Last modified: December 11, 2018

Fishing Piers Southern California

Hermosa Beach Pier

<*}}}}}}}}}>< Not too many California piers have confirmed catches of a great white shark. Hermosa does but it was an illegal catch!

 Great White no surfer’s story Hermosa pier fisherman proves

 Great White shark sightings reported by Hermosa surfers over the past several months were confirmed Saturday morning when Abraham Ulloa, a general contractor from Los Angeles, hooked a six-foot, 200-pound Great White off the end of the Hermosa Pier. In March lifeguard captain Tom Seth, riding a personal watercraft, chased what guards believe was the same Great White away from the pier.

Ironically, surfers in the water watched Ulloa being pulled back and forth around the end of the pier for nearly two hours, not realizing it wasn’t just a big halibut he was working.

Ulloa said he used sardines and 40-pound test on a heavy leader to catch the shark. His young son and daughter, George and Giovanna, kept him supplied with sodas while his fishing partners Luciano Jimenez and Douglas Ciscernos stood by with a gaffing hook attached to a heavy line.

The two gaffed the Great White after Ulloa was finally able to pull it in close to the pier, just as it made a run for the pilings in an effort to snap the light fishing line. Ulloa said he and his friends had to enlist the help of a fourth fisherman to pull the shark up to the pier and over the rail.

He said he’s been fishing for shark at the pier every weekend since last September when he caught a similar-sized Mako shark.

After landing the Great White, which he planned to take home for dinner, he continued fishing.

Kevin Cody, Hermosa Beach News, June 5, 2003

Great white shark isn’t a great catch

A Los Angeles fisherman who caught a 1-to 2-year-old great white shark from the Hermosa Pier will be cited by the State Department of Fish and Game for killing a protected species. Abraham Ulloa, a general contractor from Los Angeles, posed with the estimated 61/2 -foot white shark on the pier June 7 along with two Hermosa Beach lifeguards. The photo appeared with a story in the Easy Reader, a Hermosa Beach newspaper, and even though the caption identified the catch as a “200-pound mako,” the story and headline identified it as a “great white shark.” The story described Ulloa’s two-hour battle with the shark on 40-pound test line and heavier leader and how two fishing buddies helped haul the fish up with grappling gaffs.

Outraged by the story and photo, sport and commercial fishermen called Fish and Game officials and media. Many criticized the Hermosa Beach lifeguards for their involvement. “We received a lot of tips from the public on this,” said Carrie Wilson, a marine biologist with the DFG. Department of Fish and Game warden Rebecca Hartman investigated and traced Ulloa to his home in Los Angeles. Ulloa told her his family had eaten some of the fish, and he had distributed portions to friends. But he still had the fins and jaws of the shark. Hartman didn’t cite Ulloa because he claimed he thought it was a mako shark. She confiscated the fins and jaws and took them to a marine biologist for identification.

Chris Lowe, a biology professor at Long Beach State, identified the great white by its unmistakable teeth. “At that young age, the teeth are somewhat like a mako’s, but the great white has serrated bottom teeth,” Lowe said. “And its uppers are more triangular than a mako’s.” Hartman plans to cite Ulloa even though he professed ignorance. “It’s a violation even though he claims he didn’t know what it was,” Hartman said. “The law is set up to protect the animal. If you don’t know what it is, don’t take it. In this case, this individual took a great white shark, a predator that keeps sea lions in check and fills a certain niche in the ocean.”

Ulloa could not be reached for comment. He faces a misdemeanor charge, a fine of $1,000 and/or six months in county jail. Hartman said the Hermosa Beach lifeguards in the picture with Ulloa won’t be charged because they arrived after the shark was killed. They played no role in the killing of the fish, she said. Lifeguards Charlie Piccaro and Bill “Shark” Harkins’ only “crime” is they posed with Ulloa over a dead protected great white shark.

Lowe said Southern California is a nursery for great whites, and he estimates six to eight young great whites are caught each year by sport and commercial fishermen between Dana Point and Ventura. He said it’s important that laws stay in place to protect them. “The best guess is that great white sharks take 12 to 18 years to mature and give birth,” he said. “And when they do give birth, it’s only to one or two pups at a time. These fish have a life span of humans.”

Ed Zieralski, San Diego Union-Tribune, June 10, 2003

A surfer “illegally” shoots the pier

<*}}}}}}}}}>< Rarely does religion come into play at the piers (unless you count an angler praying for a fish to bite). Thus, the following story intrigued me when I first heard it. On the Oprah television show one day the topic was doing good to others. Lo and behold two of the guests were fishermen who had met at the Hermosa Beach Pier. Their names were Rick Wilson and Frank Rembert and evidently Rembert was pretty sick when they met; his kidneys were not working, he was on a dialysis machine, and the doctors said he was going to die unless he received a transplant. One day his wife took him to the pier for a little relaxation and a chance to get his mind off his troubles. There he happened to cut his hand, a neighboring angler, Wilson, offered a band-aid, they struck up a conversation, and they quickly became friends. Wilson soon learned of Rembert’s need for a new kidney and when he got home he couldn’t put his new friend’s need out of his mind. Two days later, over the objections of his family and friends, he called offering to donate one of his own kidneys. Eight months later the operation was performed and both men emerged in healthy condition (although they had to remove one of Wilson’s ribs to get to his kidney—and polished pieces of the rib bone are now worn on silver chains around each man’s neck). Why did Wilson do such a thing for a stranger? He said some force had told him to move to Hermosa Beach, the same force had told him to fish on the pier, and the force seemed to direct him to offer up his kidney. Soon after the operation he moved from the beach. He attributed it to his religion and who am I to argue?

Always keep an eye out for the sea gulls. They are always looking to grab bait and fish

<*}}}}}}}}}><  From DF&G Fish Bulletin #96, 1953—“On the “beautiful beach” there is a pleasure pier (recently closed because of storm damage) used by anglers but no commercial boats operate out of the town. In past years two or three small boats fished here and landed lobsters and rockfish at the pier but there have been no such landings since 1947. Before this date the yearly landings averaged 6,000 pounds.”

<*}}}}}}}}}>< — Every pier has its regulars and its experts. For many years the expert at this pier was Mola Joe. The following are a couple of his excellent posts. One concerns a huge bat ray he caught at the pier and the second was an insightful post he made one day regarding how to fish a pier.

Date: March 6, 2002; To: Pier Fishing in California Message Board; From: Mola Joe; Subject: Hermosa Pier

I found this old picture of me and my buddy Shawn that was dated June of ’78. The back of the photo says 179 pounds in 1 hour 45 minutes on 40 lb test. It was one of three big ones I caught in June of that year. I don’t have a measurement, but I’m 6 foot (the one on the right in the photo) so maybe you can get an idea. I wish I had a better photo of this fish, one sitting flat on the ground, because if I remember right, it was incredibly thick. We were lucky because Hermosa Pier at that time had a landing down below the pier that was used for the old sport boats, and it was much easier gaffing fish from there. These big rays would take at least 3 gaffs, but I believe we used 4 on this one. We did throw them back, but I doubt they lived. If I were to ever start fishing rays again, I would never think about gaffing them like we did back then. One of the other rays that week was a bit smaller, but my biggest to date came about two weeks after this photo was shot. It’s the one that broke the spring on a 200 lb scale, so we never did find out the weight. It could have just been an old scale giving up, but it did look larger than this one. If I remember right, this fish just about spooled me on a 4/0 with 40 pound after eating a twin fillet of Spanish mackerel off the bottom. That photo sure brings back some great memories. Tight Lines!!

Posted by fishaholic

That’s big, state record is 181lbs, close.

Posted by snakeman70

Wow. that sure looks like it was a hell of a fight and a lot of fun. Those rays are pretty tough, he might have lived. Great picture and thank you for sharing! That is about the size of the one my friend had caught at Santa Cruz, we were not able to land.

Posted by scooterfish

That’s a monster! Must have gotten the blood pumpin a bit? Hehe I read on kayakfishing.com recently (in the last couple of weeks) about two SoCal guys who were yakfishing and hooked into a bat ray that measured 9′ across by their estimation, they had to cut him off… no way to land one that big from a yak… one guy tried did try to whack it with his paddle to subdue it, failing miserably of course…I just don’t think my old Penn squidder would cut it with a ray like that…Thanks for posting the awe inspiring pic Mola!

Posted by Songslinger

Yikes! Wonder how I’d fare… probably farm it.

Posted by Sinker

Holy Mackerel. That thing is huge, good job on bringing the beast in on 40-lb line. They have schools of those big Rays out at Anacapa Island and are fun to catch. I have never caught one that size off a pier though. May have hooked one as I have been spooled a few times but who knows. Love those kind of pics. Also love the way we have progressed/grown as fisherman in our knowledge and desire for the safe release of these magnificent beasts.

Posted by Ken Jones

Now that’s a pier fish…Great picture of an obviously great fish from a pier.

Posted by stinkyfingers

If I had just one wish… I’d say put me back in time and set me on deck next to Mola Joe with a rod in my hand…I can dream, can’t I?

Posted by Red Fish

A derby winner for sure

Posted by mola joe

One of my biggest regrets from this period in my fishing life is not taking more pictures of the fish we caught those summers on Hermosa Pier. Not only fish I caught, but from the gang that was like a family. Hammerheads, blue sharks, angel sharks, threshers, yellowtail, bluefin tuna, skipjack, giant squid, molas (had to throw that in), and 30 lb class halibut, just to name a few. The few pictures we took stayed in the bait shop on the pier and I never saw them again after Frank, the owner retired. People like Bonita Joe who was in his ’70s, and hooked and landed a 20-pound class bluefin on heavy spinning tackle after it took him halfway around the pier, or Piano Fingers Mike catching a big thresher and breaking the fish off after it wrapped around the piling, only to still get the fish when I dropped the gaff right on top of the shark just as it swam away. Jose the Mexican (we called him that) casting a big Straggler jig from the North corner all day, for weeks, before he connected on a big yellow in the 20 pound class and put him on the pier. I would love to have pictures to go along with the memories. Bring those cameras!!

One Response

  1. I used to just come for mackerel, but now I go for unique species. On thursday, I got a Halfmoon on my friend’s old trout rod, then a good size Shiner perch on the reef, and i got my smallest California Scorpionfish. Cutest little rascal on the planet. Swam off nice and strong.

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