Point Harbor Fishing Pier |
If you're looking for a place to take the kids fishing this would be a great place to start. The pier is located in the absolutely beautiful setting of Dana Harbor and close to the pier sits a park and beach, sailboats, and a variety of shops, restaurants and other outdoor-related activities. It is an attractive pier, well-maintained, and receives considerable use. Although fishing is generally only fair there are times when it is excellent.
Another interesting feature is a replica of Henry Dana's ship, the Pilgrim, which sits just a short distance away from the pier. In addition, just up the street from the Pilgrim is the Orange County Marine Institute, a don't-miss attraction for those interested in the sea. Visit the institute, visit the ship, break for a small lunch, and then take the kids fishing on the pier.
The most common species here are the typical bay fish: jacksmelt, shinerperch, herring (queenfish), tom cod (white croaker), yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker, sargo, opaleye, black seaperch, white seaperch, rubberlip seaperch, pileperch, small kelp bass, spotted sand bass, California halibut, diamond turbot, Pacific mackerel, sharks and rays. As usual, most sharks and rays are caught at night. Nighttime hours will also see a few octopus grab hold of your bait and an occasional moray eel, the sworn enemy of octopus. It seems to make little difference where one fishes, but kids like to fish on the loading platform on the left side of the pier where they are close to the water.
Often you will see fairly large fish jumping in the shallow waters near the adjacent beach. Most of these are mullet, sometimes exceeding three feet in length; unfortunately they are almost impossible to hook. You'll sometimes also see needlefish swimming near the surface and, like the mullet, they are really hard to hook.
If uncrowded, try Scampis, Fish Traps and similar artificial lures for bass and an occasional halibut. Also try live bait with a live bait leader on the bottom for halibut. Smelt, shinerperch and small brown bait (queenfish and white croaker) make excellent live bait for halibut. Fish around the pier for seaperch and opaleye; fish further out for croakers. For the perch, try fresh mussels, bloodworms or ghost shrimp; for the croakers try the same baits or fresh clams. If the macs attack, try a size 4 or 2 hook baited with a small piece of mackerel or a small strip of squid. For kids, a small multi-hook bait rig will often yield good catches of topsmelt, jacksmelt, shinerperch, small walleye surfperch, or queenfish. At times the bait rigs will also hook under-sized calico bass (kelp bass) and bay bass (spotted sand bass); be sure to return any bass that are under the 12" legal size.
Try using squid at night for sharks and rays. Most of the sharks will be gray smoothhounds but a few leopard sharks will also enter the catch along with some shovelnose guitarfish. Bat rays lead the list of rays although round stingrays and thornback rays are also fairly common. Fish for the big batties at night using squid or strips of mackerel; several large 100+ pound bat rays have been landed here. Sculpin (California scorpionfish) is another fish more common at night and shrimp and squid seems to be the top attractants for those tasty fish.
You might also join the kids (as well as learn from them). One day I decided to fish down on the boat ramp along with several young anglers. I fished for an hour and a half using ultra-light tackle, size 8 hooks, and fresh mussels for bait. The result was black seaperch, opaleye, kelp bass, sargo and jacksmelt. Several enticingly large (but illegal) garibaldi and large (but legal) rubberlip seaperch and pileperch circled slowly around the pilings, but all were unwilling to bite. This action is best during the mid-summer to fall months when the pilings have acquired a good growth of attractants around them. When the pilings are bare, the fish are gone.
However, in 1956 the Orange County Board of Supervisors began to develop Dana Cove as a recreation area. An early necessity was a parking lot for the cove and a dike to protect the lot. Soon, a dike began to be constructed near the shore end of the pier and eventually the pier was severed with the dike running through the innermost section of the pier. The original inshore section now ended at the dike, and the outermost section started at the dike. Development in the cove continued throughout the year. Barbecue and picnic areas, restrooms, and new roads were added. Then, in January of 1957, the old, and by now rotting, pier was demolished.
A new 300-foot-long oceanfront fishing pier was then designed and constructed. At the same time, calls began to be heard for changing the cove into a truly protected harbor. When state and federal backing for the harbor project was gained, it made inevitable an ending for the "oceanfront" pier at the cove. Dredging and expansion during the '60s and '70s turned the harbor into a protected bay and turned the pier into a small bay pier. The pier was shortened at the time of the harbor expansion and then rebuilt in 1988; today it is listed as 150 feet long. It is, in many ways, an inconsequential fishing pier, but it is also popular with many anglers and does offer excellent fishing at times.
The harbor and nearby point are named after the author Richard Henry Dana who visited here in 1835 while he was a sailor on the two-masted ship, the Pilgrim. Earliest maps (by Humboldt) called the small bay "Bahia de San Juan Capistrano."
Point Harbor Fishing Pier Facts