Different piers stick out in your mind for different reasons and this is certainly true of this pier. On one of my visits I wasn't having much luck (in fact no luck) until I struck up a conversation with a couple of local youth waiting for their father to finish unloading his commercial fishing boat. Did they fish much off the wharf? "Sure," they replied. Where did they catch most of their fish? "Inshore near the rocks." So, I moved so that I could try the specific piling which they said was "the spot." And sure enough, I started to catch fish. First a kelp greenling (sea trout), then a small black rockfish, then a copper rockfish. About then they asked what I was using for bait and I replied that I had some frozen tube worms which I had bought in Eureka. How much had I paid for them? "About three dollars for a one ounce cup" was my reply. Would I like a couple of batches of the worms? "Sure," I said, "but where do you get them?" Turns out the tires which line the pilings as protection against the boats are full of tube worm colonies. In fact, basically every tire had a mass of the interesting worms and their tube-shaped homes. They brought me two of the strange looking masses and then showed me how to squeeze out the tube worms (it's sort of like squeezing out tooth paste). Figure out where the dark head is located and squeeze from that point. Soon the 4-12 inch worms pop out from the other end of the tube. Truly interesting and later, when I had time to squeeze out all the worms, I came out with what I guess was $20-$30 worth of the worms. I always say learn from the regulars (the locals) and it proved true once again.
But that wasn't all. I noticed while fishing the selected piling that there was a large rock near the shoreline with a hole in it. Not just a hole but a perfectly shaped hole approximately 8-10 inches in diameter. Might there be a fish in the hole, perhaps a wolf eel or an octopus? Only one way to see so I carefully dropped my line straight down into the hole. Nothing for a second, then a terrific hit. Unfortunately, whatever had grabbed my bait didn't let go and I lost my sinker and hook. Soon I had a new sinker, a sharp new hook, and a new piece of bait. Back into the hole went my line. This time there was an almost instantaneous hit and I gave a quick jerk. I thought I had lost my line again but instead a cabezon came shooting out of the hole, fins bristling and mouth gasping -- but he was mine and I soon had the medium-sized cabezon up on the dock. However, I release most of the fish I catch and he was no exception. I dropped him back into the water and soon noticed him reenter the hole which apparently was his home. I didn't have the heart to drop the line in there again.
Fishing primarily involves those schooling species which happen to pass by the wharf and a few solitary individuals common to the primarily rocky area. In the summer this means schools of walleye and silver surfperch, shinerperch, jacksmelt, true smelt (surf smelt) and sardines. In the spring, redtail and calico surfperch may enter the harbor and both winter and spring will offer up starry flounder. Late winter and spring will usually see some schools of herring swing by the pier. Year round, an angler may encounter a resident kelp greenling, rock greenling, cabezon, striped seaperch, or any of several types of sculpins. Most of the year, but primarily summer and fall, the angler may catch small-sized black, blue, copper or brown rockfish. At times skates and bat rays are caught and most years will see a few halibut, salmon, and lingcod.
When schools of smelt, sardines or herring show up, jigging with a size 10-12 Lucky Lura-type bait rig can produce fast results. Generally the best approach is to cast out, then use a quick retrieve but different fish sometimes require a different retrieve so don't be afraid to experiment. Put a shiny torpedo sinker on the end of your line or use a gold or silver spoon equipped with a hook; sometimes this will hook the fish. For herring especially, the late hours just before dark, and the top of high tide, should be most productive. For jacksmelt, a series of small hooks baited with pieces of worm, and fished under a bobber, tend to yield the best results.
When salmon show, use a whole frozen anchovy or catch a small fish off of the dock (perch or smelt) for live bait. Fish the bait under a large float and keep it 3-4 feet under the top of the water. Since the dock surface is fairly close to the water, you may not even need a sinker. Do try to position yourself so that the current is taking the rigging away from the pier. And see if you can find the "special piling" that the locals fish.
Most of the lingcod are caught on Scampi's fished with a leadhead jig. Small Pacific halibut are sometimes caught from the dock by people using Scampi tails, frozen sardines, herring, or anchovies.
This is a pier which also sees heavy "crabbing" action. Rock crabs are a goal throughout the year while Dungeness crabs are sought during the winter and spring.