| Balboa Pier|
Piers are one of the most romantic spots on earth! If you don't believe me, tagalong on a visit to Balboa Pier -- on almost any summer night. By 10 p.m., darknesshas enveloped the pier. But while most fishermen have returned home, life continueson the pier. A slight breeze ruffles the flags, fires burn along the beach, and couplescontinue to stroll, hand in hand, out to the end of the pier where they might justsneak a quick kiss or two. Such behavior is expected. At the end of the pier, thered neon lights of Ruby's Diner light the sky, calling like a beacon to the loversof the night.
Nearshore strollers looking up Main Street see another set of lights. The BalboaPavilion and its famous cupola are bedecked in a Christmas-like celebration of light.It suggests an earlier age, that of the early 1900s, a time when every large pierseemed to be built with a nearby pavilion. Pleasure at the beach mandated both afishing pier and a pavilion. But that was in a more innocent and magical time.
The Balboa Pavilion was and still is a sister attraction to the Balboa Pier.Both were built in 1906 and both were designed to attract land buyers to the area.The pavilion would serve as terminus for the famous electric Red Car line of Huntington.Riders, if they were so inclined, could get off the rail cars and proceed directlydown Main Street to the pier.
Although just down the peninsula from the Newport Pier, this area has a verydifferent feeling to it dating perhaps back to those early days. The Newport Pieris an angler's pier while at Balboa, fishing is at times simply a bit player in thelife on the pier. Here, there are less anglers and the fishing is usually less intense.But life is no less intense. A look to the south reveals the Newport Jetty and theentrance to the bay. Most days will seem to produce a never-ending parade of sailboatsand motor craft, some of which are truly amazing. Up Main Street are the activitiesand businesses by the pavilion. At the foot of the pier sits Peninsula Park withits lawns and a baseball field, palm trees and even a bandstand where concerts areheld during the summer.
Although fishing may
be a secondary preoccupation at the pier, that's o.k. Itgives the fishermen
who are present more room to fish. Surprisingly, the fishingcan be quite
good. In fact, although I hate to admit it, the fishing can be justas
good as that at the nearby Newport Pier, the pier where I first began
to learnto pier fish.
its sister pier that sits just down the beach, Balboa is fairly close
to the Newport Submarine Canyon. Although the beach seems even more sharply
inclined here than at the Newport Pier, the water is not quite as deep.
Still, it is deep enough that you will occasionally see deep-water fish.
On one visit I saw what I believe was a ribbonfish (or perhaps a king-of-the-salmon
since it seemed at least eight feet long) which swam in and around the
pilings for more than 20 minutes. Unfortunately, nothing would entice
it to bite. Pilings are heavily covered with mussels but rarely is there
much kelp or seaweed around the pier.
check out the far end of this 920-foot-long pier when you begin to fish.
Because of the water depth, this can be an excellent pier for the pelagics
-- fish such as bonito, Pacific mackerel, and jack mackerel. Most of the
mackerel are landed on Lucky Lura-type bait rigs or on strips of squid
fished under a float. Most bonito fall to feathers trailing a cast-a-bubble.
This is also the best area for the sharks and rays and many good sized
shovelnose guitarfish and bat rays have been landed at the pier. In addition,
a few of the larger sharks will be caught, species like thresher sharks
and blue sharks; however, I've never seen too many smoothhounds or leopard
sharks at the pier.
A 10-pound, 29-inch striped bass was caught off this pier in 1991. It was the first striped bass reported caught on an Orange County pier even though stripers have been planted in Newport Bay since the late 1960s. The bass was caught on a live smelt.
This pier, like the Newport Pier, was targeted for closing unless anglers did a better job keeping the pier clean. Today it is posted as a "Litter Free Zone" and signs indicate a $500 fine for discarding refuse onto or from the pier. PLEASE help the local anglers keep the pier clean by doing the same yourself!
Balboa Pier Facts
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