Public Pier — No Fishing License Required
Although now twenty years old, this is still one of California’s newest piers. It 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, 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 that traverse this inland waterway. Amazing at times are the number of large, ocean-going ships headed to the ports at Sacramento and Stockton.
Environment. Eckley Pier is situated below the Bull Valley Staging Area in the Carquinez Strait Shoreline Park, land managed by the East Bay Regional Parks. It’s about midway between the towns of Crockett and Port Costa. The small pier is only 270-foot-long but situated in a narrow stretch of the strait. The result is access to deep water but also frequently strong currents (especially in an outgoing tide).
Unfortunately, the bottom, mostly on the shallower sides of the pier, has a considerable number of snags (mostly man-made obstructions — remnants left over from the commercial activities of a long ago era). On the bright side, the pier allows anglers the opportunity to cast out into the deeper waters of the strait and most of the deeper water areas are relatively free of snags.
Fishing Tips. This can be a fairly decent pier for white sturgeon, striped bass and starry flounder along with a few of the smaller now illegal green sturgeon. During the right time of the year it may also yield a few king salmon and steelhead.
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. Most of the striped bass are small, illegal-size stripers and they will hit almost any small bait including anchovies, grass shrimp and pile worms. However, larger linesides are also found here. They too will hit the aforementioned baits but often prefer a live bait like bullheads and mudsuckers. Luckily for anglers, both of the latter species can be caught with a small hook fishing the shallows of 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 occasional appearance along with the schools of shinerperch but they are not really common. In addition, a few bat rays and sharks (leopards and brown smoothhounds) may be caught between April/May and October.
White Sturgeon from the pier
For years mitten crabs were a tremendous problem at the pier. They would often be so thick that it was almost impossible to keep a bait on the bottom without it being attacked by the crabs. For whatever reason, they now seem to have disappeared.
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 considerable debris left over from an earlier, commercial era, especially old pilings from wharves that dotted the area. The Carquinez Bridge connecting Crockett and 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. I live in Martinez and plan on fishing Eckley at least once a week. If you need a reporter for this pier, I’m available and reliable.
Nate, Thanks for the information and you’re now the reporter for the pier. Sounds like a few fish are being caught and, as I said earlier, can’t wait to get down and try out the pier. By the way I’ll have to put you in touch with Mark Grim who reports on a lot of piers in the area. You’ve probably seen each other and ddn’t even know it. Best wishes and thanks, Ken
Date: January 28, 1999; To: Ken Jones; From: Glen/Songslinger; Subject: Eckley Pier
I wanted to tell you about a brand new pier in the area. 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) from Dillon Point. The conditions are similar to Dowrelio Pier in terms of species and water salinity, but because this is adjacent the narrow bottleneck that the I-80 bridge spans, the water is very deep and runs pretty rapidly, especially during the outgoing tide. Great spot to gather bullheads and mudsuckers, and also to get snagged. However, the pier should obviate a little bit of the hang-ups if people cast out towards the deep. Another important contrast between this pier and the one at Nantucket (that’s what the locals refer it by) is that DFG regulations are quite different on this side of the I-80 bridge. Hook and gear restrictions for Salmon are lessened, for example. This is considered inland waters so other changes apply. Gaffing, for instance. That’s all the good news. The bad news is, although this pier was dedicated in late 1998, it remains unopened due to design and development squabbling between the district and builder. I’m told that this should change soon, but you know bureaucracy. I will keep abreast of it and constantly call the area head, and when it opens I’ll fish it immediately and let you know more. This could be an excellent place for sturgeon and striped bass. Thanks! Glen (Songslinger)
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 two 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: March 13, 1999; To: Ken Jones; From: Glen/Songslinger; Subject: Eckley Pier
Hi Ken, This week I checked out Eckley Pier and the pier is absolutely crawling with mitten crabs these days. Hard to keep your bait safe. There were four anglers but nobody got anything resembling a bite.
Date: May 10, 1999; To: Ken Jones; From: Kim Gale; Subject: Eckley Pier
Just back from a week in Tampa Bay, Florida where the weather turned out to be about the same as hereabouts. Decided to spend Mother’s Día morning fishing a promising tide off the new Eckley Pier between Crockett and Port Costa. Pulled into the parking lot at 7 a.m. to find the gates shut until eight. Spent an hour in Port Costa soaking a bullhead without crab interference before returning to the pier. Disgruntlement had turned to sunny optimism as I tossed a bullhead into the still powerful current neat the top of the tide. Used a second, lighter rig to offer cut anchovies to those who would disdain a live breakfast. The anchovies elicited quick response; the tap, tap tapping of baby bass.
The tide slowed and the ubiquitous mitten crabs moved in to do their number on the bullheads. Nine o’clock. The remains of a bullhead had just been taken on a quick run and as I was assessing the damage, ding-a-ling! My smaller rod top bounced big time. I grabbed it, set the hook, and nothing… then a second or two later it bent seriously, line leaving spool, goin’ toward Benicia. I started reeling, recovering a few yards then loosing it. Felt like a small sturgeon. Oh, well.
Several minutes later found me in much the same muddle. The fish about 100 feet from the pier, pulling a few yards and then losing it. I stifled ill considered thoughts of tightening the drag just a tad and just kept reeling. Finally saw the fish as it tired and came meekly to a spot right under the pier. The only other angler on the pier took over my pole while I maneuvered a mid-sized bass into my crab net and then saw the reason for my confusion. The silly slub had hooked her pectoral fin while darting about stealing my anchovy chunks. It was a real pretty, clean looking, fat bass with bright stripes. 27” long, probably about nine pounds. She was full of roe and appeared to have been eating shad and mudsuckers. Haven’t kept a bass all winter so this one, foul hooked or not, will afford me one of my favorite recipes tonight: striped bass fillet. Caio, Kim Gale
Searching for other old emails
Date: June 10, 2003; To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board; From: shoreangler; Subject: Eckley Pier
Fished Eckley pier from 10:00a to 1:30 p. Four small stripers until 11:30 then off to the races. I set the hook and the battle was on. This striper broke the water six times before I could get it under control. Got it landed and it measured out to 24 1/2 inches and weighed almost 5 pounds (cheap scale). I gave it to a new friend I was talking to when it hit. This was also the top of the tide. I continued to fish until 1:30 for 4 more small stripers. By this time the tide was running heavy and the wind was up so I left. Gear: 8’4″ W.W. Grigg medium light rod ($49.95 at Walmart); Pacifica P3000 medium spinning reel with 10 lb. Spider Line. This is the first legal srtiper with this rig and I was impressed as to how much backbone the rod has. I had the Pacifica reel apart after dunking it in the Delta. 5 ball bearings, but the alloy gearing is kind of noisy. The drag works fine, nice and smooth when the fish was making its runs. The big concern is that the body of the reel is made of some kind of plastic, and I will have to see how it holds up. All in all not a bad reel for $19.95 on sale at Big 5. Use the lightest gear to get the job done. Bob
Posted by anadromous
Cool. Keep the Eckley reports coming! I used to fish there a lot before I started fishing the shoreline areas of the Strait.
Posted by shoreangler
Sturgeon Addition. About 1:00 a guy caught and released a 39 1/2: sturgey. Bob
Posted by carlos
What were you using?
Posted by shoreangler
Cut anchovy on a surf leader. Bob
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.
Date: November 21, 2018; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Redfish; Subject: Sturgeon
Headed out today about 3pm because the conditions looked right, rain. Left right before 3 hitting a little traffic and was fishing by 3:30. Fished about an hour and got a 52” inch, fork-length white sturgeon. One guy exclaims, “You’ve been here 30 minutes.” I thought about Brian Linebarger as I baited up lamprey eel on a 9/0 diamond cut Owner (bought at Kmart $3/3hooks) and hurled an eight ounce pyramid into the depths. I remember when we fished there on a derby and he said, “ It’s already deep. You don’t have to cast far!” So, I cast out my trusty Penn 525 with 300 yards of 50# Power Pro and set my Shimano Trevala jig rod in the holder with a red bell on it. I just went on about cutting some bait, conversing with some other guys and setting up a shrimp trap. I mentioned to one familiar guy that “If you get a sturgeon, you can have sturgeon for Thanksgiving!” jokingly.
Not too long after 3 or 4 guys say, “Hey your rod is bending over in the corner!” as I then hear it and hurry over. I picked it up, still pumping, and give a decent upward tug and feel tension. I crank down the 6:1 with HT-100 and pursue battle. A little slack is felt and the fish breaks the surface 40 yards out will a tail dance to shake the hook. I thought maybe she was successful but she wasn’t? A 20 minute battle followed and I left the star drag right where it was not adjusting an inch. I let the fish run out when it wanted and took in line when I could until it finally acquiesced! A slot fish at 52” which I quickly attached tag 01 for 2018!
White sturgeon caught by Robert Gardner (Redfish) in November 2018
White sturgeon and striped bass caught by Redfish in November 2018
Potpourri — Possibly More Than You Want To Know About The Eckley Pier
<*}}}}}}}}}>< — An interesting article by the dean of Bay Area Outdoor Writers — Tom Stienstra
The Perfect Place To Catch Sturgeon
THERE’S A new place in the Bay Area where the extraordinary can occur – even if you show up just to watch. It’s called Eckley Pier, it just opened last week, and already, fish measuring 5 and 6 feet long have been caught here – a spectacle for both fishermen and those curious at what Bay waters might bring. It is located at Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline, about a mile east of Crockett…
About 12 percent of California residents fish – that is, about 4 million, including children. Of those 12 percent, less than 1 percent (340,000) have ever caught the Bay’s biggest fish, sturgeon. Because sturgeon can reach tremendous sizes and because they can be elusive monsters, catching them can be like a puzzle. Just to see one of these giants is something you will never forget, whether you fish or not. The world record was caught near here just off Benicia’s shore, 468 pounds and measuring 9-1/4 feet; the biggest-ever caught from shore, 194 pounds, was caught near Vallejo near the mouth of the Napa River. Bigger ones, perhaps even 11, 12 or 15 feet long, have reputedly been paced off on the bottom by scuba divers laying pipeline in Carquinez Strait. So with each cast, you don’t know whether your next nibble might be a little bait-robbing crab – or a 10-foot sturgeon.
The reason Eckley Pier is perfectly situated for such an adventure is because it extends 280 feet into Carquinez Strait. That is long enough to reach the deep-water channel, where sturgeon migrate up and down between the Delta and the Bay, typically right along the edge of the channel, providing anglers with a rare opportunity to intercept one of these monster-sized fish passing through…
There is no parking fee, no access charge, and not even a fishing license is required, as long as you stay on the pier (the moment you cast a line from shore, however, a license is required). The parking area will handle about 40 cars, by my estimate, and is open each day at 8 a.m. A free map /brochure of the park is available in a box here. The entrance is gated and is locked at dark. However, if you are fighting one of those giant sturgeon, it’s likely the ranger would forget all about locking the gate, and come out and join the crowd and watch the excitement like everybody else.
Sturgeon are not the big, lumbering, log-like creatures some believe them to be, but are capable of tremendous power runs of 150 to 300 yards without stopping, as well as tremendous jumps with gill-rattling landings and giant splashes. All it takes is to experience this even once, and you will suddenly understand what inspires the wise few to wait so long for a nibble from this oft-elusive denizen. Outgoing tides are the prime time, and you’ll want to cast out grass shrimp or mud shrimp for bait. Note that there is a slot limit on sturgeon. The minimum size limit is 46 inches and the maximum 72 inches (6 feet), hence there is a slot of 46 to 72 inches of legal keeper size… (The slot limit today is between 40 and 60 inches (fork length).
—Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle, February 12, 1999
<*}}}}}}}}}>< — Apparently there was an older “Eckley Pier” on the site — perhaps dating from the ’30s when a sport fishing business was located at Eckley Cove.
Walt Wilson reports fishing fair with lots of shakers at Eckley. But he did come up with the sad tale of the week. “Fellow worked more than 15 minutes to drag a nice sturgeon up on the pier. It only stretched out to 43 inches. Made a nice splash going back in,” he said. Andy Morgensen, On The Line, Oakland Tribune, December 8, 1961
Eckley Pier is starting to offer fair fishing for stripers and flounders. A nine pound striper is tops. Andy Morgensen, On The Line, Oakland Tribune, December 14, 1961
Then there’s Walter Harrison of Richmond who just had to get ‘out and try his new Christmas rod and reel. He hauled up a 13 pound striper at Eckley Pier. Here’s a believer, Santa Claus. Andy Morgensen, On The Line, Oakland Tribune, December 29, 1961
Eckley Pier shows a few small stripers. Oaklander James Pettijohn took the best. A five-pounder. Tom Greg of San Jose landed a 42-inch sturgeon. Andy Morgensen, On The Line, Oakland Tribune, April 23, 1963
San Franciscan Ralph Munsee hauled up a 32-pound sturgeon from Eckley Pier. Andy Morgensen, On The Line, Oakland Tribune, May 21, 1963
Virginia Cline of Walnut Creek paled males with a 14 ½ pound sturgeon Sunday at Eckley. Andy Morgensen, On The Line, Oakland Tribune, June 11, 1963
Eckley Pier above Crockett has been slow on stripers but steady on sturgeon. Two were landed over the weekend and yesterday Mike O’Connell of Crockett hauled up a 54-inch, 38-pound diamondback. It had grabbed a sardine, a fatal error. Andy Morgensen, On The Line, Oakland Tribune, June 26, 1963
Cold weather has curbed angler interest, but a few stripers are still being hauled up on Eckley Pier. An 11-pounder was landed Tuesday. Andy Morgensen, On The Line, Oakland Tribune, January 9, 1964
Oaklander Al Winters nailed a 40-pound sturgeon while fishing off Eckley Pier. Andy Morgensen, On The Line, Oakland Tribune, June 30, 1964
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.
Nearshore are the burnt remains of the 243-foot-long ferry “Garden City.” Built for the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1879, it was a double-ended side-wheel ferry that carried freight cars and passengers between San Francisco and Alameda; later between Vallejo and Vallejo Junction. It was retired to the Eckley Cove in 1929 and in 1934 was deliberately sunk and remodeled as an entertainment center and office for a sport fishing business. It burned in 1983.
Today the land is part of the 2,795-acre Carquinez Strait Regional Park.
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.
Management: East Bay Regional Park District.