Last modified: August 6, 2018

Fishing Piers Northern California

“B” Street Pier aka Michael J. Scavuzzo Pier — Crescent City

This pier has lights so it can be fished at night—if the winds cooperate. This should improve your chances for skates, bat rays, or sharks if you wish to fish for them—but few do. Most of the sharks are leopard sharks or dogfish (sand sharks) although the numbers tend to be fairly low (perhaps due to a lack of anglers). There was a good run on large leopards in July of ’09 and a report of a blue shark landed at the pier but the overall lack of sharks is still somewhat of a mystery. Use squid as the bait for the sharays since it will best survive the ravages of the crabs.

Small juvenile to mid-sized rockfish—black, blue, brown, yellowtail and copper—sometimes hang around the pilings during the summer months and, at times, you may see a school of Pacific tomcod or juvenile sablefish enter the bay. The numbers of these fish are small overall but they can provide a little variety and action for the anglers.

Juvenile yellowtail rockfish

Some years also see fairly good numbers of jack mackerel enter the bay and for some reason most of these are good size fish, often exceeding two feet in length. Most are caught on Sabiki-type bait rigs and generally it is the late summer to fall months that see most of these pelagic critters. Not common but occasionally seen, especially during warm-water years, are Pacific mackerel.

I think salmon are fairly common in the harbor but not too many really fish for them. If more people used live baitfish, or tried artificial lures at the pier, more salmon would be landed. I landed several small, under-sized salmon smolt in 2013 while using my normal high/low rigging baited with pile worms. All of course were returned to the water but where there are small ones there should be larger ones.

Smolt

That thought proved true during a visit in 2015.  Schools of anchovies surrounded the pier and eventually I broke out the Sabiki rig to catch some fresh bait. One lively anchovy was placed on a hook about four feet under a bobber. I wasn’t sure what I might catch but the result was a  23-inch silver salmon. Silver salmon are illegal to keep so it was returned to the water but it “made” my day on the pier. Do make sure that you know the rules governing salmon, especially those in regard to size, seasons, and types of hooks allowed.

A highlight each year in the harbor is the arrival of Pacific herring. Anglers will flock to the Coast Guard Jetty, Citizens Dock and even the B Street Pier for the tasty fish. Although the jetty seems the “primo” spot in the harbor, and will be filled with people using Sabiki-type bait rigs or nets, both piers can also be productive.

Pacific Herring

The advantage of the piers is, of course, the fact that no license is required. One day I was fishing for herring off the jetty when approached by a couple of anglers from Oregon. Was this a good spot? Yes. Did you need a license? Yes on the jetty but not on the public piers. They moved to Citizens Dock (which unfortunately wasn’t as productive that year as the jetty).

Staghorn Sculpin

One fish that is common, in fact far too common, is small staghorn sculpins. Sometimes the bottom seems to be covered with the “bullheads” and they’ll grab baits seemingly tar too big for their mouths. They are too small to eat but can make decent live bait if fished slightly above the bottom. If allowed to rest on the bottom (when using a Carolina rig)  they will sometimes burrow into the  bottom mud which makes them a little hard to spot by the fish being sought.  But, it can be hard to keep them off your hook.

The herring generally run from January to February (but the runs can start earlier and end later) and the best times are usually during high tides so check the papers. Most people use bait rigs and dress with rain clothing since rain is to be expected that time of the year. People will fill their coolers with the fish, some to be eaten and some to be saved as bait during the salmon season.

Be prepared to share space with the crabbers. As mentioned, this pier has proven to be a top-notch spot for crabs and at times this can be to the detriment of anglers actually fishing for fish. Crabs like to gobble up the bait while crabbers gobble up the railing space. One night I visited the pier for a little potpourri fishing and was startled to see crab pots tied every 7-10 feet around the entire end of the pier, in fact the outer 1/3 of the pier. There must have been at least 50-60 crab pots out there and if you wanted to fish a spot you had to do so amidst the pots and the ropes to the pots as well as the families that were crabbing and having a little social gathering. Every few minutes a pot would be pulled in and then tossed back out (generally as far as the person could throw it); it was a loud and disturbing racket which didn’t help the fishing and I blamed my lack of success at least in part to the din of the crabbers. But, they were catching crabs and certainly had as much right to the pier as I did.

Dungeness Crabs

The Dungeness crab season is generally the first Saturday in November through July 30 and the ability to catch good numbers of crabs, combined with the no license requirement at the pier, means both locals and people from southern Oregon flock to this pier. The result can be the conditions mentioned above and I wonder if certain sections couldn’t be reserved for the crabbers and others for fishermen, at least for those months

The “B Street Pier” and Battery Point Lighthouse as seen from across the bay at Citizens Dock

The Pier Rats Speak

Date: December 5, 2000; To: PFIC Message Board; From: pathcode; Subject: (In reply to: Citizen’s Dock posted by Ken Jones)

Crabbed the B Street Pier in Crescent City Monday and Tuesday. Got two legal rocks, one red, and one Dungeness. First time I’ve crabbed in thirty some years. Tuesday (Nov 28) was real slow until about and hour before low tide. Then we were getting 12+ crabs to a ring, some nearly legal. Fished both days without a bite. Are those fat sea lions in the harbor doing a job on the fish inhabitants? Buying and reading ‘Pier Fishing in California’ renewed my interest in fishing and crabbing. Thanks Ken!!

Date: July 18, 2001To: PFIC Message Board; From: dennis glasi; Subject: Trip to Oregon/Crescent City

Got back last night. I hoped to get to Anacortes, Wash in the San Juan’s but got tired of driving up I-5 so made a right turn to Winchester Bay, Oregon. Dug a batch of soft shell clams and steamed them for dinner. Drove down to Coos Bay the next day and dug some more soft shells. Made some good oil and garlic over linguini with lots of fresh clams. Excellent!!

Next day, I drove down the coast to Crescent City, CA for some fishing off the pier. The bay was loaded with anchovies as far as you could see in any direction. Billions of them. A million birds were feasting on them, seals were in all their glory and a huge grey whale was in the bay eating his share. What a sight. The bay was black with them. I didn’t have a bait pole so I told a young Asian boy that was using a Sabiki rig that if he supplied me with live bait, I would give him 50% of my catch. He obliged and I sent a live ‘chovie down on a sliding leader. I had a hook up of something in about one minute. It spit the hook and soon afterwards the wind started to howl at about 30 knots so I called it a day.

Date: June 8, 2003; To: PFIC Message Board; From: James Bond; Subject: the cursed docks

Went fishing on The Cursed Dock aka the B Street Pier in Crescent City trying for flounder or perch. No bites, nothing. Probably because of low tide. Lots of herring swimming around though; too bad I didn’t have one of those baitfish rigs. Setup: Shimano Syncopate, 6-foot Ugly Stick, sliding setup, prawns and squid

Date: August 15, 2008; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Ken Jones; Subject: Trip to the North Coast

Tuesday 8/12—“B” St. Pier: I decided to head over to the ”B” St. Pier that sits at the other end of Crescent Harbor; a pier that has always disappointed. Here the bottom is sand and mud and typically the choice is schooling fish on the top (jacksmelt, walleye surfperch, silver surfperch, Pacific herring, etc.) or a bottom fish—sole and flounder during the day, a possible skate or shark at night. The big rig was cast out for a bottom fish while the light rig was set up with a high low and pile worms for perch by the pilings. The perch were missing but some small kelp greenling were present by the pilings; unfortunately, so too were the juvenile black rockfish. As for the heavier rig? All it was attracting was crabs and they were doing quite a job on the baits—anchovies, cut mackerel, and finally squid. I did put a live shinerperch out for halibut but even that wound up being attacked by the crabs. I finally decided to call it quits. It seemed that small hooks yielded unwanted small fish (the black rockfish), large hooks yielded crabs.

“B” St. Pier: 7:35-9:05 PM

Fish Totals: 12 Black Rockfish (juvenile), 5 Kelp Greenling, 1 Shinerperch, 1 Staghorn Sculpin, 1 Very Large Rock Crab. All fish released.

Date: August 28, 2013; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Ken Jones; Subject: Trip to Crescent City

Day 4—Monday: Tired and a little hungry I finally decided on a break before heading out to the “B” Street Pier. However, by the time I reached the pier the wind was REALLY blowing as in it was almost hard to stand up straight. No one was on the pier and I hated NOT to fish a few more hours but it just seemed fruitless. A few more pictures and I called it a day.

Day 5—Tuesday: I was scheduled to meet up with a friend at Trinidad at 1 PM but wanted to fish “B” Street for a few hours, and Citizens Dock one more time. Thus I was out at the pier at sunrise and got what I feel were some nice pictures. No wind, little current, but few fish. This has always been one of my most disappointing piers. It’s a beautiful pier, in a beautiful setting, but totally surrounded by a mud bottom. The big perch have never shown an affinity for the pilings, the flatfish are few and far between, and you’re at the mercy of pelagics passing by the pier. It’s almost always good for crabs but I wasn’t crabbing. I’ve thought for years they should build an artificial reef by the pier and the feelings haven’t changed. Other than a few juvenile yellowtail rockfish nothing really showed with the exception of a couple of king salmon smolt that had the audacity to hit my pile worms. Bullheads (staghorn sculpin) of course were present as they were throughout the trip (giving rise to the title—“Bullhead Trip”). It was an interesting visit however between the beautiful dawn and a lady who brought out her parrot to the pier. We had a nice talk and it added something different to an otherwise slow fishing trip.

Date: September 8, 2013; To: PFIC Message Board; From: FishInTheRain; Subject: Salmon at B Street

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