This was a pier that I fished regularly throughout much of the ’70 before I headed north to Mendocino County. I lived in the Eats Bay community of Pinole and during the long summer days could easily drive over from Pinole after work and get several hours of fishing in. And, I usually caught fish.
Environment. Nestled just under, and to the west, of the Carquinez Bridge, this pier was located in an area once dominated by the C&H Sugar Company, the main industry in Crockett. Today the area around the pier primarily caters to those seeking a good meal at The Nantucket Fish Company restaurant that sits at the front of the pier (and some local anglers still call the old pier the Nantucket Pier). For years the Crockett Marine Service operated several partyboats from the marina that specialized in sturgeon and striper fishing. A visit to the bait shop would reveal pictures of the world record 9-feet, 6-inches long, 468-pound white sturgeon that was landed in nearby waters by Crockett’s Joey Pallota in 1983.
The Carquinez Bridge is the dividing line between areas designated saltwater and those designated fresh water. Fishing regulations thus change at the bridge. Dowrelio’s was in water considered saltwater; in actuality the water in the Carquinez Strait is brackish. West of the pier San Pablo Bay begins, water here is very brackish but it becomes saltier as you pass the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and enter San Francisco Bay itself. East of the pier are the Carquinez Strait, Suisun Bay, and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; the further east or north you go the fresher the water becomes. The pier, being located at the narrowest confine of the strait, just before it widens and meets San Pablo Bay, presented exposure to those fish which travel back and forth from freshwater to saltwater: sturgeon, striped bass, starry flounder, shad, salmon and steelhead. For the first three it could be a fairly good fishing pier, the latter were far less common.
Fishing. Spring to fall was the time for sturgeon, spring or fall the time for stripers, and winter to spring the time for flounder. All of these were caught on the bottom using a sliding sinker leader baited with grass shrimp, ghost shrimp, mud shrimp or pile worms. Pile worms, anchovies, and sardines could produce stripers or flounder. In the fall a high/low leader, size 4 hooks baited with pile worms, and a cast close to the end pilings, around which there is a strong current, would produce many small stripers. Sometimes, generally in the winter months, January to March, a few large pileperch might also enter the catch.
History Note. The town was named in 1881 for Judge J.B. Crockett of the California Supreme Court. Its early history was primarily that of a port. Later, the large J.L. Heald Foundry brought an industrial tone to the city. Still later, the foundry buildings were acquired by the C&H Sugar Company. When the Carquinez Bridge was completed in 1927 as “the World’s Highest Bridge,” the easy pace of the town was changed once more. Today though it seems to have recaptured its small town flavor.