Pier Fishing in California

Resources :: California Fish

Pacific Butterfish

Pacific Butterfish


Peprilus simillimus; from the Greek word pepricos (one of Hesychian’s unknown fish) and the Latin word simillimus (very similar, in reference to a similar Atlantic butterfish).

Alternate Names

Pompano or Pacific pompano.


A very deep compressed body with a somewhat perch shape. Butterfish have very long dorsal and anal fins and no pelvic fins. Their coloring is metallic silver or blue on the side with a greenish back.


To 11 inches; most caught off piers are under 8 inches.


Point Abreojos, Baja California to the Fraser River, British Columbia.


Oceanfront, sandy-shore areas.


A common catch at piers in southern California; less common but still caught at piers north to San Francisco. Best bets: Oceanside Pier, Balboa Pier, Newport Pier, Huntington Beach Pier, Belmont Shores Pier, Hermosa Beach Pier, Manhattan Beach Pier, Santa Monica Pier, Malibu Pier, Goleta Pier, Pismo Beach Pier, Cayucos Pier, Santa Cruz Wharf and Pacifica Pier.

Bait and Tackle

Usually caught on small hooks, size 8 or 6, and small strips of anchovy (although the fish can be finicky and at time will be more attracted by small pieces of fresh mussels or shrimp). A high/low leader works fine, and these fish often like to hit mid-depth similar to silver surfperch.

Food Value

A very-mild, good eating fish, but only the largest fish have enough meat to make it worth the effort.


An attractive little fish that often schools together with perch.