Fly Fishing On the Rocks

nickBy Nick Curcione, TFO Advisory Staff.

San Diego is touted as America’s finest city.

While other metropolitan areas may debate that claim, San Diego does boast a number of angler friendly features that make it a very desirable travel location.

If sport fishing is on your to-do-list you are in the right place.


Fly Fishing on the Rocks. The Author said that there is excellent fishing just a short walk from hotels on the bay. Photo by Nick Curcione.

It is home to the world’s best long-range fishing fleet and its bass lakes are justly famous. But, if you don’t have much time there are plenty of local fishing opportunities to light up your day.

If you are a visitor, (business or pleasure) and are staying at one of the local hotels like the Embassy Suites, Hilton, Hyatt or Marriott that border San Diego Bay, you can enjoy a unique brand of room service.

Fly fishing on the rocks.

The primary species in San Diego Bay is the spotted bay bass. This feisty predator readily takes a host of artificials making it an ideal species for spinning and fly enthusiasts alike. It is available on a year round basis and the tackle requirements can be kept to a travel friendly minimum.

My favorite setup is a 9-foot TFO 6-weight fly rod, matched to a BVK III reel. Since you will be casting from the rocks a sinking shooting head is the most practical line.

The leader can be very simple, a five foot section of 8-to 12-pound test looped directly to the shooting head. Most of the prey these fish target tend to be small, so your fly selection should incorporate hooks sizes 1 to 6. A variety of standard bonefish patterns will work, as well as Clouser Minnows (try to fish streamer patters no longer than about two-inches).

A stripping basket is also a must when casting on any rocky outcrop, where fly lines can become easily tangled.

A spotted bass hooked on a fly. Bass can be hooked on flies, size 1 to 6. Photo by Nick Curcione.

A spotted bass hooked on a fly. Bass can be hooked on flies, size 1 to 6.
Photo by Nick Curcione.

The old adage that advises the “best time to go fishing is when you have the time,” applies here but, I would limit my efforts to daytime hours. Ideally you’ll want a period of moving water so an incoming or outgoing tide will yield the best action. The fish are subsurface, so give the sinking head time to drop and try to cover varying depths until you start drawing strikes.

Being close to the rocks, most depths will be less than 15-feet. The bass often hit hard and are great fun on a 6-weight.

Give this a try and I’m sure you’ll find your trip to the bay enjoyable.