Visitor Comments and Letters - December '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

Date: December 2, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Matt Shockney
Subject: Hey There Ken!

Hey Ken,

It's just me Matt. How was your thanks giving. I saw the new pier reports. Thanx for including mine. Although, I don't know If I can do a report on Pillar Point Harbor that much, but I will go there every so often (at least twice a month) and give ya feed back on Pillar Point and Pacifica Pier. Anyways, I was down at Santa Barbara wharf this Thanksgiving, fishing with my dad. We stayed for about an our and a half and caught 9 kingfish, 5 sardines, 2 anchovies and a perch. I had something huge on and it almost pulled my whole rod into the water! I caught the end of it just before it went and set the hook but there was nothing there. Another guy who was by me caught a really cool looking ray and a huge shell with a worm in it. Anyway, my main question was that I wanted your best idea on catching striped bass. I heard of the system where you cast out a sinker and then attach 6 feet of line to a bobber with a whole anchovy on it and "trolly" the thing down the line. Does this work best? If not, what does? I just want to bring home a trophy and I heard that the striped bass are still out there too. Well, hope to get some feedback from you.


Hi Matt,

Thanks for your report! The trolly line you mention is generally used for salmon at Pacifica, I've never heard of too many people using it for striped bass.

Ken Jones

December 4, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Kenny Wilson
Subject: Pier Fishing

Hi Ken,

I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your pages. I was born in Long Beach and have fished the piers from Santa Monica to Imperial Beach since the early forties. I live in Oregon now so I can only enjoy the piers through your pages. By the way, I have live bait tickets from Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport and Balboa piers dating back to the forties. If you know of any collectors who might be interested let me know.

Ken Wilson

Hi Ken,

I don't know any collectors but might be interested in buying some myself to photograph for the second edition of my book. How much would you want for them?

Best wishes, Ken Jones, The Pier Fisherman

Hi Right Back,

You forced me to dig them out to see what I have. What memories they bring back! I was born in Long Beach and spent many a 40s summer day catching Queenfish (we called them Herring) and Mackerel off Belmont Pier. My Dad showed me a Queenfish rig that still is a killer. I spent my high school days hanging around Seal Beach Pier where a schoolmate's dad ran the sportfishing concession, and friends worked in the bait shop and drove the pier tram. We were known as "Pier Rats". I spent about every penny I had for half day trips on the "Nelah," (not sure about that spelling) and every once in a while old man Lescher would let me deadhead. What a great guy!

Anyway, I have tickets from Belmont Pier, Seal Beach Sport Fishing Pier, Huntington Beach Pier, Newport Beach Pier, Balboa Pier, and one good for both Newport and Balboa. I have multiple copies of each one except Seal Beach. I'll make you a deal you can't refuse. You can have one of each, no charge, if you promise to return the one from Seal Beach. I realize not everyone will have the attachment I have with them, but I want to share them with all interested fishermen (generic term including women). Your book sounds like a great way to do that. I hope they will reproduce well enough.

If you're interested let me know where to send them.

Best Regards,

Kenny Wilson

Hi Ken,

Sounds great although at the very least let me send you a couple of copies of my book! My address is:

Ken Jones
P.O. Box 529
Boonville, Ca 95415

By the way, do you have any interesting stories from those days that might be of interest to the readers?

Best wishes,


O.K. Ken, they're on the way. Thank you for the offer of your book. I would appreciate it. If I come up with any stories I'll send them along.


Date: December 6, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Keith Korsgal
Subject: S.F. Bay Fishing

Fished Friday, Dec 5 at the Marin Rod and Gun Club Pier. Lots of bullheads, a few stripers and the perch and flounder are starting to pick up. Anchovies are the bait for the stripers, with pile worms and grass shrimp are doing well for the perch and flounders. Make sure to dress warm and be prepared for wet weather.


Hi Keith,

Thanks for the report -- I'll add it to the monthly report.

By the way, can a non-club member visit the pier for a fee or do they need to be a member, and if they do, how much does it cost to join the club?

Thanks, Ken Jones


Regarding the Rod and Gun club pier. A non-member can go as a members guest. To join the club costs $135 initiation fee and then $35 a year after that. There is no longer a shooting range available, so the only facilities available are the fishing pier, and the club house which is open from 12 noon until 6 p.m. They have drinks, sodas, soup and chili at very reasonable prices.

If you would like to give it a try, e-mail me and I will take you as my guest.



Sounds interesting. I may be down over the new year and if so I will drop you a message. It would be interesting to try a new pier.

Best wishes, Ken

Date: December 6, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Tom Tran
Subject: Fish, Fish, Fish, Fish no where to be seen

To Mr. Jones,

Last week I went to Cabrillo and still things are pretty much the same. Except it seems there was more action: the macks are going on and off, people are catching huge smelt I think jack smelt but not sure, the bait fish have gone and for myself I caught nothing. Also most of the action seems to be along the front end of the pier. Breakwater guys are not catching much either although some are still catching opaleye, perch and small basses. (not much) Surf and rock fishing guys, outside the harbor, are catching really small thornbacks and perch. (still not much). Crab nets are being used at the pier also, they are catching some crabs. Couldn't go this week it was raining.

Tom Tran

Hi Tom,

Thanks for your report; sounds like there is still some action.

Best wishes, Ken Jones

Date: December 8, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Mark Grim
Subject: Orcas in Pittsburg?

Hi Ken,

I read in the Dec. 5, 1997 Antioch Ledger Post Dispatch newspaper that two killer whales were sited at the Pittsburg fishing pier by two pairs of fishermen on Thursday morning. A bunch of reporters hurried down to the waterfront but no one else saw anything. The fishermen were "adamant" and said that they saw "the big dorsal fin, the blowholes, the white belly." I don't know what was happening down there, but maybe I'll stop by that pier soon and try my luck.


H H H H H H H H H H H H H ~^~^~^~^~^~ ^ Mark Grim ^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^
^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^ Antioch, CA

Hi Mark,

VERY INTERESTING! I was at the pier over the holiday weekend but didn't see any such critters on my visit. However, I did catch a lot of little stripers.

Best wishes, Ken

From: December 11, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Bob Massey
Subject: Ft. Bragg Jetty

What about the Ft. Bragg jetty? I fished there many times when I lived there and occasionally caught a silver salmon in Oct./Nov. (I also hooked a few seagulls when I didn't rig my bait to sink about 3 ft. deep) using bait and bobber. No reply necessary as this is a rhetorical question, however I could dredge up a few reminiscences if you are interested.

Thanks, Bob Massey

Hi Bob,

I've fished there many times myself although I never caught a salmon. Some stories would be great !

Best wishes, Ken Jones, The Pier Fisherman

Date: December 14, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Scott Low
Subject: Fishing

Hi Ken! It's Scott Low, that irritating Canadian that "drained" you for information about fishing in Southern California.

Well it's been two weeks and I wish I was back! We had a great time doing the traditional Disney, San Diego Zoo, touring the Carlsbad area etc. We went to Ruby's as you recommended but we had no time to fish the Oceanside Pier unfortunately.

I went on a 7 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. fishing boat trip. I had a great time! I caught 2 Calico bass at about 5 lbs. each and a sand bass at about 6 lbs. and a sand shark at about 3 lbs. I also hooked on a sea lion, of course it broke my line. I had no idea the problems they cause the fisherman out there? But I guess we should remember we live on land, they live in water.

The boats biggest fish pool was won by a 20 lb. halibut. The boat's total yellowtail catch was about 25 although l did not get one. I tried fishing shallow for a while but eventually went after the bottom feeders at about 150-200 ft. I did hook on something that I leave too my imagination. All l know is it moved slow and had "mega" weight to it. It was not a sea lion because all four that were following the boat could be seen on the surface. I brought it up about 50 ft with a slow but heavy fight, then the line broke. I leave it to my imagination that it was a very large halibut or perhaps a large sea ray? Or perhaps a never discovered ancient fish? I guess I will never know? Even the crew hands had baffled faces. They knew it was a fish but they said "you never know what you hook onto that deep."

Well guess what! I am going back to the California West Coast to fish in the future no matter what. What a great time! l would love to go on a trip out to Baha and hook on to a big one! Guess it's hard to get fishing out of one's blood no matter if its "Canadian northern fishing" or ocean fishing.

Thanks again Ken for all your help, l hope you will stay in touch! Perhaps I can give you a Canadian Pier fishing report. I have a pier about 4 miles from my place on Lake Ontario. Unfortunately the reports would not be exciting until the salmon run. Just the occasional lake trout etc. Unfortunately Lake Ontario has had its share of pollution. People prefer not to eat residing fish. The salmon migrate and do not reside in the lake so they are desired fish. I do most of my fishing in the smaller northern lakes closer towards the Hudson Bay area.

Take care Ken, hope to here from you soon. Scotty

P.S. Is it true that one has to soak sharks in milk over night because they urinate through skin and the milk takes out the taste?

Hi Scott,

Sounds like you had a good trip even if you didn't get to go pier fishing (and it sounds like things have started to slow down anyway).

Your boat trip sounded like fun. Bass are fun although yellowtail can be great if they have any size; I once won a jackpot on the boat Malihini down in San Diego on a yellowtail that took about twenty minutes to land. Lots of excitement! I'm curious as to your BIG fish -- it might have been a black sea bass since they seem to be making something of a comeback, and they're usually found down around the bottom. But when you lose it you never know what it was -- might have been almost any strange and wonderful creature.

You're right about Baja and the long range trips; they catch a lot of big fish, but of course it is also expensive. However, now that you've tried the California party boat action you should have a pretty good feel to what it would be like to be on such a boat. Just imagine a bigger and fancier boat and a much longer trip.

As for the sharks, it is best to soak them overnight in milk or a little lemon juice; it removes the urea that builds up in their flesh after death. However quick bleeding and cleaning after capture takes care of most of the off-taste and a quick soaking overnight takes care of the rest. Shark meat can be delicious.

Do keep in touch and do let me know how the fishing is up in your neck of the woods. I keep trying to talk my wife into a trip to the north and I think I've just about got her convinced to take a couple of weeks to Montreal and the not-too-distant country in that area. Perhaps I'll get to try some Canadian fishing?

Anyway, let me know what you catch. Have a happy holiday and wish your family well.

Ken Jones

Date: December 14, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Matt Shockney
Subject: New Report from your 14 year old friend, Matt!

Hey Ken! I don't know if you got my last mail but I think I just commented about Santa Barbara. Anyways, I just got home form Pillar Point Harbor. Here's my report for it. Time: From noon to five. Fish Caught: We (me and Jimmy) caught lots of tiny kingfish with very small perch and one perch that could've swallowed a jeep, sort of. I caught one small sand-dab and we caught a few rock crabs. Missing: smelt, anchovies, and whatever the hell else is around there. Weather: Kind of rainy but cleared up fast and became better. Catch of day: A huge Dungeness crab caught by the guy next to me.

Well that's about it. Hope to hear from you soon.


Matt, Thanks for the report, Ken

Date: December 16, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Sun Lee
Subject: Back home

Hey don't know ya but who cares we all have one thing in common, FISHING. L.A. is my hometown. Three years ago, I moved to Chicago suburbs. There, freshwater fishing hooked on to me and now that I'm going back for the holidays after three years, I can't remember the names of the salt-water fishes and the techniques to fish 'em. But thanx to the NET, I stumbles to this page. I still can't remember the stuff but at least I can start all over again.

Thanx, Sun Lee

Hi Sun,

Hope you catch some fish when you return to L.A.

Best wishes,

Ken Jones, The Pier Fisherman

December 18, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Jan Vargo
Subject: Great site

I love your pier fishing page. It's handsome, well-organized and informative--and I don't even fish. I was looking for information on what birds eat in San Francisco Bay. For example what are the small eel-like critters that I see several species of grebes eating with relish? Are these (eels?) seasonal? They appear to be black and about 5 inches long and wriggle like snakes. The grebes sometime have a difficult time getting them down.

Thanks again for a fine site.

Jan Vargo

Hi Jan,

Thanks for your kind words. It's hard to say what fish you are seeing although it isn't likely they are eels. Much more common are several species of gobies and small sculpins, There are some eel-like creatures called gunnels and pricklebacks (and one is usually called the monkeyface eel), but again they are not that common around most of the bay. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Best wishes, Ken Jones, The Pier Fisherman

Date: December 21, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Dwight
Subject: Hello again Mr. Jones..

It's me again, Dwight! I just got back from school and I'm dying to get out there in the bay area to do some fishing! Any news from Fort Baker or perhaps on the big perch fishing around the area? And what exactly is a sanddab? I left the book back at school so I can't look it up.


Hi Dwight,

I've heard the perch are biting all around Sausalito. As for sanddabs, they're simply a small member of the flatfish family. They look like a small sole.

Best wishes and happy holidays, Ken Jones

Mr. Ken Jones,

I just got back from fishing Fort Baker pier...I stopped by Berkeley Pier and Pacifica as well but my luck didn't appear at either of those two. The waves at Pacifica were enormous...the breakers started at the end of the pier thus making fishing and crabbing impossible. But at Fort Baker, I enjoyed some late night fishing (I started at six in the evening) and caught some large walleye perch. But man, judging from how many sanddabs I caught and released, the ocean floor must covered with them! I couldn't keep them off my bait...almost as annoying at bullheads but then again, I'd much rather hook these flounder looking things than sculpins.

I'll be there one more time this weekend.

Merry Christmas!!!


Hi Dwight,

Thanks for the report and now I am definitely going to make the long trip down to Fort Baker - Tuesday I think.

Best wishes and continued success, Ken Jones

Mr. Ken Jones,

Good luck on your trip out to Fort favorite fishing spot always happens to be a few yards away from the sign that sits in front of the pier...I like to fish on the west side of the pier facing the Golden Gate. Fewer sanddabs there, but more of the larger perch and other rock dwelling fish.

Good luck!



I'm going to go there tomorrow morning. You're right about that spot, I've fished it many times.

Best of luck upon your return to school.

Ken Jones

December 23, 1997
To: Mike Katz
From: Ken Jones
Subject: Holidays!

Hi Mike,

Hope you're having a wonderful holiday season, making lots of money, and catching a lot of fish.

Best wishes, Ken

Thanks Ken.

The same to you and yours.

Had a gray whale surface in front of my shop around 7 a.m. this morning. Scared the heck out of the fishermen!

Merry, Merry


Date: December 23, 1997
To: Charlie Hill
From: Ken Jones
Subject: Holidays

Hi Charlie,

Just wanted to wish you a wonderful holiday season. Hope you get some fishing equipment!

Best wishes, Ken Jones

Hi Ken,

In fact, I got a Penn Spinfisher 5500SS. I think I asked for a 4500, but I'll keep this one for sure. Now I need to get a rod for it because none of what I have seem to balance with it. Too small for the 10' rod I've got, too big for the 6 1/2' one I was using for blues at the Edison power plant pier.

Thank you, and have a very Happy, Healthy, and Fruitful New Year!


Thanks Charlie and the same to you. By the way, now you have an excuse for a new rod and still have a need for the other size reel. Pretty slick on your part if you ask me.

Best wishes, Ken

Date: December 30, 1997
To: Ken Jones
From: Matt Shockney
Subject: Got a question Ken

Hey Ken,

Just Matt here. I have this other book on fishing in California, and the author of this book is Tom Stienstra. He is the outdoor writers for the Examiner. Anyways, it gives some brief comments about some of the piers in California. It tells about how some of the Locals at the Ocean Beach Pier call the place the "War Zone" because it is extremely dangerous. Now I read in your book. (which I have almost read cover to cover completely) that you visited and fished the pier. I just wanted to know your input on this. It also gave a warning about fishing at night on the Belmont pier because of unsavory types. I know you have fished all of these so I wanted info about that. Thanx!


Hi Matt,

I have fished on both piers many, many times. In fact, when I was growing up in San Diego I used to fish on the Ocean Beach Pier frequently at night; often I would work until 10 or 11 p.m. and then my buddies and I would go fishing at the pier till dawn.

I've never had a problem at either pier, during the day or night. However, there were times in the '80s when Belmont had some unsavory types. Luckily, things have improved at almost all the piers. Most towns have cracked down on people using the piers to sleep and have restricted hours; also more and more piers are becoming true family piers where the whole family fishes.

For your information, many people fear going to Pacifica. They've heard stories of the crowding, vandalism and arguments on the pier. As for myself, again, I've never experienced a problem.

I respect Mr. Stienstra very much (and I've met him) but I really don't think he knows much about most piers. I think I make it fairly clear in my book where I feel there could be problems (a couple of piers in San Francisco and Oakland) but as a rule most piers are safe on almost any occasion.

Hope I answered your question.

Best wishes, Ken Jones