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>> Berkeley Pier through the years, 1930s to 1970s [topic: previous/next]
PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:19 pm
Ken Jones


Posts: 9461
Location: California

The tallest story to come out of the newly opened fishing pier was heard last week and it appears that there are witnesses to testify to its truthfulness. While taking the easy course of fishing with the pole resting on the railing, one fisherman, who for purposes of this story we will call fisherman “A,” received such a strike that his entire equipment was carried away before it could be rescued. This alone was subject for a story earlier in the fishing season, but has since occurred rather frequently.
Now fisherman “B” enters the picture, and he is to be the hero of our story; for after making a long high cast in the same general area, he felt something real heavy come on the end of his line. Thinking he had at least a fifty pounder, fisherman “B” hurriedly pulled in his line. On the end of it he had, “A’s” line and on the end of “A’s” line there was still the fish that had pulled it overboard. Fisherman “A” then proceeded to try to pull in this fish, which turned out to be a leopard shark about five feet long, but the line broke just before it could be hauled on to the pier.
It will probably be many a moon before a taller story is told—a taller one which has the same backing that this story has…
It has been often brought out that Berkeley now has the longest fishing pier in the world, three miles of it, and people are still driving out for sight-seeing purposes. The fishing has been improving during the last few days, especially along the outer portion of the pier. The Oakland Striped Bass Club held a private derby on the pier.
—Moorings, Elmer C. Rowley,
Berkeley Daily Gazette, July 27, 1938

Large Smelt Run

We learn from Lee Anderson, San Pablo Avenue bait dealer — who watches things along the shore very closely, that a good run of large smelt is in progress off the Berkeley Wharf. Large prawns seem to be the favorite bait. Either caught with a single hook on a very light trout rod, or taken in numbers on a drop line, or trolley line, these smelt really offer a lot of fun, especially for children and the Berkeley pier is a spot where the kids can fish to the heart's content without danger.
—Bob Dwyer, Line On The Sportsman,
Oakland Tribune, March 15, 1940


Fun and Food Await Anglers

Go fishing tomorrow! Day off from your defense work tomorrow or Monday? Then by all means go fishing…
Berkeley Pier (old auto ferry pier at the foot of University Avenue)… this opened for public fishing one week ago today… plenty of pogies and perch with the fighting redtail perch running better than one pound each… lots of smelt for light tackle dippers and cork bobbers.
—Bob Dwyer, Oakland Tribune, March 6, 1943

Clear Weather Will Provide Pogie, Perch, Smelt, Small Salt Water Fish at Berkeley


Clear weather for either Saturday or Sunday or both will provide pogies, perch, smelt and other small salt water fish by the thousands to the good fishing spots out toward the end of the Berkeley fishing pier, the old auto ferry pier at the end of University Avenue.
Almost anything can be used for bait at this point, but the large Louisiana prawns and small pieces of the shrimps native to the Bay and the California coast produce the best results.
To get the utmost pleasure out of fishing for the fishes that abound off Berkeley pier, use very light tackle. There is a long lift from the water to the pier at points so that even a pound pogie is heavy for a light trout rod, but just put a couple of small hooks on the end of the light line, attached to a heavy trout rod and reel and the merry-go-round that will result from hooking into a large horse smelt is something to remember. The same goes for light bass (black bass) equipment.
—Bob Dwyer, Oakland Tribune, March 19, 1943


With striped bass fishing on the slow side, the piscatorial spotlight is directed toward the perch, which are scattered overa wide area.
They are around Berkeley Pier, Angel Island and the pier at Tiburon. Although the perch go for sardines, they have a preference for fresh shrimp at the moment. These are the regular “bay shrimps.” If they are still alive when used for bait, they have an extra appeal to the perch.
If the tide is not too heavy a one-ounce swivel sinker is sufficient. Successful anglers have the sinker at the end of the line with about three feet of leader and one hook trailing.
There is a limit of 25 perch, but the fish have been running to fair size. Some of them weigh as much as four pounds each.
Big Catches Made—BIG CATCHES MADE
M. Hatfield and a friend were fishing from a boat in the waters around Angel Island, and their haul weighed 94 pounds. Tony Dominic and Earl Eisenhut fished the same sector, and their limits of 50 perch weighed 75 pounds.
George Bordenave fished for perch from the pier at Tiburon and took nine for a total of 12 1/2-pounds. Waters around Sheep Island opposite Point Isabel yielded 35 pounds, mostly silver perch, to William Bush.
At Berkeley Pier, Ed Grondona and H. L. Cohen took a Mixture of redtail perch and silver perch for a total of 20 pounds.
Lee Anderson, San Pablo Avenue bait dealer; John Cased and Guisto Durando went aboard a boat skippered by Arnold Walz and fished the sector at the end of Berkeley Pier. They checked in with 70 perch.
—Mike Dwyers, Line on the Sportsman,
Oakland Tribune, January 27, 1953


From time to time reports arrive concerning an occasional catch of a sturgeon. These fish, protected by law, should be returned to the water.
The tragedy about the sturgeon, however, is that many anglers do not recognize him as such and in many instances the unknowing angler thinks he is some type of shark. In cases such as this the angler usually kills the finster and tosses him back in the water.
Archie Larson, who caught a three-foot green sturgeon off of Berkeley pier last week, would have wondered about his “strange catch,” but a representative of the California Academy of Science happened to be nearby. Larson has since received a letter of appreciation for his contribution to the Academy.
—Mike Dwyers, Line on the Sportsman,
Oakland Tribune, February 10, 1953


Many anglers wisely chose to stay home instead of fighting the traffic and this too turned out to be an excellent choice—especially for those who decided to do striped bass fishing at the Berkeley Pier and in the Berkeley flats.
Berkeley Harbor Bait Shop noted that at least 5,000 anglers used the pier over the holiday. Biggest striper taken was 24 pounds. Most jubilant of all anglers however, was Donald Davis. This 11-year-old angler caught “his very first fish”—a nice eight pounder.
—Mike Dwyers, Line on the Sportsman,
Oakland Tribune, June 3, 1958


Not so outstanding in poundage but definitely an exceptionally fine catch and proving how good fishing has been off of Berkeley Pier was taken by Ruben McClure. He took a legal allotment of three fish with tops going 16 pounds. When an angler can merely toss bait over the rails of the pier and hook into a string of fish like that it’s reasonable to boast of the current striper fishing in the area.
——Mike Dwyers, Line on the Sportsman,
Oakland Tribune, March 19, 1959


Back on our side of the Bay the bait flingers are still picking up a few small fish off the Albany shoreline, at the race track and Pt. Isabel. Berkeley Pier is offering a few small bass, silver and walleye perch and a good number of flounder. It’s all on sardine bait.
—On The Line, Andy Morgensen,
Oakland Tribune, November 24, 1961


First and foremost among the bait dunkers is one very happy hero named Dan Haller, who had the surprise — and the thrill — of his life when he hooked a bass while still fishing on the Berkeley Pier. Said bass weighed in at an even 40 pounds.
—The Fishin’ Fool, Ralph Stevens,
San Rafael Independent Journal, May 29, 1962


With striped bass fishing on the slow side, the piscatorial spotlight is directed toward the perch, which are scattered over a wide area.
They are around Berkeley Pier, Angel Island and the pier at Tiburon. Although the perch go for sardines, they have a preference for fresh shrimp at the moment. These are the regular “bay shrimps.” If they are still alive when used for bait, they have an extra appeal to the perch.
If the tide is not too heavy a one-ounce swivel sinker is sufficient. Successful anglers have the sinker at the end of the line with about three feet of leader and one hook trailing.
There is a limit of 25 perch, but the fish have been running to fair size. Some of them weigh as much as four pounds each…
At Berkeley Pier Ed Grondona and H. L. Cohen took a mixture of redtail perch and silver perch for a total of 20 pounds.
Lee Anderson, San Pablo Avenue bait dealer, John Caseri and Guisto Durando went aboard a boat skippered by Arnold Walz and fished the sector at the end of Berkeley Pier. They checked in with 70 perch.
—Mike Dwyers, Line on the Sportsman,
Oakland Tribune, January 27, 1963


Parka Pack And Perch

Drop everything and join the parka pack for a go at Berkeley Pier perch. The flatfish are on the bite.
This is one of the cheapest forms of fishing. You don’t need a license too fish from a municipal pier, and if you really want to go all the way, you can scrounge your bait and chum right off the bay shore.
It’s a sport for everyone from six to sixty—some are even older—and the action has been improving the past few weeks. Veterans say this week’s morning tides should be the best. Just don longjohns and parkas. Chilling winds whip the bay.
But don’t think you can just trot out on the pier, drop a baited hook and catch perch. Like all fishing, there are tricks to the trade. It’s obvious when you check the catches. Some sacks bulge, while others are limp.
So to the experts we trotted. He’s Shig Akagi, a Berkeley gardener, who crams up on his work so he can spend at least a couple of days a week at the pier. “I love it. Perch are real fighters, and they’re fine eating, too,” he says.
He opened his sage sayings with a warning. “Figure to spend at least an hour working before you start fishing. Turn seaweed covered rocks on the beach for baby crabs, or dig for pile worms for bait, then gather mussels for chum. You’ve got to have the ingredients,” says he.
He gears for his work with 15 pound test line, a light sliding sinker and a three foot leader with three hooks. He favors baby crabs for big perch, but at times uses pile worms and live bay shrimp purchased at the bait shop.
Success in perch fishing is likened to bullhead fishing. “When your rod tip bends with a bite, dip the rod to give the perch a little line, then hit him. You’ve got to give him time to swallow the bait. If he feels a drag, he’ll drop it,” Shig says.
His fishing partner, Les Sibrian of Oakland, nodded approval to all tips, then offered a reminder. “Just keep chumming every once in a while with crushed mussels or barnacles. It helps attract the fish,” he says.
Lee is another veteran perch fisherman. You can tell at a glance. He’s bundled in woolens and parka for the chill, and a converted shopper’s cart provides his fishing wants. It serves as a seat, holds bait and gear and helps make fishing leisure loafing.
Frank Fong and his wife, Gladys, are other regulars. They also use the conventional rig, but stick to live shrimp for bait. “We’ve been down here every day for the past three weeks and always get our share. We were too late and missed the good tide today,” Frank said.
Another husband-wife team is Ella Mae and Pete Conidi of Oakland. They average 19 to 20 perch to 3 ½ pounds each day. They had eight beauties on the stringer when we checked them.
“Perch fishing is fun and the fish are delicious. I either fillet and fry them, or scale and clean the big ones, rub them in butter and garlic and season and bake them. They’re done in 30 minutes in a hot oven,” Ella Mae says.
Emanuel Brantley of Berkeley didn’t have any perch on his stringer, but he was pleased with his catch. “I’ve already caught one bullhead, a spotted leopard shark and one nice flounder. You never k now what’s coming up next when you fish the pier,”
Whatever the catch pier fishing is fun. It’s a family game where everyone participates and a friendly atmosphere where the veteran teaches the neophyte. Even the gulls join in. They perch on the rails and eye the angler for a dive on bait scraps.
Frank Fong expresses the setting. “Everyone gets along. We always have a ball. If world problems could be hashed out on Berkeley Pier, everything would work out fine,” he says.
—Andy Morgensen, Oakland Tribune, January 20, 1964

One angler decked a 30 pounder from the end of the Berkeley Pier, according to Onnie Lundgren at Berkeley Marina Landing, and this seems to be the top striper of the week… The probable reason for the big stripers moving into the shallows is the fact that some really good runs of perch are in the area. Pier and rock anglers are sacking tremendous hauls of perch all along the frontage roads and along the pilings and the bass that are being taken are stuffed with the young of the perch families.
—Outdoors Dateline, Jim Freeman,
Fremont Argus, November 10, 1967


San Francisco Bay On Dull Side

San Francisco Bay fishing has really been on the dull side. About the only thing happening in this section of the salt scene is the perch fishing in rocky and pier areas. The split tail and silver perch are on hand in large numbers and anglers are taking them by the sack full. Best areas are off Ashby Avenue, the Berkeley Pier and on the south point of Brooks Island. The top offering is either grass shrimp or pile worms, with the shrimp fishermen taking the larger fish. Few of the rubberlips or redtails have been taken.
—Outdoors Dateline, Jim Freeman,
Fremont Argus, February 9, 1968


A new trick has been developed by perch fishermen on the Berkeley Pier. The perch are on hand in force with the bulk of the perch being sacked made up of silver and small split-tails. The sacks have been running heavy when you catch a good tide with high water. But many of the pier regulars have started to bait up for stripers with the small split-tails. They’ve been decking some nice stripers to 20 pounds.
—Outdoors Dateline, Jim Freeman,
Fremont Argus, December 6, 1968


In San Francisco Bay, just about everyone has given up the striper chase and turned to perch fishing for the only action on the scene. Perch specialists are even few and far between but those who are working the Berkeley Pier and the southeast end of Brooks Island report that the take of redtails and rubberlip perch is nothing less than sensational. The perch are suckers to a well-rigged pile worm or clam bait now.
—Outdoors Dateline, Jim Freeman,
Fremont Argus, December 6, 1968


Perch Fishing “Fantastic”

Flounder and perch crowded into the central section of San Francisco Bay. The flounder can be taken from the shore with pile worms or grass shrimp baits. And the perch fishing is just this side of fantastic.
“Even during the worst blows over the weekend the perch fishermen were hanging in there and taking fish off the Berkeley Pier,” says George Kerr at Berkeley Pier Landing. “Everyone is having a ball with the perch and flounder. It’s one of the best seasons on record.”
—Outdoors Dateline, Jim Freeman,
Fremont Argus, January 17, 1969


Berkeley Pier fishermen are not only limiting up on perch but they can also count on some flounder action when the tides flood. The water looks like coffee with cram but the panfish are hitting like crazy.
A few stray stripers to 25 pounds were reported from Berkeley Pier fishermen. George Kerr at Berkeley Pier Marina says that these few fish don’t seem to constitute a run yet but that maybe the stripers have moved back into the bay to have a go at the herring.
—Outdoors Dateline, Jim Freeman,
Fremont Argus, January 24, 1969


Flounder Hit Berkeley Pier

A big run of flounder hit Berkeley Pier this week. George Kerr of Berkeley Marina Landing says, “You should see the people lined up on the pier over the last weekend. Everybody had sacks of flounder that they could hardly lug down the pier. They aren’t big flatties, but the number that are there must be fantastic!”
The flounder are hitting just about anything that is offered to them right now but the top bait is pile worms. Fresh and rigged grass shrimp mare also top baits when fished right on the bottom.
Outdoors Dateline, Jim Freeman,
Fremont Argus, January 24, 1969


“The perch fishing can be rated good right now from the Berkeley Pier and for shore fishing in most of the rocky areas between the pier and the Richmond Turning Basin,” says George Kerr at Berkeley Marina. “Flounder have thinned out in the area since they were pushed in here on the big storm crests but pier and bank fishermen are still showing with flounder that go up to about five pounds.”
The trick to take these perch and flounder is to use eastern bloodworms, Kerr says. A week or so ago the bad weather caused shipments of bloodworms to stop and the angling success ratio took a nosedive, even though the flounder had moved into the area around the Berkeley Pier.
The bloodworms are flown in from the eats coast and are available at most East Bay bait shops. Some anglers use common pile worms and shrimp or crabs but the bloodworm fishermen score far higher than any other anglers.
— Outdoors Dateline, Jim Freeman,
Fremont Argus, January 24, 1969


Panfish keeping angling alive


Even though the weatherman has had a hammerlock on the sportsman for the past week, anglers who are playing the local saltwater panfish game are showing with perch, flounder and an occasional sturgeon.
During the amazing downpours of this past week at least some waterproof anglers were willing to fish from the Berkeley Pier, according to Onnie Lundgren. They were rewarded with catches of several different kinds of perch, in the bay right now in most areas for spawning purposes.
Onnie says that grass shrimp is by far the favored bait for pier and rock fishermen working the perch trade. He says some old timers still go for pile worms or even bloodworms and these are working too. Most are split tails or silvers but a few red and yellow-tails are showing with a smattering of rubberlips.
— Outdoors Dateline, Jim Freeman,
Fremont Argus, January 24, 1969


Jack smelters fishing off of the Berkeley Pier are finding good table fodder using bloodworms fished on the bottom. Perch and starry flounder are also coming to the pier and providing top action.
—Phil Ford, San Mateo Times, March 25, 1971


Striped bass are offering fair sport in selected spots. George Kerr says the Berkeley Pier is hosting good crowds of anglers. The number of stripers caught has been increasing.
Live bait is the best method. Many guys put on a small hook to catch some split tail perch. These are used as bait for bass. Anchovies or sardines also serve as proper baits. Top fish recently went 20 pounds. Average size is five pounds.
—Outdoor Dateline, Pat Quense,
Fremont Argus, September 7, 1973


Pier anglers have been getting into good perch fishing. Most guys are getting nine and 10 fish per effort. Majority are rubber lips. Only an occasional striper has been caught by pier anglers.
—Outdoor Dateline, Pat Quense,
Fremont Argus, September 7, 1973


From the Berkeley Pier, anglers are hooking into an occasional bass. One man managed to net a 20 pounder recently. Majority of catches are made up of kingfish hitting on grass shrimp.
—Outdoor Dateline, Pat Quense,
Fremont Argus, April 16, 1976


The Berkeley Pier is another spot that’s offering up stripers. The guys working from the pier are doing okay while people fishing off of boats are showing with slightly better scores since they can fish the entire length of the pier. Shiners are the best baits when you can find them. If you can’t find any, split tail perch will work.
—Outdoor Dateline, Pat Quense,
Fremont Argus, November 26, 1976


At the Berkeley Pier it’s flounder, pile perch and rubberlips. An average string will hold four to six fish. Bass off the pier and around the flats has been spotty.
—Outdoor Dateline, Pat Quense,
Fremont Argus, December 23, 1977

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:50 pm
Ken Jones


Posts: 9461
Location: California

Obviously long but also missing data from newspapers to which I do not have access, i.e, SF Chronicle.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:10 am
Ken Jones


Posts: 9461
Location: California

What I find somewhat strange are all the reports on great perch fishing. I didn't see that in the last few years before the pier closed and I went back to my records to the '70s when I fished the pier quite a bit. I caught a lot of blackperch but never in the numbers the articles talk about.

As for big hauls of perch, big perch, in those days my best success was during the winter months at the Red Rock Pier (now history) when the piling perch would come in to spawn. That's when I saw some big strings of big perch.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:46 pm
songslinger


Posts: 822
Location: Where Common Sense Presides

Pat Quense! I came across his excellent weekly column when he wrote for the Oakland Tribune. (80s, 90s.) To me it was the best local fishing report around. He exaggerated nothing and covered the shoreline beat superbly. He was like the best baitshop owner who never tried to sell you anything and always told the truth.

I caught more blackperch away from the pier, in the rocks near both restaurants. Big tides brought in some monster pogies, and in crazy numbers. We'd get hit on the cast. There were also some large rubberlip in December and barred surfperch in the late Autumn.

Ken, I envy you your time on Red Rock! I fished there just once and was thereafter shooed away when I tried to return. There is no there there now, to riff on Stein.

Used to get enormous pile perch in that area. Keyword: used to. No idea why things change, but they do.

Latest word on the pier...a whisper, really. They're studying it. Good deal. But apparently away from the site because you never see anyone on that pier. Still think it's gone for good.

Good articles, Skipper.

Too bad there isn't much written of the recent past on that pier. The chroniclers are of a different stamp now, and more is the pity. Nothing will be recorded about those legends, Chopper, Willie, Anthony, Big Curt, et al. Some nice fish caught of that pier. Not to hijack, but here is a link to a page I put up in 2008, a fairly typical angler's view of the halibut season:
http://www.songslinger.net/berkeleypier.html



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:36 pm
Ken Jones


Posts: 9461
Location: California

Very nice page and some great pics Glen.

As for Red Rock, yes I miss it too. Looking at my old records the place produced a lot of perch—pile perch, blackperch, rubberlip seaperch, striped seaperch, white seaperch and quite a few dwarf perch. Funny thing is that I never caught a shinerperch there. December through February (sometimes March) was the best time to go. All trips were in the '70s before I moved north to Boonville.

I lived in Pinole and it was a short hop to the Joseph's Pier in Rodeo, Dowrilio's Pier in Crockett, or the old Vallejo Pier (next to the bridge). But, depending upon the time of the year, I might head the other direction to Red Rock, Berkeley, or even the Fleming Pier at Golden Gate Fields.

Too bad so many are gone.

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