Last modified: October 13, 2018

Fishing Piers Southern California

Balboa Pier

October 2009 — Our reporter Snookie says, “This month hasn’t been too bad. Although we haven’t seen a lot of keeper halibut, we have seen a lot of 21 inchers and smaller. They have been healthy looking too. Of course there are lots of mackerel. Bonito have been showing with the catches being on splashers mostly. The bonito haven’t been large just nice-sized. There are a lot of shovelnose guitarfish in the surf area. Most are young ones but fun to catch. Have been some leopard sharks too. The water has been nice and the bait has been great everywhere. There are a lot of jacksmelt around as well. Oh yes, and that dreaded thing the lizardfish is here too. We had a young whale visit us last week. He is quite late going north, but I think he had an injury that may have detained him. His flukes had met up with a prop or a great white. He’s moving now though. The snaggers have been getting a lot of mullet this past week. At least I haven’t seen any corbina caught by them lately. Although there aren’t a lot of people around now, watch your equipment because we have spotted couple young men that are trying to steal our stuff. At least we caught them in the act of trying last week, so we all know what they look like.

 August 2010 — Our reporter Snookie says, “This month is better. Have had some halibut, shovelnose guitarfish, yellowfin croaker, corbina, perch (barred and walleyed), a bonito, some small barries, and of course mackerel…We have gotten good bait most of the month. We even had anchovies one day with a school hanging out around the surf area of the pier. The sardines, smelt, Spanish Jacks and queenfish are showing regularly. You just have to figure out what the favorite is for the fish that day. Have had a variety of jellyfish coming through. The nettle jelly has shown up several times lately. There are about three others that I couldn’t identify except for one. It was the Fried Egg Jellyfish. That is a definite id. Easy! All those were observed near the shore, so be careful those of you in the water.”

October 2011— Our reporter Snookie says “Although this month hasn’t been the greatest the past two days have made up for it.  Humboldt Squid arrived en masse. They were chasing our big bait schools of sardines and little mackerel. Thursday we started getting the squid about mid pier. Just my group was getting them. We did have our squid jigs with us, which made it easier to get them. They started out smaller at about 2 to 2 1/2 feet, and then they got bigger up to about 4 feet. Of course you have to remember those tentacles stretch out quite a ways. Thursday I got four of them in the time I was there. Came back Friday morning about mid-morning and got four more plus I got two small market size squid. Finally the sun came out and that ended the bite plus it got too hot to stay. I did get squirted in the back by the squid caught by the man next to me. What a shock, but it at least didn’t have ink in the squirt. We did get a good laugh out of that happening.  Friday morning the pier was a mess. There was ink everywhere even down to the surf. We need a good rain now. The people needed big bags so all the bags were missing from the trash cans on the pier. The night was of course the best time to catch the squid, and hundreds went to new homes. My friends and I haven’t had that much fun in a long time with “catching.”  Oh, and my calamari dinner was excellent if I do say so.”

June 2012 — Our reporter Snookie says, “It has been awful this month unless you wanted more sardines or mackerel.  I did see a lot of small walleyed perch being caught. Those that are catching them aren’t paying attention to the amounts they can keep. Fish and Game is going to have a blast when they come out to see what everyone is catching and the amounts they are keeping. Sardines and mackerel don’t have a legal amount, but perch do. There are some thornbacks being caught and a very few shovelnose guitarfish. Last week a snagger caught a 28-inch halibut in the surf area. The next day we saw four more big halibut, a big shovelnose, a very large white sea bass and a large school of spotfin croaker all in the surf.  Nothing would take live bait. We have had lots of bait, mainly smelt of all sizes and baby walleyes.  The young queenfish are starting to show up the past few days too. The water is much warmer now at 64 to 66 degrees.  Hopefully soon!”

August 2012 — Our reporter Snookie says, “There were two keeper halibut caught this month. One was 31 inches and the other was 23 inches. The bigger one was caught on a small lizardfish. At least we found out that they do work for live bait. There have been a lot of walleyed perch caught of all sizes, some yellowfin croaker and some undersized white sea bass. The live baits have been sardines, smelt, Spanish jacks, and a very few queenfish. The water temperatures are up to 68 degrees at times. Those that have gotten some sand crabs have caught some nice corbina lately. There have been some big strikes in the surf with live bait such as sardines, but they got away. They probably were big leopard sharks. I saw one bluefin tuna about 35 pounds in the surf area.  He was healthy but lost. Most unusual! Have seen a lot of Salps in the past two weeks. Also close to the biggest Black Sea Nettle jellyfish came by. Don’t need a lot of those. The Salps are fine though.”

September 2012 — Our reporter Snookie says, “I’ve seen a couple keeper halibut caught this month, but the snagger got the biggest, which was about 25 inches. Another snagger has been getting some corbina, mullet, and spotfin croakers. We haven’t been getting much… [KJ — Perhaps due to the snaggers?]

.April 2013 — Our reporter Snookie says, “If you like sardines, it was a great month for them.  There were thousands if not millions of sardines caught. All were down at the surf area.  We are now also getting smelt of all sizes. Some are jacksmelt.  We want the smaller smelt for halibut live bait. Are we getting halibut-NO, but we are still trying. There are some mackerel being caught in with the sardines, but they aren’t big. We are seeing quite a few whales heading north. The sea lions are chasing the bait all day long. The sardines that are being brought in on the snag-lines are being chased by the sea lions. That is a humorous thing to watch. Perhaps it is a good thing we are not getting a decent halibut with those sea lions around. Animal control picked up a baby sea lion resting on the beach last week. Right after she left with the baby, the mother sea lion came up to the shore and was looking for the baby. I think animal control needs to learn more about the habits of these creatures.

August 2013 — Our reporter Snookie says, “Things are better at the pier now. We have been getting lots of halibut although they are undersized. At least they are around and there should be some mothers and grandmothers in amongst them. My fishing buddy and I each have two keepers since the first of the year, and we expect more keepers. The bait is there for them as well. There has been some large yellowfin croakers caught up to 4 pounds. The white sea bass are around, but their sizes aren’t big enough.  There was a 38-1/2 inch one caught in the surf by a snagger. We have seen some larger ones go through. Don’t know how we would land those that looked like 60 pounders. The mackerel are there towards the end of the pier. Saw one small bonito. The snaggers have gotten some corbina off and on. The water has been nice most of the time with 68 to 70 degree water.

November 2013 — Our reporter Snookie says, “Part of the time this month was okay, and part of the time it was awful.  We had lots of smelt of all sizes most of the time, but the fish just didn’t want to eat. I did get 4 halibut and 2 another day, but no keepers. There were thornbacks, stingrays, and yellowfin croakers.  Of coarse there were mackerel that were small and we did have a few small bonito.  There was an 18-pound spotfin croaker caught in the surf area. Yes! I said 18 pounds!” [KJ — We are checking on how the fish was weighed and have asked for a picture since the state record fish was only 14 pounds.]

January 2014 — Our reporter Snookie says, “We have been getting quite a few jacksmelt for the past few weeks. I have been eating them and do enjoy them. They are so mild, and easy to clean. I fillet them. They are good smoked as well. We have had some good sardines for bait, but nothing really wants to eat them other than crabs. Well, after all it is winter, and we really can’t expect too much. There are some thornbacks around. The water has been crystal clear for several weeks now. Makes it interesting to watch the bottom for future reference as to snag areas. This week we watched several blue whales spout and show their backs. They were out a ways, but it was a very calm day water wise and wind wise, so we could see those extremely high spouts at a distance and the sun shining on their backs.  Friday we had a large mola mola come into the pier by the pilings and stay about an hour.  It was about 10 feet long and probably about 500 pounds. That was the biggest one we have ever seen. With the water as clear as it was it made viewing the mola mola very interesting. Our water is staying at 60 degrees which it normal for this time of year. There are lots of tourists from everywhere coming out on the pier.  It is fun to hear their comments.  They thought the mola mola was a manta ray… Oh, by the way, you may not have known him personally, but we lost an important person in the fish world last week. It was Art Mello.  He had the bait boats for years here, such as the Mona Lisa, Mello Boy, Mello 2, and several others.  He delivered bait to Newport Pier when I fished it and before.  I know his son, Sam, from Dana Harbor.  I attended the funeral yesterday at Pacific View.  On his casket there were fish at each corner of the casket. I now plan to have four halibut on mine. (no hurry!)  How about you?” [KJ — Hmm?]

 September 2014 — Our reporter Snookie says, “Interesting past two weeks. Had big water last week and lots of big water this week. The white sea bass liked it although they were far from big enough.  Saw a couple of BIG halibut following the small halibut that were caught. We now know there are some biggies there when they are ready to bite. There have been quite a few bonito in the mornings early. They have been decent sizes. Also, there are a lot of mackerel too all day. The bait situation is great with small mackerel, Spanish jacks, and smelt of all sizes. Unfortunately the lizardfish have been quite prevalent with an appetite for all the baitfish. A couple of very large white sea bass were seen in the surf last week. These were 60 pounders. Oh, that would be quite the excitement to get one of those. We had to fish out towards the end of the pier because of the big waves. At least they weren’t as big as a few years ago when they broke over the pier in the surf area. That ocean gets out of control at times.

3 Responses

  1. I’m coming out with my family in Dec. I wanted to do some fishing. Can I rent gear at the pier and do I need a license to fish from the pier?

  2. No, there is no rental equipment at the pier. I think though you might be able to rent tackle nearby at Davey’s Locker. As for a license, no, one is not required as long as you are fishing from the pier.

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