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