Santa Barbara is a sophisticated, well-manicured community on California’s coast, 92 miles north of Los Angeles and 332 miles south of San Francisco. It is the largest city and the seat of Santa Barbara County – famous for beautiful beaches that lie along a unique south-facing stretch of coastline. Local natural attractions include the Los Padres National Forest, San Rafael Wilderness Area, and the Santa Ynez Mountains, which divide the county into northern and southern regions. It is no accident that Santa Barbara has long been a popular location for the film industry, and many major motion pictures. Resorts are plentiful in this area, to accommodate movie stars who love to explore the land, relax, and fish. Known for virtually perfect year-round weather, Santa Barbara’s unlimited options of outdoor activities among rugged mountains, lush wilderness, warm, clean sand, and thriving coastal waters are available practically every day. This also gives great advantage to the local sport fishing industry, which thrives from an almost endless supply of fish; numbers are limited only by the time it takes to catch them.
One of California’s last, original working wharfs, Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf dates back to 1872. It is a large, multi-use facility with restaurants, fresh fish markets, a museum/aquarium, and an estimated 1.6 million visitors per year – a fair amount of whom come from far away to wet their lines. Stearns Wharf sits in Santa Barbara Harbor and offers easy access to Halibut, Mackerel, Jacksmelt, Sand Bass, various Perch, and many other oceanfront species. Most fishing from the wharf takes place at the end of the pier. A rectangular fish well near the end of the pier is a popular spot for kids and novice anglers to bring in decent-sized Perch and Shiners. A tackle and bait shop at the end of the wharf can provide you with all the equipment and bait you will need if you want to keep your feet dry. For those looking to land bigger, more exciting fish, Stearns Wharf is the launching point for most local charter boats, offering clean, comfortable trips ranging from half-day (up to six hours) and ¾-day (up to nine hours) to longer, overnight island and offshore jaunts.
Charters from Santa Barbara provide many options for great fishing. Destinations include the Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel) offshore, along the Central Coastline up to Point Conception, and out towards deeper water, where the big boys swim. Along the islands White Sea Bass, Calico Bass, Halibut, Lingcod, Sheephead, Rockfish, even Mako and Blue Sharks are waiting. Springtime brings scores of Chinook Salmon as they move into the Channel. During summer months the targets include Calico Bass, Sand Bass, shallow water Rockfish, Barracuda, White Sea Bass, and Yellowtails along the one-mile, horseshoe reef, and the slide. Late fall and early winter trips concentrate on Bass, along with shallow-water Rockfish, Whitefish, and Sculpin. Surface fishing can bring Barracuda and Calico. Shallow waters are home to a large variety of Rockfish. Deep-sea fishing trips bring you to Dorado, Striped Bass, Lingcod, and Red Snapper, and even more exciting, larger species, like Marlin, Leopard Sharks, Albacore and Bluefin Tuna. For those who prefer quicker trips closer to land, a popular option is trolling the sand flats for Halibut and Sole.
This is the northern tip of southern California’s fishing grounds, and there is no prettier place to begin fishing than the waters off Santa Barbara. Exciting and attractive options throughout Santa Barbara County provide pleasant distraction under beautiful skies and in ideal year-round weather. It’s never too hot or too cold around here, to get outside and on the water. Enjoy the local wines and hearty cuisine, while visiting the Zoological Gardens, historic State Street, or any of the other delightful attractions. You can always go fishing again, without any worry of “weather permitting”.