Top Reasons to Plan a Salmon Fishing Trip to San Francisco

Tom Keer

Photo Credit San Francisco Salmon Fishing Charter

When people talk about where to fish in California these days, a surprise arises. In 2017, salmon fishing was hot in San Francisco. The weather is starting to warm up and spring is only a short time away, making salmon fishing a must in San Francisco

Charter captains running fishing trips in San Francisco are optimistic. In the past, fish stocks between 800,000 and 1 million were considered normal. Those numbers aren’t bad, but given the numbers of salmon in other parts of the Pacific Northwest, they’re a bit flat. But then a little magic happened. In 2014, the results of a stocking of 12 million young salmon from the Coleman National Fish Hatchery off the coast of San Francisco showed up and they all teamed up. This stocking came about thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Gold Gate Salmon Associate, so thank them for their efforts. Here’s how to get into the action.

Salmon fishing San Francisco

Look for big tides in May and June with full and new moons. These tides move a lot of water and it is the time when saltwater fish move. The water temperatures in the low 50s are the best time for salmon fishing in San Francisco. This is also a good time to look for good amounts of plankton that will attract bait fish. If all of that happens this spring, it should be an epic salmon fishing season.

California salmon fishing

Salmon are traditionally caught in Northern California during the spring and summer. The Marin coast and the southern tip of Pt. The Reyes Peninsula is a solid fishery. In late summer they move north towards Sacramento.

Fishing methods

Trolling is a common way to catch these salmon. Dive planes and cannonball sinkers set bait at a depth of 15 to 20 feet. Downriggers are also used to bring the bait to depths between 50 and 100 feet. Hot-top water action comes from captains following the birds, and live baits like anchovies, plugs, or soft plastic are top producers.

This spring and summer stay focused on reports of salmon fishing in San Francisco. With a little luck, these young fish will get bigger this year.

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, author of Covey Rise magazine, editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and blogger of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program. Keer is a regular contributor to over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics including fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor activities. When not fishing, Keer and his family hunt highland birds over their three English setters. His first book, A New England Coast Fly Fishing Guide, was published in January 2011. Visit him at or