Point Park Pier |
Nearby stands the stadium which made this point infamous -- Candlestick
Park (OOPS! 3Com Park at Candlestick Point). Why infamous? Because of the
winds that can whip through the area and drive visiting players a little
crazy; not to mention nearly freezing the fans. The City of San Francisco
is located in the Golden Gate Gap, the only breach in the coastal mountains
and the main reason why winds can blow into the city unchecked. Candlestick
Point is located in the middle of the Alemany Gap, the largest wind gap
in this very, very windy city.
The result can be conditions
which at times are hardly conducive to fishing. However, the Point has
been a favorite of local anglers because of the better than average fishing
offered at the small pier out at the end of the point. In addition, the
two piers located here are in California's first urban state park, Candlestick
Point State Recreation Area. The 170-acre park has attractive hiking trails,
picnic areas, nature areas, and an exercise course. It is also a favorite
of wind surfers, and most days visitors will be able to watch the colorful
surfboards as they zig-zag back and forth with the wind.
There are two piers here, one located near the entrance to the park and
only a short walk from the parking lot, and a second pier located out
at the end of the point in somewhat deeper water. Both piers are fairly
new. The pier near the entrance is 300-foot long and was built in 1986.
The pier out at the point was built in 1984, is 150-foot long and replaced
another pier which dated back to 1962; this is the pier damaged by a fire
and closed for a time in 1999. Both piers abut a rip-rap shoreline, are
located over a mainly bay mud bottom, and have considerable growth of
barnacles (and some mussels) on their pilings. One result can be excellent
perch fishing in the appropriate season. The pier on the end of the point
also sits in water which is supposed to be among the best locally for
starry flounder. In addition, the strong currents found here, as well
as the rocky point itself, serve to attract large schools of jacksmelt
while the nearby tidal flats are prime territories for large skates and
bat rays which are always fun to catch. Finally, this is a prime sturgeon
location, especially during herring spawns.
As mentioned previously, this is one of the better piers in this area.
Primary species include several varieties of perch, kingfish (white croaker),
starry flounder, sand sole, California halibut, striped bass, white sturgeon,
California skate, big skate, sting rays (bat rays), leopard sharks, and
lots of small brown smoothhound shark and staghorn sculpin (bullheads).
For large pileperch, blackperch, rubberlip seaperch, and white seaperch,
fish during the winter and spring using pile worms for bait; fish on or
near the bottom, fish under the pier and around the pilings, and use a
small size 6 or 4 hook. For walleye and silver surfperch, fish the spring
through the fall months using pile worms or small pieces of anchovy, use
a small hook, again fish around the pilings but keep your bait in the
mid-depth range between the bottom and top of the water.
Starry flounder are most
commonly caught in winter and spring (although nowhere near the numbers
of years past) using pile worms, small strips of anchovy, grass shrimp
or ghost shrimp; fish directly on the bottom using a sliding live bait
leader. This same time may also yield sanddabs. However, the sanddabs
generally hit a high/low leader best, especially one baited with strips
of anchovy or pile worms. Most other species are most common during the
summer and fall. For the striped bass and halibut, use a live bait such
as a small shiner; white croaker will hit on cut anchovies or pile worms;
skates, bat rays and sharks will hit on many baits but squid seems to
work best. Both piers will yield jacksmelt; use a leader with three size
8 hooks baited with small pieces of pile worms or small pieces of shrimp
and fish it three feet under a float.
When sturgeon invade
the local waters in search of herring and their eggs, this can be a crowded
pier. The waters offshore from the pier may be crowded with a couple of
hundred boats while space on the pier is also at a premium. The sturgeon
seem to hold at Hunter's Point until the incoming tides and then move
herd-like down the shoreline with the current. They will then head back
up on the outgoing tide. However, on both tides the big fish seem to move
in, close to Candlestick Point, for a period of time to the delight of
the local pier rats. If you want to join the action be sure to arrive
early and bring the right tackle and bait -- medium to heavy rod and reel,
ghost shrimp, mud shrimp, or herring and their eggs.
An unusual catch was
reported one day during the El Nino year of 1998. Record amounts of rain
had fallen during the first two weeks of February, run-off had filled
every available stream and ditch that drained into the bay, and the waters
surrounding the pier closely resembled a glass of Hershey's chocolate
milk. Even so, anglers had managed to land jacksmelt, sturgeon, and even
a seven-gill shark in the days leading up to this special day. The day
in question however had proved fruitless except for one lone fish -- a
freshwater catfish that had evidently been flushed down into the bay by
the torrential flows of the local creeks. It wasn't reported which of
the various catfish species had managed to make this transition to bay
denizen, but the story exhibits the tremendous amount of water which can
enter the bay during some winters, transforming the saltwater bay into
a virtual freshwater lake -- although 1998 was an exceptional year.
| May 1, 2000
To: Pier Fishing in California Message Board
#2 tonight again (had so much fun Friday). I started out at about
6 pm, fished till 11:30 pm or so with my friends Mark and Christine.
Met up with Jun (pier rat) and his wife at the pier. The wind was
howling again, no fish at all. Jun packed up and left right as the
wind died down a bit. Jun, you missed out tonight! I was trying
out my new 15' Ugly Stik/Diawa J6000/Spiderline Fusion (80lb). Didn't
matter. Something grabbed a chunk of squid and ran right for the
pier. I brought it in as quickly as possible, but it was coming
in so fast I could feel the line slapping against the rod as I reeled
it in. The fish went to the left of the pier (as I caught up with
it) and it took a rest for a few seconds. I was laying into it and
trying to bring it up but the fish just sat there. It ran again,
right towards the shore, took another rest (about 40 feet from the
bank), and dashed right under the pier. I was able to keep it away
from the pilings for a bit but I wasn't gaining any ground either.
There was no moving the fish. It was straight down. I have caught
many fish in my time but I can assure you I have never felt anything
like this. It really felt like I was just hooked on the bottom.
The fish just sat there and would strip a few feet off whenever
it pleased. It became very obvious to me that I was not in control
of the situation. Christine was hanging off the back of the rod.
Finally it made a run under the pier, wrapped around, and snapped
right off (broke the main line). Monster bat ray? Shark? Blair Fish
Project? We never got to see it at all. Mark and Christine had never
seen anything like this in their lives and they were totally freaked
out. They have not been out on the piers, I told them there were
some big fish out there, but I guess it's hard to believe until
you see it. Later that night we hooked into two monster rays and
a small leopard shark. The fish all went back (via the net) to be
caught another day. Good luck everyone!
Bring a warm coat with you during winter, spring and summer; fall can
be balmy and relatively wind free. Also, unless you come early, forget
about this pier when there is a 49'er game since traffic can be a mess
and parking non-existent.
Two explanations are given for the name Candlestick Point. One version
says that in 1894 a survey station was established here and named after
Candlestick Rock, an eight-foot-high pinnacle that was located near today's
stadium. A second story says that before filling operations began in 1910,
the local shoreline had a land form in the shape of a candelabra. That
shoreline was of course filled over and extended in the name of progress.
Point Pier Facts
Hours: The park is open from 7 A.M. to 8 P.M.
Facilities: There are lights and fish cleaning stations on the
piers. There are restrooms at the foot of the far pier, restrooms near
the parking lot for the near pier. There are picnic tables and windbreaks
near the foot of the far pier. There is considerable parking at the entrance
of the park. There is a $ 7 fee to enter the park.
Handicapped Facilities: Handicapped parking and restrooms. The
pier is quite a distance from the parking lot. Not posted for handicapped.
How To Get There: From Highway 101 take the Candlestick Park exit
and follow the road to the park.
Management: California Department of Parks and Recreation.