View Full Version : San Diego Saltwater Trip

09-16-2008, 11:32 AM
Over the last three weeks I have had the opportunity to go down to San Diego twice to do some fly fishing with guide Peter Piconi. In total I was able to get three days of fishing in. Im sure some of you guys have heard of Peter. He is one of the go to saltwater guides down in Southern California and has published several articles in California Fly Fisher. Needless to say Peter is a stud on the water! I have been fishing with him for about 5 years now and every time we get into fish. The majority of the fishing I have done with him has been done in San Diego Bay. So this year I wanted a chance to fish the local kelp beds and blue water just a couple of miles off La Jolla.

The first day we went out was epic! The seas were flat and the wind calm. In the morning we set up just outside of the kelp beds and wailed on calico bass during the first two hours of light. Calico bass put up quite a fight on a 7 weight. Especially when you are trying to keep their heads up out of the kelp. Around 10AM we saw some birds starting to work just a couple miles out of the kelp so we ran out there to see what life was swimming around. We were pleasantly surprised by schools of large mackerel that were more than willing to eat your fly. For about an hour two of us must have landed over 30 fish. You didn't want to even stop and take a picture because there were so many fish busting around the boat. I know most of you think that the mackerel is a bait fish, but when this fish schools you on a 7 weight you get a different perspective. It was a great first day.

The second day proved to be a little more difficult. We went out in the blue water searching for a little bigger game. The wind was still calm but overnight about a three foot swell moved in making standing in a 20 foot boat a little tricky. We were able to find a couple of kelp paddies that had dorado swimming underneath. I was lucky enough to get two small dorado around 8-10 lbs in the first hours. Playing these fish on an 8 weight was awesome. After the two dorado we never even hooked another fish. Throughout the remainder of the day we had a couple of yellowfin chase our flies right to the boat but they were not willing to play. Overall a little tough but I guess that depends on your perspective. Dorado on the fly is still cool!!

The third day we went back to the kelp beds to find a couple of smaller bonita, lots of calicos, and more mackerel. The third day was different than the first in that we slide way up into the kelp. So every cast you made had to be accurate so not to hook the kelp and break off flies. If you could find a lane between the kelp there were plenty of hungry calicos. Once you hooked one you had to put the wood to them so that they didn't get you hung up. Thank goodness for 20lb floro. In the afternoon I had one chance at a school of barracuda but they did not commit to the fly. The whole school followed the fly all the way to the boat. Don't you hate it when they do that!

In all it was a great couple of days on the water. I highly recommend any of to go and check out this fishery.


Scott V
09-16-2008, 11:46 AM
Nice report, I hope to get back down to San Diego one of these days. I would really like to go for mako's, but I am willing to catch anyhting.

Bill Kiene semi-retired
09-16-2008, 05:54 PM
We will have to get down there and fish with Peter.

Thanks RJ


RJ and finned friend


02-16-2009, 03:13 PM
Nice report, I hope to get back down to San Diego one of these days. I would really like to go for mako's, but I am willing to catch anyhting.


I've been fly fishing for the Makos with Capt Dave Trimble http://www.captdavetrimble.com/

and Conway Bowman for several years. Combined they have guided and caught more Makos than just about anyone in the area. Both are fun to fish with and know how get you on the fish. Once the Mako is hooked it's a thrilling event, they take off so fast it's mind boggling, they'll be out of the water and 50 yds away before you know what's happening. All catch and release. I'm booked again this year (July). I would recommend contacting Dave soon to get a date on the books as they tend to book many of the same clients year to year. Dave's number is 928 380 4504. Good luck you won't be dissappointed....


Charlie Gonzales
02-16-2009, 09:48 PM
Good for you RJ. I kept waiting for you to mention the bonita and cudas cuz theyre so fun. Do you know if you guys were in the canyon at La Jolla, and any idea of water temps? Cant wait to get down there this year. San Diego is totaly overlooked for an inexpensive saltwater trip. All the harbours south of Long beach have great float tube opportunies too.

Scott V
02-17-2009, 09:39 AM
I'm headed down in the first weekend of April for a family wedding, so that means I will be fishing down there in the warm sunshine.

02-17-2009, 10:42 PM
Wish I was headed down there soon. It would be nice to pull on some saltwater fish. Good luck. Look up Peter Piconi for a little saltwater fishin out of his new shop SoCal Outfitters.

Paul B.
02-17-2009, 11:29 PM
I fished with Peter a few years ago at Coranado and it was one of the best ff days ever. My brother-in-law and I had a great time with sandies, calicos, and baracuda. Peter has a knack for spotting the schools. Great guide. Paul

02-19-2009, 10:19 PM
I'm headed down in the first weekend of April for a family wedding, so that means I will be fishing down there in the warm sunshine.

Scott...I fish San Diego waters a lot. If going off-shore, you'll need a guide / boat or someone who knows the waters and what's happening at the time....OR you can fish Mission Bay on your own by renting a 13' skiff / 9hp from Sea Forth Boat rentals located at Quivira Marina, cost is $50 for 4 hours....you can purchase an awesome fishing map of Mission Bay (waterproof) showing where certain species are known to hang out etc...go to http://www.frankomaps.com

A 6wt. ocean rod will work fine, there is a bait barge located in the middle of the marina that is about 75 yds long. I dead drift the opposite side from where the boats pull up to get their bait....not unusual to get a grab or fish on each drift. Cudas should be there now. When the Bonita are in they will put your 6wt to the test.....lot's of spotties at Ingram St bridge....most important, fish the moving tides....

Gonzales is right...the fishing opportunities in SD are really pretty incredible....it's year round....

I probably be there in April as well....

Have fun