By Mary Luz Mejia | Published on April 28, 2023

Los Angeles is a popular port of call for many reasons: the awesome food, stunning vistas and, of course, the glitz and glamour that pulses through the city. That said, there's so much more to experience when you cruise to and from Los Angeles. For starters, cast your eyes out into the great blue sea and seize the opportunity for some water-bound adventures in the LA area, and further down the coast where the most epic Baja fishing trips await.

Get Ready to Reel 'Em In!

When you think of fishing, you may picture a leisurely afternoon waiting for your line to catch as you soak up the sun and share a few tales with your friends. On the other hand, deep sea fishing is all about getting your adrenaline pumping as you battle the elements, duel with a wily foe and celebrate a tough catch. Fishing on the high seas is a sport, and the adventure is all about being prepared and ready for anything.

Before you even step foot onto a charter boat, you'll have done a fair amount of preparation for your adventure. From choosing a location and time of year to finding the right boat with the right captain, there are many considerations to make. Before you can decide where you'd like to go on your deep sea fishing trip, you will need to decide what kind of fish it is you're looking to catch. Different regions of the ocean will offer up different species of fish, so your first point of research is to ensure that the type of fish you are hunting is actually present in a particular region, and during that particular time of year.

If you're looking to keep it fairly local to LA, you're in luck. There are trips as short as five hours you can travel from LA into the ocean to fish. Up and down the coast, some of your best options include Long Beach, San Diego and Catalina Island to the south, the larger San Francisco Bay Area—including Bodega Bay, Yerba Buena Island, and Greyhound Rock—and Samoa State Marine Conservation Area north of LA. The trip length will define your destination and, ultimately, the species of fish you're likely to encounter. Closer to the LA coastline, in Santa Monica Bay and Long Beach, you'll find bass, bonito, barracuda and mackerel amongst your options. Head a little further out, and you'll start seeing yellowtail. In some cases, LA-based charters will even do overnight trips into Mexican waters, which open access to so many species of tuna and dorado. That said, you can easily tack on a few days before or after your cruise ship docks in Los Angeles to head to Mexico and take full advantage of the prime fishing waters down there.

This bank is a plateau of sorts, elevated about 150 feet above the trough, which attract vast amounts of tuna and helped to make Cabo the striped marlin capital of the world. 

Experience Excellent Fishing On Your Baja California Trip


When you visit Baja California, you're visiting one of those regions blessed with many popular sporting fish, from dorado and grouper to various species of marlin and yellowfin tuna. So, if you're interested in fishing, a Baja California vacation is perfect for you.

With its proximity to the U.S. and near-perfect weather, there are few locations in the world that compete with deep sea fishing in Baja. Fortunately, there are many ports along this sunny Pacific coast that serve as jumping-on (and off) points for many a cruise, from Catalina Island in the north to Cabo San Lucas in the south. If you're looking to dive in and jump on the next Baja Mexico fishing excursion, there's some more planning to do to ensure smooth sailing.

Fishing is a very seasonal sport for many reasons, and as far as the general Baja California peninsula is concerned, you'll want to time your baja fishing trips for the cooler months, especially winter. During this season, the larger fish head south to the warmer Mexican waters, which pushes the population up and also makes for some very active food chain feeding. As always, there are exceptions, with the summer months being peak yellowfin tuna season, as well as being a good time to go out if you're eyeing some blue marlin.

As the saying goes, it's about location, location, location. The peninsula offers many options, depending on how far north or south you find yourself. Tijuana and Rosarito are very popular due to their proximity to the border with the U.S. and their many nightclubs, beaches and surfing spots. These spots will offer many options to stay in town long after your fishing trip.

A little further down, you'll encounter the central coast, which is in itself a unique proposition due to its bi-coastal nature. The west coast is almost always busy, while the east inner coast is more tranquil, offers different species of fish and is perfect for those wanting a calmer, less hurried fishing vacation. Most boat charters can be found in and around the largest city of La Paz, and trolling is popular, especially in the vicinity of the many islands along the coastline.

At the very tip of the peninsula, you'll find the vastly popular Cabo San Lucas, which offers its own intoxicating mix of pristine beaches, dramatic shoreline and tourist attractions aplenty. While shoreline fishing has its many fans, there are many options of the deep sea variety to entice serious fishermen here. It's best to get in touch with a local fishing company, especially if you're visiting Cabo on a cruise from  LA and don't have all your fishing equipment handy.

Being at the tip of a peninsula, Cabo has two very different facets to its deep-sea options. The Pacific side features the Tinaje Trough at a whopping 3,500 feet of depth, and if you're looking to fish in the deepest part of this trough, then you need to head to San Jaime Bank. This bank is a plateau of sorts, elevated about 150 feet above the trough, which attract vast amounts of tuna and helped to make Cabo the striped marlin capital of the world. This amazingly active fish will give even the most experienced fisherman a battle they'll never forget, flashing their purple stripes as they leap out of the water, trying to twist out of your lure's snare. At the other end of the Tinaje Trough, you'll find the Golden Gate Bank, which is a great fishing ground for marlin as well as dorado and sea bass.

to Cabo San Lucas, then opt for some marlin fishing at Finger Bank or Lighthouse, which is flowing with dorado and other trophy fish in a beautiful setting.

Fishing on the other side of the peninsula? Look no further than the Gordo Bank in the Sea of Cortez. With varied depths of water, the Gordo Bank offers access to multiple species of fish and is best visited from April to November. The Vinorama Canyon is another option in the Sea of Cortez and also offers reef fishing in the vicinity.

Choosing Your Exciting Fishing Expedition

Once you have your dates set and your location of choice nailed down, it's time to organize the most fun part of your Baja California trip — the fishing expedition itself. There are many charters to choose from in most locations, and as with most things, the quality of each experience will vary. Some important factors to keep in mind when choosing a charter include captain experience, boat size, amenities, licensing and cancelation policies.

When choosing your captain for your Baja California fishing adventure, it's important to have someone who you can trust to deliver you the best experience given the amount of time you will be spending at sea together. Read online reviews, and don't be afraid to email or call with questions or concerns. After all, this person is responsible for the safety and fun of the excursion onboard.

As you consider what size boat you'd like to take out onto the sea, it's important to know yourself very well: What are your likes and dislikes about boats? How great are your sea legs? Remember, this is not the time for bravado, so be honest with your comfort level. Smaller boats can give you a better, more customized experience — you can directly engage with your captain and discuss approaches to fishing, get a one-on-one lesson and perhaps hear some exciting stories. They are great for more intimate experiences, usually with just four or six other people, but they may not be the best option for someone who gets seasick easily. Incidentally, if you think you won't be seasick or are a little unsure, invest in some medication or motion sickness patches to combat that green feeling anyway. You may be surprised by how much the ocean waves can rock the boat!

Larger boats typically offer more stability for those of a queasy nature, though some form of motion sickness medication might still be a good idea. Where large boats may lose some ground is with the experience itself — there can be 20 or more people onboard, so you may find yourself jostling for a prime position. If that is the case, note that it's always best to stand toward the bow or stern of a boat, and not the middle. You'll actually catch more fish that way, especially if the boat is drifting broadside on.

The Practical Stuff You Want To Take Care Of

You've been dreaming of a beautiful day out on the open seas with the breeze in your hair and the sea mist kissing your skin with every refreshing spray, eager with the anticipation of catching the big fish. That all can become a vivid reality if you set out on your Baja fishing trip fully prepared.

Your captain should be familiar with the rules of keeping your catch, but it won't hurt to familiarize yourself with them beforehand, especially since they vary by jurisdiction. Take note of whether you need to acquire your own fishing license or if the charter boat has enough licenses to cover all those onboard. Then, make sure there are storage facilities (onshore and offshore) for all those fish you're going to catch, and don't forget to confirm whether the charter provides food and drink or whether you are expected to bring your own. If the latter, I recommend packing a bland lunch in case your stomach doesn't agree with the motion of the ocean.

Don't forget to bring multiple hats. Why multiple hats, you may be wondering? It gets windy out there, and you don't want to be hatless if one happens to fly off your head. It's also recommended to pack long-sleeve shirts, preferably with some UV protection built in, and remember to slather your face, neck, ears and hands with sunscreen to avoid gnarly burns from the sun overhead and the rays reflected off the water.

Finally, before you pay and confirm your Baja fishing trip, familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions around cancelation and weather interruptions. Some charters will offer refunds, others will offer rain checks, so make sure you are aware of your options before you book your trip — which should also be done well in advance, especially for popular locations and charter companies. Above all, take the unexpected twists and turns in stride, and embrace being free out on the open sea.

Written By

Colombian-born, Canadian raised Mary Luz Mejia is a twice NATJA nominated freelance food/travel journalist, Gemini-nominated former food TV producer and Level II Certified Chocolate Taster. Her work has been published in Saveur Magazine, the Toronto Star, The Globe & Mail, The Latin Kitchen, Rodale's Organic Gardening and Toronto Life to name a few. Former Saveur Editor-In-Chief James Oseland calls her "One of Toronto's most passionate food journalists" and her personal goal is to master iconic Latin American dishes, one plate at a time. And por supuesto, se habla Español!

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Taking a Cruise to Santa Maria Beach in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Taking a Cruise to Santa Maria Beach in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

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