Last modified: October 25, 2021

Fishing Piers San Francisco Bay Area

Judge John Sutter Pier — Oakland

Posted by Westcoastdave

Someone posted pics on social media of a salmon and stripers caught on the new pier. So it’s probably going to get really crowded now

Posted by Red Fish

I don’t know Dave, it’s still a long walk from the parking lot. Seems like there might be more bicyclists. The pier seems to be 1/8 of a mile in length.

Date: October 26, 2020, To: Ken Jones, From: Red Fish, Subject: John Sutter Pier

Hay Ken, at Judge Sutter now. Walleyes, juvenile herring, and smelt on Sabiki. I lost perhaps a small striper at the surface. Landed a bat ray that I didn’t want at the end.

         Hooked a 7-gill all of 6 to 6.5 feet (lifted in the net and got halfway up). Actually didn’t want to gaff it. If it was better than 7 feet I would have gaffed it. The 7-gill cracked the hook with its jaw when it fell hoisting up, thus 2x/3x strong hooks.

         (Later) Gotta go home now. Did get this guy (leopard shark) that went in the net. Caught on salmon belly. Leopard sharks are a walk in the park for me. I think better shark fishing than 7th Street ever was as I’ve never seen a 7 there.

         Last note: 25” down to water that is 15’ (approximately same depth as 7th). Reminds me of the old Oakland Pier that you mentioned from long ago/long wharf.

         BTW, I think the salmon thing is a hoax. Someone said spinners by the radio station KDIA (old). Could be but let me see some video. Otherwise the shore is over there…would be crowded.

         Bathrooms locked after sunset. At the base of the pier is where I used to fish at the Cal Trans turnaround.

         Ken, at the parking lot. Funny, where my cart is, you could drive up the sidewalk and down the pier. About eight of Cal Trans workers there at the station down from the pier when I walked out. When I went to the Cal Trans spot years ago, I drove my little truck all the way and under the bridge. Okay, I just saw a security vehicle that looked just like my RAV 4 go down the road, so they’re not going to play with someone that wants to drive down to the pier via riding over the sidewalk.

Date: October 29, 2020, To: Ken Jones, From: Red Fish, Subject: John Sutter Pier

Ken, the fishing can be much, much like the 7th street without the dredging at John Sutter. And on a low or poor moon phase, the fishing can be bad. I was skunked on my return trip yesterday. Shark bait went untouched off the front. Others caught some small stripers to 19” (even a group of three off the front that brought live anchovies.

         BTW, there is one porta potty ½ way down the 2/3 mile walk (that feels the same distance at the end of Berkeley) on the paved trail that is always open.

Date: November 3, 2020, To: PFIC Message Board, From: nolandw, Subject: John Sutter Pier

Thanks for the sage advice Red Fish. You are right, I should really get a crank bait. I did upgrade my lure selection after the first trip. As far as depth goes, the inshore area can be quite shallow…you can see the sand off the rocks at a low tide and the depths of the inshore area of the pier feel like 5-7 feet at a low tide if I had to guess. Port View definitely feels a lot deeper. I haven’t fished as much at the deep end of the pier. By the way, I think we’ve actually fished near each other on a pier at one point based on your reports. I’m not sure if you remember a night a couple months ago in one of the North Bay piers where you hooked a striper near your chum bucket; I was the last angler there. I’ll introduce myself properly next time.
         I’ve now been back to the Observation Pier three times since my first visit:

The second visit was quite slow until the evening. I had been fishing a Sabiki with shrimp to get baitfish as well as using frozen anchovies in the interim. No such luck. I switched up my approach and landed three stripers with a lot of other bites. It was a big confidence booster for me as typically I prefer bait to lures. A lot of fun on this evening. None were keepers, all released. Others caught striper that night as well.

The third time, I fished the outgoing tide during the day. There were a ton of small anchovies in the water — I’d never seen so many before. A cast net would do one well…unfortunately they weren’t hitting my Sabiki. I went with a couple of friends, one who was using my swimbait reel the whole time, so I wasn’t able to plug for stripers. Had another rod rigged with sardines to see if we could get a leopard or a bat ray—got a few strikes but nothing big. We ended up focusing on Sabiki with shrimp (friend’s first time saltwater fishing) and brought up several huge jacksmelt and one large walleye perch. My largest one measured at 15!” All were released and we headed back around sunset. I did not see any other fish caught on the pier other than smelt.

The fourth time, I went to exclusively target stripers. I was casting lures the entire time, but only got one solid bite but set the hook too early and the lure popped out. I saw a lot less activity than other nights and saw no other fish landed on the pier. One angler said he’d gotten two bat rays before I came. While plugging, I had another reel out with a sinking slider but wasn’t paying much attention to it. After not getting a bite on stripers for a while, I decided to pack up and head back. As I reeled up my sinking slider rig, I noticed there was something on the line…a crab? A hali? It felt like dead weight. As I brought it up in the shadows, it started to look like more and more like a crab…and then I saw that it was a starry flounder! I’d never seen one before at a pier, much less caught one myself. I know that they’ve been more of a rarity in the bay. I was tempted to keep it but knowing the declining population I dropped it back into the water using my hoop net. It was a nice 13.”

Some other notes: It looks like the parking lot closes around 5pm or sunset, which is a bit of a bummer as it makes after-work fishing difficult. I had to park closer to the cul-de-sac/turnaround. It’s closer to the actual pier but doesn’t necessarily feel as safe. You can walk down the fire trail access road and eventually reach the pier, cutting the walk down a bit.

         I haven’t seen frozen anchovies do well here other than the first time I hit multiple rays. I had them on a rod while the stripers were boiling and the bait literally remained untouched for over an hour. Maybe it’s also presentation…these were fairly fresh anchovies as well, home-brined.

         The variety of this pier makes it interesting. Within two weeks, not one of my trips has been the same as the other.

         I had a good reminder to always clean up after the pier during one of my visits. A woman had brought her dog, which was unleashed. It eventually picked up a small hook and line from someone else’s tackle and the hook got caught in its mouth and tongue. I found myself having to do impromptu surgery and cutting off the eye of the hook before she took the dog to the vet.

<*}}}}}}}}}>< — Special Bay Area Regulations:

  • A perch closure exits in San Francisco and San Pablo Bay from April 1 to July 31. No perch may be kept other than shinerperch (20).
  • In San Francisco and San Pablo Bay a fishing line may not contain more than three hooks.

Sturgeon Regulations:

  • A sturgeon report card and tags are required for anyone fishing for or taking sturgeon. (a) The card must be in the angler’s possession; (b) a tag must be used for any sturgeon retained by the angler; (c) the angler must record information on the Sturgeon Report Card immediately after catching and   keeping or releasing the sturgeon.
  • White sturgeon can only be kept from 40-60 inches; larger and smaller sturgeon must be released.
  • Green sturgeon may not be taken or possessed.

Pier Facts

Hours:  Listed hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Facilities: Restrooms near the front of the pier, benches on the pier, and a parking lot approximately 2/3 of a mile from the pier. Bike parking is available adjacent to the pier. Lights but no fish cleaning stations.  

Restrooms near the front of the pier
Entrance to the pier

Handicapped Facilities: There are handicapped parking spaces in the parking lot. The surface of the pier is wood concrete and the railing is approximately 40 inches high.

How To Get There:  (Google directions) From San Francisco: From the Bay Bridge take I-80 E toward Oakland. Use the right lane to take exit 8A toward I-880 S/Alameda/San Jose/Airport. Keep right to stay on Exit 8A, follow signs for West Grand Ave/Maritime St. Turn right onto Maritime St. Turn right at the 1st cross street onto Burma Rd. Continue straight to park. From Sacramento and points east: Take I-80 W toward San Francisco. Keep right to stay on I-80 W, follow signs for San Francisco. Take exit 8A for West Grand Ave/Maritime St. Turn right onto Maritime St. Turn right at the 1st cross street onto Burma Rd. Continue straight to park. From San Jose and points south: Take I-880 N to 7th St in Oakland. Use the 2nd from the right lane to take exit 44 for 7th Street toward West Grand Ave. Turn left onto 7th St. Turn right onto Maritime St. Turn right at the 1st cross street onto Burma Rd. Continue straight to park.

Management: East Bay Park District.

One Response

  1. Man what useful information you have provided. I really enjoyed your article thank you so very mush new to pier fishing this will be my first outing there. Must appreciated for all the information shared.

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