Last modified: August 31, 2019

Fishing Piers Southern California

Hotel del Coronado Pier — Gone But Not Forgotten

Twelve small pompano were caught by a man on the pier in fifteen minutes last evening at dusk. Capt. Dunne caught forty small silver salmon in the morning. The growth of seaweed and kelp on the rocks under the pier makes it an ideal place for silver salmon and sea trout. Among a hundred or more fishermen who visited the pier during the day the total results were as follows: Pompano, 40; kingfish, 230; Halibut, 8; silver salmon, 53; flounders, 35; croakers, 90; total 456. —Los Angeles Times, July 26, 1898

It is hard to say what the “silver salmon” actually was. It was not a true silver or coho salmon, they do not reach that size. It could have been a king or Chinook salmon but they are uncommon in southland waters and are rarely found in such shallow water. Given the plethora of names some of the fish were given back in those days, it was probably a white seabass, a fish often called sea trout by fishermen (although sea trout was more common for young white seabass). The reporter may not have had a clue.

Coronado Beach

Hotel Del Coronado, Aug. 1.—Fishermen were out bright and early this morning on the ocean and at the pier… On the pier one man, fishing for smelt with a No. 9 hook, the smallest made, was astounded by hooking an eighteen-pound halibut. What is more, by skillful playing he landed the fish. The crowd was intensely interested in the struggle, and cheered the victor.

The end of the pier is a very comfortable place, with its awning, fresh breeze, good seats and cold drinking water. It is as comfortable as could be found anywhere. —Los Angeles Times, August 2, 1898
Tent City

Coronado Beach

Hotel Del Coronado, Aug. 24.—Sportsmen never tire of fishing off this hotel, as the conditions are so good that there is a keen zest in the sport. The weather is so cool and fresh that the hot, wilting days of the East are forgotten. Then the fish bite ravenously and fight like demons… When such sport as this is offered it is no wonder that sportsmen who come here to spend a week have lingered for the whole summer… On the pier the catch was but 350, including all varieties. Eastern mackerel and small sea trout, the finest eating, are quite numerous now. Silver salmon are constantly increasing in numbers and size as the kelp and seaweed at the pier grows and furnishes the fish a home. —Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1898

Besides this remarkable deep-sea fishing, there was excitement on the ocean pier, where big yellowtail condescended to be caught. During the day twenty-four of these fish were caught ranging in weight from fifteen to thirty pounds. The catch was photographed later. In addition to this, many Spanish mackerel were caught, and hundreds more could be seen swimming around in the clear water. Small fry to the number of 450 were caught at the pier. —Los Angeles Times, August 31, 1898

Big Yellowtail Caught at the Pier

Hotel Del Coronado, Aug. 31.—Joe Larnel caught a string of yellowtail at the pier yesterday afternoon that filled three gunnysacks and weighed about 250 pounds. The biggest fish in the lot was a yellowtail about four feet long and weighing thirty pounds. Hoe had only a little line, and it was by consummate art that he landed his fish. In his string were yellowtail, Spanish mackerel and bonita, or black mackerel. All day the  pier was crowded with fishermen at the sea end and all of them were rewarded with at least a few fish. Some of the ladies fishing with little hooks for pompano were surprised when they hooked big bonita or yellowtail, and some of the yellowtail fishermen were objects of good-natured scorn when they wasted their efforts hauling in little kingfish on their big lines. The days catch reached 500 at the pier. —Los Angeles Times, September 1, 1898

Yellowtail Drive Herring Upon the Beach—Great Sport

Hotel Del Coronado, Sep. 1.—A big school of yellowtail made things lively on the beach yesterday. They ran racing and chasing a vast school of herring in the vicinity of the pier, and made things so lively for the herring that the little fellows dashed wildly about and even leaped out of the water upon the sands to escape their pursuers.            

The gulls soon got wind of the sport and flocked along the shore, gobbling up herring by the dozen. Nursemaids with their charges became excited and picked up the wiggling little fish before they could slide back into the water The big yellowtail, surging here and there, made the water boil and foam about the pier. Several people who were luckily provided with weapons got a number of the big fish. One young man with a gaff stood ten feet from shore and by suddenly drawing the gaff from the water actually caught three yellowtail weighing an average of twenty pounds each. The yellowtail, after they had scared the herring away, remained to eat the bait offered them by anglers along the pier. Everybody who cared to caught a yellowtail. The prize fisherman was little Warren Hastings, who drew out a twenty pound yellowtail almost as long as himself. There is a big shark—a shovelnose—that lurks around the outskirts of the fish, licking his chops like a hungry dog waiting for a bone. When there is an opening in the ranks this shark lunges up and grabs the angler’s hook, bait and line, snaps the line like a thread and feasts off the bait. He swallows the hooks with apparent relish. Gen. Webb heard of this big shark and tried to get him yesterday, without success. The shark is not good for anything, but he would make a pretty fight. —Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1898

All Kinds of Fish Caught at the Ocean Pier

Hotel Del Coronado, Sept.2.—The increased number of fishermen at the ocean pier seems to bring about an increase in the variety and number of fish caught. Yesterday several new kinds were caught, including a sixty-pound sea trout [white seabass] and three big sharks, measuring about seven feet in length. Gen. W. E. Webb, who had gone out the day before to catch a marauding shark that had snapped up the lines, was in luck yesterday and hauled in the ugly fellow. A little later, while trying to get another shark, Gen. Webb hooked the big sea trout and had a pretty tussle landing him. The trout reeled out 350 feet of line in the first rush and it was over half an hour before Gen. Webb brought him to gaff.

Palmer Weeks, aged 4, of New York City, was another of the pier’s heroes. He was supplied with a line containing three little hooks. The line had hardly touched the water before two fish were hooked. He caught three more and had them cooked for his breakfast, after which he trudged off to the kindergarten with the air of a Napoleon.            

Another lad, son of Mrs. Moore of San Francisco, caught a lot of fish and sent them on ice to his father. The other lucky lad, Warren Hastings, had himself photographed alongside the big yellowtail he caught, which was about his own size The total catch on the ocean and at the pier was as follows: Barracuda 320; mackerel; 140; yellowtail 87; halibut 9; rock cod 160; codfish 27; bass 26; sea trout 1; shark 3. The sharks were all of the dogfish variety. —Los Angeles Times, September 3, 1898

Good Luck on the Pier

Hotel Del Coronado. Sept. 12.—There was a number of anglers from San Diego yesterday who had excellent sport on the pier. One man went home on his wheel with a big yellowtail over his shoulder, almost as long as himself. The run of pompano, kingfish and croaker was very good… The yellowtail caught at the pier did not exceed five, but all were good sized, the largest weighing twenty0eight pounds. —Los Angeles Times, September 13, 1898

Three Big Sharks Caught at the Pier

Hotel Del Coronadeo, Sept. 13.—Three sharks, the longest seven feet and the shortest five, were caught at the ocean pier yesterday near the hotel yesterday afternoon by fishermen from San Diego. Chris Richert, the pompano king, caught the first one. Richert was out after pompano, but saw a big sand shark nosing about, and hastily got a big line and went after him. The shark was enticed buy a toothsome piece of croaker. The next moment there was a thrashing and flopping that would have done credit to a whale. Richert took a turn around a post on the pier and played the shark for all he was worth. The big fish fought half an hour and then gave up and was hauled in with a drag hook. He was seven feet in length.

Soon afterward, Gen. Webb, who was fishing for yellowtail, got a bite, and by diplomatic handling of the line got the fish to jump out of the water to see what kind of a varmint it was. Seeing it was a shark, Gen. Webb played it fast and loose, and wore it out in fifteen minutes. It measured six feet and four inches. Later a stranger caught a five-foot shark on a small hook and thin line. By judicious playing he drew the ugly thing to the platform and dispatched it. The backbones were cut and carried away to make canes. —Los Angeles Times, September 14, 1898
Tent City

Coronado Beach

Hotel Del Coronado, Sept. 20.—There were all kinds of fish in yesterday’s catch off the hotel. The pier fishermen hauled in eastern mackerel, pompano and kingfish, as well as perch, wall-eyed perch and yellowtail. —Los Angeles Times, September 21, 1898

A Jewfish Weighing One Hundred and Sixty Pounds Caught

Hotel Del Coronado, Nov. 10.—The prize catch off the ocean pier near the hotel was made yesterday by a San Diego fisherman. The line was off the extreme end of the pier. It was attached to a strong post and baited with a live croaker. The line had been in the water about ten minutes, when it snapped tight with a terrific spurt, and zipped down on a tangent toward North Island. The big fish was securely hooked, having gone at the bait and swallowed it hook and all. All the other fishermen stopped fishing and watched the fish’s frantic efforts to escape.

The man owning the line took an extra turn with it on the end of the pier, and thought he would try to handle a little of the slack so as to play the fish, but with the first rush he gave this idea up, for the fish almost jerked him off the pier. Finally, after giving a magnificent exhibition of strength and endurance, the fish was exhausted and hauled to the pier, where, by the aid of two strong hooks he was held until a man could row around in a skiff and get him. He weighed just 160 pounds, and was in prime condition. —Los Angeles Times, November 11, 1898

Coronado Brevities

A yellowtail weighing twenty-three pounds was the biggest catch at the pier yesterday. —Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1898

Fight With a Jewfish

Hotel Del Coronado, Nov. 23.—Jim Middleton was over again yesterday, catching fish off the pier near the hotel. He has caught six jewfish there during the past two weeks, ranging from seventy-five to 160 pounds each. Just after noon yesterday he got a strike on his slim line that threatened to break it. A jewfish weighing 150 pounds had hold of the bait. It was only by the most skillful management of his game that Middleton saved the hook and the line. He paid out 600 feet of line, on the first grand rush. He kept a steady touch on the big fish, but made no attempt to haul him in, for an hour and a half. All the time the fish fought making frequent attempts to get around the pier and break off the line in the piling. This caused Middleton no end of trouble, but he managed to keep the line free. After ninety minutes of work, the fish gave signs of exhaustion, and Middleton brought him to the pier, where he was hooked and hauled up. —Los Angeles Times, November 24, 1898

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