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Guide To Fishing At Carlsbad Lagoon

Mark Armstrong
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With the Pacific Ocean right next door and over 300 acres of calm water, Carlsbad Lagoon can be a great spot for a variety of watersports and a fantastic place to fish.

But can anybody fish at Carlsbad Lagoon? As long as you have the right gear and follow the rules, yes. So we’ve put together a quick guide to help you out.

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Carlsbad Lagoon Fishing: What You Need To Know

Why Fish At Carlsbad Lagoon?

Because of the proximity to the Pacific Ocean there are a wide range of species available for catching, which can make it an exciting fishing trip.

Carlsbad Lagoon, in San Diego County, California, is made up of three lagoons known as the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, with an outer lagoon, a middle lagoon and the larger inner lagoon.

Video: Carlsbad Lagoon (plus OCTOPUS!)

You can fish from the shore at the outer lagoon, just off Carlsbad Boulevard, as well as from the shoreline of the inner lagoon at Bayshore Drive.

What Fish Are There? (and tips to catch them)

The lagoon flows into the Pacific Ocean, meaning there are a variety of saltwater fish. Carlsbad Lagoon is considered an important ecosystem for wildlife and there are at least 70 different species of fish, including spotted bay bass, sting rays, white sea bass and flounders.

For shoreline fishing, it may be possible to wade out onto sandbars near the public fishing area of the outer lagoon when the tide is out, which could get you closer to the fish.

> Public fishing near me

If you’re in a boat, a good spot to try is under the I5 bridge but you might find you have a more successful fishing trip if you fish as the tide is moving in or out. Artificial bait can work well for catching a variety of fish in the lagoon, such as Gulp brand bait.

Any Permits Required Or Regulations I Need To Know About?

In order to use a vessel on the water, you need to first get a permit. This is regardless of whether your craft is a power boat or a kayak. If you’re launching any vessel from the private launch ramp at California Water Sports then you’ll also need a launch permit, which can be obtained on site from California Water Sports.

If you have a canoe, SUP or kayak you can launch without a launch permit from the public launch ramp on Bayshore Drive but you will still need a lagoon permit.

> DUI on a kayak?!

You will also need to make sure you have a California fishing license whether you’re fishing from a kayak or from the shore. There are designated areas of the shore where you’re allowed to fish and you’re not allowed to enter the ecological reserve on the eastern side of the lagoon or the private land of San Diego Gas and Electric on the southern shores.

It might also be worth noting that smoking, alcohol, camping and glass containers are also not allowed at the lagoon.

Best Time Of The Year To Go

Because of Carlsbad’s geographical location, fishing season is pretty much all year round. However, for certain species, such as halibut, you may find it easier to catch them from spring through fall.


Being an easy journey from the San Diego metro area, Carlsbad Lagoon can be a convenient spot for a day’s fishing. With ideal year round conditions and plenty of fish to catch, we think it’s definitely worth a visit.

Remember to get your permit(s) before you launch a kayak and make sure you have your fishing license and know where the boundaries are.

Next time you’re fishing at the lagoon, let us know what you caught. And if you want to encourage your friends to join you, share this guide. 

7 thoughts on “Guide To Fishing At Carlsbad Lagoon”

    • Its worth a try particularly if you are trying your hand at those mullets that are jumping all over the place. On low tide there are even spots you can wade out to.

  1. The lagoon has been stripped almost clean of even crabs and shellfish hell there isn’t sea anemones in the rocks anymore let alone fish to catch, how many species ? Maybe I just got spoiled fishing there before people started keeping everything they caught and walked through the rocks with a knife and pealed all the sea life away from them as well, the lagoon is a joke and so are all the ridiculous permits.

  2. I’ve just started saltwater fishing and have been fishing the shore a bit before I take all my gear out on the yak. After making a couple visits to the beach side of the lagoon, nothing. I’ve tried drop-shot in sandy areas for halibut and jigheads for the bass. Fishing under the first bridge beach side was not possible for weighted setups. Lost my tackle twice on snags. Bobber only back there. Next up is the inner lagoon. Species I have seen being caught are barred and spotted sand bass, halibut and mullet.

  3. I’d like to go fishing from the shore in south Carsbad,California. What bait should I use? What type of fish are close to the shore also in Carlsbad, California?


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