Pier Fishing in California

Resources :: California Fishing Piers


This pier, located just down the shoreline from the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, has become a popular pier since its dedication in 1980. The facilities are nice; it is close to both the center of town and several hotels, and fishing has been surprisingly good. A plus for some is the nearby Seaport Village where family members not wanting to fish can readily spend their money on other activities and items.


The Embarcadero “Marina” Park Pier (or South Embarcadero Park Pier) is small and extends out only 95 feet from shore but it has a T-shaped end and is 300 feet wide. This pier is located over typical bay mud bottom and has considerable areas of eel grass growth which can at times interfere with fishing but which also acts to attract fish. In addition, an artificial reef was constructed nearby which provides an attraction for some species. Main fishing effort is on the bay side of the pier which fronts the deeper water and the reef but good angling can also be had at times close to the shoreline rocks. Typical species include calico bass (kelp bass), sand bass (barred sand bass), bay bass (spotted sand bass)—and it’s one of the better piers for all of these, jacksmelt, walleye surfperch, yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker, white croaker, queenfish, sargo, lizardfish, needlefish (some years), diamond turbot, halibut, shovelnose guitarfish, bat ray, leopard shark, round stingray and gray smoothhound sharks.

When the schools move into the bay there can be good fishing at times for bonito, mackerel, jack mackerel, and small barracuda. Although not really common, horn sharks, thresher sharks, and white sea bass have also been landed here.

Fishing Tips

Since this is an excellent pier to catch bass, you might want to first try on the bottom using ghost shrimp, bloodworms or cut anchovies. Both ends of the pier seem good for bass but the right end seems to produce more, at least in my visits. Artificials, especially curly-tail lures like small Scampis and Scroungers, as well as grubs, will also produce some bass. The second most common fish on the bottom are croakers, mostly yellowfin croaker but also a few spotfins and even an occasional China (black) croaker. Most of the croakers prefer live ghost shrimp, fresh mussels and bloodworms, but they will also sometimes be caught on clams or cut anchovies. Halibut are a frequent goal and fish are caught but they would be far more common if anglers used live bait. Unfortunately live anchovies are not sold at the pier. Go to a good tackle shop and buy the following: a bucket, an air pump (aerator), an A battery, and a drop net (umbrella drop net). Put the battery into the air pump, attach it to the bucket, add water and use the net to catch yourself some live bait. The nets, 3 1/2 feet square, are attached to a rope and lowered into the water. Usually a few pieces of bread sprinkled near the net will attract anchovies or small smelt (although some people use a soft mixture of moistened corn meal). Use the live bait on the bottom with a sliding sinker. The next best bait after live anchovies would be live ghost shrimp or bloodworms, then frozen anchovies or squid.

Perch prefer fresh mussels or bloodworms but will also sometimes hit a plastic grub, and opaleye often prefer frozen peas. Light tackle, by the way, is usually the way to go at this pier unless the current requires a heavy sinker. Water here is often crystal clear and the fish can be very wary of the heavier lines, especially during the middle of sunny days. For most species an incoming tide seems best; for the rays and sharks night is by far the best time. At times, fishing around the inshore rocks proves productive for small bass. If you use ghost shrimp or bloodworms, the inshore area will also yield an occasional rubberlip seaperch, blackperch or opaleye.

When mackerel are present the two most common riggings will be either a single hook setup or a bait rig. When the mackerel are biting light, use the single hook setup. A single size 4-1 hook is tied to the end of the line and a small split-shot sinker or twist-on sinker is added a few feet up the line. The most common bait is a small strip of squid about three or four inches long by a quarter inch wide or a bloody piece of mackerel—and I generally prefer to use mackerel. The goal is to keep the bait just a few feet under the surface of the water (since the mackerel like to hang right under the schools of smelt). If the mackerel are on a “mac attack” and you really think you want to catch a bunch, use a bait rig such as a Lucky Lura rig. These riggings contain 4-8 hooks and do not really need any bait—although you may want to sweeten a couple of hooks with bait. The problem with using these rigs is that you may catch 3, 4, or even more mackerel at a time and their twisting techniques will quickly mean the end of your expensive bait rig. If bonito are present, artificial lures seem to offer your best chance for success. A plastic bubble with a trailing feather (yellow and green seem best) about 3-4 feet behind often works best. If barracuda show up, and they often will at night, a chrome jig like a Kastmaster or Krocodile often proves the best action.

There are also a lot of sharks and rays in this area. For best results fish at night and use a piece of squid or mackerel. Most of the sharks and rays will be small to medium size so you don’t really need heavy tackle. However, you will latch on to an occasional big bat ray so come prepared with a large net or treble hook gaff.



Although the pier is supposedly open 24 hours a day, the park and the parking lot close at 10 p.m.


Restrooms are adjacent to the pier, fish-cleaning stations and lights are on the pier. A combination bait store and snack shop is situated near the entrance of the pier. Metered parking ($1 an hour from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.), a picnic area, and basketball courts are near-by in the park. Fish a little, play a little hoop, fish a little….............

Handicapped Facilities

Handicapped parking and restrooms are available. The pier surface is planking and gaps are sometimes fairly wide which may cause problems for some wheelchairs. The height of the railing is 42 inches. Posted for handicapped.

How To Get There

Take I-5 to the Market St. exit, take Market west to Harbor Dr. Turn left on Harbor Dr. and take it to 8th Ave., turn right onto Convention Way (formerly Harbor St.). Follow it a short block to 5th Ave. and the pier. It seems that with the new Convention Center the city is constantly working on these streets near the pier and renaming them; if you get confused remember that the park and pier are immediately to the southwest of the Convention Center.


San Diego Unified Port District.