Pierfishing in California's

Fourth Edition

Record California Pier Fish?

In the first Games n' Things Page (April '97, and then called the Potpourri Page) we asked viewers to help us find the largest fish caught from a California pier.

Largest Fish From a California Pier?

As far as we know, a 435-pound Black Sea Bass taken at the Newport Pier in 1937 was the largest fish ever landed at a California Pier.

The largest fish at a northern California pier was a 194-pound White Sturgeon taken at the Vallejo Pier in 1980.

Bat rays exceeding 200 pounds have been reported from piers although the largest rays we have seen in pictures were a 175-pound bat ray caught at the Aliso Beach Pier in 1984 and a 175-pound bat ray taken from the Newport Pier. A 200+ pound hammerhead shark is also reported from the Newport Pier.

We would welcome any records that could be authenticated from the various piers.

Update: Information on that 435-pound fish is anecdotal and I am still trying to verify the catch. However, the following was recently sent in by Boyd Grant, one of our reporters from the Santa Barbara area.

Date: April 16, 1998
To: Ken Jones
From: Boyd Grant
Subject: Found it!

Ken -

Here is the article from the Santa Barbara Daily News, October 23, 1925, 4 months after the big quake that leveled the city:


Biggest Fish of the Year

R. A. Hendricks brought in the biggest fish of the year late yesterday afternoon, when he landed a 453-pound black sea bass at Stearn's Wharf after a hard fight that lasted nearly two hours. He was fishing on the side of the wharf opposite the pile driver when the big fish struck. He played the fish from the wharf until he had broken one of the handles on his reel and was nearly exhausted. He said this morning that the fish made forty to fifty runs out to the end of his 150 yards of line. Each time the fish apparently tired and allowed himself to be towed back to the wharf by the fisherman. Finally Mr. Hendricks jumped into a row boat that was alongside the wharf. The fish was tied to the boat and the fight continued. Several times the big fish was worked in alongside of the boat, but would suddenly break away for another run. A small .22- caliber rifle was brought into play as the fish came alongside of the boat for the final time and five shots stopped the fight. The fish was hauled up the stairs to the wharf and then brought to J. L. Hendricks' store on Estado.* Many Santa Barbara fishermen saw the huge fish this morning. It measured seven feet three inches from tip to tip and two feet across the tail.

(* Following the earthquake the town was rebuilt in the then popular Spanish Revival style and the main street, State Street, was renamed Estado. It has since reverted to its original spelling -- Boyd)

Unless and until someone sends in information on a larger fish, this giant sea bass will be listed as the record fish in my site/book and Stearns Wharf gains the honor as Number One Pier.

El Nino '98 and Piers

Although several piers suffered damage and required various amounts of repair, California piers as a whole came through the '98 storms in fairly good shape. Damage was done to the piers at Ocean Beach, Aliso Beach, Santa Monica, Port Hueneme, Santa Barbara, Gaviota, Capitola, Santa Cruz -- and perhaps others. However, at this time the only pier that appears to have suffered major damage was the Aliso Beach Pier (although major depends on your definition since the Port Hueneme Pier lost part of its end and fishing wasn't allowed from the end of Stearns Wharf until mid-April). The Aliso Beach Pier is closed and apparently needs to rebuilt -- at a cost of several million dollars. No one knows when the funding will be available or when the pier will be rebuilt.

Partnership with PESCA!

We're also happy to announce a new partnership with PESCA, the Professional Surf and Shore Casters Association.


Since pier fishermen are an important segment of the non-boat fishing fraternity, I'm joining this organization and urging other pier fisherman to do the same. I will be the manager for the north coast area of California as well as the Pier Fishing Fraternity in California. I'll hopefully be able to get pier fishing articles included in their magazine as well as having pier fishing segments on their ESPN2 television show. The organization is new but I think it offers the potential to be an exciting addition to our anglin' lives. Check out my PESCA page and let me know what you think!

Fishing Clubs

How many of you belong to fishing clubs? I recently received a message from the Marina Del Rey Anglers Club and started wondering how many similar clubs there are in California. If you belong to a fishing club drop me a note and I'll list it on the next Games 'n Things Page. Send me the name and address and a logo if they have one. You can send the logo by e-mail at the above address or send it by snail-mail to:

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

I've also decided to offer a special price on my books to any fishing club. I will sell a case of 30 books for $125 (which includes tax and postage). That works out to an actual cost per book of just over three dollars and means I'm not making any money on the books. However, I feel it is very important to teach kids how to fish and am willing to salute the fishing clubs which help fulfill this important function. If you're interested, send me an order on club stationary together with a check to the above address.

Answers to the Nitty Gritty Trivia Quiz #3

(Games 'n Things Page, Third Edition)

  1. The Round House Marine Lab sits out at the end of this pier.
    Manhattan Beach Pier
  2. This is the only pier on the West Coast with cabins built over the blue Pacific.
    Crystal Pier
  3. The new Pacific Park amusement park is located on this pier.
    Santa Monica Pier
  4. This pier sits next to the future home of the San Francisco Giants.
    South Beach Harbor Marina Pier
  5. This pier is supposed to be the longest concrete pier in the world.
    Ocean Beach Pier
  6. This pier sits in the oldest seaside resort on the Pacific Coast.
    Capitola Wharf
  7. This pier is part of a beautiful recreation center.
    Adorni Fishing Pier
  8. A common name among anglers who fish this pier is the shark pier. What is the real name?
    San Mateo Pier
  9. This pier sits next to the current home of the San Francisco Giants.
    Candlestick Point Pier
  10. More commercials are filmed at this pier than any other pier in northern California.
    Pier 7

Venice Fishing Pier


We're glad to see that the Venice Fishing Pier finally opened after being closed for more than five years.

We're also pleased to hear that the fishing seems to have been good at the pier. But what about before it was closed? Here are a few pictures taken during the El Nino year of 1982. Most amazing are the pictures of the triggerfish and a small albacore.

Poll -- What's Your Favorite Pier Fish?

I'm curious to know what you consider your favorite fish. Drop me an e-mail message as to your favorite fish and where you fish -- southern California, central California, Bay Area, or northern California. I'll tabulate the results and let you know in the next Games 'n Things Page.

Good News! Elephant Rock to Reopen!

It appears that construction on the Elephant Rock Pier in Tiburon will begin in June or July. This favorite fishing spot for Bay Area anglers has been closed since 1996. Waves damaged the pier in the '95-96 storms and although the pier itself is tiny, the reconstruction project itself proved huge. In order to satisfy the American Disabilities Act a new wider ramp had to be devised to access the pier. This added cost and required money which the city didn't have. Therefore, the feds were brought in and funds (a grant) were requested. This of course meant additional delays because a federal environmental review had to take place. The review is done, the money is available, and repairs are scheduled for June or July. The new ramp will be the most noticeable change but the pier surrounding the rock will also change. Instead of a wooden-board base which can be uplifted and damaged by waves, a new metal grid will be the base. It will withstand wave action but I wonder if this means anglers are going to get drenched by water when the waves are rough?

Listed below are the piers I would select as being the best for various species. Do you agree? Do you disagree? What are your thoughts? Send me a message.

Top Piers in the State for Different Species

Southern California

Pacific Bonito Redondo Sportfishing Pier
Pacific Mackerel Newport Pier
Pacific Barracuda Oceanside Pier
California Halibut Redondo Beach Pier
White Croaker Huntington Beach Pier
Queenfish Seal Beach Pier
Corbina Belmont Shores Pier
Spotfin Croaker Seal Beach Pier
Yellowfin Croaker Huntington Beach Pier
Kelp BassStearns Wharf -- Santa Barbara
Sand BassShelter Island Pier
Spotted Sand Bass"Embarcadero Marina Park" Pier
Sargo Belmont Shores Pier
JacksmeltNewport Pier
Barred SurfperchCrystal Pier
BlackperchShelter Island Pier
Rubberlip SeaperchStearns Wharf -- Santa Barbara
PileperchSanta Monica Pier
Opaleye Green Pleasure Pier -- Avalon
California HalfmoonGreen Pleasure Pier -- Avalon
California Scorpionfish Newport Pier
Shovelnose Guitarfish Crystal Pier -- San Diego
Gray Smoothhound Shark Crystal Pier -- San Diego
Bat RayRedondo Beach Pier
Spider Crab Redondo Sportfishing Pier
Spiny Lobster San Clemente Pier
Starfish Goleta Pier

Central California and San Francisco Bay

Barred Surfperch Pismo Beach Pier
Calico SurfperchCayucos Pier
Rubberlip Seaperch Seacliff State Beach Pier
White Seaperch Berkeley Pier
Walleye SurfperchPacifica Pier
Silver Surfperch Pacifica Pier
Pileperch Red Rock Pier (closed)
Blackperch Fort Baker Pier
Rubberlip SeaperchSeacliff State Park Pier
White CroakerAvila Pier
JacksmeltFort Baker Pier
Starry Flounder Vallejo Pier (closed)
California Halibut Avila Pier
Pacific Tomcod San Francisco Municipal Pier
Blue Rockfish Santa Cruz Wharf
Brown RockfishAngel Island Pier
LingcodSanta Cruz Wharf
King Salmon Pacifica Pier
Striped Bass Antioch Bridge Pier
White Sturgeon San Mateo Pier
Bat Ray Candlestick Point Pier
Leopard Shark Elephant Rock Pier -- Tiburon
Brown Smoothhound SharkPort View Park Pier -- Oakland
Red Rock Crab Fort Point Pier -- San Francisco
Dungeness CrabPacifica Pier
Red OctopusSanta Cruz Wharf

Northern California

Redtail Surfperch "B" Street Pier -- Crescent City
Striped Seaperch Point Arena Pier
Walleye SurfperchCommercial Street Dock - Eureka
Silver SurfperchLawson's Landing Pier - Tomales Bay
JacksmeltCommercial Street Dock - Eureka
Pacific HerringCitizen's Dock -- Crescent City
Starry Flounder"B" Street Pier -- Crescent City
Kelp Greenling Point Arena Pier
LingcodPoint Arena Pier
Cabezon Point Arena Pier
Black Rockfish Citizen's Dock -- Crescent City
Brown RockfishAngel Island Pier
Spiny DogfishCommercial Street Dock - Eureka
Bat RayTides Wharf -- Bodega Bay
Dungeness Crab "B" Street Pier -- Crescent City

Where Is It?

The following picture was taken by my good friend Mike Mogler of Minds Eye Photography. I'll send a free book to the first person who identifies where the sign is located.

E-mail me your answer to kjcapfsh@pacific.net.

Editorial -- Elitism in Malibu?

When the piers at Seal Beach and Oceanside were damaged and closed in the El Nino-generated storms of 1983, citizens banded together, raised money, and demanded that their piers be fixed. Both piers were fixed and today the piers proudly carry plaques honoring their local donors -- the "Friends of the Pier." Similar efforts have taken place in several other California towns following damage to their piers.

However, there appears to be little if any effort of the sort in Malibu even though the town's picturesque pier has been closed since 1996. The pier, owned and operated by the state was damaged from storms in 1995-96 and declared unsafe. When the state appeared uninterested in repairing the pier, the City of Malibu asked to take back ownership and investigated the cost of repairs. At about $3 million dollars, it was too expensive for the city. How about a grant from the County of Los Angeles? Little sympathy -- perhaps a loan might be made to the city but not a grant.

Today the pier and its Cape Cod-style buildings sit boarded up and deteriorating with each additional storm. Although the city manager and the current mayor appear to have worked hard to finds a viable source of funding, their efforts appear stalled. But where is the input from the local citizens? Malibu is one of the most affluent communities in the state and boasts some local residents who could fund the repairs all by themselves -- with plenty of pocket change left over. But more than one person has suggested local citizens do not care for the pier. Some have even uttered veiled comments to the effect that the only people who fish from the pier are the rift raff, the lower class fishermen. So why repair the pier when all it does is bring in unwanted people to the area? After all,, most locals can afford boats. Such elitist feels are not new to the town. After all,, a group of local environmentalists has also tried to get parts of Malibu's lengthy shoreline declared a fishing free zone in the past couple of years.

It may be unfair to attribute these elitist feelings to all, or even a majority of Malibu's citizens, but certainly there is a group that feels this way. It's unfortunate since public piers are for the PUBLIC and the public includes both the rich and the poor. In addition, state monies from the State Fish and Game's Wildlife Conservation Board have been spent in the past to make this a public pier. Funds for the repairs probably will be found but there is a good chance that the money will have to come from private sources. Perhaps a restaurant chain (Ruby's) or even a couple or different entrepreneurs will be needed to stimulate the project. The bottom line is that we do not care who funds the project. Whoever does will merit praise. But it's unfortunate that Malibu does not exhibit the same civic minded concern and love for their pier that the citizens of Seal Beach and Oceanside displayed when faced with a similar situation. And, it's a sad commentary on the state of affairs in Malibu if indeed the lack of concern is caused by elitist attitudes of local citizens.

Good Organizations

International Game Fish Association
United Anglers of Southern California
United Anglers of California
Professional Surf & Shore Casters' Association