Pier Fishing in California

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Some Venice Pier info— #1

Posted by Ken Jones (Skipper - Posts: 11990)
on May-6-08 8:07pm

Venice Fishing Pier

Sometimes things seem so simple that you wonder why no one else thought of the same idea. That was my thought when I visited the new Venice Fishing Pier in the summer of '98. Among the “neat” little touches that the designers had given the pier were two that every pier should copy. The first was a double railing out at the end of the pier. The bottom railing can be utilized for cutting bait, which means the top railing, the railing usually used by fishermen and other visitors to rest their arms, doesn't become coated with slime and dried blood. A nice touch! Another great idea was the cutout sections found at various points on the pier, sections that have a lower 28" railing than the other 41" areas. It took me a minute to understand the purpose but then I noticed the handicapped signs and realized that these lower sections were designed for people in wheelchairs. Most piers have railings that range from 38-42 inches, a height difficult to use for some people in wheelchairs. The decreased height of these sections, even if only 12 inches or so, helps compensate and make the fishing more accessible to all anglers. Now, how about some more piers copying the ideas!

Environment. The new Venice Pier is a duplicate for the most part of a pier built in 1965 but which was damaged by the El Nino storms of 1983 and whose structural damage necessitated the building of an entire new pier. The citizens of Los Angeles heavily utilize it and its predecessor was in fact called the Los Angeles Pier for a time (although rarely by the locals). The pier itself is concrete and has a good growth of mussels on the pilings. The bottom is primarily sand but a 4,000-ton, artificial quarry-rock reef was placed around the outer 750 feet of the old pier in 1966 and should still be present. The sandy areas produce fairly consistent sandy-shore species while the reef helps attract fish that prefer a rock-dwelling environment. To the south sits the rocky-jetty entrance to Marina Del Rey (with boats coming and going all hours of the day); small finger jetties jut out to the north of the pier. The pier has a 120-foot diameter circular end, which provides lots of angler space, and the length, at 1,310 feet, assures access to a little deeper water and the pelagic species.
Inshore, anglers catch barred surfperch, corbina, yellowfin croaker, stingrays, thornbacks (pinback sharks), guitarfish (sand sharks) and round stingrays. In the mid-pier area, anglers catch white croaker (tom cod), queenfish (herring), walleye surfperch, shinerperch, California halibut, guitarfish, Pacific mackerel, jack mackerel and jacksmelt. At the far end of the pier, anglers encounter the same species as in the mid-pier area but also see more bonito, kelp bass, sand bass, barracuda, and sharks. Included in the shark catch are a few of the larger species including blue sharks and thresher sharks.
Of note was an interesting run of 3-5-foot-long leopard sharks in the inshore waters during October of '99. Although leopard sharks are common, what was unusual was the report of large numbers of leopards being caught by anglers using live crabs, including sand crabs. The Bible on leopard sharks typically says to use mackerel or squid but these babies evidently wanted something a little more Epicurean to their taste. During the same month there were several stories of large numbers of leopards massing in shallow waters along the San Diego coastline.
Although one of the busiest piers in the southland, and sometimes downright crowded, the pier seems to have sort of a “laid back” disposition, In part, this may be due to the beach-side crowds and activities which seem to go on during most hours of the day (and night). It is located in the Venice (Muscle Beach)-Playa Del Rey area and there always seems to be something going on. Although most of the action takes place a short distance north of the pier, a fisherman at times looks just a little bit out of place. Imagine our fearless angler, loaded down with rod and reel, tackle box, bait buckets, etc., as he winds his way onto the pier between Sony Walkman-attired line-skaters, bikini-clad goddesses, Schwarzenegger imitators and, perhaps, a little flotsam and jetsam. What a sight!

Fishing Tips. During warm-water years in the early '80s this was one of the better piers for yellowtail and white seabass and yielded exotics such as triggerfish and needlefish. I even have a picture of a small, 6-pound albacore caught off the far end of the pier in April of 1981.
Most common, however, are the normal L.A. species. In the surf area, anglers can fish with a high/low leader, and number 6 or 4 hooks, using sand crabs (especially soft shell crabs), bloodworms, mussels or ghost shrimp for barred surfperch, corbina and yellowfin croaker. Using a heavier rigging baited with squid or anchovy can produce sharks and rays.
Mid-pier, fishing on the bottom with live anchovies, yields California halibut and shovelnose guitarfish. Fish mid-depth to the top for barracuda, and toward the top for bonito and mackerel. For all of these species, the best rigging is a live bait leader. Fishing on the bottom while using a high/low leader, and size 4 hooks baited with cut anchovy, can be good for white croaker. Fishing mid-depth with bait rigs (Lucky Lura, size 8 hooks) can result in queenfish and walleye surfperch. If action slows, bait the hooks with small strips of anchovy.
At the end, similar techniques are used. However, with the reef only 65 feet from the pier, anglers often try for larger fish. Fishermen should use one of the bonito riggings when schools of bonito show up and heavy tackle, at least 40-pound test, when trying for larger sharks and bat rays. Fishing with a live bait leader baited with a small jack mackerel (Spanish mackerel), queenfish, or shinerperch can sometimes yield yellowtail or white seabass. Most all of these species can be caught year-round, but the best action by far is found from June to October.
Although never really noted as a great producer of lobsters, the nearby reef does attract some of the spiny crustaceans to the area of the pier. Proof is seen in the capture of a 5 1/2 pound beauty on Labor Day weekend in 2000.


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Current thread:
Some Venice Pier info— #1   Ken Jones - May-6-08 8:07pm
#2 — Email messages   Ken Jones - May-6-08 8:09pm
#3 — Misc. Info   Ken Jones - May-6-08 8:10pm


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