Pier Fishing in California

Resources :: California Fishing Piers

McNear Beach Fishing Pier

Opened in 1989, this is one of the newer piers in the Bay Area and one of the best spots to bring a family. Fishing can be good or bad but so many facilities are available in the 52-acre park (including a snack bar, public pool, and nearly mile long beach), that there is generally something for everyone to do. The pier is located just up the road from China Camp and could easily be missed if you were not looking for it. However, once you find it you will undoubtedly come back.

Environment

The pier is located a short distance away from the Sister Islands and fronts some of the deeper water in this part of San Pablo Bay. Pilings show little growth of mussel but the bottom here is mud and grass and there seems to be a lot of natural food. Inshore, the shoreline is covered with rocks and at times there is some fishing for perch but it seems only fair. More productive is the water to the left of the pier about half way to three quarters of the way out. This is a good area for kingfish (white croaker), flounder, striped bass, sharks, skates and bat ray. The most heavily fished area is the t-shaped end of the 190-foot-long pier; this is the premier spot for sturgeon.

Fishing Tips

This is one of those piers which can be great or terrible depending on the tides and the season. During the right time of the year, late winter to early spring, it is one of the best piers from which to catch white sturgeon, and sturgeon up to 170 pounds have been reported from the pier. If this is your quest, come prepared and follow a few simple rules. In regards to equipment, make sure you are using a medium to heavy saltwater rod and reel loaded with at least 300 yards of line of at least 40 pound test. Use a plastic-coated wire leader equipped with one or two 5/0 to 7/0 hooks, a sliding sinker rigging, and a sinker heavy enough to hold your line on the bottom. In an extremely fast moving tide, attach one or more rubber core sinkers to your leader to keep it on the bottom. Come prepared with a net and remember that with the sturgeon regulations you (1) cannot gaff a sturgeon and (2) you must release any sturgeon under 44 inches or over 72 inches (so the pier’s record fish will not be challenged). Obviously you must be careful before you net any sturgeon; you may want to walk large sturgeon to the shoreline. Unfortunately these regulations are particularly hard on pier anglers who already are at a disadvantage in landing large fish. Also remember that tides are super critical in sturgeon fishing. Try to fish the last few hours of a strong outgoing tide, especially a tide which ends on the minus side. However, here either incoming or outgoing tides can produce; just remember that results will be poor when the water stops moving (slack water). In addition, the period after a few inches of rain is often super productive. Finally, remember to use the right bait. LIVE grass shrimp, ghost shrimp, or blue mud shrimp will produce best results. Ghost shrimp and mud shrimp seem to produce the biggest fish but during the summer months grass shrimp often seem a better bait overall. In addition, herring roe, which can be collected during the winter spawn, can be a good bait.

Weather does play an important part at this pier. As example, rains bring in the sturgeon and push out some other fish. Low-rain years will see good catches of kingfish at the pier into the winter months along with some continued catches of sharks and rays. When the big rains hit, and the run-off begins, these species will move closer to the mouth of the bay and be replaced by the sturgeon.

Special Tip

It is good to remember the tides no matter what type of fish you are seeking. Striped bass like a swift moving tide with best action at the time of most movement. Perch like a moderate tide with best action at maximum current. Jacksmelt like a swift current with best action at the height of the incoming tide. For sharks and rays a moderate incoming tide is best. For most of these, the three types of shrimp will work as bait; however pile worms are the best bait for the jacksmelt and you may not want to pay the high cost for ghost or mud shrimp when fishing for perch. Best times to fish for the various species is as follows: sturgeon—late winter to spring; striped bass—fall to winter; starry flounder—winter and spring; perch – winter; jacksmelt—spring to summer; white croaker—late winter to early summer; skates and rays—most of the year with late summer and fall the best time. Remember however that these times will vary somewhat depending on the arrival dates and severity of the winter rains.

History Note

The park is named after John McNear who owned this land and the nearby brickmaking operation at Point San Pedro back in the 1880s.

Facts

Hours

The park hours change seasonally so check. However, during the sunmmer it is generally open from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. daily.

Facilities

There are benches, water faucets and fish cleaning stations on the pier. There are no lights on the pier. Adjacent to the parking lot are two portable restrooms. Nearby is the snack bar; adjacent to it are a swimming pool, tennis courts, and extensive lawn areas. There is a $1 fee to enter the park.

Handicapped Facilities

Some handicapped parking spaces. The surface of the pier is concrete and the railing is approximately 40 inches high.

How To Get There

From Highway 101 take Point San Pedro Road east—follow it for approximately 8 miles to the park entrance and road.

Management

County of Marin – Department of Parks and Open Space.