Pier Fishing in California




Scorpaenichthys marmoratus; from the Greek wordsscorpaena (a related species) and ichthys (fish), and the Latin word marmoratus (marbled).

Alternate Names

Commonly called bullhead; also marbled sculpin, cab, cabby, bull cod, giant sculpin, scorpion, and marble sculpin.


Cabezon have a large head, no scales, and a cirris on the midline of the snout. Their coloring is brown, reddish, or greenish above, and whitish or greenish below with dark and light mottling on the side.


To 39 inches and 25 pounds; most caught from piers are under 2 feet.


From Point Abreojos, Baja California, to Sitka, southeastern Alaska.


Shallow-water rocky areas.


Cabezon are one of the premier fish for northern California pier anglers. Best bets: Santa Cruz Pier, San Francisco Municipal Pier, Sausalito Pier, Point Arena Pier, Eureka Municipal Wharf, Trinidad Pier and Citizens Dock (Crescent City).

Bait and Tackle

Although most of the cabezon caught from piers will be fairly small, under two feet in length, most years also see some larger fish in the 8-12 pound category. Because of this, you should use at least medium sized tackle; line testing at least 15 pound breaking strength and hooks around 2/0 in size. The best bait is fresh mussels or small crabs but cabezon will bite almost anything that looks like food. Although they often reach good size, they can be frustrating to catch. Cabezon will often tap or mouth a bait and spit it out; patience and a feel for when to set the hook is required. Also remember that cabezon like to congregate around “cabezon” holes; if you catch one, there will often be more around.

Food Value

Excellent mild-flavored meat that can be prepared in almost any manner; many feel it is best fried.


Few fish are better eating but anglers should not eat the roe (eggs) of Cabezon – they are poisonous. Don’t worry if the flesh is blue colored; this is a common occurence and the flesh will turn white when cooked.