Pier Fishing in California

Resources :: California Fish

Thresher Shark

Thresher Shark


Alopias vulpinus; from the Greek word alopos and Latin word vulpes, (both meaning fox).

Alternate Names

Thresher, blue thresher, longtail shark, swiveltail, fox shark, sea fox.


Easily identified by the long tail which is as long as the body. The only other similar shark in California water is the rare, deep-water, big-eye thresher. Their coloring is brown to gray to black on the back shading to white below.


To 18 feet and possibly 25 feet. Most caught off piers are under 6 feet in length.


Worldwide; in the eastern Pacific from Chile to Goose Bay, British Columbia. Most threshers caught in California are taken south of Point Conception.


Most common in deeper offshore water but young threshers venture into shallower water, particularly at night. A number are caught by southern California pier fishermen every year.


Most common on oceanfront piers south of Los Angeles. Best bets: Ocean Beach Pier, Oceanside Pier, San Clemente Pier, Balboa Pier, Newport Pier, Redondo Beach Pier, Hermosa Beach Pier and Santa Monica Pier.

Bait and Tackle

Almost always landed by anglers specifically fishing for shark. Tackle should be heavy and include a net or treble gaff to bring the fish onto the pier. Line should be at least 40 pound test, a wire leader is preferred and hooks can be 4/0 or larger. The best bait is a whole small fish, something oily like a Pacific mackerel, jack mackerel or Pacific sardine. A whole squid

Food Value

An excellent, mild flavored flesh! Threshers can be prepared many ways but one of the best is to simply cut the meat into steaks and broil them on a grill. The meat does need to be cleaned properly and kept cool before cooking.


The high demand for thresher steaks, accompanying high prices, and over-fishing, have led to a dramatic drop in the thresher population in the last twenty years. Many people feel there should be either a ban or severe limits imposed on the take of threshers for a few years.