Half Moon Bay, CA is located just about 1 hour south of San Francisco and it sits just off highway 1. There is a great local harbor called Pillar Point Harbor, which has a multi lane boat ramp, fishing tackle shops, several Charter Fishing Boats, as well as tons of seafood restaurants. The fishing can be excellent depending on the weather conditions and the time of year you plan to fish.
Boat Launch Ramp
The launch ramp at Pillar Point Harbor was constructed in 1996, and it replaced the very much outdated older launch ramp which was closer to the restaurants. There is ample parking for your vehicle and trailer, and there is also a very large over-flow lot which is just a few minutes walk away. On opening day of salmon season, you can expect to be parking in the overflow lot, as well on days when weekend fishing in the summer for salmon is red hot. There is a nominal fee to launch your boat, and there are also fillet tables and some water available to clean your boat afterwards.
You could expect on a very busy weekend like opening day of salmon season, or on a day when there is a huge amount of albacore fishing and moderate salmon fishing in the middle of the summer to have a 15-30 minute wait for others who are launching their boats in front of you. Otherwise, the chances are that you will be able to drive right up and launch your boat without any wait and with no delays in driving out to the fishing grounds. Probably some of the biggest amounts of time you will feel are wasted will be the motoring of your fishing boat from the launch ramp to the outside of the JAWS of the harbor. This takes about ten minutes on its own as this is a massive harbor to navigate through.
Salmon Fishing in Half Moon Bay
The good thing about fishing out of Half Moon Bay or Pillar Point harbor is there are many different spots to fish for salmon. There are places to the north, as well as several different spots to the south. This is good news because often you will be able to run north to a place like Pedro Point off Pacifica, and catch an early morning calm ride to the salmon fishing grounds, but by the afternoon when it is time to get back to the harbor, you will be able to ride the waves behind your boat and have it relatively easy getting in. This is sometimes the case as well for people fishing down south of Half Moon Bay, but for me at least, it has often been a harder run back to Pillar Point from the south.
Early in the year for the past few decades, the best fishing has been up around Pedro Point and often times in very close to the shore compared to being out 5-6 miles. The salmon seem to bite really well on trolling gear, whether you are using rigged sardines or anchovies, or hoochies and dodgers. The fish are usually in the mood to bite all sorts of things, as long as you don’t mind throwing back some shakers or small salmon.
If you are in the mood for walking around the fishing boats that are up at the harbor after your trip, you are in some great luck. The working pier which leads out from the harbor master’s office is Johnson Pier. It is big so you won’t miss it. There are several different charter boats which will be happy to take you and your family fishing, whether it be for rock cod, or salmon or sometimes albacore tuna if you are lucky. These Half Moon Bay Charter Fishing Boats are usually running on every weekend day, and many times during the weekdays when fishing is good. Be sure to call up and ask beforehand to make sure you are able to get on board one of those boats. One of the boats that has been fishing in Half Moon Bay for a long time is called the Huli Cat. This boat is 53 feet long and is owned by Tom Mattusch. There are several other boats as well, and you might be able to get on a smaller boat to make the long run for albacore if you do a bit more investigation into local charter boats in the area.
The local harbormaster’s office is a great resource to all fishermen in the Bay Area. They monitor V.H.F. channels 16 and 74 24 hours a day. The Half Moon Bay harbor website is: www.smharbor.com which also has much more local information.
Fresh Fish From the Dock in Half Moon Bay
If you find yourself fishing a full day in HMB, but you for some reason do not end up catching anything, you still might be in luck. The commercial fishermen in the harbor have recently begun selling fish from their boats, in a very organized way. There are actually posterboard signs at the end of each dock which list the boats and what type of fish they have to sell for anyone in the general public to purchase. All you need to do is show up when there is fish, and purchase whatever you want right from the people who caught it. It is a a great way to make sure you are eating fresh local caught fish at a reasonable price. There is even a phone number you can call up to find out what is available, it is (650) 726-8724.
Some more harbor pictures from beautiful Half Moon Bay: