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Capitola, CA Fishing: The Golden State’s Gem

Capitola, CA Fishing: The Golden State’s Gem
Published: Monday, July 5th, 2021
Updated on: Thursday, July 8th, 2021

Capitola is a small city about two hours’ drive south of San Francisco. It lies on the northern coast of Monterey Bay within the county of Santa Cruz. It is set on hills overlooking the sea that provides residents and tourists alike with some of the most spectacular views in the Golden State. Aside from the beautiful sceneries, Capitola is also known for its laid-back overall atmosphere and quirky, colorful beachfront buildings that add to the city’s quaint small-town feel to it. Top these all off with charming accommodations that provide beautiful coastal views, restaurants that offer delectable seafood dishes, shops and museums that cater to a wide array of people, and festivals that happen throughout the year, Capitola is definitely the perfect spot for your next family summer vacation.  

Given its idyllic location, Capitola has always been known as one of the top tourist spots in the state and even the country. As early as 1874, it draws in visitors from all over the country even when there were practically no hotels in and around the area. Back then, most tourists just pitched their tents along the beaches, which gave its early name, Camp Capitola. However, more and more people came to the city and Hotel Capitola was eventually constructed, thus becoming California’s very first beach resort. Today, the city remains to be one of the Golden State’s most popular tourist spots as it attracts tens of thousands of domestic and international visitors each year.


colorful beach houses right next to the beach

Capitola Fishing

Because the city lies on the northern edge of Monterey Bay, Capitola offers easy access to one of the most fish-abundant bodies of water in the country. What makes Monterey Bay such a fish magnet is that aside from opening up to the great Pacific Ocean, the bay is also a convergence point of the cold oxygenated water coming from the north and the warm more saline water coming from the south. This mixture creates a healthy sustainable underwater environment that attracts a lot of marine life. 

That said, it really doesn’t matter if you’re fishing straight off the banks, off a pier or a jetty, or if you’re in the middle of the bay, Monterey Bay supports healthy populations of a variety of gamefish. This only means that you can pretty much expect to catch something every time you cast your line. Some of the most popular targets in its bountiful waters include surfperch, rockfish, salmon, halibut, lingcod, white sea bass, sanddab, sand sole, albacore, jacksmelt, tuna, rays, and sharks.

Fishing in Capitola can be done in a variety of ways. You can just cast your line straight off a beach such as Capitola State Beach, Hooper Beach, Trees Beach, and New Brighton State Beach and still catch some tough fighting fish. You can also try out pier fishing at the renowned Capitola Wharf, a historical structure and the city’s main focal point that extends 855 feet into the bay. Here, you can catch some favorite angling targets including striped sea bass, American shad, kelp greenling, black perch, walleye surfperch, California halibut, barred surfperch, calico surfperch, and different species of rays and sharks.

Aside from inshore fishing, an angler can also charter a fishing boat and head to known fishing hotspots out in the middle of the bay or the Pacific Ocean. It’s through charter fishing that even an amateur angler can experience catching huge quarries like tuna, rockfish, sharks, and rays. A beginner can do this, of course, with the help of seasoned fishing veterans that will not only teach you how to catch these fish but will also help clean and fillet your fresh catch—yes, ready to be cooked and eaten once you get to the shore.

Now, if you really want to experience fishing in Monterey Bay without the crowd or the noise of a motorized boat, you might want to check out kayak fishing. There are several fishing guides in Capitola that offer kayak fishing tours, allowing you to cast your line on lush kelp beds that grow along the coastline. Not only will you be able to enjoy catching some striped bass, California halibut, salmon, white sea bass, rockfish, and sanddab in these kayak fishing hotspots, you’ll get to connect to Mother Nature in the most unhindered way. Keep in mind, though, that kayak fishing can be physically demanding so make sure you’re in tip-top shape before heading out on a kayak.


Top Ten Fish Species in Capitola, CA

The top ten fish species you can catch in Capitola, CA is surfperch, California halibut, white sea bass, sanddab, sand sole, albacore, jacksmelt, American shad, rays, and sharks.

Capitola, CA Fishing: The Golden State’s Gem Fish species
Thresher Shark
Thresher Shark fish

Habitat: Nearshore, Continental Shelf, Inshore, Offshore

Weight: 500 - 1120 Pounds

Length: 120" - 240"

Barred Surfperch
Barred Surfperch fish

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore

Weight: 1 - 1 Pounds

Length: 4" - 17"

Calico Surfperch
Calico Surfperch fish

Habitat: nearshore

Weight: 1 - 2 Pounds

Length: 9" - 11"

Pacific Sanddab
Pacific Sanddab fish

Habitat: nearshore, offshore, sandy, muddy

Weight: 1 - 2 Pounds

Length: 5" - 16"

Pacific Halibut 
Pacific Halibut  fish

Habitat: Continental Shelf, Offshore

Weight: 20 - 500 Pounds

Length: 0" - 96"

Lingcod  fish

Habitat: Onshore

Weight: 25 - 85 Pounds

Length: 20" - 60"

Brown Rockfish
Brown Rockfish fish

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Shallows

Weight: 1 - 2 Pounds

Length: 12" - 22"

Albacore Tuna
Albacore Tuna fish

Habitat: Offshore

Weight: 20 - 45 Pounds

Length: 18" - 25"

Seasonal Fishing in Capitola, CA

Capitola is known for its Mediterranean climate that’s characterized by wet winters and warm, mostly dry summers. This means that anglers can pretty much fish here in comfort for most of the year, especially, of course, during summers when the weather is warmer. Availability of different fish species in the bay as well as in the Pacific is also great throughout the year except during peak winter when the waters near the shore tend to be quite chilly. In these events, many fish tend to seek warmer waters by migrating to the southern part of the Californian coast. While many fish species would still stay within the bay, they would most likely stay in the middle, deeper parts of the bay. That said, the best months to go fishing in Capitola are from  May to October as these months are when most fish species are actively biting.


Experience the Beauty of Capitola

Capitola is a popular tourist spot because of its beautiful views of the sea, its mostly warm weather, and its quaint small fishing town feel; not to mention the restaurants, shops, museums, and festivals that offer a wide array of fun activities for visitors. Yes, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your stay here but the list below is just something you should never miss:    


1. Charter Fishing

With the bountiful Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean near the city, Capitola is definitely one of the top fishing destinations in the Golden State. And the best way to fish these waters is through fishing charters offered around the city. Book a fishing trip in Capitola and enjoy catching prime fishing targets in and around the coast of the city and beyond.  


2. Beach Bumming

What better way to fully enjoy your stay in a beach town like Capitola than just relax on a beach the whole day and just do nothing but enjoy the sun, sand, and the sea. With easy access to scenic beaches such as New Brighton State Beach, Trees Beach, Capitola Beach, and Hooper Beach, one just can’t help but bask under the golden Californian sun. And while you’re at it, you might as well stay longer on the beach to catch the magnificent view of the sunset.    


3. Surf’s Up!

Aside from fishing, surfing is quite popular on the beaches of Capitola. If you haven’t tried riding the waves yet, you don’t have to worry as many surf shops along the beaches offer lessons and rentals for all your surfing needs. You may also want to try out paddleboarding—a popular water sport that allows you to take in the picturesque view around you while gliding across the calm water.


4. Whale Watching

There’s just something about witnessing these majestic creatures (and other marine life) swimming in their natural environment that can truly alter your perspective in life. Yes, you can enjoy watching these gentle giants of the sea via the whale watching tours offered by several organizations.

Fishing Techniques