San Luis Pier (Harford Pier) |
Just up the road from the Avila Beach Pier sits the Port San Luis Pier, a pier with a different environment and a totally different feeling. The Avila Beach Pier looks and feels like a southern California "beach" pier; it is as much home to blondes and bikinis as it is to anglers. Port San Luis is where the sportsmen come to launch their boats, or where one buys a ticket for a day of bottom fishing, salmon fishing, or albacore fishing on one of the boats out of Patriot Sportfishing. Here the angler is king. For many, angling right off the dock is both productive and satisfying.
The pier is also the spot where I had one of my most enjoyable nights of fishing. I had arrived at Pismo Beach around 7 p.m., checked into a motel, and had a quick bite to eat. Since I had never fished the Port San Luis Pier, I decided to drive over and give it a short try. I only planned to fish a couple of hours since I needed to be on the road early the next morning. Arriving about 9 p.m., I bought some frozen anchovies to go along with the mussels in my ice chest. Fishing midway out on the bottom, using anchovies, I began to catch white croaker. I had a bite nearly every cast!
Then, as it began to darken, a school of mackerel moved into the water around the pier. They seemed to strike any lure or bait which I threw at them. It was soon time to go, but I kept trying for just one more fish.
Finally, I did begin to leave but on the way out I decided to see what might be available by the rocks at the shore-end base of the pier. Using mussels and fishing right up against the rocks, I had a hard strike as soon as I dropped my hook. I missed the first strike but not the next. Fishing that spot yielded several kelp rockfish, two of which weighed nearly three pounds. I had fished far too late (because it was nearly 1 a.m. when I finished), but I had caught quantity and quality and experienced a terrific time fishing in the shirt-sleeve weather late at night.
Unfortunately, the pier isn't as angler friendly as some. It is a commercial wharf; some areas are off limits to anglers, and crates, equipment, trucks, etc., can also block access to open areas. Finally, there are often quite a few boats and buoys anchored in the water around the pier. These, together with their ropes, can interfere in casting and make it hard to bring in some fish. However, there are also some interesting activities on the pier. For example, just past the Patriot Sportfishing office are a number of saltwater tanks with live fish and crabs awaiting shipment (which you can peek into); quite often there will be interesting fish such as sheephead, rockfish, and a variety of sharks. For a number of years, next to this was "The Fish Lady," a business which proclaimed by way of its sign that it was "The Home Of The Original Thresher Shark Soft Taco." It is history today; however, out toward the end of the pier is an excellent restaurant, The Olde Port Inn.
Fishing further out on the pier, using cut anchovy on the bottom, should yield white croaker and several varieties of flatfish including sanddabs, starry flounder, sand sole, and occasionally a halibut. If you really want halibut, go to the Patriot Sportfishing office, buy some live anchovies or sardines, and use these with a sliding leader on the bottom. If live bait isn't available at the shop catch your own. Small white croakers make good bait and will last a long time on the hook (assuming no crabs grab them). Halibut in excess of 30 pounds have been caught at the pier. Reports also say some halibut are taken on Scrounger lures and similar lures. Fishing the mid-pier area, but casting out away from the pier can also yield barred and calico surfperch; for these, try bloodworms or fresh mussels. Fishing straight down by the pilings with worms or mussels should yield a few blackperch, striped seaperch, rainbow seaperch, and even an occasional rubberlip seaperch.
During warm weather months, check the far end of the pier to see if anglers are catching mackerel, bonito, barracuda (late fall) or salmon; some years will see some or all of these. Most mackerel are taken on multi-hook leaders fished under a balloon or Styrofoam float. Bonito tend to hit a bucktail-type feather trailing behind a cast-a-bubble and barracuda fall for jigs or spoons. The majority of salmon that are hooked are attracted by a whole anchovy fished under a bobber. Down around the pilings by the end will yield white croaker, several varieties of perch (mainly walleye and silver surfperch), and an occasional gopher rockfish, cabezon or small lingcod.
Although the pier does not seem to get the same number of shark fishermen as other local piers, some sharks are caught. Most of the sharks that are landed are smoothhounds and leopard sharks along with the closely related bat rays and skates. However, swell sharks (locally called puffer sharks) seem fairly common here even though they are rare at most piers. In June of 1997, a 12-foot thresher shark was landed at the pier (body six feet, tail six feet), so sharks are around, and some are good size.
Less interesting to catch are the starfish which sometimes seem to cover the floor of the adjacent water and are quick to grab hold of a stationary line. More interesting was the catch and release of a two-foot-wide sea turtle in September of the warm-water year of 1997. Another interesting catch was by 15-year-old Rusty McCord on March 30, 1999. After buying and being shown how to use a small-hook bait rig, he preceded to go jigging behind the tackle store on the pier. The result was a 9-pound starry flounder, a huge flounder for any pier and doubly interesting because it was caught on a bait rig. Go figure!
San Luis Pier Facts