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San Simeon, CA Fishing: Great Saltwater Fishing Opportunities on the Pacific Coastline

San Simeon, CA Fishing: Great Saltwater Fishing Opportunities on the Pacific Coastline
Published: Friday, October 15th, 2021
Updated on: Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Halfway between the bustling cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco is the village of San Simeon, running along State Route 1 on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It is a census-designated place in the beautiful San Luis Obispo County and is in itself a tourist destination. With its wide-open green spaces and pristine coastal views, it’s a true outdoor wonderland that every traveler needs to check off their list.

Looking over San Simeon’s rich rolling hills and stunning rocky cliffs is the historic Hearst Castle. This hilltop estate was built in the early 20th century by William Randolph Hearst, a business magnate known for pioneering and developing the country’s biggest media and newspaper corporation. Though relatively new, it has defined much of the village’s tourism industry and is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting San Simeon.

Apart from this iconic castle, San Simeon is known for the wildlife that it nurtures in its pristine landscape and seascape. There’s the Elephant Seal Rookery, the largest viewing area for elephant seals in the state as well as Piedras Blancas Light Station where there is a wildlife sanctuary frequented by seabirds, elephant seals, and humpback whales. 

With its easy access to the majestic Pacific Ocean, it should come as no surprise that San Simeon is a must-fish destination. Come here and fish from the shore, on a boat or kayak, or venture out into the depths if you’re feeling brave and lucky. Get ready to fill your bucket as the village is known for its abundant catch. 

San Simeon Fishing

Saltwater fishing is a true source of passion here in San Simeon. The village may be small but it offers plenty of access points that give way to productive fishing. Here you can fish for relaxation or for sport, amidst a backdrop of gorgeous scenery and amazingly mild weather.

Start your fishing journey right from the shores of San Simeon. From the William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach, you can fish from a public pier without a fishing license. The pier itself is historic and played a huge role in the whaling industry of the town. Today, it’s still one of the village’s favorite places to fish. It’s relatively small at 850 feet long, but it’s very productive. It’s in a cove protected by San Simeon Point, so the surf here is pretty calm. The pilings are covered in kelp during summer and fall and mussels pretty much the entire year, making the area under the pier attractive to fish. Here you can catch barred surfperch, rubberlip seaperch, walleye perch, and rainbow perch all year long. The best seasons to fish, though, are from late spring to fall when some of the migrating fish can be found along with the year-round species. Some of these migratory species include mackerel and striped seaperch. A tip from the locals: use live sand crabs as bait, especially for calico surfperch and barred surfperch. 

As long as you’re on William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach, head to the San Simeon Creek, right where the creek meets the ocean. This is where you can find some of the best steelhead trout fishing in the area. But do be mindful that steelhead fishing is on a catch-and-release basis only in California. Nevertheless, this spot is an exciting area to fish for the species especially during fall when the fish swim upstream to spawn. On the north side of San Simeon, you will find Pico Creek, yet another must-fish surf fishing spot. You can access this productive body of water via the parking at Pico Avenue. If you’re traveling along Highway 1, there’s a 1.6-mile stretch between Little Pico Creek to Pico Creek that offers some great fishing as well. 

Rock fishing can also be productive in San Simeon. One of the best and most scenic places to do so is at San Simeon Cove Trail. Point Sierra Nevada Beach is a great rock fishing venue as well. Here you can catch rockfish species such as rock cod, Boccaccio, and cabezon. They are best targeted with sand dabs that you can catch at the pier.

If you want to enjoy both the calm waters and fantastic scenery while fishing from your own kayak, you’re in the right place. One of the best spots to kayak fish is the protected San Simeon Cove. Arroyo Laguna Beach is another kayak-angling spot worth seeking out. The beach here offers an easy sandy spot to launch your kayak, and there’s plenty of big fish to catch such as vermillion rockfish and lingcod. Do note that the beach is one of the migratory homes of elephant seals, so people are encouraged to limit their activities on the water so as not to disturb them. 

Still another kayak-fishing spot worth checking out is the Leffingwell Landing. This area offers a roadside boat ramp where you can launch your rigid inflatable boats and kayaks. Venture half a mile into the water where there’s underwater structure and find rockfish of all kinds: brown rockfish, tree rockfish, blue rockfish, and cabezon. You can also find some lingcod, halibut, and sheepshead in the area or a bit further out.

If you want to go even further out into the water, head to the Morro Bay public boat ramp to launch your boat or book a charter specializing in your target of choice. Deep-sea fishing here can yield calico bass, halibut, white seabass, rainbow trout, Pacific barracuda, steelhead, and yellowfin tuna


Top 10 Fish Species in San Simeon, CA

The top 10 fish species to target in San Simeon, CA include rock cod, cabezon, steelhead trout, halibut, lingcod, brown rockfish, calico surfperch, barred surfperch, walleye perch, and vermilion rockfish.

San Simeon, CA Fishing: Great Saltwater Fishing Opportunities on the Pacific Coastline Fish species
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 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"

Cabezon fish

Habitat: Kelp Forests

Weight: 25 - 31 Pounds

Length: 10" - 39"

Brown Rockfish
Brown Rockfish fish

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Shallows

Weight: 1 - 2 Pounds

Length: 12" - 22"

Chilipepper Rockfish
Chilipepper Rockfish fish

Habitat: Pacific Coast

Weight: 3 - 5 Pounds

Length: 19" - 22"

Steelhead Trout
Steelhead Trout fish

Habitat: Coastal, rivers

Weight: 2 - 35 Pounds

Length: 12" - 46"

Seasonal Fishing

While you can definitely enjoy great fishing in San Simeon all year round, locals agree that the best times to fish in the area are around late spring to fall. More fish will be feeding starting late spring, and by summer, you can find many migratory species joining in with the residents. Their stay in the waters can last until fall, by which time they will be seeking waters that protect them from the possible onslaught of rain during winter.

Explore the Beauty of San Simeon

Head to San Simeon on a day trip from the cities that border it, but do yourself a favor and stay a little longer, as the village has plenty to offer.

1. Book a Fishing Charter

If you’re fishing in San Simeon for the first time, booking a fishing charter will be in your best interest. Not only will you have the guidance of a local expert who can guarantee you a great catch; you can also rest assured knowing your safety is in the hands of someone who knows the waters you’re fishing insid