Pier Fishing in California

Resources :: California Fish

Striped Bass

Striped Bass

Species

Roccus saxatilis from the Latin meaning to live among rocks.

Alternate Names

Striper or rock bass.

Identification

Silver or copper coloring with seven or eight blackish, horizontal stripes on the back.

Size

Up to 4 feet and 90 pounds in California. Most of the striped bass caught on piers are smaller, schooling size stripers, generally under five pounds in size. However, each year will see a few lucky anglers catching large fish; often up to 40-50 pounds in size.

Range

From 25 miles south of the California-Mexico border to Barkley Sound in British Columbia.

Habitat

Shallow water areas, both sandy and rocky.

Piers

Really only common at Bay Area piers and even here fewer and fewer are caught each year. Striped Bass are anadromous, they winter in the fresh waters of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta then move down to salt water in the spring and back up in the fall. Spring and fall sees catches of stripers at piers on both the west and east sides of San Pablo Bay as the fish head toward the Golden Gate. Summertime is the prime time for piers throughout San Francisco Bay as well as areas out to Pacificia Pier. Best bets depend on the season. During the mid to late summer I would try Pacificia Pier or any pier along the western side of San Francisco Bay. During the spring I would try East Bay piers including Berkeley Pier and the Point Pinole Pier. During the fall months hit the Marin County piers, Point Pinole Pier, and the Dowrillo Pier in Crockett. In the Carquiniz Straights and up to the delta there are a number of excellent piers including those at Benicia, Martinez, Pittsburg and Antioch.

Bait and Tackle

The main idea here is to have heavy enough tackle that you can fight the unexpected big fish. Although most of the fish you catch will be under ten pounds, be prepared for the thirty pounder. Tackle should be medium size, line should be at least 20 pound test, and hooks may vary from size 2 to 2/0. Best baits are live small fish such as shinerperch, staghorn sculpin, other small sculpins, or live grass shrimp. Cut bait, including sardine, anchovy and even mackerel, will often work as well. Stripers will also hit pile worms but most worms are used for the smaller fish. Although artificials can be deadly in a boat, they are less frequently used on the piers and are often less effective. Having said that, I must admit that many stripers are taken on artificial lures. Pacifica Pier yields some nice fish each year and piers down at the Fruitvale Bridge in Alameda/Oakland are noted for their large stripers – generally taken on plugs.

Food Value

Stripers have a mild, flaky flesh that is delicious almost any way you prepare it. However, if taken from the bay, it is best to broil the meat so that most of the harmful toxins (located in the fatty sections of the meat) will melt and drip out of the meat. Be sure to check the recommendations in the Fish and Game Regulations.

Comments

Striped Bass were introduced from the Atlantic Ocean in 1879; the first fish were released in the Carquinez Straits near Martinez. For many years striped bass were the most sought after fish in San Francisco Bay; today they share that honor with white sturgeon and California halibut.