tuna fishing California experience

By Tom Keer

Jan 25, 2018

If you're looking for a great summer vacation head to Southern California for the hot tuna bite.

Southern California is known for Hollywood movie stars, the Beach Boys, and surfing, right?  Sure, but it's also the gateway for tuna fishing California.  Here's what you need to know to have a great tuna fishing southern California experience!

1. Check Tuna Fishing best times

Tuna fishing in Southern California begins in May and continues through November.  Summer weather patterns bring smooth seas and warm water.  Peak tuna fishing California months are July, August and September. 

2. Check which Fish Species you can Catch

In the past three years, tuna fishing Southern California has been about the hot, Pacific bluefin tuna bite.  Most of these fish species are over 100 pounds with the record weighing in at 363 pounds.  Yellowfin tuna are another sought after fish species, mostly because the limit is a generous 10 fish per day.  Bigeye tuna in the 50-100-pound range are trolled up in deeper water, with the help of tuna fishing reels, and if you head far offshore you can hook up Albacore tuna fish species.  

3. Practice different Tuna Fishing methods 

Tuna fishing in California is usually a combination of studying sonar marks and water temperatures, looking for diving birds or porpoises, and troll jigs.  Common tuna fishing tips are to troll tuna lures like cedar plugs, skirted lures, or deep divers until a fish is hit.  After that, boats drift while mates set chum slicks.  When the fish concentrate, anglers toss plugs, flies, or live bait like sardines into the pod of fish.  Other methods include yo-yo fishing.  When you mark a school on your fish finder drop your jig through the marks and vertical jig at that depth.

4. Check your Drag

If you've never caught a tuna before making sure to invest in a good reel is the way to go.  One of the reasons we love tuna fishing, so much is that they make long, sizzling runs that make reel drags sing.  Tuna fishing reels should hold lots of line, have strong, smooth drags and good gear ratios so you can pick up lots of line with every crank on your handle.  After a few long runs, tuna get tired and begin to circle.  That's the clue mates look for to get them in the boat.

This summer, check for CA fishing regulations in the state and try a serious tuna fishing California trip. You can swing by Hollywood after you've caught 'em up.

Tom Keer
Tom Keer
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at