What Are the Best Fishing Spots in the Bay Area?

San Francisco Bay Area offers a wide range of top-notch fishing spots for both freshwater and saltwater anglers! And some of them are ideal for a weekend getaway with the whole family. But there are also a couple of fishing spots for lone wolves. The Bay Area has everything, and more, to entertain all kinds of anglers. 

Sadly, with so many different places, it will take quite some time to figure which is the best place for you, right? Fortunately, we are here to help you. Here you can check our selection of the best fishing spots in Bay Area: 

  • Lake Chabot- Activities for the whole family
  • Pacifica Municipal Pier- For fishing without a license
  • Pillar Point Harbor- Fishing and sailing in the same place
  • Bodega Bay- Shore and off-shore saltwater angling
  • California Delta- An ideal place for hunting and fishing
  • San Pablo Reservoir- A jewel from the east side of the Bay Area. 

Quite a long list, right? Well, that’s why we’ve taken some time to make a summary of each option in the hopes of easing your decision. Let’s start.

Lake Chabot

Lake Chabot is one of the best-kept secrets of the San Francisco Bay Area. This artificial lake was close to the public as it was the main freshwater source for the east bay region. Thankfully, it was open in the 1960s, and now anyone can enter, after paying a small sum, of course. 

Photo by: gadgetdude

The lake is a year-round fishing spot where you can hook a wide variety of fish such as crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, trout, and channel catfish. Thus, this is an ideal place for both beginners and seasoned anglers. 

On lake Chabot, you can either fish from the shore, or charter a boat for off-shore fishing. You can also take your boat and kayak with you if you wish. Just remember one thing, you must wear waders or similar wet-suits during your time in the water. 

Keep in mind that you need a fishing license and an East Bay Regional District Fishing daily permit before star casting. If you don’t have one, don’t worry, you can buy it from the local Marina Cafe. There you can also acquire baits, lures, and food. 

If you ever get tired of fishing, Lake Chabot also offers a wide range of side-activities, such as hiking, biking, kayaking, golfing, and a fitness zone. Swimming, on the other hand, is prohibited in all areas of the compound.  

Pacifica Municipal Pier

The municipal fishing pier is an old concrete dock near Sharp Park Beach. It was built back in 1973, as part of the sewer system of Pacifica city. It is not the most beautiful place ever, and it is not a famous place among tourists. But since 2004, after the construction of a local water treatment plant, it is a common fishing spot for local anglers. 

Photo by: Allie_Caulfield

Striped bass, salmon, kingfish, California corbina, and jacksmelt are some of the species that you can fish in Pacifica pier. But this is also a great place if you are into crabbing as the place is thriving with Dungeness crabs, which the locals consider as a delicacy. Although it is a year-round fishing spot, we’ve found out that fish are more active during summer. 

As this is a public space, you don’t need to pay a fare to fish from the dock. Additionally, it has a free parking lot, fish cleaning stations, benches, and public restrooms. In short, everything you need for a comfortable stay. And if that isn’t enough, this is one of the few places where you can fish without a fishing license! So, no wonder why this pier is famous among local anglers. 

The Pacifica municipal pier is a single-day fishing spot. In other words, this is a place to go in the early morning, fish for a couple of hours, and then head back to your house. 

Pillar Point Harbor

Pillar point harbor is a long pier where you can fish without carrying a fishing license. The waters are fairly full of sand and rock-bottom species, making it an ideal place for beginners. But if you wish to engage in a more intense experience, you can charter one of the many boats in the harbor. 

Photo by: pml2008

Pillar point is one of the prime points for sport and commercial fishing within the half moon bay, especially during salmon season. But this also happens to be a good year-round fishing spot.

In contrast with the Pacific municipal pier, the area also has a couple of restaurants where you can eat after a long day fishing. Additionally, pillar point harbor offers a handful of activities for the whole family, like sailing in the harbor and engaging in long hikes through the beach shore. Thus, if you are looking for a single-day fishing trip with the family, this is a better option than the one we reviewed before. 

Bodega Bay

Bodega bay is another prime spot for saltwater angling in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can either fish from the shore in one of the many public piers. Or you can charter a local boat to reach those off-shore fishing spots. 

Photo by: Paul Asman

Rockfish, perch, mackerel, and white seabass are among the most common species you can find in Bodega bay waters. And this also happens to be a great crabbing spot! 

In contrast with the previous two places, you do need to have a fishing license to fish in bodega bay. Thus, make sure that you have a valid one before your visit.

The place has a couple of inns where you can spend the night, as well as a wide variety of restaurants where you can eat. But if you want a more primitive experience, you can make camp under the stars at Doran beach and cook whatever you manage to reel in. 

California Delta

Back again with another freshwater fishing spot in the San Francisco Bay area. This time, we are talking about California delta. 

Photo by: Dave Parker

Also known as the Sacramento- San Joaquin river delta, it is an inland body of water thriving with life. Here you can land salmon, bass, sturgeon, catfish, shad, among others. And, if you wish, you can take part in the many different fishing contests that take place along the California delta. 

The delta has a couple of public piers and a handful of parks with access to water where you can cast your rod. Alternatively, you can take your boat, or charter one, and roam the waters in search of fishes. 

California delta is also a great place for hunting, arguably the best in the San Francisco Bay Area. Thus, look no further if you wish to engage in both activities.   

The delta is also popular for its side activities, such as boating and waterskiing. Plus, during fall, its calm waters provide an ideal habitat for over 200 migratory birds. Thus, make sure to bring your binoculars if you are planning on visiting the delta during fall months.

San Pablo Reservoir

This artificial lake is one of the best fishing spots from the east side of the Bay Area. The reservoir is open to the general public. You must pay a ticket to enter, of course. And if you wish to fish, you must have a valid fishing license. The great thing is that you can purchase everything you need in the visitor center, including a fishing license and bait. 

As many reservoirs, you can either fish from the shore or take your boat and hit the waters. However, the reservoir authorities must inspect the boat beforehand to preserve the water quality. Additionally, make sure that your boat has direct fuel injection and at least a 2-star rating. You won’t be able to use it otherwise. 

San Pablo reservoir waters are full of white sturgeon, smallmouth bass, and bluegill. You can also participate in the fishing derbies that take place in the reservoir each month. All you need to do is purchase a monthly fishing ticket and submit your largest catch! 

The compound offers other activities such as hiking and kayaking. You can also take advantage of the picnicking area to enjoy a sunny afternoon meal with the whole family. Like lake Chabot, you are not allowed to swim or practice wade fishing in any area of the compound. And some sections of the reservoir are off-limits to anyone who doesn’t work there. 

Have You Decided Already? 

There are a handful of spots where you can cast your rod in the San Francisco Bay Area. While most of them are great options, the ultimate decision depends on what you would like to do. 

For example, for saltwater angling, we recommend the Pacifica municipal pier, pillar point harbor, and Bodega Bay. The latter is an ideal option for the whole family or a full weekend getaway. The other two are better options for those anglers looking for single-day fishing from the shore. These spots also have an attractive advantage. You don’t need to have a fishing license to fish in either pier. 

If freshwater is your thing, we think that lake Chabot, California delta, and San Pablo reservoir are the best spots. California delta is your place if you like to navigate through the waters or take part in the occasional hunting party. Lake Chabot, for instance, is an ideal spot to go fishing with the whole family. Plus, the waters produce decent fishes all year. But if you want to take your boat, and sit all day long casting inside the waters while enjoying the beautiful vistas, then San Pablo reservoir is your thing.

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