The coastal areas of Orange County, California are lined with numerous fishing spots, including a number of large and accommodating piers, jetties, and beautiful beaches. The small, beach and seaside towns of Seal Beach, Newport Beach, Balboa, and Dana Point are happy places with friendly people who love to fish. These towns all have distinct character and sophisticated attitudes. Wharfs and harbors are available to anchor and board boats, and for leisurely activities like dining, shopping, and just plain relaxing. Inland Orange County is filled with parks and many recreational areas. Wheelchair access is built into most of these locations, so everyone gets a chance to enjoy the fun, the water, and the fishing.
Almost a direct ride south of Orange City along highway 50 is world-famous Newport Beach and its large harbor. Newport Beach is extremely busy with charters leaving from Newport Landing at Newport Harbor, acclaimed as one of the finest small boat harbors in the world. Ample surrounding shoreline along Newport Beach features successful surf fishing. Standard half and full-day trips departing from Newport Landing frequent the Huntington Flats and the Horseshoe Kelp, as well as Catalina Island and from Long Beach to Oceanside. Longer and overnight trips reach Catalina Island, San Clemente Island, and the Outer Banks. A number of open party fishing trips are also available for larger groups and families. These trips drift mainly along the beaches at Long Beach, Huntington, Laguna, Dana Point, in addition to the standard locations further out. South of Newport Beach and Corona Del Mar is Dana Point, a small fishing and surfing town along the coast. Dana Wharf at Dana Point Harbor is home to casual settings on outdoor patios, with restaurants, snack shops, boutique shops and even a delicatessen. Boat rentals are available from Embarcadero Marina, a singular section of Dana Point Harbor. Mariners Alley and Mariners Village hold distinct attractions for tourists and lazy boaters, with a variety of cafes and trinket shops leaning toward a more upscale crowd. Dana Wharf is said to be a reference landmark for whales as they cruise along the Pacific coast. Here also is where Dana Point’s fishing fleets dock, including a number of affordable and comfortable charters. Depending on your commitment and enthusiasm these charters vary in duration, with choices of half-day trips lasting five hours; three-quarter-day jaunts for nine hours; even overnight trips that will have you on the water and beneath the clear southern California night sky until sunrise. Overnight trips begin at the end of February and last as long as the warmest weather holds out.
Half-day charters leaving from Dana Wharf stay close to the coastal waters just outside Dana Point Harbor, and aim for seasonal catches of Halibut, Barracuda, Yellowtail, along with White Sea Bass, Sand Bass, Calico Bass, Bonito, and Tuna. Three-quarter-day trips cover the same areas and extend a little farther out to sea. Newport Beach day charters aim up and down the coast for Bass, Barracuda, Halibut, and occasional Yellowtail or White Sea Bass. Targets for open party and overnight trips, further out into deeper waters include Yellowtail, Calico and more White Sea Bass, Yellowfin, Bluefin and Albacore Tuna, along with many flavors of Rockfish. Corona Del Mar State Beach offers great and easy access from land for Halibut who cruise through the Newport Harbor Channel. A number of other public piers are found along the Balboa Peninsula which extends from Newport Boulevard opposite Lido Island and Balboa Island. From these piers come local shallow-water favorites such as Pacific Mackerel, White Croaker, Queenfish, Surf and Sea Perch, Sculpin, Halibut, and Bonito; even a good number of Sharks as you cast further out into deeper water.
Most charter captains are quite knowledgeable about the many species of whales that commonly pass these coasts. Many are able to combine whale-watching tours along with fishing charters. Even if you never leave solid ground you can enjoy the fishing and a great view of larger marine life. Still, there is nothing like having the attention focused on your line snapped by a passing school of dolphin, seals, or a pod of gigantic whales.