Last modified: September 3, 2018

Fishing Piers San Francisco Bay Area

Dumbarton Pier — Fremont

White Sturgeon — 2000

Date: January 11, 2000; To: PFIC Message Board; From: mud line; Subject: (In reply to: Where to sturgeon fish? posted by yogi on Jan-10-00) 

I know some good spots for sturgeon off piers and off the bank. Dumbarton pier is one of them. Sturgeon however are not easy to take off this pier; if you happen to have one suck up your baits this is just the beginning. The pier is the hardest place to land the mighty sturgeon, if you do not fight right you will lose it. Then after you fight and he’s tired the next part of the battle begins, getting the snare around him and pulling it up the pier, this is the fun part. I’ve seen many people lose them right at the pier due to the snare job. Horrible thing to see once you’ve gotten this far. The pier is very crowded at this time of the year especially since San Mateo is closed. They list directions on this website. You want to chat about sturgeon, get back to me. This is mainly all I do is chase these guys through the bays and Delta.

Date: May 23, 2000; To: PFIC Message Board; From: see; Subject: (In reply to: STURGEON FISHING posted by CARLOS on May-22-00)

I have fished at Dumbarton Pier for about 14 years now and I have noticed the fellows with 13 to 15-foot rods with a good Penn spinning reel that will hold about 300 yrds of 25-30lb test have done quite well. There is a channel pretty far off and if your rod isn’t long enough you won’t hit it.

Date: June 15, 2000; To: PFIC Message Board; From: alvin; Subject: DUMBARTON PIER

During the striper season the best places to fish on that pier is the very beginning to the middle.

Date: January 11, 2001; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Dave Mush; Subject: Dumbarton (First Sturgeon)

Woke up and saw that it was cold rainy day so I decided it was not a good day to go to work so I packed up the truck and decided to go see if I can land one these sturgeon everybody was talking about. I first headed to the Lion supermarket to see if they had any grass shrimp but had no luck so I went out the pier hoping my grass shrimp was going to produce for me. I strung up my reel with new 25 lb. test while I soaked my trap hoping for some bait. After I got every thing squared away I pulled up my trap and baited up my first hook. I got a bite 10 minutes later but it looked like a small shark or kingfish. I let the bait sit for about 15 minutes more and decided to check it out; (nada) got me for my bait. I baited up again and threw back out. This time I let it sit, the current and wind had my rod tip bouncing and moving around so it was going to be hard to tell if anything did bite. After 30-45 minutes I got a real hard pump and my line went slack I picked up my rod and then I felt a second pump that just kept going so I pulled the trigger. It felt heavy and right away I knew it was sturgeon. Being that this was my first sturgeon trip and first sturgeon I just wanted to have a look at her so I can say I hooked into to sturgeon fought her for about 15-20 minutes and for a minute their I thought their was no getting her back from under the pier. But she cooperated and came to the top in exhausting defeat. After the guy next to me netted her we quickly got the tape measurer out and put the tape down, she came up short by 1 inch (45 inches). I took one more look at her at set her free to swim another day in the cold brown waters of the south bay. Anyways sorry to bore you guys with a long boring story but she was my first so I thought I’d give you guys a little bit of the story. -Dave

Rig- 4/0 40 lb. steel sturgeon leader; Bait-Live grass shrimp; Weight-8 oz. pyramid; Out going tide

Date: February 21, 2001; To: PFIC Message Board; From: jason chin; Subject: Re: Rare sightings in the South Bay…

Fished down at the Dumbarton on Sunday 2/18, the best day of the three. Got out about 5:15am, water was extremely calm with lots of gloomy cloud cover. There are 2 whales that seemed to have found there way down to the bridge. I believe they are grey whales but I am not sure. They’ve been down there now for three weeks. They put on a little show for us blowing air and flopping their tales, kinda neat if you’re into that kinda stuff. Anyways we bagged a 4’ sturgeon on the top of the incoming on mud shrimp. Thing looked like it had been through a war, sore on the side and all bruised up. Then all of a sudden my partners pole goes off, and then a nice starry flounder about 14” long. I have never seen or caught a starry flounder this far down in the south bay, surprised me. Although two years ago a keeper halibut was caught in the flats off the Dumbarton Pier. Strange weather and strange happenings. My friend was fishing on the pier that day and we kept in touch on the cell phones. He managed to hoist up a 58” sturgeon up onto the pier on the outgo. Fish are out there go get em’… I seem to always do good around the new moon. Get wet and get a fish-since it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up till the weekend.  Jason “bayrunner”

Striped Bass — 2006

Date: September 4, 2001; To: PFIC Message Board; From: gyozadude; Subject: Dumbarton Pier — a Saga of Fate and Stupidity

I thought I’d head out to Dumbarton Pier today for an hour after work to catch the outgoing tide. When I got there, it was a bit breezy and chilly at 6:30pm, nothing at all like the warm air in the neighborhood at 5pm. It was my first time to Dumbarton Pier, so I casually walked with my gear, reading the posted signs. I stopped near the gate to read the regs. on fishing pier vs. shore. Two rods okay on the pier, no license. One rod from shore, need license… duh… what loser would chose the 2nd option? I wondered. There were a bunch of low swarming gnats near the shoreline. I tried to identify them and observe if baitfish were jumping to eat them. Nothing. The water was choppy.

I went to the end of the pier, a solid 7-minute walk and set up to fish the lower deck pier at the bottom of the stairs. Fished two rods, one with (human edible) shrimp on hi-lo-rig, the other with Sabiki tipped with scallops. (Couldn’t buy any squid at the local Safeway after work, didn’t know any local bait shops, and didn’t want to fight traffic searching for one). I was waiting for a buddy with frozen grass shrimp from some bait shop he claims he knows in the area.

The pier was deserted. Not a soul. I was trying to recall a story of a murdered Vietnamese kid who was killed out here years ago… and whether this was the pier… That, together with the cool wind was giving me goose bumps.

Started out with a 2-oz pyramid sinker 15-lb test. Wind was blowing south, so I cast that way. Maybe got about 50 yards on the cast. I tried going farther, but the bait kept flying off. Funny thing, but the current was pretty strong and swept anything that landed in the water north. I couldn’t get the bait to stay put, so I went to 3-oz, and the bait tumbled a bit before digging in. I finally settled on a 4 oz. pyramid sinker on 20-lb test. Nothing hitting for 20 minutes. No surprise, the undertow current below the surface must have been at least 5 knots. It was twisting my hi-lo rig silly while submerged, so I switched to egg sinkers (2 x 3 oz.) and a single hook. Swoosh… north they went. Couldn’t hold bottom as effectively as the pyramid sinkers. I figured at that point, that the undertow current must’ve been at least 8 knots or more.

Under these conditions, fish wouldn’t be in that current. They’d be looking for respite in the wake of some object like the bridge support piling. So I cast north in front of the Dumbarton Bridge support pillar/caisson. These are about every 100 feet, and are about 30 feet wide, 15 feet in profile, and 100 feet tall. I had two juicy 21-25 prawns on the hooks and put the rod to rest against the railing. I attached a bell, and prepared to check the bait and re-position the other rod still down below on the lower-level dock.

I walked down the steps. Had the other rod in my hands, then my bell rang. I looked up. The rod tip bent down really hard and jerked back up. The bell went nuts for a second. Then nothing… I ran up stairs and held the rod for a minute. Nothing, so I reeled in, and the shrimp on top was gone. I re-baited and re-cast to the same position. This time I loosened the drag on the rod, just in case something big hauled the rod over the edge.

I went back downstairs and quickly reeled in the other line, re-baited, and jogged upstairs and walked along the pier and cast toward a second caisson. As I lay the second rod down, my cell phone rang. It was my friend. Says he’ll be there in 5 minutes. I tried to warn him about the first speed bump on the road and to not go over 35. I was going around 45 mph and man… caught some air and come down hard. Definitely not good for the suspension on my truck. I was asking about whether he had brought his rod and just chatting, when the bell on the first rod goes off again.

“Hey, I gotta go…” I told him.

“Why’s that?” he asked.

“I gotta reel this in or I’ll lose my rig,” I told him.

“What, you gotta fish?” he asked again.

“I gotta go now…BYE!” I shouted and hung up.

I rushed to the rod, picked it up, and with a lot of power, whipped the rod back over my shoulder…. whizzzzzzzz….. DoH! The drag spun. I had forgotten that I loosened the drag on the reel before. I quickly tightened the drag and reeled the slack in and tried to set it again. But whatever hit swam out into the current and around the caisson. I ran to my right about 50 feet to get a better angle on the line and to maintain tension. I lifted the rod in a doubled-over position for about 5 seconds and then, snap! It was gone…

I reeled in the main line and there was nothing. No sinker. No hooks. Just the line, somewhat abraided by the sharp barnacles on the caisson.

My friend showed up about 10 minutes later. He jogged all the way down the pier. Just t-shirt and shorts. No rod. No reel. No grass shrimp. I had just finished rigging up again and was preparing to cast again. I tossed the bait back against the caisson. We waited for some time, but there was no more action. I don’t know whether my buddy cursed the fishing by his presence or the one that got away warned every other fish, but the bites just stopped. I’ll never know what it was. We ended up fishing another 20 minutes, until 7:30pm and had to pack up and leave before the gate closure at 8pm.

That was my first outing to Dumbarton. Now I see why people like it. I’ll need to head back soon. But this time, with less distractions. – Gyozadude,  “Yes – I can roll my own potsticker skins”

7-Gill Shark — 2006

Posted by readership

Good stuff. I think 8-oz. weights are the average sinkers used out there to hold bottom. I use “sputnik”-type sinkers nowadays. Since I started using them, nothing but positive performance. Kind of pricey, but I think they’re worth it and definitely recommend for others to check ‘em out. Pretty long post to read at 4 in the morning, but cool story.

Posted by jason chin

Gyozadude — Great story seems like you had fun. Next time eh? The surf rods you were talking about in the past that you wondered if you would have use of, rig em up. They will hold an 8-oz. well. Use a slider for no tangles. If the current is going out (north towards San Mateo) and you are having a problem with staying down fish the top section of the pier casting north (usually into the wind) and your line will stay straight. Same goes for the incoming on the bottom section of the pier. When the pier gets busy you practically have to fish an 8-oz. or you will get some dirty looks as your line drifts over everyone else’s. If everyone uses an 8-oz. pyramid all the lines will fall into place. Ghost, grass shrimp, and herring are my preferred baits that generate a lot of action on the sharks, rays, and sturgeon. You think that current was bad? That wasn’t nothing, wait until a minus tide to a 6-footer. Sturgeon seem to like those tides though. All the fish mentioned above will feed in the middle of that current; they will be swimming with that tide and chewing your bait along the way. Hope this helps you for your next trip. And for safety, I’ve fished there I don’t know how many times by myself and not had any problems. Not that it can’t occur but hopefully this will help ease your worries.  Jason “Bayrunner”

Posted by nufo

Jason is right on the money. Luckily I listened to his and Carlo’s suggestions before the first time I went out there or I would never have held bottom. Dumbarton is definitely a nice pier with plenty of different fish to catch. Nufo

Posted by gyozadude

Will bring heavier equipment. I’m jazzed about Dumbarton. There’s plenty of structure for fish to congregate around. I’m planning to hit that more often. I was using a 9′ Daiwa, el cheapo Eliminator yesterday. The 15-footer is still in the garage rafters. I might haul that out too. I have a spare Daiwa Jupiter Z 6000 reel that I’ve never used but got as a gift. How far do you guys cast out there and what pound test? I was using #2 hooks on my rig. The acceleration of trying to cast farther than say 50 yards knocks the bait off. And if I don’t worry about the bait and practice casting, the weight really stresses the line a bit. I’m fairly certain I need a 50-lb shock leader of sorts. I’m hoping smaller grass shrimp hang on better than the shrimp I used, or that I don’t need to cast that far. If the fish are closer to the pier, I’d prefer to bring a 6’4″ boat rod with a conventional reel and just toss the bait around 30 or 40 ft. – Gyozadude, “Yes – I can roll my own potsticker skins”

2 Responses

  1. I think the hours need to be updated. It’s sunrise to sunset now. Also, I don’t observed any road closure these days, I’ll double check.

  2. “Striped Bass – 2006” is Nick “The Informative Fisherman” from a fairly popular You Tube Bay Area fishing show.

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