Pier Fishing in California

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Remember the bait tickets? And it's...

Posted by Ken Jones (Skipper - Posts: 11990)
on May-5-08 4:05pm

interesting how things have changed since the post was first made in 2003. The bonito hve returned.

Remember the bait tickets?

Date: May 21, 2003
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Ken Jones

Subject: Bait tickets....oh how the times have changed.
I have the following tickets which I am going to scan for the book. Anyone else got any they'd be willing to share. (And I have no idea how old these might be)
Good For One Bait
Noel & Betty Phoenix
Newport & Balboa Piers, Calif

Good For One Bait
Geo. C. Hiner
Newport Beach, California

Good for One Live Bait
Balboa Pier Bait & Tackle
Cafe and Fountain Service
John C. Kirk
Balboa Pier, Calif.

Good For One Live Bait
H.B. Bait Stand
Huntington Beach Pier

Seal Beach Sport Fishing Pier
Phone 430-3723
Good For One Live Bait

Belmont Pier
Fox Sport Fishing Co., Inc.
Phone - Hemlock 3-9508
Good For One Live Bait

Posted by Kaster
Tell us about tickets...I've heard about them before but I'm not sure what they were for?

Posted by Ken Jones
Most of the southland piers used to have...bait and tackle shops out toward the end and most of these had live bait-anchovies and (in the earlier years) sardines. Since this was before aerators were common, you usually brought a bucket with you to the pier but only wanted a couple of anchovies at a time (because they wouldn't live too long in the bucket). To alleviate making change every time you needed a few bait fish, you simply bought a dollar or two of tickets when you arrived and gave them back a ticket whenever you needed bait. It speeded up the process, a necessary thing when a school of fish would show up. When I began to fish at Newport in 1962, I think the tickets were 5 cents a piece or 6 for a quarter. If you were a kid you could usually manage to get a few tickets when adult anglers were leaving. Not always, but often enough that if you were a regular you could often avoid paying for the bait yourself. I'm sure that the availability of bait may also have played a role in the larger catch of halibut back in those days. Today the true pier rats know to catch their own live bait for halibut while most anglers miss out on the flatties. Back in those days MOST people used live bait. Unfortunately not too many piers have bait and tackle shops out at the end any more, and those that do find the cost of having live anchovies is prohibitive.

Posted by Kaster
Sounded like a good idea....Too bad I missed it. -Kevin

Posted by mola joe
The best part...On Hermosa Pier we would retrieve live bait from the bait boat about every other day during the summer. The best part was when we would flush all the old bait out to make way for the new. Most were dead or dying, but there was always plenty of live ones mixed in. The bonito would go bonkers when we flushed the tanks. The whole side of the pier that the bait swam or drifted to would have bent rods. A chrome diamond jig thrown right into the chum would get inhaled on the drop almost every time. Also, some of the biggest herring you have ever seen lived under the pier munching these flushed baits. Not only was the live anchovies a fish catcher for even the most novice angler, the old chummed bait when flushed from the big tank went a long way in keeping the game fish like bonito and yellowtail coming back to the pier day after day. I have some old bait tickets around here somewhere, just have to find them.

Posted by Snookie
Ken, George Hiner was the original bait shop person. He and his wife ran it with the help of people like Bill Martin, and a number of others. Betty Phoenix was George Hiner's daughter, and she and her husband Noel took over before and after George retired and died. George also had a son, George Jr., who was out there a lot. He ended up in jail too much to be reliable. His reasons for being in jail besides being drunk were that he didn't believe in Fish and Game laws. Had many interesting stories about him. He did save us one time when a purse seiner came in and wrapped the pier for white seabass. He swam out that night and cut all the nets. Thank goodness for the likes of him. No one knew it was him until sometime later, but it wasn't hard to guess if you knew George Jr. Betty ran the restaurant and had the bessssst hamburgers and bacon and egg sandwiches (45 to 75 cents) that you could possibly have. She would cook your fish too if you wanted her to do that. Bait could be cheaper than the 5 cents apiece if the baitman liked you. My mother once said to never make the baitman mad at you. By the way when they had metal buckets for rent, they were 25 cents a day. Those were wonderful days then. The men in the baithouse controlled the behavior of the fishermen, and we didn't have messes or too many fights. It wasn't allowed. If you misbehaved, you got thrown off the pier at the lands end of course. No more fishing for you. Snookie

Posted by Kaster
Nice story. I loved the baitman part! Sounds like a good deal. -Kevin
See, there really were some good old days!

Posted by Ken Jones
Forgot to mention about the herring (queenfish) hanging out under the shops. Big white seabass would come in to nab those queenies. And, as Mola Joe said, the action on the bonito was great for a few years in the '60s. They were often as common as the mackerel are today. But they were bigger, fought even better, and were better tasting (although many people took home gunneysacks full of boneheads and used them for fertilizer). We probably will not see those days again unless there are some serious restrictions put on the commercial boys.

Posted by SandCrab
Oh man! Wish I can go back in time, and see all the bonito...I have seen them only in Asian markets and they are BIG!

Posted by Snookie
The Queenfish became bait when we couldn't get a delivery of anchovies. Betty would put the BIG net down right beside the ramp area and we would have the most perfect queenfish that you would want in just a short time every time. As to the bonito, we did not have ANY bonito when I was first fishing Newport pier. The guys said that they were a thing of the past. That was in the middle 40's. Probably about the late 50's the bonito began to reappear. What a surprise for all of us. It will be that way again. Snookie

Posted by quondog
I remember those from the bait shop at Huntington Beach half way down the pier where the structure changed from cement to wood. Forty years ago, but the first pier I ever fished on. Fish the bait high in the water for bonito and barries and low for butts. My equipment was a Ted Williams rod from Sears and a Mitchel 300 reel. Ahhh the good old days. The whole family would go and stay all day. Swim, fish and have a bbq/bonfire at night.

Posted by nimrod
Ken, they were indeed 6 for a quarter in the min 60's. The bait guys knew my Gpa on a first name basis and he always got the perfect "pinhead" chovies for Halibut.
Hey Snookie. As a kid in the mid 60's we mostly fished Balboa, NP and HB Piers not in any order. The best part was if Gma didn't pack her signature lunches I knew we were going to NP. Those were the best burgers and I've never had better to date. Obviously you remember how she presented them half wrapped. Two purposes, looks and so you could get every last tasty bite down your neck without spilling any. Then I would like that paper dry. Wowee I can still conger up that taste as I type. Nimrod "I fish,I hunt,I provide."

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Remember the bait tickets? And it's...   Ken Jones - May-5-08 4:05pm

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