Also see California Sport Fishing (Boats, Excursions, Overnight Trips)
Long-range fishing charters are multi-day sportfishing trips that usually leave from San Diego, CA. These deep sea fishing excursions are loosely divided into three groups: Short trips of 2-6 days; Medium trips of 7-12 days; and Long trips of 13-26 days. For a sense of the why these long-range trips are so popular, read the "Inside Look" below.... and you'll want to start planning your long-range sportfishing trip today!
However, if the "Inside Look" gets you excited -- but a long-range fishing charter doesn't work right now... Don't worry... You can still experience the thrill of big game fishing! H & M Landing Sport Fishing has fabulous 1/2-day and 3/4-day trips that will give you a taste of the excitement -- and probably whet your appetite for more! Prices are very reasonable and the crew is great! We can whole-heartedly recommend these trips as a great adventure that you and your family will always remember! (Ours certainly does!)
|H & M Landing Sportfishing - 1/2-day and 3/4-day Trips
Join us on the open seas when you're ready to tackle some wonderful adventures! Boats depart every day, all year around. Make an advance reservation today to ensure your place at the rail!
Half-day trips cover the coastline from Imperial Beach to the Point Loma kelp beds according to the "best bite." Depending on season, you can may catch a variety including yellowtail, calico bass, sand bass, barracuda, bonito and mackerel.
Our three-quarter day trip to the Coronado Islands or offshore kelp beds provides a full-day of fun in less than 'full-day' time. A great option for those on a tight schedule! In spring, summer and fall trips target surface game fish including yellowtail, white sea bass, barracuda, bonito, and calico bass. Winter trips target sand bass and rock cod.
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Long-Range Sport Fishing
Charter Boats in San Diego
There are a number of boats that run regular schedules out of San Diego. For your convenience, we've provided a list of long-range fishing charter boats in San Diego (click to go directly to details about specific boats - located lower on this page).
American Angler, Excel, Independence, Intrepid, Oceanside 95, Polaris Supreme, Qualifier 105, Royal Polaris, Royal Star, Reward, Red Rooster III, Searcher and Shogun. In addition, H & M Landing has a fleet of individually owned long-range vessels, which are available for charter.
Toward the bottom of this page, you'll find photos and direct URL links to each of the above long-range fishing charter boats.
An "Inside Look" at Long Range
Sportfishing Charters in San Diego
The Thrill of a Lifetime!
*If you've never experienced the thrill of long-range fishing, you'll soon learn that you're in for the adventure of a lifetime! It's unlike anything you've done before! Even for seasoned anglers, long-range fishing generates maximum excitement each and every time they plan another trip because a long-range trip is absolutely the most intense fishing vacation there is! After completing their first trip, most newcomers consider it "the experience of a lifetime" and a great bargain to boot!
The moment you step on-board a long-range boat, an incredible feeling of adventure takes over. Maybe it's the boat's enormous size... the huge bait tanks... or the hustling of the crew arranging tackle boxes and loading equipment. For long-range sportfishers... the skipper's announcement ("Folks, we're out of here - heading south to the giant tuna grounds!") marks the beginning of pure adventure. This is long-range fishing at its best!
For you newcomers, we're going to answer some of the questions you might have about long-range fishing. We'll also try to give you a real feel for the excitement and overall experience - as well as give you an idea of what to expect with regard to food, accommodations, length of trips, types of fish to be caught, the best time to go, the boat and crew members and, finally, costs and how to find a trip that's right for you.
Fishing from San Diego to Mexico - A Fisherman's Paradise
The long-range sport fishing charters are multi-day trips that usually depart from the San Diego area and travel many miles out-to-sea to reach the prolific waters around the eastern Pacific islands. Most of the islands you'll see were formed by ancient volcanoes, and are often covered in lush green vegetation. These Pacific waters have produced more "yellowfin tuna world records" than anywhere else in the world. And the ocean is so clear and blue here that you can actually watch tiger-striped wahoo slashing baits with surgical precision.
Just to get your imagination fired-up, here are a few more visual images to whet your appetite!
...The beautiful blue water along side your boat turning a rich golden color by huge schools of crashing dorado!
...Dozens of 100, 200, or even 300 pound yellowfin tuna turning the calm ocean surface into something resembling a washing machine!
...Or, rods doubled over, reels screaming and lines crackling under the extreme stress of a hard-charging marlin!
These scenes - and many more - are absolutely a reality on long-range sportfishers!
Getting to San Diego
Once you make the commitment, the excitement begins... but the anticipation is only a prelude to the event itself.
Most of the long-range boats leave from San Diego - at one of three docks situated at Point Loma on Garrison Avenue (Fisherman's Landing, H & M Landing and Point Loma Landing). Point Loma is about three miles from the San Diego airport.
The airport is frequently congested, but the taxis are located right in front of the baggage claim area and it's only a short ride to Point Loma. Since the boats frequently depart early, you may want to arrive a day early and spend the night. If you like, you can make hotel reservations at discounted rates right here.
Airfare is not normally included in the price of long-range trips. If you like, you can also make airline reservations at competitive online prices right here.
What Does a Long-Range Fishing Charter Cost?
For planning purposes, you can figure most trips will cost about $250-$350 a day. Trips vary in length from 1 to 23 days, but most are in the 4 to 16 day range. While the price might seem like a lot... remember that it includes first-class meals and accommodations, some of the finest fishing you'll ever experience, and, most importantly - all the fish you can catch! As one avid angler always says... "It's a bloody good deal, mate!"
Fishing Boats like None You've Ever Seen Before!
For those of you who've never seen one of these incredibly luxurious sportfishers, they're not like any other boat you've seen. They come in two general sizes - the 120 ft. class and the 90 ft. class. Both are actually self-sufficient floating hotels designed for just two things - luxurious accommodations and fishing adventures
A typical 120 ft. vessel might carry over 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 2,000 gallons of fresh water with de-salinators that make up to 1,000 gallons of fresh drinking water a day; have generators capable of lighting a small city; and sport a hull built to comfortably accommodate 30 passengers for an extended stay.
The freezers and refrigerators aboard these boats hold enough food to feed the crew and a full compliment of passengers for up to 3 weeks. They're outfitted with an enormous assortment of spare parts and gear. The bait tanks carry huge quantities of live anchovies, sardines and mackerel. And the brine-freezer-holds can bring home over 20 tons of catch for the passengers.
The boats are incredibly spacious and well-equipped. Fly bridge features usually include video depth sounders, scanning sonar, GPS plotters and S-band radar systems (capable of marking birds working over schools many miles away).
They also include CH-12 sonar, weather fax systems, satellite phones for worldwide communication, multi-channel single-side band radio, Loran C, radio direction finder and 72-mile radar. And there are back-ups for just about everything - especially the important navigation and communication systems.
This massive array of state-of-the-art electronics assures you the captain can safely navigate anywhere in the world and find fish for you - no matter how remote the location.
Luxury Accommodations and Four-Star Meals!
Most boats leaving from San Diego offer air-conditioned, twin-bunk staterooms with sink, cabinet, night table and storage for your clothing and personal items. There are an ample number of bathrooms and showers (all clean and neat). Boats will vary the number of passengers to fit the accommodations and the duration of the trip (longer trips carry fewer passengers). Some boats even offer staterooms with private head and shower (usually available on a "first come-first serve" basis).
The staterooms, lounge and galley areas are normally carpeted and air conditioned and the galley offers meal-time seating for all passengers. By the way - have we mentioned the fabulous meals?! Don't even think about trying to lose weight. Three meals a day are served on a three-call system, which gives everyone time to get to the galley even if they're in the process of fighting one of those jumbo tuna.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all four-star restaurant quality. In fact, long-range passengers always come back with stories about the incredible meals. Dinner menus include prime rib, steak, chicken, pork - and, of course, just-caught fish, prepared in more fantastic ways than you can imagine. You'll also enjoy home-baked breads, fresh salads and vegetables. Is your mouth watering yet? There's more...
Tasty appetizers are offered in the late afternoon and scrumptious homemade desserts include pies, cakes, cookies and ice cream. In addition to the scheduled meals... round-the-clock snacks are always available - cookies, candy, fruit, hot and cold drinks.
At the end of the day, you can enjoy "a cold one" or a cocktail with new-found friends up on the sun deck, while telling fish stories and watching spectacular sunsets!
Special dietary needs can usually be accommodated if you'll just let the cooks know your dietary restrictions in advance.
What Do You Need to Bring on a Fishing Charter?
There's not much that's not included in the cost of each trip, but here are a few things to keep in mind...
In some cases, there may be a fuel surcharge depending the particular boat, the package and the cost of fuel.
There's usually a nominal charge for cold beverages, beer and soda (for which a tally is kept and your tab paid at the end of the trip). Some boats have hard liquor available, but they may not have any mixers. Others do not carry either wine or hard liquor, but your are allowed bring you own. If you enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine with your dinner, feel free to bring along several bottles. Check with your particular boat for their policy.
You'll have to pay for a Mexican fishing permit. Most of the destinations are within Mexican waters or around offshore islands that are Mexican possessions. Normally, the permit is purchased for you and you just reimburse the boat prior to departure.
You'll need a Passport for proof of citizenship. Boats are often boarded by Mexican officials, and costly delays are avoided if everyone has proper ID.
With regard to what clothing to bring... keep in mind where you're going and what you'll be doing. Long-range boats do NOT have laundry facilities and you'll be around fish, bait, chum and blood. You'll need at least one change of clothes for each day of the trip. Most of the time, you'll wear shorts and T-shirts. But bring along some jeans, sweatshirts, a light jacket and rain gear, in case you encounter some cool nights or inclement weather. Be prepared to "layer." Sneakers and a pair of low-top deck boots are must-haves.
Since the boats have showers and an unlimited supply of fresh water, you'll be able to take a couple of showers a day if you like. Some passengers even shower in their shorts and T-shirts - and then take a nap in the sun to dry - a combination shower and laundry.
Of course, you'll need the basics - toothbrush and paste, razor, soap, deodorant, socks and underwear. We'd also recommend some books to read, sunglasses, a wide-brim hat for sun protection and plenty of sunscreen. Be sure to bring your camera and lots of film. You'll definitely have the opportunity to get the photos of a lifetime - and you'll want to capture special moments to share with family and friends.
It's best to pack your gear in duffel bags, rather than standard luggage. You can pack a lot more clothing in a duffel, they slip under the bunk and take up very little room.
Most of the charter boats have "What to Bring" lists, so check their websites for specifics. Or, you can check the "What to Bring" list on our Yachting page.
Gratuities are not included and are usually handled at the conclusion of the trip. A good rule of thumb is $20-$30 per day combined, which will be divvied up between the crew members. Your drink tab and any other purchases (T-shirts, hats, jackets or sweatshirts) will be also tallied at the end.
For your $250-350/day (plus minimal charges from items above), you're going to get to fish 24/7 in more than 1,000 miles of the most prolific waters you'll ever find! Not a bad deal!
What about the Captain and Crew on Charter Boats?
One of the first things you'll notice on a long-range boat is that there are numerous deckhands and that they're usually quite young. However, they've all spent years working the day-boats out of the southern California (or elsewhere in the world) before being considered for a position on a long-range vessel. In fact, many of the deckhands are actually licensed skippers themselves, but choose to work as crew to gain experience and, perhaps someday, run one themselves.
The boats carry a first captain (who has many years of experience running long-range boats in Mexican waters), as well as a second captain and a full compliment of deckhands. Two of the crew members are usually full-time cooks or chefs, who only come out of the galley when the action is so fast and furious that they're needed to help out with gaffing.
Most charters cater to novice as well as veteran fishermen. The captain and crew members want you to catch as much as you can, so they're eager to help newcomers with tips and suggestions on tackle and techniques that will definitely make your trip more enjoyable. They're also very helpful instructors - especially when you're at the rail and not quite sure what to do. In addition, most boats offer on-board seminars that cover everything from rigging to fish fighting techniques.
What about the Passengers?
At first, a newcomer to long-range fishing might feel a bit unsure about an extended trip with a lot of strangers. But have no fear! The people on these trips are some of the most enjoyable people in the world - and you're all there with a common interest - catching fish and having a great time - and you're all speaking the common language of fishing! Everyone makes friends quickly and you'll find yourself developing relationships in no time. By the end, you'll feel like you're leaving your closest friends.
No Experience Required! Learn as You Go!
Everyone wants to know... Can I catch a 300-pound yellowfin tuna on one of these trips? The answer is maybe... but only if you're there with a rod in your hand and your bait in the water! The opportunities will definitely present themselves.
No experience is required. The desire to go is all you really need. Every trip has a combination of novices, as well as more experienced anglers. If you're a newcomer, you'll be able to learn the stand-up techniques developed on these boats over the last 25 years from some of the people who know them best. And there are always fellow-anglers willing to share their experiences with you.
In fact, you'll learn more about catching big-game fish on one of these long-range trips than you could in years of fishing anywhere else in the world. The fish are plentiful enough to give you all the chances you could want, and your abilities will grow every day. Even if you start out as a newcomer, by the time you get back to San Diego, you definitely won't be one anymore!
There's normally a day or two of ocean travel before getting to the first fishing destination. During that time the captain and crew conduct on-board seminars, which will educate you on the species you can expect to find; what gear to use; the way to set up your rigs; the finer points of working with stand-up tackle on a boat with other anglers; and so forth. By the time you reach the fishing grounds, you'll have all the knowledge you need to make the experience fun, safe and rewarding.
So, will YOU catch that 300-pounder? Who knows? But it's possible. Huge yellowfins are routinely caught on many of these trips. And dozens of world records are set for a variety of species.
When Is the Best Time to Go on a Long-Range Fishing Trip? What Kinds of Fish Do You Catch?
The San Diego fleet begins running in September, and October marks the beginning of the prime long-range season.
On a typical 10-day trip in September, you'll likely travel to areas like the Alijos Rocks (see picture), Uncle Sam Banks, Thetis Banks and the Potato Banks - all located in an area called "the Ridge," which is off the west coast of Baja California. The species you'll find there include striped marlin, Dorado (dolphin), tuna, giant black sea bass (to 200+ pounds), grouper (to 100+ pounds), wahoo, yellowtail and pargo.
On many of these early fall, shorter long-range trips you'll get to experience the thrill of a "wide-open bite." What exactly is a "wide-open bite" you ask? Let me give you some examples...
On a recent trip, the boat got into a school of Dorado so big that the passengers caught several hundred 25- to 45-pounders in about an hour! Can you imagine Dorado so thick you can't even see through them? On every cast, anglers couldn't get their plugs back to the boat without another one grabbing them and taking them for another reel-screaming run. Now that's a wide-open bite!
What about catching marlin? On one trip, the captain informed passengers that the boat was coming up on ACRES of feeding marlin that had been spotted from the bridge. Within minutes of the bait being cast, there were 18 marlins hooked-up at one time! That day, there were more than 50 marlin hooked-up in about an hour!
And you've never lived until you've experienced a wide-open bite of yellowfin or wahoo! On these early fall trips, you'll find plenty of 40-50 pound tuna.
November marks the time to bring out the big tuna gear (two-speed reels, heavier line, stronger leaders). The trips are longer now - 16 days and up. And the size of the catch will challenge even the experienced angler. These trips are run through May and focus on only a couple of species.
First, is the ferocious and lightning-fast wahoo, which is plentiful in sizes up to 100+ pounds. And second is the highly-prized giant yellowfin tuna, which can run up to 400 pounds - with the majority running over 200 pounds.
The area visited on these longer trips is normally the Rivilla Gigedo (islands including San Benedicto, Soccoro, Roca Partida, the Clarions and the Hurricane Bank). These islands produce one of the world's largest populations of tackle-smashing, yellowfin. The yellowfin on the right weighed-in at 361.7 pounds, and skippers have seen a number of 400 pounders just out of gaffing range.
These giant yellowfin give anglers quite a challenge! They can rip 100-pound test line off two-speed reels at breakneck speed. And the sheer power of the initial run can make even a seasoned veteran's knees buckle. This is the type of fishing that has made long-range trips famous. And the fishing today is just as incredible as when these islands saw their first long-range boats over 20 years ago.
Short Time Frame? Fly Down and Back Option!
Those who are short on time can still take one of these 16-day plus trips by using the fly-down and fly-back option. On these trips, after departing from San Diego, the boat picks up passengers in Cabo San Lucas (at the southern tip of the Baja). Anglers from the southern California area can drop-off their gear at the landing prior to departure, and then fly to Cabo two days later, avoiding the boat ride south. Or, anglers can fly from other places in the US to Cabo San Lucas. The disadvantage is that you forfeit some boat time when compared to taking the complete round trip from San Diego.
Cabo San Lucas is serviced by Aero Mexico, Alaska Airlines, America West Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Mexicana and United Airlines.
If you wish, you can make airline or hotel reservations at the most competitive online prices right here.
A Few Last Questions?
Most boats either offer tackle rental or purchase packages themselves, or will hook you up with a local tackle shop.
Prior to disembarking, you can make arrangements to have your catch canned, smoked or filleted - and then air freighted to your home.
Long-Range Sport Fishing Charter Boats
in San Diego
American Angler - Located at Pt. Loma on San Diego Bay, American Angler is recommended as a great boat and a top-notch operation.
Excel - One of the largest (124' x 32') and most luxurious sportfishers in the area.
H & M Landing Sport Fishing - This is the oldest and most experienced sportfishing company on the West Coast. They have a fleet of 4 individually-owned long range vessels.
Independence - 112' by 32' vessel designed for extra stability and speed. One of the newer vessels in the San Diego fleet.
Intrepid - One of San Diego's newest and most luxurious long-range vessels.
Helgren's Sportfishing - Located at Oceanside Harbor. This company has an excellent reputation for high quality and we hear consistently good reviews about the crew.
Recommended for spring trips for white sea bass at San Clemente and overnight or multi-day tuna trips. They sometimes run specials, so click to see if there are COUPONS available at this time. They will occasionally run half-day trips, which are also highly praised.
Polaris Supreme - 3 to 10 day trips. They pride themselves on limiting the number of anglers on each trip to allow plenty of room for every one's comfort.
Qualifier 105 - A fast boat that's well-suited for fishing in the Baja area. Runs out of Point Loma Landing.
Royal Polaris - This 113' sportfishing vessel is considered by many to be one of the finest in the world. They especially welcome newcomers. And from summer Albacore, to yellowtail and wahoo, to giant yellowfin tuna, their catch record is unmatched.
Royal Star Sportfishing - The Royal Star (92') is one of the most modern and luxurious long-range vessels in the fleet. It was designed for anglers wanting maximum space. They limit their passenger load to offer a most comfortable experience.
Reward Sportfishing Charters -
Red Rooster III - The Red Rooster III is a 105' vessel that offers a variety of 3-16 day long-range expeditions from Lee Palm Sportfishers in San Diego. It has 16 private staterooms, air conditioning, carpeting and large comfortable berths.
Seaforth Sportfishing San Diego - Seaforth Sportfishing is one of San Diego's premier operations. They offer open party and private charters, 1/2 day to multi-day trips on 8 great boats like the New Seaforth (on right). You can enjoy sport fishing, whale watching and squid trips.
Searcher - Captain Art has run an excellent operation for 20+ years. A great choice for shark (dive) and tuna (fishing) combination trips off the beautiful Baja Coast.
Shogun - This 92' x 30' vessel provides a large deck area and stable platform.
General Info - San Diego Sportfishing
California Department of Fish and Game - The State of California's official website. Lots of useful information.
Moon Phases - A "Moon Calendar" for all dates, showing the complete cycle of moon phases.
Sea Surface Temp - Worldwide view. Very interesting.
Sportfishing Association of California - SAC is a non-profit organization consisting of landing owners, skippers, crews and boat owners whose home ports go from Morro Bay to San Diego.
*Adapted from article by Dennis Braid, www.braidproducts.com