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San Francisco Bay Fishing for California Halibut and Striped Bass

Posted by on September 18, 2019

I’ve done this type of fishing before in the San Francisco Bay Area where I’ve caught fish there. It seems like a lot of people don’t really know about this type of fun despite the thousands of people moving into the San Francisco Bay Area each year. However, there is some skill required for this as you have to know how to feel the bottom of the sea floor so you are not snagged on something. You’ll know if you have a fish hooked on as there is no mistake about that pulling sensation on your fishing rod.

I’m surprised that both California Halibut and Striped Bass fishing is still going strong because usually this type of fishing is usually best during the spring and summer, not during autumn. But I’m not complaining! It’s been awhile since I’ve fished for both Halibut and Striped Bass, especially for Halibut so it’s a nice change fishing for this flatfish again. Why does everyone else do the typical San Francisco Bay Area tourist stuff when I’d rather be out there on the water to fish and test my fishing skills? I have no idea. I guess sightseeing is easier than utilizing line-feeling capability while drifting out on a sea boat but man, there are so many people who cannot feel the bottom of the ocean. This aspect of fishing out on saltwater is very important because otherwise you will get hooked up on the bottom or on rocks to you eventually end up breaking your fishing line. Back to square zero where you have to re-tie your line and hooks/bait. However, this drift bottom fishing (like Rockfishing but using live bait) is quite easy to master compared to trying to cast a fly rod accurately and far!

water salty SFBay SF East Oakland Berkeley Emeryville marina vessel trolling drifting SF tourism better view from boat water

I think you can get far better views from a fishing boat than being in the city. There was a guy from the Netherlands on the boat as well and he was amazed how much better the viewpoint was while catching fish in the SF Bay.

On this trip, the Striped Bass were really easy – there are so many of them that they are just flat out plentiful, but that California Halibut was a different story. I was literally fishing right next to this one guy and his cousin who were absolutely just killing it on the Halibut. Every drift on the fishing charter boat was a Halibut hooked up. I even heard other people catching a Halibut…. all except me. I lost hope as the clock ticked away especially when the boat captain said that he was giving it 10 more minutes and the dude next to me hooked another Halibut. Sigh…. and just as I was complaining and joking to the boat captain, I look at my rod and it’s shaking up and down! Fish on! I immediately run over and start cranking the reel. As soon as I see the fish, I keep the tension on the line so as not to pull the hook out of its mouth since I was simply waiting for the deckhand to run over with the net. Once the deckhand netted it, I was screaming for joy like I caught the 20+ pound pike back in England! That was a literally an 11th hour, last ditch, hail Mary fish since the boat captain announced on the speaker, “Okay, he finally caught one. We can go home now since the Wisherman got his.” You bet that I’m a Wisherman and a Fisherman. I don’t want any failed fishing trips like Danube Salmon in Slovenia or Atlantic Salmon in Scotland. Nope, success here!

California halibut flounder Paralichthys californicus left and right side eyes large tooth flounder flatfish fishing good meat fish eating hard to catch

The last cast and fish of the day and I finally caught my Halibut! It was irritating watching the fishermen next to me catch one over and over again while I was empty-handed on the Halibut count.

Striped Bass California Halibut San Fransisco Bay Area fishing fishin' saltwater waters outdoor fun amazing fish oceanic water salty SFBay SF East Oakland Berkeley Emeryville marina vessel trolling drifting

2 Striped Bass and 1 California Halibut – a good day of fishing if you ask me. All good for the dinner plate.

Note: Don’t eat too much fish that is caught out of the San Francisco Bay for safety reasons. The SF Bay (and its water sources) has been severely polluted over the years that only in recent times has the water quality actually improved. So make sure you ration your fish and crab intake. If you happen to be lucky enough to catch a Sturgeon, I recommend that you let it go because of the toxin buildup and not to mention that it would be a good idea to allow the population to build back up.

Note: There are different species of Halibut out there but the ones in the San Francisco Bay Area are California Halibut. They are smaller than their Pacific Halibut cousins that are much bigger and dwell in much deeper waters. California Halibut are different in that they stay in more shallower waters and happen to be quite plentiful and easier to catch by staying in the bay. However, compared to Rockfish and Striped Bass, Halibut can be very fickle biters as they will completely destroy your bait but won’t stay on the hook meaning that there is no fish on the other end of the line which makes them quite irritating to hook and land one.


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