Fishing Mission Bay Overview

Mission Bay: Loaded with tons of eel grass. The question is not where to find it but rather where not to find it!

Here is an overview of my beloved Mission Bay . I am stoked it is part of the SWBA series this year, and I want everyone to have a good time, so I will give out some spots and their names. It is up to you to find the fish because I know you all know how to do that. Keep in mind that everywhere is 5 mph, unless in a designated high speed area.


Let’s start at Dana Landing Launch Ramp. This is where most fishermen launch. It has a decent size parking lot, a small courtesy dock, and the Fuel dock to the right, and by the way, the Dana Market has the best Deli sandwiches around and lots of tackle.

The offshore boats that launch make a left in the channel and head to Quivira Basin , where the bait barge is. The sport fishing fleet and the police/lifeguard station is prominent on the tip of the jetty as the channel goes out to open water. Mariners Basin is on the other side and is known to have some very shallow water areas, so be careful in there. Quivira is a deep water area at 20+ feet.

If you make a right out of Dana Landing, you’ll go under the South Ingraham St. Bridge and have Sea World on your right side. There are buoys that clearly mark where you are not allowed to go. Be attentive here because there is an overhead ride and people often try to spit on anglers below. If you time it right, you can fish and see an acrobat show at the same time. If you continue deeper into Pacific Passage South, to the end of the arm, you’ll find the South Shores Launch Ramp. The ends of the arm are off limits as ski and jet ski areas, and there is a also a barge there, but it is a fireworks barge, so fish it at your own risk.

If you make a left after going under the South Ingraham St. Bridge, you head to Ski Beach area. Here, there is a small parking lot, 2 boat launch and a tiny courtesy dock. Right next to it is a great sandy beach where the wake boarders and skiers launch. Enter the buoy area, and it is wide open speed, with counter-clock-wise rotation… yeah right. This is the craziest part of the bay at times. It is the largest open speed area, as it extends all the way to De Anza Cove. Put the hammer down and keep Fiesta Island on your right while heading North, and you’ll run into the famous Bowling Pin. That would be the small island with what looks like a bowling pin on it. It is also called Government Island on many of the maps. Do not go onto the beach as there is no trespassing on this island. Further North, on the other side of the bowling pin, there is a marked shoal and a small island, and then in the NW corner is a marked reserve. All this can get very shallow at times. If you keep going, you’ll reach Campland, which has a launch ramp and a small set of docks. There’s great eel grass here, but it’s hard to fish at lower tides.

Bowling Pin Isle: rip rap and a ribbon of eel grass surround Or Government Island. Which makes this island a popular spot to fish.

There is another small launch ramp at DeAnza Cove. It is small and is not used a lot. It is back to 5mph if you venture down Pacific Passage toward the Hilton Hotel, which also has one small dock and rentals only. This is also where the Boy Scout Camp is. This area is prone to Jelly fish and murky water.


To get to the other side of the Bay, use Fisherman’s Channel. This is just West of the bowling pin. Go under north Ingraham Bridge to find Sail Bay , I hate sailboats, but this is a great part of the Bay. Most of the bay, East of Mission Bay Drive is shallow, about 10 – 15 feet at the most. There are some deep channels in Sail Bay and its coves. Santa Clara Cove, San Juan Cove, Santa Barbara Cove are home to the paddle boats, and most of these coves have moored boats and docks with slipped boats. The paddle boat docks are homeland security and the MB Yacht Club docks are snooty, so play it by ear if you choose to fish this area. The North end of Sail Bay is important to note. Most will tell you it is the Bubbler that draws people there. It is a pipe that constantly flows with treated sewage, I think. I’m not sure, but it is always flowing something into the bay. More importantly, we have affectionately dubbed the beach here Stripper Beach . It is a quiet, secluded sandy beach that attracts girls who don’t want tan lines. Now you know where Salty Balls will be fishing.

The Barefoot Bar located on Vacation island is a cool place to hang out after a long day of fishing the bay.


By this time, you have almost circled the Bay. If you head South, back toward Dan Landing, there is a courtesy dock/ and the Vacation Island rental dock. This is an absolute can’t miss place if you come here. My Brother got married there, and it is a very cool place to check out. From the dock, walk up to the Bare Foot Bar and enjoy a cold beverage and some restaurant food. It has a saltwater pond that has some big Spotties, Calicos, Sand Bass, Yellowtail, and WSB, all in a shallow pond. They feed them live fish and it’s on. We’ve had many great times there, and it is a must see. The SWBA should have an after party there sometime.


You know the baits: cranks, blades, plastic grubs, jigs and swim baits.

As for fishing, it is a typical Spottie heaven. There’s lots of eel grass, some rock jetties, moored boats, and docks. Some people go light with 6 – 8lb. test for the clearer areas. I use 10-12 lb. because I don’t like to lose fish. There are definite seasonal patterns to find the fish. I like to use the different plant types to judge the changes in the bay. This time of the year is pretty transitional, and I will have to find them too.

I hope everyone enjoys Mission Bay as much as I do.

Good Luck!
Tom Buckalew



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