Last modified: November 14, 2018

Fishing Piers Southern California

Cabrillo Pier — San Pedro

I fished with mussels and couldn’t get a bite, so I guess anchovy is the way to go at that pier, or at least was today.Incidentally, I had not been to the pier in a couple of years, and it is fixed up quite a bit. They tore down the old boarded up, graffiti covered building that was not currently used for anything anyway and was a real eyesore. They added a sort of roof over one 35 yard section of the pier. On a rainy day like today, you can bet that’s the section all the anglers were at. There are a couple of benches under the roofed section for sitting, tackle boxes, wives, babies or whatever. For some reason, the roof stops about a foot short of the side of the pier, so as you move up to the rail, you get wet. But at least once your lines are in the water, you can step back and stay dry. They also have drilled holes every couple of feet in the rail, so you can stick the butt end of your rod into it as a rod holder. In a few places along the pier, there are sinks with running water.

There’s no bait and tackle shop or rest rooms, but all in all the pier is a lot nicer than it was a couple of years ago. Steve Rothman

Date: May 7, 2000; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Dick;  Subject: Cabrillo Beach Pier

Got to the pier early this morning. As time went by and no fish for me. I noticed the pier was very barren. Typically by 9, it’s elbow to elbow fishing. By this time, I notice one mackerel caught by man on the deeper end of the pier. I stayed to 11 and caught 2 corbina, 1 kingfish, 4 sand bass (under-sized), approx. 30 small smelt, and no halibut. All fish that I caught were released except for my smelt, which I used for bait and later on released.

I saw one guy caught a 12 inch halibut kept it. Another guy caught 4 calicos, all undersized and kept. Another guy caught 2 sand bass, both undersized and kept. I also noticed that a lot of people fished off the breakwater. It must be hot, but I didn’t dare to take a chance of getting knocked off into the water to see what is going on. Tight Lines, Dick

Date: October 26 2007; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Leapin Bass; Subject: Another opah picture

Probably nothing you’ll ever see from a pier but man they are weird fish. I was on my cousin’s boat yesterday out of Morro Bay and on our first jig strike we picked up two opah. I guess they are extremely rare and to get two of them is unheard of. I even had a third one take my plastic but it didn’t stick. If anyone’s interested and you can time it right between the storms the big albacore are in close (12 – 18 miles). We got 4 between 35 and 46 pounds and another boat got a 65 pounder. [Plus picture]

Posted by Dion

(In reply to: Another opah picture posted by Leapin Bass). I saw one of these fish caught off of Cabrillo Beach Pier last year.

Posted by Marty Borboa

The Opah is also known as the “Ocean Sunfish.”  I saw one caught off the Oceanside Pier about 10 years ago. It went around 15 lbs and looks like the back end of the fish got cut off. Marty B.

Posted by The Fishin Magician

Ocean Sunfish… The ocean sunfish is actually a different fish, usually called a mola mola. Here’s a link to some pictures of them: Though they look a bit like the opahs, I don’t think they’re related. Tight lines

Date: December 16, 2002; To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board; From: Ken Jones; Subject: A Short Little Trip to the Southland

Had a couple of appointments in Los Angeles last week and decided to combine business and pleasure by taking off a few days to go fishing. I didn’t expect much due to the time of the year and thus wasn’t disappointed when I caught so little — but I did catch some fish..

Cabrillo Pier: 12/11/02 — “Any fish biting” I asked the angler in the parking lot. “A few mackerel and jacksmelt,” he replied. Sounded about normal since I’ve caught a lot of both from this pier. Well, apparently it was an early morning bite since I saw neither species. There were only about 10 anglers on the pier and none seemed to be getting fish when I arrived. However, I set up shop out at the far end (where the water is a little deeper) and cast out a pile worm. First cast and what shows up but a lizardfish of about a foot in length. Assumed there would be more since they typically occur in fairly large schools but didn’t see another one.

Cast out cut anchovies and ghost shrimp on the heavier outfit, pile worms on the light outfit. Fished for an hour and a half with limited success – the lizardfish, 3 white seaperch and a speckled sanddab. Tried a few plastics and cast some pile worms up against the rocks near the jetty but no hits.

Finally decided to try the shallow end of the pier. Found some fairly steady action on white seaperch in that area using pile worms. Probably could have caught quite a few more if I had wanted to fish a little longer but wanted to try a new pier.

Fished: 10:15 a.m. – 12:45 — Results: — 10 White Seaperch — 1 California Lizardfish — 1 Speckled Sanddab

Date: January 6, 2003; To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board; From: Jonjon; Subject: Cherry Beach or Cabrillo Beach

We go to Cabrillo a lot. Mostly at night. My buddy lives on the same street that the pier is on. We usually catch a lot of white croaker, small rockfish, and even a few small leopard sharks. We use a small glow stick and squid and cast toward the breakwater side of the pier.It’s really shallow and you can almost see the fish hit the bait. Although the croaker catch is pretty good, there are signs everywhere saying not to eat the fish due to contaminants in the water. Good luck, jonjon

Setting up for the UPSAC Cabrillo Pier Derby in 2010

Date: August 1, 2005; To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board; From: dompfa ben; Subject: (In reply to: Anyone hang lights from piers? posted by tackleholic)

A couple of anecdotes. Several years ago, my brothers and I braved Cabrillo pier after dark. If memory serves, we had just been run out of a favorite PV spot by a guy in a helicopter (but that’s another story altogether)…so we were feeling brave.

Upon arrival, we encountered a family that had somehow managed to unscrew one of the light fixtures from the overhead awning, and had pulled about 30 feet of conduit out. They hung the light over the railing, so that it was suspended just a few feet above the surface of the water.

Using fly-lined chunks of bait on Pepsi cans, these anglers were nailing mackerel and pompano on every drop. The bucket behind them was literally overflowing with fish. While I can’t say that damaging the pier light was a good idea, it was certainly gutsy and inventive…and it worked.

We also used to take a shop light down to the now-gone Aliso pier, and plug it into any one of the outlets that were on every light pole on the pier. The light attracted plenty of “small, darty things” that, in turn, brought in mackerel and all the toxic tomcod you could ask for.

Incidently, I’ve seen plenty of fish shy away from a spotlight beam at San Clemente pier, including smelt, needlefish, small barracuda, bat rays, and mackerel. So I suspect it’s probably the small plankton that brings the bigger fish in, and not the light.

Date: March 24, 2007; To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board; From: lollich; Subject:  Cabrillo Pier (late report)

My son, Daniel, and I went to Cabrillo Pier at 5:25 a.m. We started fishing at around 6:20 a.m. We used ghost shrimp as bait, and we were going for any type of flatfish. Soon we had a “double” going. I caught a lizardfish and he caught a small barred surfperch almost at the exact same time (both released). Then he caught a 14.5″ pile perch. Soon after I caught a 14″ pile perch. Later Daniel caught a monster 15″ 2-lb pile perch! Then he caught a 12″ pile perch. The fishing started to slow down after that, except for my 13″ buffalo sculpin. Later we cut the fish. Found out one pile perch was pregnant, so we gave the babies away as bait. Then left at around 3:00 p.m., so we could be home to watch my beloved UCLA Bruins advance to the Final Four! (or, Daniel’s Kansas Jayhawks to advance. — Daniel forced me to say that!)

Total for the day: Mom = 11; Daniel = 8 (this is the first time Mom was able to catch more than Daniel!) 18 fish, including… 5 pile perch (kept 4) — 1 buffalo sculpin (kept) (((((Scorpionfish)))) — 5 shiner surfperch (all released) — 2 lizardfish (both released) — 1 barred surfperch (released) — 1 spider crab (released) — 1 sanddab (released, to small)

Date: May 31, 2007; To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board; From: lollich; Subject:  Cabrillo Pier (late report)

We Started fishing around 6:45 a.m. Bait was live ghost shrimp. We were fishing at the end this time. We started getting bites around 7:00. I caught a 13.5″ sole. Then I caught a 10″ sand bass. Seven minutes later I caught a 7″ perch. And soon after, Mom caught a giant 17″ sole. I caught 2 more perch after that. Then, Mom caught a perch. After that, I caught 3 more perch. And, she caught 2 more perch. Soon after that, I caught a queenfish and a perch. Later, a seagull stole one of the four perch in our bucket. Then we left at 2:15.

Total: 14 fish, Daniel 10, Mom 4 — Sole: 2, both kept — Sand bass: 1, released — perch: 9, 4 kept (1 stolen), 5 released — queenfish: 1, released. Daniel

Date: July 19, 2007; To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board; From: lollich; Subject:  Cabrillo Pier & Redondo Muni – Late report 7/13, 7/17

Friday 7/13: We went to Cabrillo Pier. Our bait was frozen shrimp, live ghost shrimp, live anchovies, live grunion, and live topsmelt. I caught a 10″ calico bass, some topsmelt, some tiny anchovies, a grunion, and to top it all off, two halibut 13″ and 16.” Mom caught some topsmelt, some grunion and two perch. All were released (except live bait).

Monday 7/17, night: We got to Redondo Muni Pier at 11 p.m., intending to fish for grunion at the grunion run. The grunion were a “no-show”, so we fished the pier. Our bait was frozen shrimp, and live topsmelt. I caught a topsmelt and my first ever keeper HALIBUT, at 1:30 a.m.! It was 24″ and 3 lbs. 13 oz. Mom caught three topsmelt. Then we slept for two hours.

Tuesday 7/17, day: We went to Cabrillo Pier. Our bait was frozen shrimp, live ghost shrimp, and live topsmelt. I caught some topsmelt and three perch. Mom caught a 10″ calico bass, a small salmon grouper, and a bunch of topsmelt. All released. Daniel

Date: August 2, 2007; To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board; From: Ken Jones; Subject: Another short trip to the southland piers

Got back last night from a short trip down to San Diego to return my granddaughter to her home. Did manage to fish a few piers, and was able to meet up with Snookie and Hashem, but overall it was a quick whirlwind trip cut short by a need to return home for business reasons.

2 Responses

  1. Where can I purchase early morning bait (anchovy’s) is San Pedro to fish off the pier?

  2. Your best bet would be at the “Rusty Hook” — 245 N Gaffey St., San Pedro, CA 90731
    (310) 832-2429

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