The Ultimate 2024: A Boat Owner’s Guide to Southern California and the Baja

January 8, 2024
Long time Kusler Yachts client Larry with a nice fly caught Mag Bay striped marlin he released aboard his 61’ Viking

Boat owners in Southern California are blessed with access to some of the world’s most incredible fishing and boating opportunities. Just how world class are the experiences in this part of the world?

Bluefin fishing and deep dropping for swordfish around Catalina Island. Fifty striped marlin days off of the Finger Bank. The natural wonder that is Mag Bay in the fall. The Bisbee’s Black and Blue in late October. Sunset cruises, popping from waterfront restaurant to restaurant, in Orange County. Spending time in places like San Diego, Avalon, Dana Point, Ensenada, Todos Santos, Cabo San Lucas, and La Paz.

From its flagship location in San Diego’s Kona Kai Marina, Kusler Yachts has helped clients make the most of what their home waters have to offer for more than a decade.  What follows is a blueprint for compiling the ultimate 2024 in Southern California and the Baja aboard your boat.

Striped Marlin Season in Cabo

The peak season for striped marlin in Cabo starts in the winter and lasts through the early spring. For your 2024 plans, that means January through March. Where the fishing happens depends on how the water stacks up and where the bait holds. This varies year to year (and day to day).

Everything you need to know to take your boat to Mexico…. Read more.

Much of the time you can catch striped marlin right out front of Cabo. Often in the spring time fish will stack up on the Golden Gate Bank (about 20 miles from Cabo) or the Finger Bank (55 miles or so). When it’s good here, you can rack up 50 striped marlin days.

That the fishing is good and so widely distributed in the southern Baja allows you take your boat to the type of place that you like to hang out. This means different things to different people. From the excitement and diversity of options in Cabo to the peace, tranquility and boutique restaurants of Todos Santos or La Paz, there’s much to love about this part of the world.

Taking a boat to the Baja provides you with a great way to the explore many parts of the area. You can reserve a slip in different places as you explore and find the right scene for what you.

World Class Bluefin Tuna Fishing: May through September

Southern California is the epicenter of a worldclass bluefin tuna fishery. Most years, the body of fish moves in from offshore of the northern Baja in late spring or early summer. As the summer comes on, the fish hold off of Southern California. Catalina Island serves as a central point for the action.

The Kusler Yachts Guide to So Cal Bluefin provides some inspiration on how to make it happen on your boat in 2024. 

The bluefin fishery is wonderful. For much of the season, the fish are close enough that you can target on day trips. They taste great and they grow big.

There is also a cultural component to catching them. You see black and white photos of Zane Gray posing with southern California bluefin. The fish disappeared for 80 years, but they’ve returned with a vengeance within the last decade.

You can catch them in a variety of ways. Perhaps the easiest is to troll Nomad Mad Macs or sling poppers at them when they are foaming up top. As you get more technical, you can target fully grown bluefin skipping big flying fish under kites around Catalina or San Clemente Island. 

You can catch bluefin on your own boat or take charters out of many places in Southern California and the northern Baja. You can even book a trip on a long range, multi day tuna trip out of San Diego.

There are lots options. Even more when you own a boat in Southern California.  

A 2024 Southern California Fishing Bucket List

These days the bluefin tuna might be the headliner, but the diversity of sportfishing options in Southern California is staggering. Many of the fisheries are evolving in technique and application. Southern California boats get better at targeting bluefin every year. Boats are deep dropping to catch swordfish– a technique that recently arrived on the scene (boats used to primarily target broadbills basking on the surface).

While every southern California angler’s bucket list might look a little different, here’s a 2024 fishing list that is representative of what Southern California has to offer. The accomplishment of catching all of these in the same calendar year is great, but it’s even sweeter when you do it on your own boat.

Catch a bluefin. Deep drop a swordfish. Catch a white sea bass. Fill the box with yellowtail on a kelp patty. Catch a Southern California striped marlin.

Summertime: Enjoying the Southern California Waterfront

Southern California’s beautiful waterfront and pleasant climate have been attracting visitors from around the world for decades. Owning a boat in Southern California is perhaps the ultimate lifestyle investment, one that allows you to uniquely enjoy all that this wonderful part of the world has to offer.

The Southern California waterfront offers great options and wonderful experiences. New Port Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente… restaurants, night life, sunset cruises.

San Diego’s world-famous Kona Kai Marina.

Kona Kai Marina, home of Kusler Yachts’ flagship office, is the perfect spot to spend a weekend in San Diego. The same sportfisher that you own can take you fishing, but it can also serve as a floating condo when docked. A night out on the waterfront, sleeping on your boat, in the slip. Wake up and do it all again… All the comforts of home, with the convenience of a waterfront condo that you can take to wherever you so choose.     

The islands are an easy trip from Southern California. 

Avalon is located on Catalina Island. It is historic, beautiful and surrounded by great fishing. Avalon is a perfect spot for a boat trip. There are plenty of anchorages if you want to spend the night on the hook, but you can also get a slip at the marina and stay at any number of boutique hotels. Once there, Avalon offers plenty of things to do– great restaurants, nightlife, shopping and tours. It is also a beautiful place to do nothing at all.

Tournament Season in the Baja

Late summer means the beginning of the tournament season in the Baja. The tuna tournaments kick off the festivities in late August. The name of the game most years involves locating pods of porpoise offshore and skipping flying fish on kites to target giant yellowfin.

The headliner of Baja tournaments is the Bisbee’s Black and Blue in late October. The Bisbee’s is one of sportfishing’s ultimate showcases. High stakes, big fish and an incredible atmosphere. Most years it takes a blue or black marlin in the range of 400 pounds to be in contention. Kusler Yachts clients have placed in the Bisbee’s many times—a fact that we’re very proud of.

There are a variety of tournaments in the Baja—big and small. There are big money tournaments and those that are more laid back and fun.

Not matter what you’re into, or how much money you are comfortable wagering, there’s something for everyone.  The team at Kusler Yachts can provide more information on these tournaments and even provide captain and crew recommendations to get your boat tournament ready.

Mag Bay

Magdalena Bay sits on the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula roughly 120 miles north of Cabo San Lucas. It is a semi-enclosed body of water that is among the most productive in the world.

Check out the Kusler Yachts Guide to Mag Bay on Your Own Boat

In the fall of each year, billions of sardines spill out of Magdalena Bay. These sardines set the stage for one of the most spectacular events in sportfishing. Hordes of striped marlin, mountains of dorado and piles of wahoo line up to eat the sardines. They are joined by whales, sea lions, and flocks of birds.

Boats that fish Mag Bay put up incredible release numbers. It’s striped marlin fishing on steroids, set to an extravagant display of natural beauty. Making a trip to Mag Bay on your own boat is a bucket list experience for fishermen from all over the world. Southern California and Baja-based boat owners are perfectly situated to make it happen.

A Word on Living Out Your Vision

For more than a decade, we’ve been helping customers live out their preferred vision of boat ownership. Getting it right involves matching your list of preferred activities with a boat that can deliver on the experience. 

This is not a one-size-fits all proposition. The perfect boat for me, may very well be quite different than the perfect boat for you. More fundamentally, the perfect boat for you and your family today might look quite a bit different than the perfect boat for you 15 years from now.

Why buy from Kusler Yachts? For more than a decade we’ve been redefining what you can expect from the brokerage experience. 

Our team of experienced, professional brokers understands not only boats and boat systems, but how people use them. We understand the waters around Southern California and the Baja (and beyond), and what types of boats make which types of experience possible.

Our team would love to help you plan your ultimate 2024 on your own boat. But then, why stop at 2024. Outfitted with the right boat, you can turn the ultimate 2024 into the ultimate next decade of fishing, cruising and making memories for a lifetime.

The first step to making it happen is a phone call.  Contact Kusler Yachts today….