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>> Venice Pier — Update [topic: previous/next]
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:06 pm
Ken Jones

Posts: 9780
Location: California

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.

Although Venice is one of the busiest piers in the southland, and often downright crowded, the pier normally seems to have a friendly, laid back, family atmosphere. It’s an amazing contrast to the nearby helter-skelter, bohemian activities along the beach. And though the pier sees an amalgam of cultures and races, they seem, for the most part, to all get along. Perhaps it’s the shared vision and dreams of catching “just one more fish.”

The pier is located in the Venice (Muscle Beach)-Playa Del Rey area where there always seems to be something a happening, either on the beach or the famous boardwalk (Ocean Front Walk). The beach with its body builders, weight lifters, and drum circles does get attention (Lonely Planet, 2005, says “Get your freak on at LA’s most hipsterific beach”), but it’s the boardwalk that stretches between Venice and Santa Monica that’s truly amazing. The boardwalk’s a crowded, funky scene made up of street performers (including a chain-saw juggler one time I was there), roller-skating prophets, fortune-tellers, multi-colored hairdos, and wacky, stranger than strange tattoos. LA’s own website calls it a “sidewalk circus, a walk 'n' rolling skin show.” Lonely Planet says, “It’s a freak show, a human zoo and a wacky carnival.” I’ve often thought it analogous to the scene on the back of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes album.

The entire area is a place where almost anything goes, bizarre has given a new definition for normal, and activity is usually non-stop late into the night. It’s also a must see attraction for visitors to Los Angeles (and one reason why parking can be a nightmare).

Even though most of this action actually takes place a short distance north of the pier, the crowd overflows and 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 I Pod-attired line-skaters, bikini-clad goddesses, Schwarzenegger imitators, and perhaps just a little flotsam and jetsam blowing in the wind. What a sight! But, our trusty angler does make it out to the pier to share time with fellow fisher-folk and hopefully, a variety of fish.

During the warm-water, El Niño years in the early ‘80s, this was one of the better piers in the region for yellowtail and white seabass and it yielded relatively uncommon species like 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. Noted fishing writer Steve Carson sent me a note discussing the inaugural years of the pier and a very unusual fish: “during the first three years of Venice Pier’s operation, 1965-66-67, ‘Ratfish’ were fairly common; I can recall at least one day when about 10 were caught, but none after 1967.”

More common, however, are the normal L.A. species. Inshore, anglers typically catch barred surfperch, corbina, yellowfin croaker, thornbacks (pinback sharks), shovelnose guitarfish (sand sharks), round stingrays, small smoothhound sharks and leopard sharks.

In the mid-pier area, anglers catch white croaker (tom cod), queenfish (herring), walleye surfperch, shinerperch, California halibut, shovelnose guitarfish, Pacific sardines, Pacific mackerel, jack mackerel and jacksmelt. The halibut like to hang out in the depressions between the pilings waiting for queenfish, smelt and other small fish to make the mistake of swimming by above them. The pilings themselves, and the small critters hanging on and about them, attract a plethora of perch and perch-like fish including at times large opaleye and zebraperch but both of these mainly vegetarian nibblers are hard to catch.

At the far end of the pier, anglers encounter some of the same species as in the mid-pier area but also see a few kelp bass and sand bass. More mackerel are caught, bonito and barracuda are taken (some years), and larger sharays are seen. Included in the shark/ray catch are the usual big ‘uns—leopard sharks, shovelnose guitarfish and bat rays—but the pier also sees a few of the even bigger Selachians, species like blue sharks and thresher sharks (a 100+ pound thresher was hooked in July of 2005). Relatively uncommon, but a possibility, are horn sharks, angel sharks and electric rays.

Increasingly, as the big fish make a comeback, giant (black) sea bass are also being hooked from the pier. Remember that they are illegal and that they must be handled carefully (if at all) and returned quickly and gently to the water (if netted). Such was not the case in August of ’08 when a 20-pound or so youngster was brought up to the pier (a video of which showed up on several web sites). Of course everyone needed to take a picture with his or her cell phone before the fish was released (although a voice in the background can be heard urging people to release it before it dies). Finally the hook was removed, picture taking was at an end, and the fish was lifted up over the railing and dropped back down into the sea below. As might be expected, with all the time delay and mishandling, the fish didn’t survive the episode.

Fishing Tips. 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 fish or squid can produce sharks and rays.

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. A similar run of sand crab-eating leopards took place at Santa Monica in July of ’08. Perhaps the book on their food needs to be changed?

The mid-pier section is home to several small species. Fishing on the bottom away from the pier while using a high/low leader, and size 4 hooks baited with cut anchovy, squid or strips of mackerel, can be good for white croaker. Fishing mid-depth under and around the pier with bait rigs (Sabiki/Lucky Lura, size 8 hooks) can result in queenfish and walleye surfperch. If action slows, bait the hooks with small strips of anchovy, pieces of worm or even small pieces of squid. Schools of Pacific butterfish (pompano) and salema may also show up and if they do baited bait rigs will usually do the job.

Mid-pier is also the home to most of the halibut. Fishing on the bottom in the depressions between the pilings can yield up the flatties; fish with live bait (anchovies, queenfish, smelt, sardines, shinerperch or baby mackerel). Although plastics can be effective from just past the surf area out to mid-pier, crowds at the pier can make the use of such artificial lures difficult.

Mid-pier to the end can also see mackerel, bonito (some years) and barracuda (some months). Mackerel are most commonly taken on bait rigs, baited or unbaited, but if they’re not in a biting mood a piece of mackerel or strip of squid fished under a split-shot sinker may entice them. Often they will show up in the early evening hours and often bait fished under a glow light will work for them at such times. Most of the barracuda will be taken on spoons such as Kastmasters and Krocodiles although MegaBaits are also gaining a following. Bonito will hit a variety of lures although the tried and true feather behind a Cast-A-Bubble still seems best for many.

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), baby Pacific mackerel, sardines, queenfish, or shinerperch can sometimes yield small white seabass while warm water months may even see a few yellowtail landed. Although most all of these species can be caught year-round, 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. The pier is not noted for variety although a yellow snake eel was taken in November of 2006.

E-Mail Messages

Date: Jun 23, 2000
To: Pier Fishing in California Message Board
From: Sculpin 24/7
Subject: Venice Pier Report

Went fishing off the Venice Pier on June 23, 2000 at around 2:00 p.m. and caught a variety of fish. I caught 5 bat rays, 2 mackerel, 1 6-in. leopard shark, and 1 undersized halibut (14 in.). My dad caught 2 bat rays, 1 stingray, 1 shovelnose guitarfish, and 3 mackerel. Around the pier I saw anchovies, perch, halibut, mackerel, lots of bat rays, stingrays, shovelnose sharks, and a few small leopard sharks. Overall today seemed to be pretty good fishing. Popular Bait= Squid + frozen sardines

Date: March 25, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: hookedonfishing
Subject: a dose of reality!

In reply to: Venice Pier—photos from the ‘80s - B&W #1 posted by Ken Jones.
First and foremost, what an awesome thing Ken has done by keeping those photos and getting everyone excited about fishing as springtime arrives.
However, all you “young punks” don't need to feel like you missed out on the “Good old days” [well, ok, except for bonito!]. Since the mid-1960's. For the most part only a couple of piers have been really good consistently. To be honest, Venice Pier was not that good at all most of the time [again, except for occasional bonito runs], [my history on it goes back to opening day in 1965].
The one huge exception was 1983, when the mother of all El Ninos swept tons of great fish all along the coast. Don't forget it also nearly annihilated the entire Redondo Harbor/Pier complex.
In particular, halibut fishing is better now than in the past 40 years.
The light tackle/catch-and-release ethic is 100 times stronger now than it was then. You were thought of as “odd” if you released anything, or used light gear.
Yellowtail ran pretty reliably inside Redondo harbor [incl. inside pier] every autumn until the mid-70's, but if you told someone on Venice Pier about Redondo, they looked at you like you had been fishing in South America, it was considered so far away.
As for that Venice Pier albacore, that one was I think in 1980 or 1981, interestingly about the same time as an unseasonable wide-open bite on rat-size albies was going on in San Diego. It must have gotten lost, it can happen.
I remember having a major dose of skepticism at the time, [until the photo circulated], because the bait shop operator [also owned Venice Pier Bait & Tackle at foot of pier] named Carroll Ballard had tried an albacore “hoax” in 1969 with a previously frozen 24-pounder [almost pulled it off, too]. His accomplice in the hoax try was a young employee name Harold Clark, usually referred to as “Junior.”

Date: July 14, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Anthony
Subject: Venice pier

I wasn't sure if I was going to get the chance to fish this weekend since I've been putting up a new fence in the backyard...Since I've been seeing a lot of big corbina around Venice Beach that's where I went. On the way there I realized I forgot my sand crab trap. That was not so bad because when I got there it was very crowded. There was no way I could surf fish. Luckily, I brought my pier fishing gear just in case. Getting live bait was hard today but I managed some queenfish, smelt, sardines, and small mackerel. Fishing was very slow the whole afternoon. Here's what I got:
1 bat ray around 15lbs on a sardine
1 shovelnose shark on a sardine
1 big thornback ray on a smelt
1 blue perch on a sardine
1 rubberlip on mussel
2 lizardfish on mackerel and a live smelt
So overall a slow day. The guys at the very end got a couple shovenose and the guys near the surf had good action on yellowfin croaker, corbina, and zebra perch but that part of the pier was packed. Anthony (Sharkbait)

Date: May 4, 2003
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Gordo Grande
Subject: Venice Pier Remote

Fished Venice Pier today from about 10:30am to 2:30 pm. Conditions were really terrible. Fierce wind, muddy water, and hardly any fish were biting. Most everyone seemed to be getting skunked, with the exception of a few small fish here and there...
The highlight of the day was watching this fellow land this 'butt. He also landed a shark earlier in the morning. This beast measured 43" and we weighed it at 35 lbs! They had a helluva time landing it thanks to the winds, but perseverance paid off. They tried two gaffs and a net, and finally one of the gaffs stuck gold.
The butt had a second hook sticking out of its underside. It must have been there for a while, because it disintegrated as soon as someone touched it. He said he caught it on a live anchovy. I'm still not sure where he got live anchovies at Venice Pier. Maybe he bought them at MDR and drove over with them.
He didn't speak any English, but I speak passing Spanish, and he showed me a photo album he carries of all the huge fish he catches. I'm going to have to get to know him better. Oh well, my day will come. Gordo Grande aka Ross

Date: May 18, 2003
To: PFIC Message Board
From: gordo grande
Subject: Venice Piers Macks

You know you're having fun when you never take the folding chair out of its bag. Fished Venice Pier Sunday from 8:30am to about 2:00pm. It was really pretty slow for anything but baitfish, but people were having fun all up and down the pier pulling in mackerel and smelt. Triple and quadruple hook-ups were pretty common today. I caught about 15 macks and 5 jacksmelt. I kept the biggest mack for bait, and gave the rest to the family next to me. They were having Cerviche tonight!
I did get a couple of hits on the macks I threw out for bait. The first hit was something big and lethargic under the pier. I don't think it was a snag, since I was able to move it back and forth between two light poles. I felt it move a couple of times, but it didn't seem bothered too much by efforts to pull it up. I was using a Jigmaster with 30 lb line, and a 15 lb leader. Eventually the line broke.
Later in the day I got a short hit on another mack I had out. The rod went bendo for a few seconds. I swung on it, but brought up my mack with a nice set of teeth marks in its middle portions. Looked like a halibut bite to me.
The high point of the day was talking to this older fellow who lives right by the pier. His name was David, and he was 77 years old. He recently had a death in the family, and was walking on the pier to clear his head. He started a conversation with me, and told me how much he enjoyed hanging around with the fishing people on the pier. It seems that he, himself, hadn't been fishing in about 20 years. It only took me a few seconds to convince him that he needed to join in the fun. I handed him my bait pole, and he was pulling his first macks in a few minutes later. Wait until you see the smile on his face! He loved it, and ended up fishing with me all day! He kept telling me that he couldn't wait to call his son and tell him about all the fish he caught! He thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
I think I started a 77-year-old youngster on fishing!!!!

Date: October 4, 2003
To: PFIC Message Board
From: gordo grande
Subject: Danny the Dinosaur scores!

OK, so I took my friend Tom S.II, and his son, Tom S. III fishing at Venice Pier. It was the little guy's first fishing experience. He's four, and his little sister is 2. I met the whole family at the pier around 9:15, and we fished until around noon. Amazingly, the little tykes never lost interest or got bored.
We got there, and it was major red tide, at least halfway out the pier. I set up anyway. First I tied a Sabiki on to the Sunny Bear reel, (8-lb line, yellow plastic spincast reel, decals peeled off as my younger daughter outgrew them, #8 hooks on the Sabiki). Unfortunately, I soon found out that ol' Sunny Bear only had about 10' of line on it!
Fortunately, we still had trusty ol' Danny the Dinosaur waiting in the wings. (Same as above, only it's purple, and still had the Dinosaur decals). Fortunately, Danny the Dinosaur had just enough line to make it down to the water and a few feet under the surface.
Lo and behold, it didn't take long, and little Tommy connected with his first fish ever... a 4" smelt. Tommy was extremely happy, even though we forgot to warn him that the fish sometimes die. He wasn't too happy about that part. He got over it though, and the last I saw, he was walking back to the minivan with Mr. smelt snugly bouncing in a little Ziploc bag.
Oh yeah, I caught two more smelt, one about 12", and one about 6".

Date: November 17, 2004
To: PFIC Message Board
From: h2o
Subject: Venice Pier 11-15-04

I took a bike stroll on the stretch of beach on Saturday afternoon. Stopped by almost all the piers along the way. Didn’t see anyone catch anything worthwhile, beside Venice Pier. There were lots of bonitos, mackerel and sardines in everyone’s buckets and bags. The pier was packed with fishermen!
I haven’t caught a bonito from a pier before, so I decided to give Monday morning a try. This way, I wasn’t elbow to elbow with everyone and have some quite time to myself.
Got to the pier at 5:30am Monday morning and found the gate closed. I had to wait to 6am for the parking lot to open. It only cost 3 bucks to park? I was amazed! This is 2004 right? I haven’t paid $3 for parking in quite awhile.
It was a pretty chilly morning and made my way to the end of the pier. I stopped near the end where all the sardines and smelt were schooling and tried to make some bait. I brought two buckets. One with an aerator built in and one plain Home Depot one. I tied a rope to the home depot bucket, but found out the rope was too short. I didn’t know what to do next so I filled the aerator bucket from the fishing cleaning station with water. I was hoping it was saltwater, but it wasn’t. There was big school of bait, but I only managed to catch 2 smelt. On Saturday, everyone was catching the sardines by the bucket full. After more than half an hour of trying I decided to just use the two smelt for the time being. On my first catch I managed to get picked up, but I missed him. I used my second smelt and got picked up again, but missed again. That was it for my bait.
Some other fellow fishermen came and were catching the sardines and landed a few nice size bonitos. I was about to give up on the bait approach and just use some lures when a very nice person named Harlod joined me. He gave some advice on how to catch the sardines. He told me to not use bait (I was using small pieces of squid with my Sabiki) and jig my Sabiki up and down and what you know, I have sardines!
I let Harold use my bait rod and he caught us bait in a matter of minutes. I offered to let him use of my aerator bucket in exchange. On my first fly-lined sardine, I managed a nice size bonito.
After that I was landing the bonitos like a pro. I definitely had the hot stick. I landed me double digits in just 3 hours of fishing. I could even see my bait being attacked and desperately trying to evade the little tunas. Harlod and I managed a limit of bonito. He only caught one because he was too busy making bait. The bit shut off at around 10am and that is when I decided to call it quits.
Had a great time out there. I still would have enjoyed it even if I didn’t catch anything. Met some nice people and got to pull on some fish. It was a beautiful day. Rod Used: Shimano Calcutta Conquest 400 w/ 12lb test and a 9' Calcutta rod, Shimano Stella AR2000 w/ 6lb test and a 7'6 Fenwick rod.

Date: May 9, 2005
To: PFIC Message Board
From: gordo grande
Subject: Venice Pier--lousy!

Took advantage of longer days and decided to stop at Venice Pier on the way home from work tonight. Timed it just right for high tide. Unfortunately there was a hellacious wind and it was pretty cold. The surf was pretty wicked, and there was a fair amount of salad in the water.
Started in the surf zone with 1 1/2 inch pieces of Berkley Gulp sand worms on a hi-lo with 10 lb line, #8 hooks. Worked all the way out to the restrooms at the end with nothing but one nibble to show for it. The few folks out there with me all said they were getting skunked.
High point of the evening was a chance to do a good deed. I spent some time fishing with a homeless guy who was sharing his bait with me. He was using a plastic spincaster that he had bought that day in a thrift shop for $5.00. To be honest, I don't think he would have been able to pull a fish up with the darn thing. I realized that the reel I was using was the same one that I had found abandoned on that same pier last year. It was basically a K-mart type Okuma cheapie, but it was a lot better than what he was using. It was getting colder, and I had to get home anyway, so I handed him the reel with the 9 ft telescoping Chinese rod it was mounted on. The rod didn't cost much, and the reel was a gift that I didn't need. The way I see it, someone left the reel for him to use...I was just holding on to it for him.

Date: July 18, 2005
To: PFIC Message Board
From: grammar police
Subject: 7/17 Venice Pier

The Long: After a long night of booze, dancing, family fun and only 3 hours of sleep, my brother and I headed out to Venice Pier. Picked up some Lug Worms, Squid (for the Rays), and frozen ‘chovies and set up shop by 7am. Was a slow day, the first 3 hours only things caught were small jigged up fish (White Perch, Smelt, Herring, Mackerel). Bait tipped Sabikis worked ok, and most herring (Queen fish) seemed to be snagged vs. taking the bait. All too large IMO for live bait.
Later we moved from the end of the pier to the surf area/base of the pier. Must have been a nice sand bar built up near the pier. It was no more than 5' in most spots and this is past the first roller. At the foot of the pier, this old gentleman and what looked like his handicapped grandson, maybe son were nailing the yellowfin croakers and corbina while trying to hook a surfer. Speaking of the surfers, I was yelled at for casting next to them with the Abu C3. I was launching 2-oz like a pro and getting awfully close to them. But in turn, the other side of the pier, surfers were asking us to pull our line in so they could come within 25' of the pier to catch a wave. I bit my tongue and ignored them. Even though my brother was taunting me itching for a fight... Back to fishing. We caught 2 corbina (~12") and 1 croaker (~11") that we gave to the couple on the opposite rail.
It was funny the handicapped kid (maybe young adult) was having such a blast. His fishing mojo was really with him. He couldn't keep either of his 3 poles in the water. Bait, cast, fish on... His eyes lit up every time he'd start to reel. Grandpa sat close by and supervised him and gave a few pointers. I saw him land 6 “dinner fish” as he would call them coming over the rail!
A little later a Hispanic lady was creeped out by the baby bat ray on her line. After getting the ~12” WS ray over the rail and hook removed, she started asking if anyone wanted it. I informed her they are live born with about 12” wingspan and he was probably a newborn yielding almost no meat. She asked if I would throw it back for her. Pay-it-forward if you will, I gave a quick class on proper handling (lipping) of bat rays and let her hold it for a quick photo op. After a gentleman passing by gave it a shot, I smiled at the baby and returned him to his home.
Then overcast skies burnt off around 11:30 and by noon we called it quits. I still had to drive an hour to see grandma and pick up rods, then drive home to the Bay area.
The Short:
2 rods:
- 7' Rainshadow GDude special Abu c3 laced with 20# mono rigged with surf leader (hi/lo) #6 bait holder hooks with lugg worms.
- 10' Sealine Okuma CD90 30# mono with hi/lo and mixed bait chovie and lugg worms.
Overcast skies, warm air temperature with no red tide in sight.
Fished from 7am-noon: (Chovies, squid, lug worms (Look like pile worms from our area))
Chris - 1 big eye perch, 1 Corbina, 1 Smelt
Me - 2 Herring, 2 YF Croaker, 1 Smelt, 1 (Unknown) Perch

Date: December 21, 2005
To: PFIC Message Board
From: gordo grande
Subject: Part of Venice Pier is gone

You can't pee in the bathroom at the end of Venice Pier anymore. It's gone! Our chopper at Channel 7 was flying overhead, and there is no trace of what used to be the bathrooms.... just an empty space where they used to be. I'm sure the pier is going to be closed for sometime while they check it for structural damage. Sadly, the pier has only been open for three or four years. Prior to that, I think it was closed for over a decade. Half of the beach north of the pier seems to be gone too. As Ben mentioned below, I bet there are going to be a lot more holes and troughs. Up until now I considered Venice to be one of the flatter beaches around...not anymore.
Gordo Grande, “Hey, let's be careful out there!” Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, “Hill Street Blues”

Date: May 25, 2006
To: PFIC Message Board
From: gordo grande

VENICE PIER REOPENED TONIGHT! Watch the 6pm News on Channel 7. It's scheduled to be our last story.

Date: June 4, 2006
To: PFIC Message Board
From: toejamb
Subject: Venice Pier

With Hermosa being closed 'til the 12th, I took a little detour out to Venice Pier. I haven't fished this particular pier for darn near 8 years and it took me a little while to get properly situated and get started in earnest. Made bait pretty quickly, (queenfish, smelt and 7-11s) and got to work. The 7-11s and smelt went untouched, but once I switched over to the queenfish, I saw some action. I had 3 halibut, all shorts, in the span of about an hour and a half. No exact measurements, just wanted to get the critters back in to the water as quickly as possible, although by eyeballing it, I'd say the biggest of the 3 was close to 20 inches. That was pretty much it for me.
As for the rest of the pier, I saw the usual mackerel, big smelt, perch etc. “Mr. Happy” was at the pier as well and he landed a 6' thresher (sorry, no pics) and several shovelnose.
It was a nice little excursion to a pier I don't usually fish, but if you'll pardon the expression, “there's no place like Hermosa.”

Date: July 8, 2006
To: PFIC Message Board
From: mmmm fishy
Subject: Venice Pier 7/8/06

Fished the early morning with my older cousin from 7:30 a.m.-1:00 pm and wow what a variety of fish! It was a gorgeous day. No wind, lots of sun, the works. He came down from Huntington Beach and was fascinated by what was being caught and what was in the water. We saw a large NEEDLEFISH swim by and needless to say that was a sight to see!! Between us we caught: 1 small sand bass 10”, 1 bat ray 14” across, 1 mackerel, 9 smelt, 1 salema, 1 small 5" lizardfish (kinda weird he was in this close but leave it to my cousin the beginner to catch the semi-exotics!). We were using frozen mackerel as bait and oh yeah I had another alarm screamin', line stripping, sonuva-fish. Just didn't hook em again. (My heart is set on that shovelenose but still no luck.
Anyhoo besides my cuz and I..... others were catching small bats, 4 small 'buts, mackeral, smelt, and salema. I talked to the cashier at Nick's Liquor and he said that there have been reports of 3+feet leopard sharks being caught. Others on the pier told me they've seen some big leopards as well. Well fishermen & fisherwomen that is my report and wishing you all the best of luck.

Date: September 1, 2006
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Mahigeer
Subject: Stop the world, Mahigeer has caught BONITOS

Short version: caught three (3) 12-14” BONITO. Curse is over.
Long version; Went to the Venice Pier tonight around 6:30PM. As soon as I got there, some one was bringing up a 12” Bonito. I hurried to get setup. I had a homemade Sabiki with yellow and green feathers. Wouldn‘t you know it the darn think was all tangled up. It’s like some of those anxiety dreams I have had in the past. So finally I get it halfway fixed and toss it in the drink. A few casts later and every angler’s delight move happens. The line has its own life. It goes left, it goes right. The shimmering belly of the catch which is now swimming sideways makes you smile with joy. I landed the fish and ladies and gentleman it is a BONITO. Yuppie ya yey. The curse is over; the monkey is off the back, no more Bonita blues for me, etc. etc. etc.
Life is good. I have the right rig, the fish is cooperating; all I need to make it better is to have some Pier Rats to share the moment with.
But noooooooooo, few casts later and the homemade Sabiki gets stuck. Is it a lot of fish or some obstacle? I will never know. As I pull on the line, snap, the line breaks. There goes the homemade rig.
Next I tie a Blue Fox in Mackerel color (the one on which I landed many Macs. in Redondo after the Contractors show a while back) to a golf ball rig. I got some flashes but noting stuck. Then I switched to a green short Mega Bait. That one landed me two (2) more nice Bonies. I probably would have caught more but I think in order to make splash I was probably retrieving too fast. I would cast out far but most of the action seemed to be close to the pier. The fish would turn and go belly up and turn but it would miss the lure.
There is no comparison between excitement of lure fishing, and actually seeing your lure being chased by a predator; and the boredom of bait chucking and waiting for the fish to commit suicide.
So tomorrow, I will be having BBQ Bonito for lunch and will raise a few in honor of the prey who gave its life to provide joy to this old Mahigeer (Angler in Farsi).
Happy Labor Day everyone.

Date: July 24, 2007
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Mahigeer
Subject: Venice Pier

Went to the Venice pier tonight for three hours. Top of the high tide, but still a slow bite. Not much being pulled with exception of one giant sea bass, which was properly released. One horn shark was also pulled up. There was a family where the father was new to hoop netting but he had great luck. He pulled up one 3-lb bug plus several spider crabs... For me the count was one queenfish with the Buzz Bomb and one lizard fish with the bait. That’s all folks.

Author’s Note No. 1. I received an interesting e-mail message one day from famed fishing writer Steve Carson. The note was in response to a message board discussion concerning favorite bands of the members.

Date: December 15, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Steve Carson
Subject: The Doors and Venice Pier...

According to “The Doors” bio-book “No One Here Get Out Alive,” the historic meeting of acquaintances Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, where Morrison recited his poem that became the Doors' song “Moonlight Drive,” and prompted Manzarek to say “Let's start a band and make a million bucks” took place at the foot of Venice Pier in the summer of 1965, shortly after it opened to the fishing public.

[Morrison lived in and around Venice during the time he was in UCLA. For a period of time he was homeless and slept wherever he could find a place to crash. Apparently his favorites included the couches of friends, cars—and under the Venice Pier. KJ]

Authors Note. No. 2. Like most piers in the area, the Venice Pier has been featured in several movies. Included were: Irreversible (1973); Point Blank (1991); Falling Down (1993); Uh Oh! (2003); Bounce; Lovely and Amazing; Just Married; Local Boys; Don't; and A-Team (TV). I don’t believe I’ve seen any of these masterpieces of the cinematic arts.

Did You Know? The “Venice Pier Strut” is the name of a song on the album Pacific Blue by Franke Christopher, formerly of Tangerine Dream.

Did You Know? A gnashing of teeth was heard in 2003 when the Los Angeles Business Journal reported that the L.A. City Council had decided to change the name of the Venice Pier to the “Ruth Galanter Pier,” after a long-time, termed-out councilwoman. The news shocked local preservationists. “I mean her (Galanter) no disrespect, but this is just another attempt to gentrify things in Venice,” said Elaine Alexander, past president of the Venice Historical Society. “The name Venice and everything associated with that name needs to be preserved.” The name wasn’t changed.

History Note. Venice was yet another of the piers that were damaged by the ferocious El Niño storms of the early 1980s. In 1985 the pier was closed and remained closed for more than a decade. Although Los Angeles officials had originally predicted that it could be reopened by 1993, they were wrong! Money was funded to repair damage from the storms, but then it was found that the structure itself was unsafe.

When a jogger who ran under the pier was struck and paralyzed by a piece of concrete (and the county paid a $3.2 million damage award), the pier was closed and the underside wrapped in chain link to prevent chunks of concrete from falling on any more unsuspecting strollers. Engineers declared the pier unsafe and money was set aside for demolition.

But further studies compared the cost of demolition and rebuilding versus the cost of repairing the still fairly new (1965) pier, a pier initially built at a cost of $900,000. When the studies were finished it appeared that repairs were more logical than a rebuild but funding was still lacking.

Then, in 1993, voters passed a $10,000,000 bond issue to renovate both the pier and the Ocean Front Walk and the pier was completed. Today the local citizens are once again able to stroll the pier, enjoy the ocean breeze, and even fish if that is their pleasure.

Venice Pier Facts

Hours: Open from 6 A.M. to midnight.

Facilities: The pier includes lights, benches, fish-cleaning stations and restrooms at the end of the pier. Parking is available at the foot of the pier for $6 but be sure to arrive early if you expect a spot. Weekend days, especially summer and fall, are very, very busy. Some (actually fairly limited) metered parking is available on nearby streets and the city itself heavily promotes taking a shuttle to the beach. Some frozen bait is available just up the street at Nick's Liquor store.

Handicapped Facilities: Handicapped parking and restrooms. The pier's surface is cement and the rail height is 41 inches although several handicapped sections have a 28" railing. Posted for handicapped.

Location: 33.97767348865427 N. Latitude, 118.46935272216797 W. Longitude

How To Get There: Highway 1 to Washington St., turn west and follow Washington St. to the pier.

Management: City of Los Angeles, Parks and Recreation Department.

Support UPSAC! Preserve pier and shore angling in California.
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