SD Bay Float Tube Fishing Advice?

slcbcsmx19

Newbie
Sep 20, 2017
81
146
34
San Diego
Name
Erick Thacker
Boat Name
Big
What's up BD,

I just purchased my first float tube, a Caddis Premier Pro II. I've been wanting to get into float tube fishing for awhile now, after seeing the success of others out in the bays around San Diego. My ultimate goal is halibut, but the short term goal is just getting away from the shore and being able to fish around the boats docked around the harbors for anything that bites. Can anyone lend some advice on rigging, rod/reel setups, bait/no bait, jigs/lures, best tides for fishing, anything really. Right now I have some swim fins, the float tube, some breathable waders with stocking ends, and a rod holder I purchased off Etsy that holds two rods and a pair of pliers. I also plan to get a short net. My setup for now is a Penn Fierce 3 on a Penn squadron 3, but that's my inshore setup. Do I need a shorter rod? Stronger reel? Once you catch a keeper, how do you kill it/store it? Clip the gills? Brain it? Both? I'm weary about keeping a knife/spike/gaff with me, sounds like the first way to sink yourself LOLAnything helps in my quest, thanks in advance. Tight lines 🎣

Edit: I realized as soon as I posted this should have been in the tips section. :imdumb:
 

lazyfisherman

Member
  • Nov 28, 2006
    937
    1,055
    Garden Grove
    Name
    Bobby
    Boat Name
    Cattle Boats
    Most float tube canvas is sturdy enough to protect the air bladder. Rod wise, you'll be throwing artificial lures most of the time, so something that can cast pretty well with backbone for setting hooks. Lots of freshwater bass gear will work for float tubing the bay. Spinning rod/reel for drop shotting and another setup for throwing swimbaits. Get a big rubber net and not one of those cheap green nets. That way you won't rip up the tail if you net a halibut. Get a game clip like they use in kayak fishing and there should be multiple D-rings on your float tube to attach to.

    Also make sure to have your safety equipment. Once you're on the bay, you will need a life jacket. I just buy a cheap on to throw in the back along with a plano box with lures/hooks/weights.
     
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    davidpratt

    Newbie
    Jul 28, 2020
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    Costa Mesa, CA
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    David Pratt
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    Not yet
    I replaced the bottom air chamber of the seat on my float tube with a throwable flotation device from big 5 so even if it pops theres some flotation there. Not really worried about popping though.

    Shears might be a good alternative to a knife if youre worried about popping.

    I tried bringing multiple rods on the float tube but it was too much of a hassle to manage it and turned out to be easier to just retie one general purpose setup instead of having 2 different dedicated setups for plastics and hardbaits.

    I use oversized crocks to get from the car to the water in my waders then chuck them in the back netted area once im off.

    I have one of those old school nylon stringers with the ring on one end and the metal spear on the other. If i ever catch a keeper halibut from the tube Im gonna string it up and head straight in.
     
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    Wade K in deep

    IFish4Sanity&SelectivelyHarvest
  • Sep 24, 2019
    344
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    51
    Mariposa, CA
    Name
    Wade Knupp
    Boat Name
    Kayak & Kickboat
    Safety 1st: Legally you have to have a wearable PFD. A life vest works for this. A throwable in your seat will help you sit a little higher and makes a nice back-up. A loud whistle and/or canned airhorn helps get the attention of idiots who aren't paying attention to where they are going. Keep it handy. I have an extra loud whistle attached to my life vest.

    Legally (never seen it enforced), you are supposed to have a net while fishing in saltwater. The rubber ones don't tear up short fish versus the cheapo nylon nets that cause fin-rot. Pool noodles zip tied on the hoop.

    A folding knife that you can open and close 1 handed can be good for braining and gilling. I carefully cut them in the net.

    Stringers: Not a fan after a Sea Lion tried to steal a chain stringer hooked to a D-ring. Haven't found a good solution yet.

    I use a pair of Teva style sandals that I can velcro to the handles of my tube at the ramp.
     
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    swami 805

    I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
    Mar 9, 2016
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    sunk it
    I used to float tube a lot. Get a game bag for diving that clips to the tube. Find one with just a small amount of mesh in the bottom, that way you’ll be protected from fish spines popping your tube or sticking you. No need to kill the fish with the bag, just drop them in.
    One rod 6-1/2’ to 7’, makes it so much easier to grab a lure or net a fish, longer is a pain the the ass. A good baitcasting reel so you can get a better feel for bites, with plastics most bites are on the sink
    If you catch a halibut kick over to where you got bite, yo-yo your lure in the area and see it there’s another
     
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    Noah & Scoot

    Wishin I Was Fishin
  • Dec 15, 2008
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    The beach S/W shelter island launch ramp is a good place to start! Kayakers launch there. Incoming tide best, watch out for KOOKS, boat wakes and KOOKS.
    Tidelands is another area to try.
     
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    cortezpirasea

    Pangero
    Feb 23, 2012
    2,289
    2,436
    la mesa, ca
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    Russell
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    21 ft panga Sea Moan/17 ft gregor Pirasea II
    Don't get run over!
     
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    Noms

    Dirty taco maker
  • Aug 12, 2017
    286
    172
    San Diego
    Name
    Angel
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    15 foot tin can
    Becareful in the big bay. South Bay is good place to start. Less big boat activity in the shallow. Caught plenty of halibut on a 8-12lb set up with light plastics. Don't forget halibut have sharp teeth and slippery tails. If I decided to keep one in my kayak I'll dispatch and ice it asap.
    Ps. Keep the halibuts head in the water while netting, some go crazy when they break the water surface.
     
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    Aggro

    Keepin my pimp hand strong!
  • Mar 4, 2005
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    Hook a stingray just cut it off.
     
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    4tunate

    Almost A Member
  • Sep 26, 2021
    178
    422
    Reno, NV
    Name
    Brent
    Boat Name
    LowKeys
    I used to float tube San Diego Bay quite a bit (back in the day). My favorite launch spot was the beach just to the right as you cross the Coronado bay bridge, there is a small beach there for dories of the boats that tie up in that section. Really good Sand Bass fishing right there, jigging swimbaits (scampis, yeah THAT old school)... Some nice calicos and halibut as well, and since there are boats tied to buoys there is no traffic.

    I never kept anything that I caught, I was in the Navy and I knew the kind of 'shit' that goes over the side and the bay isn't the cleanest anyways. BUT, I do use a good bucks bag that velcro attaches to the side of your float tube for keeping your catch alive and fresh. In any case, that was really good fishing and right now mid May or so is prime time. Good Luck~!


     
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    Irishman

    Irishman
  • Jul 20, 2004
    332
    758
    La Mesa
    Name
    Alan
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    n/a
    Current, tide flow and wind are your first priority in any San Diego bay you fish. I’ve fished SD and Mission in my kayak. Safety first and stay close to shore and plan to take care of yourself. San Diego bay looks very inviting first thing in the morning but after four hours and a negative tide swing and boater traffic bouncing from one side to the other it can get nautical very quickly and dangerous. You can be on a nice drift having fun with spotted bay bass and all of a sudden get caught in a current you can’t play with, outgoing tide with a cruise ship departing and your along for a sleigh ride. In a float rig I’d stay well clear of the channels and play around the docks.
     
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    slcbcsmx19

    Newbie
    Sep 20, 2017
    81
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    San Diego
    Name
    Erick Thacker
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    Big
    I used to float tube San Diego Bay quite a bit (back in the day). My favorite launch spot was the beach just to the right as you cross the Coronado bay bridge, there is a small beach there for dories of the boats that tie up in that section. Really good Sand Bass fishing right there, jigging swimbaits (scampis, yeah THAT old school)... Some nice calicos and halibut as well, and since there are boats tied to buoys there is no traffic.

    I never kept anything that I caught, I was in the Navy and I knew the kind of 'shit' that goes over the side and the bay isn't the cleanest anyways. BUT, I do use a good bucks bag that velcro attaches to the side of your float tube for keeping your catch alive and fresh. In any case, that was really good fishing and right now mid May or so is prime time. Good Luck~!


    Good stuff, thanks for the launch spot. Not looking to fill the freezer; I used to kayak fish baja so I'm looking for a little piece of that closer to home. I'd get a kayak but I have no storage space in my 1 bedroom apt, so everything lives in the trunk of my car. I think I'd only ever keep a corbina or halibut, but I've heard that there's different colors to the halibut depending on how much "shit" they're sucking down versus baitfish. Lighter color = less poo? Have you heard anything like that before?
     
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    slcbcsmx19

    Newbie
    Sep 20, 2017
    81
    146
    34
    San Diego
    Name
    Erick Thacker
    Boat Name
    Big
    Current, tide flow and wind are your first priority in any San Diego bay you fish. I’ve fished SD and Mission in my kayak. Safety first and stay close to shore and plan to take care of yourself. San Diego bay looks very inviting first thing in the morning but after four hours and a negative tide swing and boater traffic bouncing from one side to the other it can get nautical very quickly and dangerous. You can be on a nice drift having fun with spotted bay bass and all of a sudden get caught in a current you can’t play with, outgoing tide with a cruise ship departing and your along for a sleigh ride. In a float rig I’d stay well clear of the channels and play around the docks.
    Thanks for the words of caution. You're right, the whole bay looks very inviting but I'm sure it turns dangerous quickly. My buddies and I fish Spanish Landing from shore all the time, my initial thought was to start with paddling over to the boats (sorry, yachts LOL must be nice!) and fishing between them. There's so many other setups just like that, I'm sure I can rotate them till I find one that hits all the time. So far I have a marine whistle and a life vest for safety, I've thought about carrying a paddle in case I get stuck in a rip or a 3-4 pound anchor in case I find a spot that's working but the currents ripping? Any thoughts on that?
     
    4tunate
    4tunate
    If you have common sense and a PFD (inflatables are nice) you will be fine. If the wind (or tide) picks up, an anchor would be virtually useless so be just aware of the changing environment. I have found that the tied up boats hold a lot of fish, there is not too much current and zero boat traffic so fishing those spots first is a really good idea.
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    rancanfish

    wow, how deep is it here?
    Jul 5, 2004
    653
    306
    Dublin, CA
    Name
    Harold Head
    Boat Name
    1971 BW Menemsha
    I would try and find a tube with solid pontoons if you could find one. I have an old Hobie Float cat. It keeps your butt off the water and has oars.
     
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    slcbcsmx19

    Newbie
    Sep 20, 2017
    81
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    San Diego
    Name
    Erick Thacker
    Boat Name
    Big
    I would try and find a tube with solid pontoons if you could find one. I have an old Hobie Float cat. It keeps your butt off the water and has oars.
    I don't have the space in my apartment, otherwise I would've done a kayak instead. All my gear lives in the trunk of my car.
     
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    slcbcsmx19

    Newbie
    Sep 20, 2017
    81
    146
    34
    San Diego
    Name
    Erick Thacker
    Boat Name
    Big
    I can appreciate that. Hobie cats breakdown into pieces.
    Unfor-tuna-tly my closet does not expand further, nor does my car trunk. Float tube works well so far, and I don't mind being in the water. It's actually pretty relaxing. Excited for summer and at least slightly warmer water/weather though. Would be great if it goes 70+ but we'll see, its been a few years since we had sustained warm waters. A few years ago they were catching dorado off their surfboards at Windansea, can you imagine how well that would work off a float tube?!
     
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    Noah & Scoot

    Wishin I Was Fishin
  • Dec 15, 2008
    1,532
    1,361
    Menifee
    Name
    Scoot
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    18’ CC Baja
    When the shelter island launch was closed, we launched out of Chula Vista ramp. Nothing big, but unbelievable variety and quantity. Bonefish, needlefish, small halibut and spotties for days. Super fun day, went through a lot of baits that day.
     
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