Visitor Comments and Letters - August '97

These messages have been edited. Although I feel the content is of interest, Iwant to provide as much privacy as possible to the various people who have takentime to comment. Let me know if you feel this is an interesting page. KJ

August 7, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Audrey
Subject: Audrey is a "SHE"

Hi Ken,

I've noticed an ongoing mistake that seems to tell me now that its not just a loss in edit, but a misconception. Audrey Kim is a 25 year old "She" not "He". Anyway, I'll be in HB next weekend to try for the halibut and I'll look around the end for once (I usually stay in the middle). I promise a better report. Been too busy recently with Nash Bridges shooting again and a few features to boot.

Audrey "the girl" Kim

Hi Audrey,

Sorry for the mistake! I guess it was due to a knuckle-headed male assumption that most anglers are guys -- although my daughter Kim loves to fish.

I know you mentioned the movies but didn't know about Nash Bridges, I've watched the show many times. I'll try to see if I can guess which "actress" you are the next time I watch.

By the way, I just returned from a trip down south which included Huntington Beach. I caught a lot of fish but unfortunately nothing really super. However, I did catch a big lingcod and a nice kelp greenling at the Santa Cruz Wharf on the way back.

Hope you have a nice trip down south and I look forward to getting a report when you back.

Also, I promise to NEVER make that mistake again.

Best wishes, Ken

Hi Ken,

My address effective immediately is... My company thinks this internet company is screwing us, so it's being canceled right after I send this off.

Thank you for your continued patience.


Hi Audrey,

Don't even mention patience! You're busy, I'm busy, we're all busy ( I currently have 5 MAJOR projects going on). So don't worry about it.

Thank God though that we can slip away once and a while to a pier, sit back and relax -- assuming of course you don't pull in any more of those evil looking crabs. By the way, I took a couple of pretty good pictures of some spider crabs in Santa Barbara. As soon as I scan them I'll send you a copy and you can let me know if they looked like your crab.

Hope things are going well!


August 9, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Ritchie Reano
Subject: Reporter for Coronado Ferry Landing Pier

Howdy! Great site by the way and I do have your book.

I fish the Coronado Ferry Landing pier almost exclusively. Here's my report.

All around a great pier. Varied species. Small pier, no concession or bait stand, but the Ferry landing has a number of nice places to eat. When the fish aren't biting you can take a walk and shop along the shops in the Ferry Landing.

Halibut seems to be the prize catch at the pier and lately are being produced consistently, average of 1 keeper per day. Lively smelt is the bait of choice and among the piers in San Diego, Coronado seems to have the biggest smelt population. Smelts are being caught with dip nets or small baited hooks. I recently landed and kept a 23 inch halibut using a 6 inch smelt. Jigs are also catching the flatties. Natural color shad bodies or grubs seems to work the best. Halibut rigs consist of egg sinker and snap swivel, but lately the sliding leader technique described on your book is becoming popular.

Bonito have been seen splashing the waters around the pier. But it seems every time they run by, no one seems to have their cast a bubble rig ready. I've not seen one landed recently.

Mackerel runs fair to good. Squid strips and fresh mackerel cuts are the bait of choice, but when the macs are finicky, small smelt will entice them to hit.

Yellowfin croaker are scarce and fall mainly to ghost shrimp. With a few taken on small smelt.

Sandbass are abundant using live smelt or mackerel cuts. Fishing on the shore side of the pier seems to be the best area to catch them.

Good size guitarfish are also seen being caught on this pier is squid and mackerel slabs being the bait.

Other notable catches... needlenose fish (wish seems to be more of an annoyance) and flounder.

Thanks! And keep up the great work with the website.

Ritchie Reano

August 10, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Barry and Helen
Subject: ghost shrimp

Howzit Ken Jones,

I just bought your book and found it very informative and helpful. I had to move to San Diego a few years ago and I was apprehensive about trying to fish here after having fished in Hawaii for the past twenty years. Last month I read through your book for around ten hours before my girlfriend and I bought two $22.00 pole and reel combos and we've been at Imperial Beach, Crystal, and Shelter Island piers around four times a week since then. Following your guidelines netted lots of yellowfin croaker, barred surfperch, a few corbina and some large jacksmelt (still trying for the big spotfin). Its the most fun I've had on the "mainland" since I arrived here for grad school in 1995. Thanks for making it more bearable.

The techniques used in pier fishing are considerably different from those used to catch similar kinds of shore fish in Hawaii--it's been a learning experience. Bloodworms have been working well; however, given our meager grad student incomes, we're having trouble going fishing as much as we'd like. You said that ghost shrimp work well for the species we target, and that they can be caught "in ghost shrimp areas" with the correct instruments (pump) and know-how. We were wondering if you knew of any areas that harbor ghost shrimp in San Diego.

Again, thanks for writing such a good book. Hope fishing's been productive for you.

Barry Masuda and Helen Jun

Hi Barry and Helen,

Sorry for the late response but I just returned from a trip to San Diego. Caught quite a few fish during the trip but the biggest was at a Central California pier, the last pier I hit before returning home. It was at Santa Cruz and I caught a lingcod out toward the end of the pier -- on a piece of mackerel I had caught in San Diego.

I only was able to fish from two piers in San Diego and didn't do too good. I did however catch quite a few yellowfin croaker and sargo at the piers in Oceanside, San Clemente and Seal Beach.

As for your question about ghost shrimp; yes, there were several spots that my father and I used to go to in Mission Bay where we would pump up ghost shrimp. As I recall it, our best success was at the South Cove on Vacation Island -- although we hit many spots along that island and would also go to Crown Point and Ventura Cove (which is an excellent spot for croaker at night). Typically we would pump shrimp during the low tide and fish during the high tide. The shrimp would usually be right along the edge of the water. You used to be able to buy ghost shrimp pumps at the Dana Basin Bait and Tackle shop but I think it closed so I'm not sure where you will find the pumps. However, once you find a pump you'll find that you can generally get enough bait for a day's fishing in 20-30 minutes of pumping (and it's probably good exercise).

You mention you are grad students. Where do you go to school? My son went to UCSD (graduated 1995), while I attended San Diego State many, many years ago.

I've also visited Hawaii three times and managed to do a little fishing each trip. Last time was a couple of years ago when I helped chaperone a group of our seniors on a senior sneak. We stayed at Waikiki (naturally) and did a little light tackle fishing in the surf (one stray lizard fish). One night I talked a couple of the kids into a fishing trip down to the docks in downtown Honolulu. Unfortunately, all we caught were some brightly colored cardinal fish and two varieties of squirrel fish (one of which I believe is called a u'u or menpachi). Still, we had a good time. Some of the kids had wanted to take a trip out on a boat but a marlin tournament was taking place the same weekend and boats weren't available (assuming we could have afforded the price). Some day I hope to go back and try to catch a big ulua-aukea from the rocks. That would be quite a feat!

One final thing, would you be interested in sending me reports about your trips to San Diego piers? I get a regular report about the Imperial Beach Pier and Shelter Island Pier but only get sporadic reports from one student who visits Crystal Pier. If you send me reports I will be sure to include your information in the monthly report. Let me know.

Best wishes for now and hope you're able to find a shrimp pump,

Ken Jones, The Pier Fisherman

August 11, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: CharkBait
Subject: Nice Visit

Just found your site while checking my own fishing related pages. Glad to meet you! Your site answers a few questions I've received from my visitors. I'll pass it along.

Reciprocal linkage would be appreciated.

Great Stuff,

Mark Smith


I was able to look at your site last night (I think AOL was having problems the previous night).Your site looks good and I will set up a reciprocal link -- although it might take a couple of days before my webmaster can do it.

I've got to go but best wishes and hope everything goes well with your site.

Ken Jones, The Pier Fisherman

August 12, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Ritchie Reano
Subject: You're It!

Howdy Ken,

Thanks! I would love to be a reporter for the Ferry Landing Pier. Incidentally I just came from the pier and caught 3 Halibut, a few inches under legal size and a first for me... a white sea bass. It was about 18 or so inches. All fishes were exciting to catch and all lived to fight another day. Smelt was the bait. The current was going away from the end of the pier so I used a single hook with a small split shot. That seemed to do the trick. My bottom rigs were not as productive that day. All in all a great morning.

If you do come fish in San Diego, give the Ferry Landing another go. I love it there.


Thanks for the excellent information! You are now the reporter for the pier -- and the expert. If that sounds good to you, let me know what you want to be called in the report. Do you want Ritchie Reano, just Ritchie or something else? Generally I type up the report during the last week of the month so if you see anything new or hear of any big fish send me a message.

I just got back from a trip to San Diego myself but unfortunately I didn't visit the Ferry Landing Pier. I visited it in June but my short visit was pretty bad. This trip I hit 23 other piers between Santa Cruz and San Diego. Had some good luck at some piers, and so-so luck at others. Biggest fish of the trip was a 6-pound lingcod at the Santa Cruz Wharf but I also caught some nice yellowfin croaker at Oceanside, San Clemente and Seal Beach.

Best wishes and keep in touch.

Ken Jones, The Pier Fisherman

Hello Ken

Recently I have noticed a few anglers latching onto a fish that I have not seen before at the Ferry Landing. They are panfish looking in shape, black pearl with a vertical white/gray strip near the mid section of the fish. Someone said it was a sargo. But I can't say. I am not familiar with the species. The bait was squid strips. Everything else going on with the pier is the same.


Ritchie Reano

Hi Ritchie,

It sounds like a sargo although they're more commonly caught on fresh mussels. For some reason there has been a very good run of the fish on many piers this summer - from Oceanside to Santa Monica. In fact, I caught two sargo while fishing at the small pier in Oceanside Harbor during my recent trip down south -- but they were only about 8 inches long. They do get bigger! The recent Father's Day fishing contest at the Santa Monica Pier was won by a sargo - around a 4-pounder if I remember correctly.

Best wishes and continued success,


August 14, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Benjamin Szu
Subject: Hello

Hi Ken, it's me Ben. I had a few questions for you after reading this months page.

  1. Are frozen peas good for zebra perch? It seems to small for them to want to eat it.

  2. What is El Nino?

  3. I'm interested in learning how to tie more knots. Do you know of a web page or anywhere I can go or maybe you could do a bait and tackle section on knots. I liked what you had about rods this month. I think it would be good if you had one on reels.

Well, hope to hear from you soon.


Hi Ben,

  1. Peas are sometimes excellent for zebra perch. Use frozen peas that have thawed and simply string a few onto your hook. They like them!

  2. Basically a warm water condition caused by a number of factors which affect ocean currents. What it usually means is warm water for California, a rainy winter for part of the state, and sometimes punishing, pier-damaging storms. Number one is good, number three is bad. It looks like a strong El

    Nino is developing and if so, San Diego should experience some great fishing including the possibility of normally rare species more common to Mexican waters.

  3. There is a section (and illustrations) on knots in my book but they don't seem to copy too good on my scanner for the web site. There probably is a site on knots but I haven't seen it if there is. We did do one month's tackle tips on reels, I believe it was the first month. You might want to check the archives page. I also talked to Ron at the tackle shop and passed on your thoughts.

Best wishes,

Ken Jones, The Pier Fisherman

August 19, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Dennis Herndon
Subject: Cayucos Pier Update

Hello Ken,

I've noticed that your reports page is pretty well updated on most of the listed piers. I did notice that the Cayucos Pier report has not and apparently is at least 3-4 weeks old. It must be very hectic to try to keep up with all the reports. Your efforts are very much appreciated, I'm sure. If your don't mind I have been fishing Cayucos Pier pretty much on a daily basis for the past 3-4 weeks and would like to offer this report. Do with it what ever you wish.

Lots of bait has been in the water. Mostly anchovies, some sardines. The shearwaters, pelicans and turns have been diving like crazy. Also there have been a family of porpoise working the area and have been attracting a lot of lookie-loos out onto the pier. Mackerel have been almost non existent. There have been at least 1 halibut caught each day. Most are just legal. One fish at 28 inches was landed last week. Many anglers are catching the anchovies with mackerel rigs and keeping them

live for halibut bait. Jack smelt and kingfish are plentiful. There have been a lot of thresher sharks jumping and one angler today hooked one in the tail. The fish was about 4 foot long. It did manage to get away after about 5 minute fight. I have counted at least 30 threshers jumping in the past few days. Some are well over 6 feet long. Some are right at the pier, well within casting distance. I have been fishing for them for 2 days now and have had no luck. I have been using a slider rig with a balloon to keep it on top and have tried live anchovies, mackerel, small jack smelt and small queenfish. I have tries a 25lb mono leader and I have tries a 40lb plastic coated wire leader. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Dennis' Fishing Page:

Dennis <*))))))))))><(

Hi Dennis,

Thanks for the great information. Unfortunately at this time I'm only able to update the reports once a month (since I have to pay a webmaster to do the site update). I'm learning how to do the technical end but I'm not quite there yet.

Your information will be incorporated into the next report and I look forward to hearing from you again. By the way, I wish I were down there doing some fishing. I just returned from 10 days of fishing but now it's back to the grind - and I don't anticipate any further chances to go to the piers until September.

Hope you're able to catch one of those thresher sharks. As to the tackle: the wire leader sounds better and I would stick to live mackerel when you can get them.

Best wishes,


August 20, 2997
To: Ken Jones
From: Director
Subject: Aloha

Congratulations on your great web page about the Cayucos Pier. We have you linked to our web site at

Thanks for your kind comments,

Ken Jones, The Pier Fisherman

August 20, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Dwight
Subject: A question

Mr. Ken Jones,

I've been dreaming of this for a long time but I'm finally going to go to Pacifica in attempts in bringing up one of those salmons! I've never done this you have any quick tips on what I should remember? I've watched salmon fisherman and they have a heavy hook like weight on the end...where can I purchase one of those. Also, if a salmon does run with the does one set the hook when the leader is on a slip line? Could you enlighten me?


Hi Dwight,

My best recommendation is to stop by the bait shop at the front of the pier and pick up one of their salmon rigs, it's relatively inexpensive and just right for what you will need. As for the strike, it depends on the fish but usually they will pretty much hook themselves. However, if in doubt, I've found that most of the guys will offer free advice if you just ask them. I think the salmon may have slowed a little but I wish you good luck -- hope you get a 20+-pounder.

Best wishes,


August 25, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Arv Evans
Subject: Got your Book...

Mr. Jones

I received your book on Pier Fishing this past week. You did an excellent job of covering a sometimes difficult subject. One observation (not a gripe...just an observation) is that the book was

written several years ago, and that some of the information is in need of an update.

Yesterday (Sunday 8/24/97) I took your book and drove around the South of San Francisco bay to familiarize myself with some of the locations you mentioned. The first disappointment was that the Point Pinole Pier seems to be missing. We found Point Pinole Park, but no pier or any indication of one being there.

Fishermen at Berkley Pier were catching perch and ray from the first third of the pier nearest the shore.

Emeryville piers (Charley Browns is now much shorter since the cafe was moved) both had no fishermen present. Oakland piers...full of roller-blade skaters.

San Francisco area piers had a number of fishermen, but they seemed to be catching only rays. The three piers off Third Street were vacant. Candlestick Park piers were full of sailboarders and tourists, not many fishermen and no fish.

Oyster Point pier had about two dozen fishermen, but none had any fish. All the piers down the peninsula side of South Bay seemed to be devoid of fish, or had just sharks and rays.

Half Moon Bay piers were wall-to-wall fishermen except out on some of the breakwaters.

Pacifica...AAhhhh, Pacifica! The Salmon are in and the pier was loaded with fisherpersons and quite a few fish, including three salmon. We have fished Pacifica several times over the past years it has been a consistent producer, even if the waves get a bit rough sometimes.

Out of all this, what did I learn...? DON'T GO PIER FISHING IN THE SAN FRANCISCO AREA ON SUNDAY! There are just too many people to allow a relaxing day at the pier.

Again, Thanks for a very helpful book. I look forward to using it to locate piers that I didn't know about, and for it's very good information on how-to-fish-a-pier.

Arv Evans


Thanks for your information (and I'll include some of it in this month's report).

You're right about some of the book's info. needing updating -- and I've just about finished the second edition of the book. You might like to know I'm including the piers up to Antioch in the new edition. However, I've got to find a new publisher.

A couple of comments:

1. Point Pinole Pier is still there. What you have to do is go to the parking lot and then wait for the shuttle that takes people back to the pier. It's a very pretty area and a nice pier but unfortunately about all that is currently being caught is sharks.

You're right about the Emeryville Pier -- it is hardly a fishing pier any longer.

I'm a little surprised about Candlestick - - usually it's a pretty good pier for fish. However, in talking to Hippo at Hi's Tackle in San Francisco it sounds like it has simply been a terrible year for fish on piers in San Francisco (although I've had some good reports about Fort Baker at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge). I personally think the torrential rains we had last winter may have messed up the bay's ecosystem for a period of time (but I'm not a scientist). As for crowding, you're right. Too many people!!!!!!!

I hope you enjoy the book and find it useful. One place you might try (which wasn't in the first edition of the book) is the pier on Angel Island. You take a ferry from Tiburon over to Angel Island and the pier sits right by the unloading dock. I've found it to be an excellent spot for jacksmelt, small rockfish, perch and some really nice leopard sharks. If you go there, try pile worms on the inside of the pier and squid in the deeper water for sharks.

Best wishes, Ken Jones, The Pier Fisherman

P.S. Let me know if you would like me to e-mail you the information on a couple of piers that aren't in your book.

August 26, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Dwight
Subject: Pacifica and Fort Baker

Mr. Ken Jones,

My trip to Pacifica was okay...Me and most of the people there didn't hook into a salmon but three lucky individuals did! Sure was fun watching them bring the salmons in! I heard that they were somewhere between five to ten pounds. The guy next to me caught two nice stingrays which he was nice enough to give me! In fact, that's what I'm having for dinner tonight! But all in all, the action was real slow but it certainly is a nice pier to visit!

On my way home, I stopped by Fort Baker and immediately hooked into a HUGE rubberlip...but alas, when I finally got it to the base of the pier, the line snapped! AAARRRGGGHHH!!! Why is it that when my line wraps around a barnacle encrusted boulder that it doesn't break but when I'm hauling in my dream perch that it decides to make that oh so wonderful noise, "PATOING!?!?" Sorry, I'm just venting.

I caught some cabezon but they were all way too small.

Oh, I also stopped by Berkeley pier at night...caught a tiny, tiny leopard shark which I threw back. Awfully cute looking when they're that small, huh?

Since I'll be moving down to L.A. next week for school...any recommendations for the piers down south?


Hi Dwight,

What school will you be attending. That will give me an idea as to what piers to recommend.

Mr. Ken Jones,

I attend a school called CalArts...I study film and animation! It's about a five minute drive from Magic Mountain! I'm not a real local around L.A. so I don't know where to go. I have gone to Santa Monica and Redondo Municipal...but I seek something quieter. As far as the my fish is faves are perch and sharks! A nice quiet night of shark fishing always seems to calm the nerves, overly stressed from school.

I appreciate the fact that you're helping me out on this...the only things I've caught before on the piers I listed above were smelts, mackerel and those thornback rays...of which I care not to keep.


Hi Dwight,

A couple of piers that you might try that are generally fairly quiet are the Manhattan Beach Pier and the small float at Burton Chace Park. I've had excellent results at both --although the one at the park doesn't have lights (so isn't as good for night time shark fishing. Attachments - pier descriptions.

Best wishes in L.A.

Ken Jones

August 31, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Ritchie Reano
Subject: Ferry Landing update

Howdy Ken

Just got back from fishing today from the Ferry Landing Pier. I actually fished Sat also. Mackerel are visiting the pier in numbers. I'm seeing bucketful's lately. Most anglers are using bait rigs sweetened with squid or mackerel. Best times seemed to be early morning or late afternoon. Smelt still cloud the waters with their abundance. Catching your own bait is a breeze.

The sargos that I previously wrote to you about were the only ones I've seen from there. Bass are still biting, but the majority are under the legal size.

Halibut are still hitting consistently. Most are caught on smelt. I landed a 23.5 inch halibut today using a 6 inch smelt on a sliding rig. I was also talking to a father and son team and they caught a 30" Halibut about 2 weeks ago using smelt. In fact, the halibut was so strong that it yanked his pole into the water. Fortunately, the pole floated and a treble gaff was on hand.

Also I might add... the father and son team also recently caught a 24 inch halibut at the mediocre J street pier in Chula Vista.

Bat rays and needlenose fish are common and somewhat of an annoyance to most anglers. Recently, a friend of mine hooked a 4 foot wingspan ray but came off while trying to net it.

No sign of Bonito

I also have some pictures of my catches. I am waiting on Kodak to finish my photo CD.


Ritchie Reano

August 31, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Benjamin Szu
Subject: Benjamin Szu

What is a Lucky Lura rig? Is it those hooks with dried fish skin attached to them to attract little bait fish?

I'm going to Seal Beach pier on Tuesday the 2nd. Any tips?



That's what it is (Lucky Lura).

Tip no. 1 for Seal Beach - see if Janie is at the bait shop and ask for advice - she's a real expert at the pier.

Tip no. 2 - try fresh mussels for corbina, yellowfin croaker and sargo and fish on the bottom in the inshore area.

Tip no. 3 - Try a Lucky Lura for mackerel and small fish out toward the bait shop.

Best wishes, Ken


I'm sorry to say, but Seal beach pier was pathetic today. I think I probably went at a bad time or something, but I talked to a few guys there and they said you'd at least get some mackerel or something, but we were getting almost nothing. A lot of little smelt that I used for live bait but nothing else. I brought up a very tiny halibut (about 4 inches) and my girlfriend hooked one yellowfin croaker, but lost it while bringing it up. It seemed pretty dead all around, only a few bites. I went from 3 PM to about 8 PM. Well, just letting you know what happened. I probably went at a bad time.