Last modified: August 31, 2019

Fishing Piers Southern California

Hotel del Coronado Pier — Gone But Not Forgotten

Monster Skate Caught at the Pier

Hotel Del Coronado, Dec. 18.—Harry de Carli, a young man living in San Diego was the hero of the pier fishermen yesterday this morning. He felt a dull, heavy tug at his line, a twenty-one-thread line baited with a live smelt. Trying the catch he found he could not raise the fish from the bottom, but he played his game with considerable skill, and finally raised it to the surface, when a monster skate, five feet long, and almost as broad, appeared struggling with vicious energy to get away.           

It drew out 150 feet of line, and thrashed about for half an hour. But it had swallowed bait and hook, and was too securely fastened to get away. One of the young men got a grapple hook into the skate’s nose and thus it was hauled around to the landing where the combined efforts of three men landed it. The big skate must have weighed over 150 pounds. Its flippers were cut off for bait. It was the ugliest and at the same time most interesting catch mad on the pier for some time. Catches of blue smelt, mackerel, perch, flounder and corbina were made at the pier today. —Los Angeles Times, December 19, 1898

Coronado Brevities

On Saturday the  [pier] fishermen included Maj. A. B. Taylor, U.S.A., W. M. Vann Anden of New York, C. A. Kidder of Boston and Hon. Charles S. Randall of New Bedford, Mass. They got 137 kingfish and croakers, two yellowtail, a shovelnose shark, a forty-five pound skate and an eleven-pound halibut.—Los Angeles Times, January 3, 1899

Coronado Watch

Hotel Del Coronado, May 12.—A jewfish, such as was caught yesterday, is no small fish, let it be known. One hundred and forty-five pounds is way up, be it fish or fowl. The barracuda, true to the racial pride that seems urging them on, are still leaders in the cake walk. Several hundred were landed yesterday. —Los Angeles Times, May 13, 1899

Coronado Beach

F. B. Rabbeth is one of the anglers who fishes from the pier, and yesterday morning he landed, after a half-hour’s battle, a jewfish weighing seventy-four pounds. —Los Angeles Times, June 9, 1899

Coronado Beach

Hotel Del Coronado, Sept. 19—Fishing off the pier has been excellent for the past day or two and this morning the line of fishers on the pier were kept busy pulling in the kingfish, yellowfin and mackerel which took their bait almost as soon as it was dropped in. Several large halibut were also caught. —Los Angeles Times, September 20, 1899

Coronado Beach

Hotel Del Coronado, Sept. 21.—Yesterday an angler from San Diego caught, besides an unusually good string of small fish, a forty-pound yellowtail. Desirous of keeping his catch fresh he had them suspended from the pier into the water by a line. Just before he started home he happened to look down and saw an immense shark come up, snap the line and make off with the whole catch. —Los Angeles Times, September 22, 1899

Coronado Beach

Hotel Del Coronado, Oct. 11.—Pier fishing yesterday was the finest for several months past. The storm at sea evidently stirred up the finny tribe to action. Those fishing estimate that there were at least two thousand fish landed on the pier Tuesday. Beach residents carried them away in quantities. There were fish for the pet seals and sea birds too, and then a great number remained on the pier. Among the varieties caught were pompano, perch, young mackerel, croaker and smelt. —Los Angeles Times, October 12, 1899

That same year would see a report that the jetty was to be extended another 400 feet in length as well as news of a new pier. 

Coronado Beach

Hotel Del Coronado, Aug. 28.—Riprap work that has been in progress at the Hotel del Coronado pier since early in the spring, has at last been completed, guard and fishing accommodations have been replaced, and the pier is again a favorite resort for fishing parties and sightseers. —Los Angeles Times, August 29, 1900

New Pier Landing

Hotel Del Coronado, Oct. 18.—A force of men was put to work this morning building a landing at the end of the 1200-foot pier, near Hotel del Coronado. Since the completion of the pier extension much larger boats can make a landing at the pier. It is to accommodate such that a second landing will be built. The first landing at the center of the pier will be retained for use by small craft. —Los Angeles Times, October 19, 1900

The new and larger pier quickly yielded good results.

Fine Pier Fishing

Hotel Del Coronado, October 29.—Yesterday was a great day for pier fishing. The big landing stage just completed at the Hotel del Coronado pier extension makes a fine place to fish from, and Sunday found the 1200-foot pier well occupied by fishing and picnic parties. Mullet spearing is one of the greatest attractions for sportsmen just now, as these fish are running in numbers.—Los Angeles Times, October 30, 1900

However, few reports show up after 1900. Apparently storms and damage continued and the advertising/publicity/news by the hotel may have also been discontinued.  A report in 1904 reflected once again damage and a rebuild.

Old Pier A Memory

Hotel Del Coronado, Jan. 31.—A year ago the old pier, extending into the ocean was wrecked by a heavy storm. Since then about 1200 feet of the frame work of the pier has been allowed to stand. Now it is being taken away, removing all traces of the old structure. The new pier is very popular with the fishermen. —Los Angeles Times, February 1, 1904

Even so, the new pier was also washed out during the punishing storms of January and February 1905.

Orders have been placed with the Sweetwater quarry for several thousand tons of rock to be used in the rebuilding of the breakwater in front of the big hotel at Coronado. The pier protected the hotel during the recent heavy storms, but several breaches were made in it and the top rocks were somewhat leveled. —Los Angeles Herald, March 26, 1905
Giant (black) ea bass were a common catch on the boats — and pier

Yet another pier soon replaced it, and that pier, like its predecessors, had to be periodically rebuilt due to storm damage. Fishing remained good.

Land Big Jewfish

John D. Spreckles and Frank Boach, the latter a mining man of Cripple Creek, while fishing off the pier at Coronado yesterday, landed a mammoth jewfish, weighing 198 pounds. Mr. Spreckles used a gaff and the battle while it lasted was fierce and exciting. A large crowd on the pier watched the struggle. —Los Angeles Times, October 11, 1908

Coronado Pier Is Mecca of Anglers

The long pier, extending out over the ocean from the Hotel del Coronado grounds, is a popular place for fishermen who do not care to venture out to sea. Frequent catches of game fish are recorded. Crowds frequent the pier daily at all seasons of the year. —San Francisco Chronicle, December 5, 1919

Nevertheless, it appears that damage from storms in 1925, perhaps combined with a changing culture, seemed to bring an end to the pier since it was decided it would not be rebuilt.

One of the best fishing piers in the state as far as fishing would now just be history.

Video — An excellent video about the Hotel del Coronado itself and its history:

https://www.pbs.org/video/san-diego-historic-places-hotel-del-coronado/

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