Bay Area Fishing Spots

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or looking for a family-friendly spot, the area in and around San Francisco is a region filled with popular fishing holes. Learn some of the most popular Bay Area fishing spots for your next fishing outing.


Best Piers for Bay Area Fishing

When considering in the waters of the Bay Area, where they typically stay from July through October where to fish in the Bay Area, one group of places that should top your list are the Bay Area fishing piers. The piers are one of the best ways to experience San Francisco fishing because they’re convenient, free and often offer other amenities like fish cleaning stations.

One of the most popular municipal fishing piers in the Bay Area is Pier 7. This pier is the second longest fishing pier in San Francisco, extending out into water that’s 35 feet deep. In these deeper waters, you’ll likely find sharks, skates, flounder, halibut, striped bass and lots more. Closer to shore, the concrete pilings tend to have barnacle growth that attracts species like sea perch and pile perch.

Another frequent destination, especially among visitors, is Municipal Pier. This spot is often busy with tourists and runners but if you can find a spot, you may be able to catch crabs, sharks, salmon, halibut and perch. Plus, it’s close to many attractions, making it a fun place to start or end your day of adventure.

Oyster Point Pier, in South San Francisco, also rates high on many anglers’ lists. Even though it’s smaller and sits over a mud bottom, it’s a good area to catch topsmelt and jacksmelt. The area also sees smooth-hound sharks as well as some other species of sharks and skates, making it a favorite of shark anglers.

In-Shore and Offshore Fishing in the Bay Area

San Francisco’s many beaches offer great opportunities to cast your line from shore. When surf fishing, you’ll have a chance at landing halibut, surfperch, striped bass and leopard sharks.

If it’s tuna you’re after, every year, Albacore tuna arrived. The best way to land one of these is by deep sea fishing. There are many charters in the area who can help you plan the perfect tuna adventure.


Bay Area Fishing Lakes and Rivers

Even though San Francisco is a coastal city, the area offers some great inland fishing as well. One of the top freshwater fishing destinations in the Bay Area is Lake Chabot. This lake is regularly stocked with trout and catfish. Since the lake is a drinking water reservoir, you can’t use a gas-powered motorboat so you’ll need to have a canoe, kayak or scull craft, or rent one.

Another popular fishing lake is Lake Merced, located in the center of a 614-acre park. The lake is divided into three bodies of water. While all are stocked with rainbow trout, the North Lake typically provides larger trout. Lake Merced is also a great place to catch bass and carp.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta is another must if you’re looking for inland bodies of water to fish. Here, you’ll find salmon, bass, sturgeon and catfish, plus more. There are different ways to access the delta from various piers or parks.

Bay Area Fishing License

Before you get too far along planning your fishing adventure in the Bay Area, it’s important to know the license rules in the region. Like elsewhere in California, you’ll need a license to fish, whether you’re a resident or non-resident. There are some exceptions to this rule, which include Bay Area fishing piers.

There may be other requirements you’ll need to meet as well depending on what species you’re after. For example, report cards are required for any person taking abalone from ocean waters north of the center of the mouth of San Francisco Bay.

Be sure to check the regulations at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for the most up-to-date guidance.