San Diego Bonefishing

The bonefish of San Diego Bay are plentiful and eager to fight.

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Distant Cousins: Bonefish on the Left Coast are a little-known fishery but plenty sporty.
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California Style: The San Diego version is known as the Cortez bonefish.
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Drift Away: Strategy is to drift to find the depth where fish are feeding.
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Use a Carolina rig with tungsten bullet weights that slide through eelgrass and shed weeds.
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Ghost shrimp are a top bait for California bonefish. Use a "slurp gun" to suck up crabs from the mud.
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Go Light: San Diego bones are well sized for light tackle.
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This map of San Diego Bay shows the best areas to bonefish, along with nearby boat ramps.
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Captain James Nelson uses a slurp gun to capture ghost shrimp – one of the best bait for San Diego bonefish.
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The best place to find ghost shrimp is on mud flats at low tide.
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San Diego bonefish don’t give up easy, despite their diminutive dimensions.
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SWS West Coast Editor Jim Hendricks bows to give line to a Cortez bonefish hooked on light tackle.
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Cortez bonefish are surprisingly strong, usually uncorking two or more blistering runs and then fighting hard closer to the boat.
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SWS West Coast Editor Jim Hendricks battles a Cortez bonefish at boatside.
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Cortez bonefish have beautiful coloration, which seems to change depending on the viewing angle.
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Cortez bonefish in San Diego Bay grow to a maximum length of about 17 inches.
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The bonefish in San Diego Bay have a heavy slime coat that gets thicker during spawning season – usually around April and May.
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Nelson releases all bonefish to help sustain the population in San Diego Bay. Moving water across the fish’s gills help revive it prior to release.
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While bonefish in San Diego don’t “tail” like those in the tropics, they are still fun to catch on light tackle. This one darts away from the boat.