Public Pier — No Fishing License Required
Named for their shape, two mid-sized piers sit at the north end of the Embarcadero in Morro Bay. They are only a short distance apart and the environments and fishing are nearly identical. Regardless of size, they are the homes for most of the pier fishing taking place in the bay and both offer up seasonally excellent fishing. In fact, the North T-Pier has the highest fish per hour average of any of the 127 California piers I have fished from over the past 47 years. And, the stats for the South T-Pier are pretty similar.
Environment. Both T-piers are working piers that offer space to both recreational and commercial anglers. I believe the North T-Pier used to see more anglers but this has changed as the number of boats tied up next to the pier has grown. In addition, some fishable water has been lost on the north side of the pier as docks and slips have been added near the Coast Guard boats. Today the recreational angling is pretty evenly divided between the piers but it can vary depending upon the number of guano-covered derelicts blocking the space usually used by anglers.
The North T-Pier extends out 180 feet into the bay and then has a 400-foot-wide end. It sits near the Coast Guard Station (the reason why some refer to it as the Coast Guard Pier) and is directly behind the Harbor Patrol office. Water ranges in depth from shallow at the shoreline area to fairly deep (about thirty feet or so) when casting out from the outermost edge. The pier surface itself is fairly close to the water, no more than 8-10 feet at high tide.
The pier does experience heavy tidal activity and currents that can limit your ability to fish, especially if you are trying to use light tackle inshore or around the pilings for perch and rockfish. If casting out from the pier for sharks and bat rays you can sometimes need 8-10 ounces of lead (or more) just to hold bottom which in turn demands fairly heavy gear.
In addition the strong currents often push along a seemingly unending amount of eelgrass, heavy/massive/ponderous/oppressive amounts, that soon cover every rope in the water and make it nearly impossible to fish. Every time you drop your line down into the water it will be quickly covered by the eelgrass and soon you’ll be muttering to yourself. On such days, take a break or move over to Cayucos. Luckily, most of the time the water around the piers is more conducive to fishing. (The currents and grass are primarily a bay phenomenon but the only other place I have seen such currents and eel grass in this quantity is up in Humboldt Bay by Eureka; there too an angler can be forced to terminate the fishing day in frustration.)
The good news is that good numbers of fish can be caught as well as a nice variety of species. My personal experiences over the years (I first fished this pier in 1974) and messages on the PFIC message board have convinced me that anglers here see three distinct fisheries from the piers as well as one non-fishery.
The first fishery exists primarily from late fall, early winter, till around June-July. This fishery is the quest for the normal resident species that live off the foods found in the bay and on the pilings throughout the year. Primarily these fish are seeking out the worms, clams (especially horseneck clams), and shrimp of the bottom along with the mussels, barnacles, small crabs, sea spiders and various other creatures found on the pilings.
Most common to this mix are a variety of perch—blackperch (buttermouth), white seaperch, pileperch, rubberlip seaperch, rainbow seaperch, striped seaperch, an occasional barred or calico surfperch, and the all too frequent shinerperch. During the spring to summer these species can be joined by the more schooling, mid-water species—walleye surfperch, silver surfperch and infrequently spotfin surfperch.
Pileperch caught in 2008
The perch, in turn, are joined by a variety of rockfish, the most common being kelp rockfish (grass bass), grass rockfish (grass bass), brown rockfish (bolina), gopher rockfish (grass bass) and an occasional blue, black or olive rockfish. Most of these are mid-sized individuals. They’re larger than the young-of-the-year (YOY) juveniles that enter the bay in the summer, but smaller than the adult fish taken from boats out in deeper waters. When the YOY fish enter the bay, they’re usually a combination of bocaccio (some years), black rockfish, blue rockfish, and several deeper water species including copper rockfish and vermilion (both of which I have caught). Or, I should say think I caught because the identification of juvenile rockfish can be perplexing to say the least. Joining these bottom species will be small to mid-sized cabezon and lingcod (with YOY lingcod also entering the bay during the summer).
If using small hooks, a variety of other small species will also show up, an interesting mix of sculpins, fringeheads, and blennies that frequent the bottom and the miscellaneous structures on and around the pier. Mixed in among those small fish will also be some bigger ones including monkeyface eels (pricklebacks) and though most reported from the pier are only 12-14 inches long there should be some bigger ones down there.
Finishing off this first fishery are the resident flatfish—sole, flounder, turbot, sanddab and halibut—that frequent the bay. All are found in the bay year round but for the angler the main quarry are starry flounder in the winter months (although more common in the back bay) and California halibut during the summer months.
The second fishery is the one that yields such high fish per hour average and it generally occurs June to October. Vast schools of pelagic species will enter the bay, sometimes flushing in and out with the tides, sometimes remaining in the bay itself. The main species are Pacific sardine and jacksmelt, but they can be joined by Pacific mackerel and jack mackerel (Spanish mackerel). Sometimes it will be just one species, sometimes there are mixed schools with two or more species often separating themselves by water depth. Interestingly, the favorite for some fishermen—sardines—only really began to show up in huge numbers in the early ‘90s. Before then it was usually only an occasional school or no school. While my records in most of the ‘70s and ‘80s show huge numbers of bocaccio they show few if any sardines. Why the favorite of the pelagics? Because sardines make such excellent bait for a number of species including large sharks.
The sharay fishery, the expedition for sharks and rays, is the third fishery. Both sharks and rays (as well as a few skates) are bay residents throughout the year but the bite really improves when the water temperatures rise slightly and when the amount of food goes up. When the pelagics move into the bay the sharks and rays seem to go on a feeding frenzy and it’s common to catch several most nights. Here the favorites are big bat rays and leopard sharks but they will be joined by brown smoothhounds, spiny dogfish, an occasional soupfin, and some shovelnose sharks (guitarfish). Numerous and almost a nuisance at times will be smaller thornback rays.
Horn shark — 2004
Although there once was a lively quest for crabs—spider crabs, rock crabs, and even a few Dungeness, that ended with the enactment of the Morro Bay State Marine Recreational Management Area that only allows the take of finfish in Morro Bay. So too the once practiced take of ghost shrimp and mussels to be used for bait; both are prohibited. You will still quite often see a crab grab hold of a bait and occasionally may see an octopus encircle your rigging but both “Mr. Crabby” and “Mr. Tentacles” need to be returned to the water unharmed.
Fishing Tips. Each of the three fisheries requires somewhat different gear and baits. For most of the perch the pilings of the stem leading out to the end will be most productive although any piling on the pier may produce fish (they move around). I especially like to find spots, as in the corners, where there are a high number of pilings in a small area. Fish as close to the pilings as possible since they may be covered with perch-attracting food; fish on the bottom or just off the bottom. The best bait for the larger perch are live worms (pile worms, bloodworms, lugworms) or live ghost shrimp but fresh mussels or small pieces of market shrimp will also produce fish. Use light tackle and small hooks, size 8-4 depending upon the species you’re seeking and the bait used. Always hold your rod and be alert for the tap of a perch. Frequently they will tap the bait several times before biting it and you need to learn when to strike. Typically if you catch one there will be more around.
Another spot is under the walkway that sits over the shoreline on the south side of the pier; you can cast back under the walkway to the shallow water rocks and pick up a few perch, especially in the springtime. An occasional surprise can be monkeyface eels (pricklebacks) but you’ll need a little luck to land them if you’re using light line. Deeper waters will see an occasional wolf-eel but again some luck will be required to land the fish. Always possible are the small sculpin that hang out in the crevices by the rocks; my most unusual sculpin was a coralline sculpin taken in July ’09.
As for the walleye and silvers, most I have taken have been mid-pier. They take smaller hooks, prefer a small piece of worm or anchovy, and the bait should be kept midway between the top and the bottom; they can also be caught on Lucky Lura/Sabiki type bait rigs with or without bait.
If you’re seeking out flatfish, a sliding leader/fish-finder rig with size 6-2 hooks is most commonly used (although a hi/low will also work). Flounder and sole seem to prefer sea worms or small fillets of anchovy/sardine although small, live ghost shrimp can also be excellent. Most of the small flatfish I’ve seen or caught at this pier have been in the mid-channel between the pier and the shore. However, flatfish are also found in the waters away from the pier, but a heavier sinker is often required. Late spring to late summer is the prime time for halibut and though they are a common fish caught by boaters few seem to be landed at the pier. If you do seek them out use a sliding leader with a live shiner, small walleye, small smelt or sardine for bait.
When the pelagics show up the standard rigging used by most is a Sabiki-type bait rig. Most of the time the channel between pier and shore yields the fish but again, boats tied to the pier can make it hard to fish this area. If the stem is blocked head out to the far left corner of the pier where you can usually cast out into relatively boat-free water (but this is why it makes sense to sometimes go down to the South T-Pier). Typically the schools will behave slightly differently with sardines on top with jacksmelt and mackerel a little deeper in the water. Sometimes a fairly steady retrieve works, sometimes you need a herky-jerky retrieve, sometimes with the sardine hardly any action is required. Cast out and try different levels and retrieves until you figure out what is working.
If large mackerel are present, I often just use a couple of size 6 hooks tied hi/lo with a torpedo sinker. Three to four mackerel on a bait rig have a tendency to tangle up the rig when they’re hitting fast and furious; such a mess takes too much valuable time to untangle and the bait rigs are too expensive to replace. Nevertheless, whatever you use you should be able to catch a mess of fish relatively easily when the schools are present.
Sharay fishing is practiced year round but nighttime during the summer months, when the pelagics are in the bay, is the prime fishing time. Longtime PFIC member (and local legend) Cayucosjack commented a couple of times that leopard sharks would often start to show in the early spring when the perch were spawning, but the main thrust would still be a few months away. The most common rigging is a sliding leader with live bait, especially sardines or small mackerel, being the primo baits. However, jacksmelt are more frequently taken and so more frequently used for live bait; thankfully they will also attract the sharks. All of these baits can also be used with hi/lo rigs. Hook size varies but 4/0 appears to be most common and sinker size will depend on the current with 4-10 ounces often being needed to hold bottom.
Leopard shark caught by CayucosJack (Aaron Coons) in 2004
Although the wisdom in most areas is that a big chunk of squid is the best bait for bat rays, and a bloody piece of mackerel for the sharks, here locals like to use the freshly caught pelagics (small fish or chunks of the larger fish) and they work. Again, be flexible, and experiment until you find out what is working. What I do recommend is to cast out into the deeper waters away from the pier. It’s where most of the larger fish are found AND it gives you an opportunity to play the fish for a while, and hopefully tire it out, before it is time to bring it up by the pier. Landing a big fish amongst the various pilings on a pier is never easy and here, with the various boats tied to the pier, it’s even harder. Many 50-57-inch leopard sharks, big soupfins, and bat rays in excess of a hundred pounds have been landed here. In addition, a 95-pound skate (I assume it was a big skate) was caught at the pier Christmas week of ’99. Given the heavy currents, heavy sinkers needed to combat those currents, heavy fish, and occasional globs of eel grass on the line, fairly heavy tackle is recommended if you decide to go sharay fishing.
Big bat ray — 2006
Potpourri — Perhaps More Than You Want To Know About The T-Pier
<*}}}}}}}}}>< — Although tidal conditions can indeed make both T-Piers unfishable, the waters around both piers can also offer up some almost unbelievable action at times. It’s not every year, and it’s typically only July into September, but the numbers of fish can be staggering.
My first introduction to this type of “over-the-top” action took place at the North T-Pier during a mid-August night in 1984. Upon arrival I found the night air to be cold and foggy and I quickly put on a warm jacket. 20 minutes later the wind had died down, the night had turned balmy, and it was shirtsleeve weather—9 o’clock at night. The moon was replacing the sun, and it was starting to get dark, but the Coast Guard ship anchored next to the dock had its bright lights turned on and they illuminated the water around the pier. Strangely, the water was colored red. Red tide? No! Instead, it was thousands of small bocaccio that seemed to saturate the shallow waters with their color (which is actually more bronze than red).
Dropping a small jig into the school produced a fish on every cast but soon I grew tired of that. So, I tried dropping a leader down to the bottom through the numbers of bocaccio. Now, every cast produced a small, under-sized lingcod (although a couple of small kelp bass and a gopher rockfish joined in the fun). The lingcod were evidently as thick as the bocaccio up above. It would seem like an angler’s paradise except that the fish were too small, the lingcod were illegal, and there simply wasn’t any challenge. I finally tied on a heavier sinker, put bigger hooks on the leader, and cast out from the pier to the less productive water away from the pier. The action slowed but it seemed the only thing to do.
The next such occurrence happened in July of 1994 during my annual summer trip along the coast. My initial stops, at San Simeon and Cayucos, were dismal. However, a young boy at Cayucos mentioned that anglers were catching sardines at the Morro Bay Wharf so I decided to head over and check out the action.
When I arrived, the North T-Pier was jammed with anglers, but they were having a hard time fishing. The current was extremely strong and the main catch on the angler’s multi-hook riggings was eelgrass. I decided to have some fish and chips for lunch and then see if the conditions had improved.
Less than an hour later I was back at the pier. The current had slackened and adrenalized anglers were now hauling in fish. Looking down into the water revealed an amazing sight. A vast school of fish—Pacific sardines, jack mackerel, and Pacific mackerel, seemed to clog the narrow channel that sits between the pier and shore. Anglers would cast out, begin to retrieve their line, and watch their poles begin to jerk as the fish hit. Sometimes a single fish was hooked; sometimes it was two or three. Almost always a string of fish would follow the leader to the surface. Most exciting however were the fairly huge sea lions and the somewhat smaller harbor seals that also seemed to clog the waterway. They would emerge out of the depths and never fail to startle a few of the younger anglers. And, likely as not, a fish or two would be grasped in the seal’s mouth. (A PFIC regular at Monterey’s Wharf #2 called a similar scene “seals frolicking in sardine soup.”)
The fish were as thickly packed in the water as (simile time) sardines in a can and the stem of the pier reminded one of the opening day at an urban trout pond; too many anglers and not enough space. It was a savage scene, as humans and seals contested for the fish). Nevertheless, I joined the mob and less than two hours of fishing produced 125 fish (although most were returned to the water). For some it was fantabulous fun; as to myself, I left somewhat embarrassed.
Three weeks later I was once again on Highway 101, this time heading north. I had just finished my most productive trip ever to the southern California piers, I was a little fished out (although that almost seems an oxymoron), and I was anxious to get home. But out of curiosity, I decided to swing over from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay. People were still catching fish! I decided to fish for one hour to get some fresh bait to take home. That one-hour produced 81 fish and a new feeling of guilt as I repacked my rod and reel. I don’t know how long the fish were present that summer, or how many fish were caught, but the numbers seem scary when discussing the normal decrease in fish along the coast.
I guess that guilt had passed by the time I noticed a post on the PFIC Message Board telling of similar fishing at the Bay in August of 2002. An angler reported that the sardines and jacksmelt were packing the water and that she had caught nearly 200 fish. The temperature being nearly a hundred degrees in the Valley, I headed down to Morro Bay for some cool weather and, hopefully, hot fishing, reminiscent of the 1994 trip. Turned out to be right on both counts. Arrived in town at fifteen to five, immediately enjoyed the chill from the fog, and was on the North T-Pier at five. Not as crowded as the previous trip but the fish were there—vast schools of jacksmelt and sardines. In the waters near the shore a huge school of jacksmelt (horse smelt size fish 12-16” in length) were tempting the anglers. In the open water near the edge of the pier the school of fish was mixed, both jacksmelt and sardines. Cast out a Sabiki bait rig, let it settle briefly, then pull it in—strong pull, slack, strong pull, slack, and sardines would generally hit. One, two or three fish at a time. Cast closer to the pier, let the line sink a little deeper, and then pull in slowly with a jiggle or two and the result was a jacksmelt, perhaps two, or even three at a time. Just over two hours fishing produced 152 fish—103 sardines, 48 jacksmelt and a confused little cabezon who bit a bottom hook.
Later that same night I returned after a visit to Cayucos. Arriving at the well-lit corner by the Coast Guard boat, I was immediately intrigued by the sight. Eelgrass had piled up near the pilings and the boat but in the middle of the grass was an open water circle of space approximately 30 feet in diameter. Near the top of the water were small baitfish (pinhead anchovies?) packed fairly tight and herded by what appeared to be 6-8 inch bocaccio. The bocaccio would dart up from the depth every so often and make sure the school of baitfish kept in a circular swimming pattern. Every few minutes, the school of jacksmelt, thousands of fish, would sweep through the area deeper down in the water, probably about ten feet or so under the surface. The school would turn as one and move on to reappear a few minutes later. I decided to cast my light line (rigged with two small hooks and pile worms) toward the weeds and let it drift under the weeds closer to the pilings. The result for an hour’s fishing time: 3 kelp rockfish, 2 vermilion rockfish, a lone gopher rockfish, a single brown rockfish and several shinerperch and jacksmelt. Nature at its best! And though cool, it was warmer at 11 P.M. than at 5 P.M. (Unfortunately the water in that corner of the pier now sits under deck and dock.)
A final, short visit took place the next afternoon after fishing at Avila Beach and Pismo Beach. This time I used the two hooks and pile worm approach and pulled in 25 large jacksmelt in an hour’s time (and all were released). This time there were less fish but all were big, tackle bustin’ horse smelt (slight exaggeration there). Only bad note was that by the second day the temperature at Morro Bay was as hot as the fishing so I couldn’t avoid the heat. Headed back to Lodi with a small chest of sardines and an even larger measure of guilt. What was I doing catching so many fish even if most were released back into the water? But it was fun.
<*}}}}}}}}}>< — Although I have never caught a sharpnose perch south of Monterey, apparently some do show up in Morro Bay. What is most interesting about the following excerpt of an article is the possible diurnal nature of the perch; this was a new hypothesis for me.
“Only one species seems important to single out as unusual, since it is more common than normally thought. Smith (1964), in a redescription and reanalysis of the life history of the sharpnose seaperch, described a single female specimen caught by hook-and-line from a pier in Morro Bay on July 11, 1963. This fish measured 181 mm SL and contained ten embryos. The 21 specimens collected in our survey agree with the reproductive activity and occurrence reported by Smith, however, our specimens were all caught on whole, live anchovies at a nightlight station. (Tremper, unpublished data) and might indicate nocturnal habits for this species.”
—Fierstine, Kline and Garman, Fishes Collected in Morro Bay, California Between January 1968 and December 1970, Calif. Fish and Game 1973
<*}}}}}}}}}>< — I’ve often wished I were a diver so that I could study the pilings, piling creatures, and fish under the piers. Alas, it is not to be. However, with the Internet more and more people are sharing their stories—including some divers. One such site is www.belowmorrobay.com. (Field Notes, Journal of marine observations under the Morro Bay T-Pier). On it are some excellent pictures and descriptions of life under the Morro Bay T-Pier. One mission of the site is: “to increase community awareness of & help preserve the marine treasure that exists below the Morro Bay T-Pier among the decades of accumulated junk that has formed an unintentional reef teeming with a density and variety of marine life that exists nowhere else in Morro Bay.”
One observation I found interesting is the notation that life on the pilings has changed over the years. “When we first began diving here (early 1980’s), most pilings were covered with anemones. Near the pile bottom, Metridium senile anemones abounded, and up higher, colorful congregating anemones held sway. Over the years life on the pilings has changed. Anemones have largely been replaced by red bryozoans, except in the shallow end of the pier, where large Metridium anemones still abound. We have no idea why red bryozoans have taken over most of the piling habitat or if this is just a normal cycle in the ocean. We often see nudibranchs on the red bryozoans, which makes an excellent backdrop for photography.”
Nudibranch, also known as naked snails and sea slugs, are apparently very abundant in the area (one source calls Morro Bay the Nudibranch capital of the world) and apparently thousands of them are found under and around the pier. Given the number, it’s not surprising that every so often an angler will hook one of the colorful slugs albeit they have no idea what they have caught. Generally, after getting the creature up to the pier, the surprised angler will simply exclaim, “What is this thing?”
<*}}}}}}}}}>< — Although I think the data rather sparse, incomplete and lacking (for a number of reasons), the data from surveys done by the Department of Fish and Game between 2004 and 2009 do give glimpse of some of the species and their number at the pier. Listed numerically the 14 species would be as follows: black perch, jacksmelt, walleye surfperch, rubberlip seaperch, striped seaperch, barred surfperch, grass rockfish, bat ray, silver surfperch, pileperch, rainbow seaperch, olive rockfish, brown rockfisha and Pacific mackerel.
<*}}}}}}}}}>< — My personal take of fish at the pier (from 1974 to 2018) reflects the following species (numerically) — Pacific sardine, jacksmelt, bocaccio, lizardfish, shinerperch, lingcod, blackperch, kelp rockfish, jack mackerel, onespot fringehead, kelp bass, Pacific mackerel, cabezon, brown rockfish, gopher rockfish, vermilion rockfish, striped seaperch, silver surfperch, walleye surfperch, coralline sculpin, staghorn sculpin and topsmelt. My stats are also flawed for I am sure if I had fished at night for sharks and rays several additional species would be on the list.
<*}}}}}}}}}>< — Although I knew that alien species were common in the larger California bays that harbor ocean going cargo liners, I didn’t realize they had invaded the smaller bays until a visit here in 1999. I noticed a sign telling of the invasion of Morro Bay waters by two different but equally worrisome species. One is the Tortellini slug (Philine auriforamis), a 2-inch-long sea slug from New Zealand that feeds on small clams and barrel snails in the bay. The other intruder is the European green crab (Carcinus maenas), which is causing havoc along the coast all the way from California to Washington.
Opaleye are an infrequent catch
The Pier Rats Speak
Date: July 30, 2000; To: Ken Jones; From: George Campbell; Subject: Morro Bay, CA
Lots of 14-18” Jacksmelt from the Coast Guard Pier in Morro Bay. Best fishing times from 1 hour before to 1 hour after high tide. Best rig is a dropper rig, with a 1 oz. sinker with one short dropper 3-4′ above the sinker. Number 2-4 baitholder hook with clam or mussel as bait. During July and August, this is a sure-fire bet in Morro Bay. Feather jigs catch only 6” smelt, while those using the rig above are catching the big ones. Cast your rig out about 1-20 yards, then very slowly retrieve. Wait for a big hit before setting, then have fun. Light tackle recommended for best action. Another, non-pier method is to get on the rocks next to the pier, using freshwater ultralight tackle. No sinker. Just a #2-4 baitholder hook with clam or mussel. Cast into the deeper water, then let bait drift down. A fish every cast, and a real fight on 2 lb. test from 14-16” smelt. Dynamite! Best, George Campbell
Date: December 12, 2000; To: PFIC Message Board; From: sandollar; Subject: Age/experience thread
My fishing experiences are from fishing from the Morro Bay T piers. Boy was it a big deal when my parents allowed my brother and I to walk there alone from the Morro Dunes trailer park just north of the Rock (just a walk down the beach). My most favorite memory there was once when there happened to be tons of red snapper there. Our eyes were like saucers as we caught so many fish that day. (I was in second grade, my brother in 5th). Now I’m 33.
Date: November 26, 2002; To: PFIC Message Board; From: cayucosjack; Subject: Morro Bay North T-Pier Report 11/26
Stopped in at the North T pier in Morro Bay from about 1pm-2. Only caught 2 jacksmelt on pile worms/Sabiki. One guy had caught about a 2-pound calico perch and then reeled up about a 5lb+ rubberlip perch! This thing was huge! He was using mussels in the shell and wrapping a few hooks around them. Not my style but it sure did work.
Date: February 17, 2003; To: PFIC Message Board; From: cayucosjack; Subject: North T-Pier 2/16 Rpt
With a very busy weekend the only time I had a chance to get out was late last night after our “company” went to sleep. With a 5.6ft, 10:20 high tide and the “astro-tables” showing excellent fishing I had to get out to try for a bat ray …or anything for that matter.
Fished North T-pier 10-11pm.
The current was really ripping in the channel. I tossed out a hi/lo (size 4/0 hooks, 17 pound spider wire–I grabbed the wrong spool, wanted heavier test) with 6-ounce sinker. Within 3 minutes the rod bends big time and almost goes in the water. It was something huge! It almost spooled me, I could not budge this beast, not even an inch for at least ten minutes. Working against the current was nearly impossible. It finally started swimming towards me and I got about half the line back. Then it stopped I got nowhere with him (complete stalemate) for about another 5 minutes. With no way to land this beast other than a gaff, and my arms burning with pain I made the choice to tighten the drag and put my line to the test (I thought it was the 30-lb test, as I said I was wrong). He won…the line lost. I could have been there all night with this thing. Oh well.
There were schools of small smelt the seals and lions were pushing to the surface. I got a few on my Sabiki but size 6 was too large and I was lazy. The crabs were in thick, big ones too. There were literally dozens of otters around all feasting on huge crabs (kinda funny to watch them deal with those huge pincers). After about a half hour of crabs and octopus I called it quits. There was lots of activity and some decent fishing though, those “astro-tables” may just be on to something.
4 small smelt (4-6 inches, Sabikis with clams)
2 octopus (mackerel)
3 large red crabs (mackerel)
The huge ray (?) took fresh cut Spanish mackerel.
Date: March 19, 2004; To: PFIC Message Board; From: cayucosjack; Subject: Morro Bay Report 3-19-04
Headed to Morro Bay T-piers where everyone was limiting on big pogies. There was even a commercial guy there that must have had upwards of 20 fish… Mussels were the bait of choice today and my old frozen store bought container worked just fine (usually the fresh work much better). I kept the same rig tied on as I used for grubbing just replaced the grub with a gob of mussel.
Date: August 21, 2004; To: PFIC Message Board; From: cayucosjack; Subject: Morro Bay 8-20-04—North T-Pier?
We fished last night again in Morro. There were 3 of us fishing (cayucosjack, EddieE, & morrobaytpierer). Things were slow until just before dark when the bait finally moved in (lots of small smelt, Spanish macks). I was casting a Kroc while I was waiting for the tide to turn to toss bait and hooked the little guy in the pic. Sarcastic Fringehead? I’ve read they have a nasty disposition and I can say it’s true. The little guy lunged for my thumb and latched on pretty good when I was unhooking him. The lure was almost as big as he was.
We ended up getting decent action most of the night with a good variety. Thornbacks, shovelnose, bat rays and leopards all hit the deck. The rays all took squid while the shark took a whole walleye perch. I’ve got to thank Eddie for making a food run and leaving his rod under my watchful eye. I had the pleasure of battling the beast of a shark with his rod. He came back just in time to net it! I consider it his fish; he considers it mine. We decided to share the glory. The leopard was kept and split three ways. The shovelnose and all other fish (other than some bait) were released. The shark taped at about 5’3”.
Date: September 16, 2004; To: PFIC Message Board; From: HookinFish; Subject: Tidelands and North T Pier Morro Bay (collage pic)
Arrived at Tidelands with Kaiakua and friend to throw the poles and crab nets in. Fishing was slow, some baitfish at best but we managed 25 rock crabs. Decided to move to the North T pier and there was a steady bite on small mackerel. They looked just like small akule cause of the two spikes right at the anus. Caught tons of those with some sardines and then sunrise hit with a slack tide and bam. Kaiakua gets a solid hit but snaps at the knot. Then moments later bam again Kaiakua gets hit this time we land it and it’s a 42-inch bat ray. He managed to not get spooled on 20-lb test with just a few raps left on the spool after its initial run. Little while after I get a huge hit and it’s a large ray; we get it to the net but we overshoot it and the ray decided to break the line in the pilions. No biggy still got the fight just missed the picture. Looked a little bigger than Kaiakuas. Then bam, I get another small ray 29-inches; then 20 minutes later I get a 46-inch leopard shark. We netted it and bled it after some pictures and again Kaiakua gets another bat ray on. We released all the rays. Kept all legal crabs and kept the shark. Was an exciting fishing evening… Oh and lots of Dungeness crabs out and about very small about 3 inches no more. But just a tip for when the season comes up. Well good luck to you all. Hanapa’a!
Date: July 23, 2007; To: PFIC Message Board; From: BaitDunkerBob; Subject: Morro Bay pier
Fished the North T pier for the first time. Landed several Spanish mackerel. Lots of fun and pretty solid action while I was there (hour or so of incoming tide and a bit after high tide). Many of the ones I was catching were a bit heftier than my neighbors, maybe due to the fact that I was using bigger hooks (1.0 and #4) or because I was using cut ‘chovies and squid, while they were mostly using clams. I swear that two fish bit unbaited hooks. Quite a few people showed up to get in on the bite. I used a surf/high-low rig. I released the fish I caught. Would have liked to partake of the shark action described earlier, but didn’t have the time; maybe next time. As Mr. Jones mentioned in his description of the pier, pretty ripping water movement.
Date: January 8, 2008; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Danthefisherman; Subject: Morro Bay Jan 7th
Since the storm has past, and the sun was out, I decided to hit the Bay. I met Polishfromthedeep and his friend for some Morro bay sharaying. When I got there a little after 2pm, the channel was unfishable. The tide was just rippin’, so we decided to do a little perching on the North T-Pier until the current settled down.
CayucosJack also swung by to take a break from work and drop a line. I got a sweet deal on some live ghost shrimp a couple days ago, so we dropped our lines hoping for a nice Black Perch or two. We fished for half an hour or so, and just as we were ready to give up and move on, Ken’s corner produced a nice surprise…Pile Perch! Five minutes later, CJ pulls up a Hog 15” Pile Perch, also from Ken’s favorite corner (I think I know why now!). We ended up with 3 Pile Perch from that spot, 2 being hubcaps. The water had calmed down as the minus 0.8 tide came around, so we packed up.
History Note. The North T-Pier dates to World War II when an amphibious training base was built in Morro Bay (a training facility that came under the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard in 1943). The pier was built in 1942 as part of that training facility and later it was acquired by the town of Morro Bay. It would see repair in 1953.
North T-Pier Facts
Hours: Open 24 hours a day.
Facilities: Free public parking is available adjacent to the pier. Restrooms, bait and tackle shop, and restaurants are nearby.
Handicapped Facilities: Handicapped restrooms and quite a bit of free public parking near the pier (but no marked handicapped parking spaces). The pier surface is wood railing with no rail although there is a 7.5-inch high curb. Posted for handicapped but wheelchairs would have a tough time on the rough wood surface.
Location: 1275 Embarcadero.
How To Get There: From Highway 1 turn south onto Main Street, follow it to Morro Bay Boulevard, turn left toward the bay and follow it to Embarcadero, turn right and follow Embarcadero to the end of the public parking which adjoins the pier.
Management: City of Morro Bay.