Kayak fishing is a growing sport on the Tomales Bay. While herring, halibut and leopard shark are often caught, kayak anglers also have a good chance at hooking striped bass, perch, rock fish, salmon, and crab. Kayak fishing is not the only recreational activity at Tomales Bay. Outdoor enthusiasts can also enjoy hunting, swimming, bird watching, picnicking and wildlife viewing. Much of the wildlife in Tomales Bay wanders along its banks, and bald eagles soar overhead. It's a great place for photography.
The large open expanse of water lends itself well to several types of water activities, including waterskiing, SUP paddling, windsurfing, sailing and power boating. Larger sailboats and catamarans are more at home in the open areas, while the smaller spaces are suitable for canoes, kayaks and small sailboats. Boats, trolling motors, canoes and kayaks may be rented during the summer months.
Preserving the shorelines of Tomales Bay and protecting its clean water for succeeding generations presents challenges, since kayaking and boating have grown in popularity in recent years. For that reason, personal water craft such as jetskis or waverunners are not permitted on Tomales Bay.
There are four areas with launch access on Tomales Bay. The Miller County Park boat launch is located off Highway 1, north of the town of Marshallon on the east side of Tomales Bay. Overnight parking is allowed, which makes it an excellent access point for paddlers seeking overnight camping.
Tomales Bay State Park provides two launch access areas at Millerton Point and Hearts Desire Beach. Millerton Point is on the east side of Tomales Bay. No overnight parking is permitted. You have to portage your kayak along a short trail approximately one hundred yards to the water. It is very shallow and is best to launch (and land) at high tide. Don’t forget to factor weather into the equation. Winds often pick up in the afternoon, and a heavy chop can rival conditions on the outer ocean. Foggy conditions are also a fairly regular occurrence, so check the forecast before departing.
The open water away from the shore is not recommended for open canoes unless the wind and weather are calm. Tomales Bay is shallow, and low tides can reveal mud flats not seen during high tides. The change between low tide and high tide sometimes creates strong currents which can be hazardous to even an experienced kayaker. The mouth of Tomales Bay is especially dangerous, with high swells and winds where the bay meets the ocean. Winds can pick up in the afternoon on the bay, giving paddlers little or no warning and making return trips very challenging.