Mission Bay Fishing

Mission Bay is a large, relatively shallow, man made bay built for the purpose of recreation as the centerpiece of Mission Bay Park, the largest of its kind in the United States at 4,235 acres. It is located just north of downtown San Diego next to Mission Beach. The bay features 27 miles of shoreline, almost all of which is accessible for fishermen.

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  • Shore fishing locations are abundant with parking lots on just about every point within the bay. The shoreline is mostly comprised of soft sand, and the bottom is relatively featureless. The max depth is about 20′ in areas of the Mission Bay Channel, Mariner’s Basin and Quivera Basin. But most areas of the bay are around 12′ feet deep at high tide. Patches of eelgrass and man made structures like bridge pilings and boat docks stand out as primary fish habitat on the otherwise sandy and flat bottom.

    Spotted bay bass are abundant, and while typically not caught in as many numbers as San Diego Bay, the bass here are typically a little larger. Because Mission Bay is considerably shallower than San Diego Bay, there are not as many barred sand bass or calico bass available.

    In addition to the spotted bay bass, halibut and corvina are popularly targeted species of fish for anglers. Bat rays, leopard sharks, and other sand dwelling species are common as well.


    Mission Bay Park is bordered by the San Diego River to the south, Pacific Beach to the north, Interstate 5 to the east, and Mission Beach to the west. The park is well mapped out with signs directing you to most areas of the bay.

    Facilities and Recreation

    There is an endless list of amenities and recreational opportunities available at Mission Bay. There are six public launch ramps, nine boat marinas, seven hotels, dozens of well maintained restrooms, two fuel docks, boat rentals, a campground, fire pits, playgrounds, protected swimming areas (with lifeguards in the summer) and much more.

    Public Launch Ramps

    • Santa Clara Point – 1008 Santa Clara Pl, San Diego, CA 92109
    • Dana Landing – Dana Landing Rd, San Diego, CA 92109
    • Ski Beach – Vacation Rd, San Diego, CA 92109
    • South Shores – South Shores Park, San Diego, CA 92109
    • Campland on the Bay at Campland Marina – 2211 Pacific Beach Dr, San Diego, CA 92109
    • De Anza Cove – North Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109

    Hours, Fees and Boating

    Mission Bay is open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Be advised that some parking lots are closed nightly, so check each lot to make sure you know when/if it closes.

    There are no fees to fish or launch at the public launch ramps. A valid California Sport Fishing License with a saltwater enhancement stamp is required for all anglers 16 years of age or older.

    Fishing Tips

    Spotted bay bass are abundant in areas with man made structure like marinas, but also eelgrass flats. Generally, if you find the eelgrass, you can find the bass. Typical bass lures like spinnerbaits, swimbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits or other similar baitfish imitators work well.

    Halibut can be found in all areas of the bay, but are especially abundant in the channels and can be caught on many of the same baits as the bass, but live bait (like sardines, anchovies, smelt or small mackerel) is most effective.

    Bat rays and other shark/ray species are plentiful and can be found anywhere on the bay. Squid and dead bait fished along the bottom (pyramid weights can help keep the bait stationary with tidal movement) is effective.

    There are lots of other small species of sand dwelling fish in Mission Bay. Those are easily caught with ghost shrimp fished on light line and a small carolina rig – the same type of rig you’d fish in the surf with sand crabs.

    Recent Mission Bay Fish Reports

    Mission Bay Articles

    Mission Bay Map