Public Pier — No Fishing License Required
One of California’s newer piers opened at the end of 1998 and quickly became a favorite for many anglers along this stretch of water. While the fishing itself can be good (when the Chinese mitten crabs aren’t too plentiful), it is also a great spot for the whole family. The area offers nice picnic and park areas for the family as well as great views of the Carquinez shoreline area and the unending flotilla of boats and ships traversing this inland waterway.
Environment. Eckley Pier is situated below the Bull Valley Staging Area in the Carquinez Strait Shoreline, run by the East Bay Regional Parks. It’s about midway between the towns of Crockett and Port Costa. For reference, it’s right across (give or take) Dillon Point. The small pier is only 270-foot-long and the conditions are similar to the Dowrelio Pier in terms of species and water salinity, but because it is adjacent to the narrow bottleneck that the I-80 bridge spans, the water is very deep and runs pretty rapidly, especially during the outgoing tide.
Fishing Tips. This can be a fairly decent pier for sturgeon, striped bass and flounder, and at the right time of the year may yield a few steelhead and salmon. It has also tuned out to be a good spot to collect bullheads and mudsuckers for bait. Unfortunately, it is also a good place to get your line snagged. However, the pier should help prevent some of the snags if you cast out into the deepest waters (since many of the obstructions on the bottom are man-made remnants left over from the commercial activities of a long ago era).
For the sturgeon, the old standbys — ghost shrimp, blue mud shrimp and grass shrimp, are hard to beat. Put them on a size 2/0-4/0 hook with a sliding sinker leader and cast out as far as possible from the pier. A water depth close to 40 feet is possible with a long cast.
Striped bass are more common in the shallow water close to the pier and the shoreline. The stripers will hit anchovies, grass shrimp and pile worms but often prefer a live bait like the aforementioned bullheads and mudsuckers (which you can catch at the pier).
During the winter and spring some flounder should show up and for them use a sliding leader equipped with size 4 or 2 hooks and grass shrimp, pile worms or cut anchovies.
Summer-time into the fall may see a few halibut, most falling to live bait or lures fished in the shallower waters around d the pier.
Fall to early winter months may see a few steelhead with most showing in the shallower waters of the pier. Spinner baits or worms fished under a bobber appear to work best.
Salmon pass through the area several times during the year but primarily in the fall and a small spinner should prove the best attractant.
Variety is not a strength of the piers in these waters. Nevertheless, a few perch may enter the catch at certain times of the year along with some jacksmelt and kingfish (white croaker). During low rain years more of the saltwater species will show up (including pileperch, rubberlip perch and blackperch), and it will be just the reverse during high water years. In the summer, walleye surfperch and silver surfperch may make an appearance along with the schools of shinerperch but they are not really common. Generally some bat rays and sharks (leopards and brown smoothhounds) will be caught between April and October.
White Sturgeon from the pier
As mentioned, the mitten crabs can be a real problem at the pier. At times they are so thick that it is almost impossible to keep a bait on the bottom.
Special Recommendation. Be alert for trains as you cross the railroad tracks near the front of the pier!
The shoreline on both sides of the pier contains pilings from old wharfs that dotted the area — Crockett and the Vallejo Bridge sits in the distance
The Pier Rats Speak
Date: January 27, 1999; To: Ken Jones; From: Nate D; Subject: Eckley Pier
Hey Ken, Eckley Pier near Port Costa is open for business. I fished the pier today and had no luck but two other anglers landed sturgeon, one 37 in. and one 49 in. Both were caught on standard sturgeon rigs with grass shrimp. Pier is pretty small, but very well put together. Fish cleaning area and fresh water on the pier as well as wind shelters. They (the shelters) inhibit casting somewhat, though.
Date: February 12, 1999; To: Ken Jones; From: James P; Subject: Eckley Pier
Went fishing at the Eckley Pier this morning and nothing but mitten crabs. The pier was crowded today, with more than 15 anglers at the small fishing pier. One neighbor caught a kingfish, others caught one baby sturgeon (less than 15″) and shaker striper. The mitten crabs at Suisun Bay by the pier were so bad that it’s hard to keep the bait on the hook. James
Date: February 28, 1999; To: Ken Jones; From: Mark Grim; Subject: Eckley Pier
This pier is now open and is really a great looking place to fish. The scenery is beautiful and the pier has been very nicely constructed. There are lots of picnic tables and nicely shaded areas to take in the views of the Carquinez Strait, Crockett Bridge, and the many ships passing close by. The pier has 2 wind shelters, several benches, and a cleaning station. There are restrooms at the base of the pier and in the picnic area. The pier has a cement floor, and kid-proof sides (I took my 3 year old out and didn’t have to worry about jumping in after him), and a gap just beneath the wooden top rail that is great for a rod holder. On my visit to the pier I didn’t catch anything with the anchovies and grass shrimp that I tried. The pier seems to be a great place for sturgeon, striped bass, flounder, and at the right time of the year—salmon. I’ll make this pier a regular stop—a great place for the family to play while I get some fishing in.
Date: March 13, 1999; To: Ken Jones; From: Nate; Subject: e-mail trouble
Ken, I don’t know why my e-mail hasn’t been working. Blame it on damn AOL. Anyway, I have hooked up with Mike Jones and we met last Friday night at the Martinez Pier. We should be catching fish together soon. Also, I volunteered to be your reporter for Eckley pier and am ashamed to say that I’ve slacked off on my duties, and after I told you I was responsible!!!
The fact is Eckley has become a difficult pier to fish. Cold winds, strong currents, and slow action in addition to increased popularity with some booze swilling idiots have soured my last two trips there. Fact is, Martinez pier has been producing good striper action for me lately (albeit mostly shakers, but action is action) and it is much closer to my house. But I haven’t given up on Eckley, not by a long shot. I will continue to forward any inf., first hand or otherwise, that I have on the action there. Thanks again for sending up a flare!!! Nate D.
Date: September 7, 2008; To: PFIC Message Board; From: MCB; Subject: Eckley Pier 09/07/08
Hey guys just wanted to give everyone a report on what went on today out there. Well, there were about 15 people total on the pier and only one group was hitting something. They caught a 47-inch leopard shark and a 15-inch striper, which they threw back. I believe they were using anchovies. I was out there at 1pm to around 5pm and got a few nibbles, but nothing worth it. The bait I was using was anchovies.
History Note. The park sits on land that once was the tribal territory of Karkin who claimed most of Contra Costa County. The present site was sold to John Eckley in 1870. Bull Valley itself is the name of the canyon that contains the former settlement. Along the water’s edge are the house, office and grain warehouse built by Granger’s Business Association between the 1880-1889. North of the railroad tracks are charred wooden pilings which supported the building that stuck out into the Carquinez Strait. Also nearshore are the burnt remains of the ferry “Garden City.” Built for the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1879 it was a double-ended sidewheel ferry which carried freight cars and passengers between San Francisco and Alameda; later between Vallejo and Vallejo Junction. In 1934 it was deliberately sunk and remodeled as an entertainment center and office for a sport fishing business. It burned in 1983.
Eckley Pier Facts
Hours: Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (However, check at the park entrance. During part of the year the front gate is closed at 5 p.m. which means a long and steep walk down to the pier and back to your car.)
Facilities: A fish cleaning station on the pier as well as two wind shelters, five benches, and lights. A portable potty is found near the base of the pier while restrooms are found in the nearby park and picnic area.
Handicapped Facilities: Cement surface and handicapped parking.
How To Get There: From I80, take the Crockett exit, turn east on Pomona Dr. which becomes Carquinez Scenic Dr., travel 1.5 miles to the Bull Valley Staging area entrance to the park. It is .3 miles down a fairly steep road from the park entrance to the parking lot near the pier. From I680 take Hwy 4 to McEwen Road (toward Port Costa). The road will run into Carquinez Scenic Dr. just before you get to Port Costa. Turn left and the entrance to the park is less than a mile up the road.