25 Years of Fish Reports — Today's Pier — Oceanside Pier

Ken Jones

Staff member
Oceanside Pier —Pier Fishing In California Fishing Reports

May 1997—Charley at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle shop reports the arrival of warmer water and better fishing. Water temperature hit 64 degrees last week and the fishing exploded. Inshore, anglers are catching barred surfperch, corbina, spotfin croaker and gray smoothhound sharks. The perch and croaker are hitting on fresh mussels or bloodworms while the sharks are hitting on squid. Best spotfin of the past two weeks was a beautiful 9-pound fish that hit on mussels. Further out on the pier, anglers are continuing to pull in bucketful's of small walleye surfperch and some small-to-medium sized Pacific mackerel. Halibut have also started to bite and a number of keepers have been taken -- mostly on live shinerperch or anchovies that have been caught with snag lines. Summer is getting closer!

June 1997—Charley at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle shop says the water is warming up (70 degrees) and the fishing is getting hot. Top news has been the number of halibut landed along with a lot of big croakers, both spotfin and yellowfin. The halibut are hitting all around the pier with the best bait being anchovies or live bait that has been snagged; most days are seeing 3-5 keepers. The croakers are hitting inshore and are smacking fresh mussels and bloodworms. Buckets of mackerel are being caught at the end of the pier, most on bait rigs, and they're running a nice 1-2 pounds in size. White seabass are also being taken out toward the end but almost all are shorts—and make sure you don't keep them. Finally, although perch fishing is slow, quite a few sculpin (California scorpionfish) are being landed and they're one of the best tasting pier fish. Dumb move of the Memorial Day weekend was the capture of a black sea bass weighing around 150 pounds. It took three drops of a treble hook gaff to snag the fish and then four people were needed to haul it up onto the pier. These fish are of course illegal and the smart move would have been to simply cut the line when the angler saw what it was. Instead, the determined angler heading down the pier dragging his catch behind him—only to meet the game warden. A severe fine will be the result; perhaps in the two grand, $2,000 category. TRULY DUMB!!! (By the way, a more positive story concerns a black sea bass taken far to the north in San Francisco Bay. A halibut fisherman (on a boat) pulled in a blackie estimated to weigh about fifty pounds. Deckhands quickly netted the fish, removed the hook, and gently lowered him/her back into the water. That was the right thing to do. Let these fish make a comeback!!!)

July 1997—Charley at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle shop reports one of the best runs of bonito in years, both as to numbers and to size of fish. Most of the boneheads are falling to bonito feathers. There's still a lot of medium size mackerel at the end of the pier and quite a few spotfin croaker, some approaching 5 pounds in size, falling to anglers fishing the shoreline. He says there's also been a good run of sargo inshore. The spotfin are falling to bloodworms and fresh mussels, the sargo to mussels. Only a few halibut lately as well as some shovelnose guitarfish and bat rays. He says he's seen 3 bat rays in the last week that averaged 60-70 pounds each.

August 1997—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle shop, reports a potpourri of species at the pier. Mackerel are thick out toward the end and anglers have also taken quite a few bonito. Most of the boneheads are running 2-3 pounds but several 6-8 pound fish were also landed. Most of the tuna hit on feathers and spin floats but some have been landed on Krocodile and Kastmaster lures. Inshore, to the mid-pier area, anglers continue to land corbina, yellowfin croaker and spotfin croaker on the bottom. The good-sized fish are hitting mainly on bloodworms and fresh mussels—so get some! Action is rounded out by sand bass (on squid or small live bait), illegal size white seabass, barred surfperch, pileperch and opaleye. Most of the perch are falling to mussels.

September 1997—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle shop, reports continued good fishing. Leading the list has been a number of large spotfin croaker, which have been landed in the inshore areas by anglers using mussels, bloodworms or ghost shrimp. The same area is also producing a lot of nice sized yellowfin croaker—primarily in the evening hours. The mid-pier to end areas are yielding quite a few halibut including 4-5 keepers most days. Out at the end, anglers continue to pull in good numbers of mackerel while bonito do their here one minute, gone the next routine. Most of the bonito that are landed are nice 4-5 pound fish. Most unusual fish recently was a 6-pound sheephead landed on mussels near the bait shop. (I fished the pier for two and a half hours on the morning of August 1st. The visit produced 17 salema and 2 jacksmelt at the far end of the pier, and 3 yellowfin croaker and 1 jacksmelt in the inshore area.)

October 1997— Oceanside Pier - George, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle shop, reports huge waves and dirty water has hurt fishing. Before the storm the mackerel and bonito were plentiful but they've now headed out to cleaner water. There do continue to be lots of yellowfin croakers and white seabass around but most are too small to keep. One idiot had a bucket full of about 30-40 small, baby-sized yellowfin croaker as we spoke on the phone but the game warden was headed down to the pier. Sportsmen have also been keeping 12-13 inch, recently-released white seabass even though the minimum length is 28 inches. PEOPLE, please follow the laws!!!

October 1997—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle shop, says things are still hopping, although there aren't the number of fishermen that you found during the summer. Inshore, spotfin croaker and buttermouth perch continue to hit mussels and bloodworms. Further out, from the mid-pier area to the end, there have been huge schools of big sardines (10-12" range), which have been filling buckets for anglers so inclined. Carl says there are also a lot of sand bass and calico bass (kelp bass) being caught. Seems the lifeguards are stripping the mussels off the pilings in an attempt to lessen the weight of each in case El Nino storms hit the pier. The food which falls into the water by the removal of the mussels seems to be attracting scads of the tasty bass. Shark action is fair although lots of shovelnose sharks (guitarfish) and quite a few bat rays continue to add excitement. Carl said it was 80 degrees and beautiful the day I called (November 1st) and the water temperature remained a warm 68-69 degrees.

February 1998—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle shop, says that the water temperature is down to 61 degrees but fish continue to bite. Mackerel are in and out but large schools of jacksmelt seem to offer steady sport. A number of sheephead have also been landed recently, most on ghost shrimp, and almost all out by the end. Both sand bass and kelp bass continue to offer some sport on squid but the corbina and croakers have stopped biting, you can still see them in the shallow-water areas but they're not hungry. However, barred surfperch are hitting on fresh mussels in the inshore area and a few buttermouth perch are hitting around the pilings. At night a few lobsters continue to be brought in to the pier.

February 1998— Oceanside Pier - George, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle shop, says that things are dead at the pier, it's rockin' and rollin' and most fishermen are staying home. Waves were breaking over the pier on the 30th and the one lone fisherman on the pier kept coming back for bigger and bigger sinkers. When things are calm, the anglers have been getting quite a few small sand bass, lots of stingrays, and some sharks.

March 1998—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle shop, says that the water is a pleasant chocolate-brown color, just right for bottling. Unfortunately, the water is also cold and the fishing has plummeted. A few small barred surfperch do continue to be landed on mussels, and there was a decent run on 4-6 foot long leopard sharks last week, but everything else is slow. Most visitors to the pier are sightseers looking at the big waves. The day before I called the waves were up to the roof of the lifeguard shack on the pier, and frightening the brave souls who were dining out at Ruby's at the end of the pier. Luckily there hasn't been any real damage done to the pier—knock on wood. Carl said the brown water is caused by mud from the San Luis Rey River which enters into the boat harbor, and shortly thereafter into the ocean, just north of the pier. Carl also said the main road down to the harbor has washed out, a significant event to the people who work at the restaurants and boat landing in the harbor.

May 1998—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, reports that fishing was slow with a pretty rough ocean (on the first). Anglers were getting a few mackerel and sardines out toward the end of the long pier, and a smattering of croakers and corbina in the inshore area. A few sand bass, calico bass (kelp bass) and halibut were also beginning to be caught out at the end. Most interesting were the catches of sheephead during the month, including a 12-pounder and a 27-pound fish. Most of the sheephead have been landed on shrimp.

June 1998— Oceanside Pier - Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, reports that fishing has been up and down. There was a good run of spotfin croakers for a couple of weeks with anglers reporting some 8-9 pound fish being caught on mussels (although Carl says the ones he saw were only in the 5-6 pound range). Inshore, there have also been some decent runs on yellowfin croakers and barred surfperch, both being caught on mussels and bloodworms. At the end of the pier it's the usual action — mackerel, sardines and jacksmelt. A number of sharks have also been landed, primarily shovelnose sharks (guitarfish) and leopard sharks. Lastly, Carl reports that a few sheephead continue to show up out at the end, most are caught on shrimp or mussels.

September 1998—Oceanside Pier—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), reports that although the pier is surrounded by boats that are catching bonito and yellowtail, few of the fish have come close to the pier—so far. Inshore, corbina and yellowfin croaker continue to be caught on fresh mussels, while out at the end of the pier mackerel and sardines are being caught on bait rigs like Lucky Luras

April 1999—George, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says that the fishing is finally starting to pick up. He says it was the worst winter for fishing he has ever seen but anglers are now starting to pick up good numbers of yellowfin and spotfin croakers in the inshore areas and big shovelnose sharks out at the end of the pier. The shovelnose are running 3-5 feet long and there seems to be a pretty good run.

July 1999—George, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says that all Hell has broken loose and the fish have really started to bite. The water temperature jumped up to 66 degrees and corbina, yellowfin, spotfin, bass and halibut have been on a good bite. Its also seeing sharks and rays so it's a little bit of everything.

September 1999— Oceanside Pier -- Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says that it's been great some days, slow on others -- depending on the fluctuating water temperatures. Inshore, anglers are picking up some yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker and corbina. In the mid-pier area some halibut are being landed including a 22" fish the morning I called. Out at the end, a 32” white seabass was recently taken, the first legal whitie in some time. Fishing on the bottom is producing lots of leopard sharks and shovelnose sharks. Mackerel are hot on good water-temperature days, slower on cold-water days.

August 2000— Oceanside Pier -- Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), reports that fishing is pretty good. He’s seeing corbina, croaker and perch inshore, while out at the end anglers are getting some BIG mackerel and BONITO. He says the bonito are small “but they’re here” – after being gone for a couple of years. The bonito are taken on feathers and spin floats. Unusual catches recently included a 27” striped bass caught in the surf area and a turtle that was brought in and released on July 4. He says there are also lots of small sharks.

November 2000—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), reports that fishing has slowed somewhat with the advent of cold and windy weather. However, there have been some interesting catches recently. As example, there was a good run of spotfin croaker inshore toward the end of the month and some barred surfperch have begun to enter into the picture. Out at the end of the pier there have quite a few opaleye perch taken on mussels together with several nice sheephead (including a 23” and 24” fish). Mackerel are still around but not in the numbers seen recently. Carl says it has been dead on sharks and rays.

May 2001—Dan, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), reports that anglers are picking up yellowfin and spotfin croaker while working the surf areas along with a few barred surfperch. Try fresh mussels, ghost shrimp or bloodworms. Mid-pier to the end, the action’s been mostly on walleye surfperch and smallish-sized mackerel. What wasn’t small was a 150+pound bat ray taken on Sunday. Unfortunately the fish was pretty carved up by the time they got it onto the pier. Dan says the water is still a cold 60 degrees.

February 2002—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says that things are slower than slow. He says it has been too cold for the fishermen (the pier was covered in frost one morning this week) and the ones who do show up aren’t catching much. Mainly it’s walleye surfperch. Hardly anything else.

May 2002—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says fishing is finally starting to pick up. Says he’s seeing some nice corbina, spotfin croaker and barred surfperch inshore; herring (queenfish) and jacksmelt out at the end. He’s also seen quite a few shovelnose sharks (guitarfish) lately. He did report one bad sign. Seems there is an algea in the water affecting the sea lions and seals. Says there are several sick or dead sea lions on the beach. Lastly, there was a short mini-run of sheephead and scorpionfish out at the end of the pier a couple of weeks ago but they seemed to have stopped

June 2002—George, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says that “everything is exploding. People are landing lots of halibut (one guy landed 6 keepers in two days ON FROZEN MUSSELS) while inshore the action is hot on croakers, corbina and stingrays. He’s also seeing lots of bass and increasing numbers of sharks, especially shovelnose (guitarfish). Bait rigs on the end are pulling in quite a few sadines and mackerel are finally starting to show in good numbers” This may be one of the piers to hit now.

September 2002—George, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says that the fishing is still very good with lots of spotfin and yellowfin croaker along with some halibut (including a few keepers) and some small white seabass. He says shovelnose are all over the place; around 20-25 a day. No bonito to speak of although a small 8-inch fish was caught this week; mackerel come and go – hot action followed by dead. One thing that is in big numbers is sardines—night and day; use bait rigs. Two final notes: (1) giant squid are making a short appearance most nights and (2) a 20-pound black sea bass was caught this week and finally released after George gave the angler a big warning. Good thing George was there or the guy would have kept it.

October 2002—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says that a 9-pound calico bass (kelp bass) was taken by an angler using squid on 9/29. The fish was caught mid-way out on the pier, just past the restrooms. He also says there have been lots of yellowfin croakers and spotfin croakers taken inshore. At the end anglers are still getting mackerel while anglers fishing on the bottom continue to pull in a fair number of shovelnose sharks (guitarfish).

November 2002—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says that things are starting to slow down although some yellowfin and spotfin croakers continue to be caught inshore along with a few barred surfperch. It’s slow further out on the pier although a few mackerel continue to be taken. Biggest news recently was the capture of a 210-pound giant (black) sea bass taken and released by Ben Seto. Don’t know how it was weighed but Carl says they’ve seen 3-4 fairly big giant sea bass in the past two months. He also chuckled over the 9-pound calico (kelp) bass caught by a neophyte angler who rented a pole, bought some frozen squid, and then came back a short time later with the huge calico. Most anglers will fish a lifetime from a pier and never catch a 9-pounder (in fact, it’s a pretty good calico even from a boat).

December 2002—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says that with a few exceptions, things are slowing down. There’s been some spotfin croakers showing up along with a few keeper halibut and mackerel – on some days. The macs seem to come and go and you just have to be there when they show up. Of interest was a 20-lb, 32-inch sheephead and two more giant (black) sea bass, both estimated to weigh over 100 pounds. That makes about a half dozen giant sea bass in the past two months topped by the (estimated) 200-pound fish in October.

February 2003—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says that things are very slow, a few jacksmelt, barred surfperch (inshore) and small bass (calicos and sand) out at the end. Biggest news recently was the capture of a 20+ pound sheephead by 12-year-old John Kinsey. He caught the bucktooth creature out at the end of the pier on mussels. The water temperature is only 58 degrees which partly explains the slow fishing.

June 2003—George, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), reports that the fishing has exploded. Inshore there are lots of croaker – spotfins, yellowfins and corbina (although most are in the 2-3 pound range, not any real big fish). Out at the end lots of calicos (kelp bass) are showing up together with some big shovelnose sharks (guitarfish) including one that weighed a little over 25 pounds. In addition, big schools of mackerel and sardines have covered the water on some days.

November 2003—George, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), said it was cold and raining the morning I called BUT fishing had been excellent with LOTS of bonito and mackerel. He said the end of the pier has been like summertime, i.e., crowded. But the bonito haven’t been around for a while so I’m not surprised. George says there are lots of anchovies in the water and they’re bringing in the boneheads and macs – so enjoy it while you can. If seeking out the bonito try feathers with a cast-a-bubble or lures like Krocodiles. Croaker action has died off as has most bottom action. George says it has been fun watching the dolphins feasting on all the local bait.

May 2004—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says that things are still somewhat slow but picking up. A few halibut have been landed (including a 36-inch, 22-pound fish, and a 30-inch, 12 1/2 pound fish). Inshore, anglers are getting a few yellowfin croaker while further out herring (queenfish) and walleye surfperch are more common. Bat rays and shovelnose guitarfish are hitting on the bottom.

October 2004—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), reports continued good action on bonito and mackerel with tons of bait in the water. One angler, Romeo, landed a 40-pound or so halibut using live bait. Many white seabass are also showing up but most are small, illegal fish (usually called sea trout). It’s been a little slow on the inshore croakers.

August 2005—Carl, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), reports that the red tide has finally bid adieu after its two-month visit and the result is improved fishing—and catching. Out at the end there are many, many mackerel along with a few bonito (caught on feathers w/bubbles). Mid-pier the herring (queenfish) are thick along with a few walleye perch. A few halibut have shown but most are shorts; use live smelt or small queenfish as bait. The surf area continues to kick out some corbina and yellowfin croakers (use bloodworms, fresh mussels or ghost shrimp). It sounds like it’s the time to go!

May 2006—Dino, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says that there has been a really good bite on croakers—yellowfins and spotfins—with many of the spotties hitting 3-5 pounds. Try fresh mussels or ghost shrimp. There’s also been some good perch fishing with a combination of species. Corbina are also picking up—try fresh mussels by the bait shop. A few mackerel are hitting out at the end but the action is sporadic. Biggest news recently was a HUGE bat ray that was supposedly weighed in at 250 pounds; a picture was supposed to be sent to the Oceanside paper. I’d appreciate a copy.

June 2006—Charley, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says the fishing has been really good recently. The last week saw a number of BIG spotfins show up led by 6 and 8-pound fish. There’s also been good numbers of yellowfin croaker and barred surfperch inshore. Out at the end there was a decent run of good-sized 5-6 pound bonito but they apparently have moved on and been replaced by smaller bonito. Most of the bonito were taken on spoons such as Kastmasters and MegaBaits rather than bubbles w/feathers. He said it is slow on halibut. One side note, a lady did commit suicide by jumping off the pier last week and there was a fight between a fisherman and a surfer. Sounds like things were busy down there.

October 2006—Charley, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says people continue to pull in good-sized spotfin croaker to about four pounds together with nice yellowfin croaker. He says there are tons of mackerel and lots of bonito but you have to be there when the bonito decide to visit the pier. When they get to the pier just about everyone gets them but they only make a visit a couple of times a day. Other than that it’s mostly perch with almost no halibut showing up. (Snookie always says when the bonito are around you will not catch the halibut).

April 2007—Verg, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says things have slowed somewhat from a few weeks ago. There’s still barred surfperch inshore but lesser numbers of the yellowfin and spotfin croakers. A few shovelnose are being caught along with mackerel they move in for short visits to the pier. Biggest news the day I called was the 100-pound or so giant (black) sea bass that was going up and down the pier in water shallow enough to put on a show. Luckily no one was trying to hook him.

June 2007—Charlie, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle (on the pier), says it’s spotfins, spotfins and more spotfins with many of the fish hitting close to five pounds in size. Best bait according to Charlie are baby mussels but ghost shrimp and worms should also attract them. Other than that it’s pretty slow for most other species although some (Humboldt?) squid are being brought in. Not big numbers but the squid are being taken during both the day and night hours. They range in size to about 5 feet in length

October 2008—Ed, at Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle on the pier, says the inshore croaker action has slowed although there are a few surperch. Further out on the pier anglers are taking some 12-13” mini-bonito on splashers while a few sheephead have been taken mid-pier to the end. A few small halibut have also been taken while the lobster opener saw a lot of hoopsters but very few legal-size lobsters.

October 2009—Paul, at Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle on the pier, says most of the action has been on small, 8-10” bass, both calico (kelp) and sand. The bonito continue to come and go while a few halibut are showing (to 27” although most are shorts). Some mackerel show at night but right now there are more bonito than mackerel. There’s also quite a few guitarfish showing (to 23-lbs). Baitfish are absent with the exception of lots of small smelt.

April 2010—Mike, at the pier bait shop, reports that things slowed toward the end of the month after an exceptional run of big bat rays that took place mid-month. Over a dozen bat rays exceeding a hundred pounds were taken along with a plethora of small rays. But, the “freight trains” apparently have moved on to greener pastures. Mike said a few barred surfperch continue to show inshore, larger numbers of walleyes mid-pier, and some queenfish and a few halibut (19”-27”). Action has been slow on top. In part the drop-off in action may be due to red tide that seems to have moved into the area. By all accounts the UPSAC Derby held at the pier on 3/27 was a success—even if the fishing was a little slow. According to organizer Eugene Kim, “The mac bite was great, if that's what you were looking for! Other than that, the fishing was a little on the slow side with a mixed bag of sardines, smelt, perch, corbina, sand bass, and thornbacks/rays. Half of our 32 participants came away with empty hooks but just about everyone walked away with a raffle prize or two (and if not, they at least received a few parting gifts!) Of note, all the sand bass caught during the derby (3) was from one angler, Spencer (tunafshr93), and I think he even caught a 4th after the derby was over. Also, Hunter caught a corbina--his lone fish--on ghost shrimp about 3/4 of the way down the pier. It was surprising since I'd only heard of them caught in the surf.” A big thanks to Eugene and all who helped out a the derby.

May 2010—Ed, at the pier bait shop, reports that the croakers finally appear to be biting. Inshore, some nice-sized barred surfperch are showing up while out at the end good numbers of large Spanish mackerel (jack mackerel) are making a showing. On 5/1 a 30-inch halibut was taken and the flatties seem to be starting to hit.

September 2010 —Ed Gonzales, at the pier bait shop, says it’s slow. There’s still mackerel and sardines on top of the water out toward the end but the inshore croaker bite has really slowed down. Sharay action has been just so, so although a six-foot-long angel shark was captured. Biggest news this past week was the hooking of four giant (black) sea bass and the near fist fights involved in convincing anglers to release the fish. In one case the angler wanted to keep the fish before one of the resident anglers, a fairly large Samoan gentleman, walked over and proceeded to cut the line. In the future the Fish and Game is going to receive an “early” call.

November 2010—Ed Gonzales, at the pier bait shop, said has seen quite a few thresher sharks lately, 2-3 a day, including a 10-foot-long fish. All have been taken at the end of the pier. Baitfish, including mackerel and anchovies, are readily available mid-pier to the end. Inshore, the croakers have started to bite again and though the numbers of spotfin are not as high as during the summer, quite a few have been big 5-6 pound fish. Corbina are available inshore and sargo are available inshore to mid-pier. Lizardfish also seem to cover the bottom.

December 2010—Jim, at the pier bait shop, said things are slow. A lot of anchovies are around the pier, and birds are diving for them, but it hasn’t helped the fishing. In fact he said most of the regulars were headed home due to the slow fishing. A few halibut have been recorded, some lizardfish, and a butterfly ray, but the fish are few and far between. Lobsters too have been slow.

July 2011—Jim, at the pier bait shop, says action is good led by lots of spotfin croakers inshore, big schools of mackerel mid-pier to the end, and thresher sharks being taken almost daily from the end of the pier. He says there are also the schools of herring (queenfish) out toward the end mixed with lizardfish. Only a few halibut, but some keeper-size fish, up to 30 inches. A few sculpin (scorpionfish) are available at night.

September 2011—Ed, at the pier bait shop, says the croaker action has really died down while the mackerel action out at the end has improved. Locals are also starting to get a few bonito but Ed says they kind of tease the regulars. The boneheads come in for a hour or so, get everyone excited, and then leave not to return for hours—or days—later. It’s nothing you can count on but if you’re there when they show up you can get a few. A few threshers continue to b reported from the end while halibut are also showing but most are shorts.

November 2011—Ed, at the pier bait shop, says there’s still a lot of baitfish around—mackerel, jacksmelt, sardines, and anchovies and that’s probably why the thresher shark fishing out at the end of the pier remains pretty good (including a 9-foot-long fish the week I called). Some bass and a few halibut show mid-pier, small-sized croakers and corbina are being caught inshore. It’s not great fishing but it’s not bad.

June 2012—Ed, at the pier bait shop, says the water temperature is up to 67 degrees and the fishing has exploded. Lots of GIANT spotfin croaker, smaller yellowfin croakers, a few legal halibut, and even some sub-legal white seabass. The pier is packed and the main problem is that some of the people are keeping more than their ten-croaker limit. It sounds like this is the place o go if you don’t mind a crowded pier and the normal SoCal summertime congestion.

July 2012—Jim, at the pier bait shop, says the croaker bite has been steady, both yellowfin and spotfin, while some nice-sized perch are also showing up. Mid-pier sees some halibut, but only about 20% of them are legal-size, while the mackerel have increased in size with some big ‘uns coming in. Thresher shark action remains strong at the end although the vast majority do not make it up to the pier. An exception was a 7-foot fish landed the day before I called. If you go, expect some crowds, especially on the weekend.

January 2013 — Jim, at the pier’s bait shop, says things have been slow, a few surfperch (mostly small walleyes) and an occasional small croaker. Large Humboldt squid did show up Saturday night, January 5, but apparently most were only a couple of feet long.

February 2013—Ed, at the pier’s bait shop, says things have generally been slow although the past few days saw massive bait balls of anchovies at the pier. Most action has been on surfperch (barred surfperch and walleye surfperch) while a few buttermouth perch (blackperch) have been biting down by the pilings — along with an occasional cabezon. Water has been a cold 54 degrees.

June 2013—Bill, at the pier’s bait shop, says anglers are picking up a LOT of big spotfin croakers with several in the 6-8 pound class. Inshore to mid-pier is also seeing some perch and sargo while the mid-pier area has produced quite a few halibut but almost all sub-legal in size. The end area has produced some barracuda and leopard sharks as well as some BIG mackerel. No threshers have been taken lately.

August 2013—Jim, at the pier’s bait shop, says the pier is packed with anglers and when I called they were catching a ton of fish. He said the mackerel and sardines had both running like crazy and so had the spotfin croakers with anglers taking away ice chests full of LARGE spotfins (and we can only hope they are not exceeding their limits). He said many, many kelp bass were hitting but almost all were 10-12 inch fish so now illegal and it was the same story with halibut, a lot of the flatties but almost all undersized. He said some nice shovelnose sharks (guitarfish) are being taken daily while a couple of threshers showed up the week I called. But, he said it felt like a million anglers and railing space was at a premium.

September 2013—Jim, at the pier’s bait shop, says the pier has thousands fishing and a pier swim is going on — they’re packed. As far as the fishing, the croakers have slowed but quite a few halibut have been taken; most of the hallies are short but one 27” fish was landed. Good action on kelp and sand bass too, but almost all are under the new 14” minimum length. Mackerel and anchovies are abundant day and night while pinback sharks (dogfish) are showing at night.

December 2013—Ed, at the pier’s bait shop, says things are relatively slow although there’s been a decent run of halibut lately, most being caught inshore by the surf-line or under the pier. They are averaging about one keeper a day with the largest recently being a 28”, 6-pound hallie. Large barred surfperch are being caught inshore while regulars are using sidewinder crabs to take perch down around the pilings. Shark action has been dead although a good-sized angel shark was taken the day prior to my call. Not much on top with the exception of big schools of anchovies (aka free bait.

June 2014—Ed, at Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says the water is up to 69 degrees but there’s still more fishermen than fish. What’s mainly missing are the croakers. A few BIG spotfin croaker are being taken, mostly by locals with the know how—fresh mussels in the broken shells, sand crabs or sidewinder crabs)—but their numbers are still small and the yellowfins are still missing. He does expect the croaker fishing to pick up any time. He says a few halibut are also showing but to date most have been shorties. What are showing up are calico (kelp) bass but most are under the new 14” inch size limit and he’s afraid far too many are being kept. At the back end, good numbers of herring (queenfish) are being taken by locals while the usual small sharks and rays are also showing up. One thresher shark was hooked but the angler soon discovered why you need a wire leader for the long-tailed beasts (it was lost).

July 2014—Ed, at Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says big spotfin croaker are showing up including one that he felt was the largest he’s seen (although it wasn’t weighed). There aren’t a lot of them but the regulars who know what they are doing are daily getting nice fish. Bonito too have made a showing but they are small fish 8-10 inches long and unfortunately too many are being taken by anglers on Sabikis and too many are being kept (ice chests full). Fish and Game has been out but they never seem to show when the bonito are being caught. Mackerel too are present but they are in one day and out the next. It looks like it’s going to be a fun summer.

August 2014—Bill, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says it’s been interesting recently. Lots of bonito are being taken (although most are under 20-inches), some small white sea bass have been showing up, and a couple of giant (black) sea bass have even been caught. Inshore croaker action is slowing but crowds are responding to the bonito action mid-pier to the end.

September 2014—Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says a ton of bonito are being caught but people are keeping way too many, both large ones and small ones. Fish and Wildlife has been out a few times and ticketed a few people but the problems with poaching continue. He says some huge spotfin croaker are also being caught, not a great number but the ones being caught are very large (inshore, on crabs or fresh mussels). Further out on the pier far too many under-sized kelp bass are being caught and too are being kept. Lastly, the mackerel and bonito seem to rotate through the waters. Rarely are they there together but usually on or another is available. Not too many sharks are showing up although the thresher guys still seek them out and a few shovelnose and bat rays are showing up.

October 2014—Bill, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says there’s tons of mackerel as well as some (small) bonito mid-pier to the end. Anglers have reported seeing yellowtail but none have been landed while a black (giant) sea bass was hooked before it stripped the angler’s reel of line. Inshore, a few croakers are still showing while shark anglers continue to pull in a few thresher sharks and leopard sharks.

January 2015—Jim, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says people are catching fish! A lot of small halibut are being taken as well as good numbers of surfperch and sargo. Another fish that is being caught in quantity is opaleye, with most of the regulars getting 4-5 a day fishing about ¾ out on the pier while using shrimp or fresh mussels as bait.

March 2015— Oceanside Pier — Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says things have been dead with the exception of jacksmelt and a few sharays on the bottom. The good news though is that the mackerel returned about three days before I called so the locals are happily catching the macs. An occasional croaker does show up but the bonito have departed. Recently a few cabezon have also shown. Most of the cabbies are shorts but a couple, were legal size. Ed asked if they are good eating and I said, “You betcha, just don’t eat the eggs because they are poisonous.” It’s also surprising to some the first time they fillet a cabezon and see the blue fillets but they turn a beautiful white color when cooked and are delicious.

May 2015—Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says “things are starting to click.” Inshore there’s some croakers and corbina showing up, while mid-pier has seen some halibut including a 31-inch fish. Big perch and little perch are around, and he says there are a lot of bat rays, mostly small ones. Out at the end anglers are pulling in good numbers of mackerel and sardine. Toss in a 17” and 18” calico bass and a couple of decent-sized grass rockfish and it sounds like Ed is right—things are starting to click.

July 2015— Oceanside Pier — Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says the bonito bite is really on with way too many people keeping way too many fish. It’s small bonito, 11-12” long, and though he tells people the limit is five, not 25, it’s like talking to a wall. Other than the bonito, the action is pretty slow—a few small calico bass and an occasional under-sized halibut. The croaker action just hasn’t started to date.

December 2015—Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says the fishing has been slow with the exception of mackerel that continue to show in good numbers. A few bonito also continue to be caught with most of the boneheads lately being landed on live bait instead of lures/feathers. The inshore area is seeing an increase in the number of perch while the mid-pier area continues to produce a few sargo and halibut (a 25-inch halibut being landed last week). Sharay action has been slow although a number of smoothhound sharks have been landed lately. The biggest news of the month was a 37-inch striped bass that was taken near the bait shop on live bait. The striper was taken by the group of regulars (Mountain Man, etc.) who daily are out fishing live bait for halibut.

January 2016—Chris, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says a lot of large halfmoon and opaleye are showing up for the guys who know what they’re doing. Fish down by the pilings with ghost shrimp or market shrimp and be ready for some spirited fights, He says sargo in the 2-3 pound range are also showing up along with a few yellowfin croaker and small walleye perch. There’s not much action on the top with the exception of some jacksmelt. Another fish making an appearance on the bottom is rockfish (brown rockfish) up to about 11-12 inches in length. Not much else.

April 2016—Chris, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says the biggest news lately was a large, 7-8-foot-long mako shark taken out at the end of the pier on a live mackerel. That was one happy angler! Apparently bat rays are being taken in big numbers along with quite a few halibut (to regulars who know what they are doing, i.e., using live bait). Chris says there is also a good run on 2-3 pound sargo taking place with most landed on ghost shrimp. Where do they get the shrimp? Most are heading down to the lagoon and pumping their own shrimp. The alternative place for live ghost shrimp is Squidco in San Diego. Mix in quite a few small kelp bass and some decent runs of mackerel and it sounds like anglers are enjoying a good spring.

June 2016—Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says the main fish lately have been mackerel, lots of them and they’re good-sized. Some small yellowfin croaker are also showing up along with some spotfin croaker but overall it’s still slow on those species (and it’s still a little early for them). Several nice halibut have been taken by the regulars including two 23-inch fish and a 35-inch fish but you have to work for them. Mix in a few leopard sharks and shovelnose (guitarfish) and there’s just enough action to keep people interested.

July 2016—Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says anglers continue to catch big numbers of mackerel most days, mid-pier to the end. The same areas are also producing a lot of under-sized kelp bass and some days a lot of salema. However, no bonito to date. Inshore, the regulars using fresh mussels or ghost shrimp are scoring on some BIG (5-8 lb.) spotfin croaker. Not a lot each day but enough to keep everyone excited and coming back for more. Mix in a few sharks and rays and that’s about it.

August 2016—Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, says anglers with the right bait, ghost shrimp and fresh mussels, continue to pull in LARGE spotfin croaker; he says regulars are getting 6-7 a day. A lot of BIG sargo are also being taken on similar baits. There are a lot of mackerel, salema and sardines around to keep the Sabiki-anglers happy but the bonito seem to just be starting, some are being caught but not in big numbers. As for the halibut, they’ve been few and far between although a 21” fish was caught the morning I called. He says it’s crowded at night with several hundred Pokémon Go players out at the pier each night. Apparently there is a hot spot in front of the bait shop and a Pokemon Go gym out by Ruby’s so that’s a highly sought out location. He says the people are clean and pleasant so he doesn’t mind the crowds. He says there are even groups of Marines making the trek to the pier in search of Pokemon.

March 2017— Oceanside Pier — Ed and Chris at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle said there are a LOT of herring (queenfish) and small kelp bass in the mid-pier area while anglers are catching good numbers of mackerel mid-pier to the end. Inshore, good numbers of barred surfperch are showing up as well as a few spotfin croakers although the croakers are really good size. Shark action also seems to have picked up with quite a few caught the past few weeks including some nice-sized fish including an angel shark and a big leopard shark. Opaleye and halfmoon are also available down around the piling for those who know how to catch them. Water temperature is still a cool 58 degrees.

July 2017— Oceanside Pier — Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle, said things have finally exploded at the pier. Although the mackerel have been in and out, and bonito are missing to date, there’s been a strong uptick when it comes to the other species. Inshore, the croakers, yellowfin and spotfin, are starting to bite and a few corbina are joining in the fun. Mid-pier, those who know how, are catching halibut, mostly shorts but also 4-5 legal-size flatties a week. Mid-water sees good numbers of herring (queenfish) and that may explain the halibut; and they are good halibut bait. Last but not least are the sharays and action on them has been really good. Big bat rays lead the list with many being caught and estimates for some approach the century mark. There’s also been a school of soupfin sharks hanging around the pier and nighttime anglers have pulled in a number of 6-8 foot long fish. Big shovelnose sharks (guitarfish) and leopard sharks are also showing as well as a few smaller horn sharks. Several thresher sharks have been hooked but none landed to date. All in all, a lot of possibilities.

September 2017— Oceanside Pier — Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle, said people continue to catch huge numbers of mackerel, bonito and croakers—both yellowfin and spotfin. Problem is those same people are keeping way too many bonito (on which there is a limit) and mackerel (on which there isn’t). People are toting large coolers full of fish off the pier and you have to ask if they are really going to eat them — or sell them? Evidently the Department of Fish and Wildlife is aware of the problem but unable to do much about it. As for other fish, there’s still a good bite on small kelp (calico) bass and quite a few sharks continue to show up including a couple of 70-80 pound threshers. The holiday weekend will probably be crazy but things should be calm after it’s over.

November 2017— Oceanside Pier —Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle, said the crowds have thinned but a few fish are still around. He handed the phone off to Bill (Mr. Fish) who said mackerel continue to hit mid-pier to the end while locals who know what they are doing continue to pull in some halibut (mid-pier), calico bass (mid-pier), spotfin croaker (inshore) and both opaleye and sargo down by the pilings. Shark action has been slow although one thresher was landed the previous week. Biggest catch recently was a nice-sized striped bass.

December 2017— Oceanside Pier —Roy, at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle, said things are real quiet. The main catch continues to be mackerel along with an occasional perch, croaker, small bass or sharay. It sounds like not too many fishermen and not too many fish. Big news was another striped bass being taken.

January 2018— Oceanside Pier — Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle, said things are relatively quiet but people are still getting a few late season croakers, more and more perch, and sargo (mid-pier on ghost shrimp). Not much on top although the mackerel are in and out. Biggest news lately is the number of striped bass that have been taken. Not sure why they are down that far south.

February 2018— Oceanside Pier — Paul, at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle, said things are relatively quiet although anglers are still getting quite a few mackerel, an occasional BIG spotfin croaker (inshore), some sargo (mid-pier), and a few sharks and rays. One guy got about a 50-pound 7-gill shark shortly before I called and Paul said he had actually seen two 7-gills swimming near the bait shop. So, there are some fish available.

April 2018—Oceanside Pier — Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle on the pier, said some big spotfin croaker (6-7 pounds) were showing up as well as quite a few sargo and yellowfin croaker. Out at the end the mackerel action was non-stop. But, that was all before the water turned a nasty color (red tide or just river runoff?); whatever the cause the fish bite has slowed and was relatively dead over the holiday weekend. He’s hoping the water clears and the bite begins anew. As for the latest Michael Jackson Report—the pelican he rescued last year has definitely became tame. He fed it (bait and bartered fish from anglers) and now it thinks it owns the bait shop and comes in whenever it’s hungry. Since it bobs its head and moves around he named it Michael Jackson. The latest is that he painted its toenails pink. He tells tourists that it's pelican mating season and since Michael is his favorite pelican he wanted to give it an advantage when competing against the other male pelicans for female attention. Thus, the pink toenails.

June 2018— Oceanside Pier — Ed, at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle on the pier, said things have been heating up with croakers, croakers and more croakers in evidence. Mix in a few halibut, including an occasional legal fish, some bass and perch under the pier, and there’s something for everyone. Out at the end anglers continue to get “macaroni” (mackerel) but are also starting to pull in some sardine so maybe they are on their way back up. Not too much action lately on the sharays but they should pick up.

July 2018— Oceanside Pier — The Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, reported good fishing with mackerel showing mid-pier to the end in the top water while a few halibut are showing on the bottom mid-pier. Inshore, good numbers of 3-4 pound spotfin croaker are making a showing on fresh mussel. Sharkers out at the end are also picking up some decent-sized sharks. Included have been several threshers and one mako that was about 6-foot in length.

September 2018— Oceanside Pier — Ed at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, reported fishing has been real slow. The water temperature is 76 degrees and the fish just don’t seem to be there. I told him that inshore fish will sometimes move to deeper, cooler offshore waters if the water is too warm and that may explain it. Some mackerel are being taken along with some small herring (queenfish) under the pier but the croaker (which are the mainstay for the pier) are largely missing. And, no sharks and rays at night. He said the beach was closed for one day when an 8-9 foot hammerhead shark was casually swimming up and down the waters of the pier and nearby surf area. He said it was a beautiful fish with a really large head.

November 2018— Oceanside Pier — Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, reported that things have slowed although quite a few fish have still been caught. Inshore, some big corvina have been taken on live smelt while a few spotfin and yellowfin croaker continue to show. Not a lot of croaker but a few for the regulars. Mid-pier, several halibut were caught but most were small, the largest reported was only 23-inches. For a time mid-month the action on mackerel and bonito, big bonito running 7-10 pounds, was fantastic but then the city started dredging the harbor, the water turned dirty, and the bonito disappeared. Most sharay action has been on leopard sharks, mostly small ones, although a huge bat ray (probably approaching a hundred pounds in size) was caught and released about a week before the end of the month. The bat rat apparently took the angler on a merry ride around the pier before it was finally landed.

December 2018— Oceanside Pier — Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said things have slowed. Croaker action inshore is slow although the barred surfperch bite is picking up and two shortfin corvina were taken by regulars using bloodworms. Mid-pier sees some sargo with most again being taken by the regulars. Opaleye continue to show around the pilings while mid-pier to the end also sees some bass—both calicos and sand bass—with one of the sand bass being a nice-sized 17-inch fish. Nothing much is happening on top. The mackerel seem to have disappeared although large jacksmelt are beginning to show (as is usual during the winter months). Shark fisherman do continue to fish for thresher sharks with limited success; the week I called saw three landed, and two lost, but all were small, 6-foot-long or so puppies. Lastly are the lobsters, which continue to be taken at night (but the numbers have dropped off since the season opener).

January 2019— Oceanside Pier — Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said the big news lately has been the number of halibut being caught, both small and legal-size fish. Six legal-size fish were caught the day before I called and they had caught several more that morning. Apparently some sardines have arrived at the pier and speculation centers on them attracting the halibut. Mid-pier some sargo and small (kelp and sand) bass continue to show up in good numbers while mid-pier to the end continues to see mackerel. At night, the sculpin (scorpionfish) are showing while down around the pilings some blackperch and opaleye have been taken. Apparently a small white shark (6-foot long or so) has been hooked a couple of times but luckily released or broken off while whales are more and more numerous. Bill said three small whales came up scratching their backs on the pilings near the bait shop; he figured they were trying to remove the barnacles on their backs. As for the weather, it’s been cool and cold and even included some rain Christmas Day and the sea has had some chop to it. But, the fish and anglers keep showing up. Another big news item is that the “Ruby’s Restaurant at the end of the pier may be closing and changed to something else.

February 2019— Oceanside Pier — Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said the shop was closed the day I called; too much rain and too few anglers. However, the “regulars” who continued to fish during the wet weather continued to catch some fish. Ghost shrimp and blood worms have been producing opaleye and sargo down by the pilings mid-pier, while those bringing in some live anchovies from the bait barge in the harbor have been able to pick up some halibut including legal-size fish. On the top, the mackerel seem to come and go while there are usually some big jacksmelt to be had. Lastly, some anglers got in trouble when they hooked and kept a great white shark. They claimed ignorance but that will not be able to keep them from getting a big fine.

April 2019— Oceanside Pier — Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said the action has been slow. No mackerel, the mainstay of many local anglers, and few surfperch and croakers. It seems to be a few of this and a few of that. A few small bass, a few opaleye, a few leopard sharks, and a few rays. The halibut regulars have caught a couple of legal-size halibut and a number of shorts (using live sardines that they have bought down at the bait receiver in Oceanside Harbor) but the numbers are still few. Bill said the water temperature remains low at 58 degrees and everyone is just hoping that as the water temp heads up so will the fishing (and it should). He also mentioned the hooking and release of another small (5-6 foot) white shark and the capture of several octopi.

July 2019—Oceanside Pier — Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said action still isn’t hot although quite a few fish are being caught. Mid-pier to the end sees both herring (queenfish) and mackerel, while inshore some croakers are being taken (to 4 pounds) but the “real” croaker bite hasn’t started. Pier regulars report several halibut (all shorts) along with some white seabass (also shorts). Sharay anglers have gotten some good-sized shovelnose sharks (guitarfish) and while thresher action remains slow a large thresher was hooked and lost one day. Finally, another giant sea bass was hooked and released.

September 2019— Oceanside Pier — Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said overall action has been slower than normal but people are getting fish. He said the big news is that a couple of bonito were finally caught even though they were small bonito; he’s hoping for a late run of the bonies/boneheads. Mackerel are available but you have to be there at the right time. They are not showing up in the morning or during the day but if you come out at night you might get a hundred (so bring your glow-lights). He said some calico bass are hitting down around the pilings mid-pier on anchovy or worms (if you bring them). As for halibut, it’s been pretty slow although a girl fishing for croaker, and using bloodworms as bait, managed to pull in a legal-size halibut the prior week. Inshore, there are a few croakers and small, baby-size bat rays but the inshore area was closed for three weeks while surfing competition was going on. Unfortunately, that was when the croaker action (in the same area) had just started to heat up. Croaker anglers were croaking in anger. In addition, he said a few opaleye have been taken by anglers using bloodworms. I asked about sharks and he said some continue to be taken at night. He did say one guy hooked a decent-sized leopard shark one day that circled around a piling at the end. The guy jumped in the water to retrieve his shark rigging while tourists gasped in surprise. Apparently he removed the hooks from the shark’s mouth and climbed up the ladder at the spot. Bill said it’s basically what the regulars do when an illegal fish is hooked at the end. They usually work together as a team and one climbs down the ladder to the fish — giant (black) sea bass or great white shark (and many have been hooked). They try to remove the hook or at least cut the leader near the mouth of the fish and then let it go before climbing back up the ladder. He said they even did that with a hammerhead shark hooked a couple of years ago.

October 2019— Oceanside Pier — I talked to Ed and Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier. Ed said things have really been slow although the mackerel started showing up again just a few days before I called (they had been missing for much of the month). He says a few BIG spotfin are being taken inshore along with some big sargo but not much else. Apparently another great white shark was hook, fought for about an hour, and then when close enough to the pier someone climbed down a ladder and removed the hook (risky business). Bill mentioned that a few bonito showed up (but just a few) while some BIG opaleye had been taken down by the pilings in the mid-pier area. He said a few California corbina were also showing in the surf area and that a couple of fair-sized shortfin corvina had also been taken.

November 2019— Oceanside Pier — Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said there’s been a slow down in action. However, fish are still being caught on the big pier. Inshore, a few spotfin croakers show up most days. Mid-pier yields a lot of short calico (kelp) bass and quite a few opaleye to the regulars that know how to catch them. Mackerel are in and out while the bonito are gone; anglers using Sabikis in the top-water areas continue to pull in sardines. Out at the end quite a few sculpin (scorpionfish) are being taken along with an occasional sheephead. The deep-water areas at the end are also yielding up some big leopard sharks, bat rays and a few thresher sharks. He says the water is crystal clear and a lot of fish are being seen but they aren’t biting (perhaps due to the heavy influx of the sardines). Bill says anglers have seen quite a few striped bass and shortfin corvina in the shallow-water areas. They’ve also seen and caught several white seabass but all were illegal shorts, in the 22-24 inch range.

March 2020— Oceanside Pier — Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said the water temperature has gone up a couple of degrees and along with it there’s been a slight improvement in fishing. Inshore, a few surfperch and corbina are showing along with increased numbers of small yellowfin croakers and some nice-sized spotfin croakers (including a few 4-5 pound fish). Inshore also sees a lot of small leopard sharks and many, many bat rays. Mid-pier areas yield a few small kelp bass while mid-pier to the end sees a lot of sardines but no mackerel. Shark action is dead at least in part because the live mackerel are missing and it’s been fairly cold. Unfortunately a few illegal fish continue to be hooked—giant (black) sea bass and baby great whites but luckily all have been released.


August 2020 — The pier is open! Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said there have been a lot of croakers (yellowfin and spotfin), mackerel and bonito. Three thresher sharks were reported, two over 100 pounds and a 4-foot angel shark caught on bloodworms and 12-pound line. I visited the pier on the 14th and saw tons of small bonito and mackerel being caught at the end (along with some salema) while inshore the croaker guys were getting some nice fish. As for myself, three hours fishing at the end produced 27 bonito (all released), 8 Pacific mackerel and 4 salema.

September 2020 — Ed at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said people are catching spotfin croaker inshore on fresh mussels along with a few corvina but the bonito disappeared on the 27th. He said there’s some mackerel and millions of sardines. Not much else has been reported. Most interesting story is about a mother and baby giant (black) sea bass that are hanging out just under the fish cleaning station and being fed by the anglers. The regulars are worried that some knucklehead may try to hook them and are keeping an eye out for them.

October 2020 — Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said anglers are picking up good numbers of leopard sharks and a lot of sardines when fishing the top water. Mackerel continue to show but the bonito action has slowed. Inshore, small yellowfin croaker are showing up along with quite a few shortfin corvina (for some reason). Sharay action has slowed although some guitarfish and bat rays still are showing up. Lobster season starts this weekend but the pier’s hours, now closing at 10 p.m. will be a big change for year’s past.

November 2020 — Bill at Oceanside, said there’s a ton of bait around the pier, small mackerel and sardines, so some fish are still hitting—including a few bonito. Some nice thresher sharks have been taken, all keeper-size fish with one going around 100 pounds. Surprising has been the number of shortfin corvina, almost all in excess of two feet in length that have been caught inshore. Along with the corvina have been quite a few white seabass, most also around 24 inches (which is illegal for them). The spotfin croakers have slowed although Bill said he did get a small bonefish (Cortez bonefish) . Halibut have also slowed as have most other bottom fish. As for lobsters, they are available, but the pier is being closed at 10 p.m. so not too many people are going after them.

December 2020 — Bill in Oceanside said things have slowed. Mackerel are still available but not in the summertime numbers while more jacksmelt are showing up and queenfish are still found under the pier. No bonies (bonito); they’ve moved on. As for the halibut, a few are being caught, mostly by the locals with know how, but even most of those halibut are shorts. As for the sharays, the rays, mainly bat rays, are still doing their part but the sharks are few and far between. Bill said they had rain mid-month that muddied up the water but it also cooled it and while the water has cleared it is still cold and it’s affected the fishing. Sounds like we’re headed into the winter season. As for lobsters, they are available, but the pier is being closed at 10 p.m. so not too many people are going after them. As for the pier bait and tackle shop, it sounds like it has seen considerably change under the new owner. Much of the fishing equipment and bait is gone while the emphasis now seems to be on touristy trinkets. Unfortunately the prices have also been considerably raised which I imagine doesn’t sit too well with the locals. We will see what develops.

January 2021 — Bill in Oceanside said things have slowed. It’s been a little cold at times, they’ve had some rain, the rain has produced runoff (which usually slows fishing), and the big wintertime “King Tides” have made fishing a little hard lately (especially due to all of the red seaweed). Inshore fishing due to the tides and current has been difficult so most anglers are fishing out past the bait shop. Nevertheless a good variety of fish are being taken. Small mackerel, 9-12 inches in size are plentiful on top as are Spanish mackerel (jack mackerel). On the bottom, around the fish sinks, some sargo and yellowfin croaker are bring taken as well as a mix of perch and perch-like fish including rubberlip seaperch, blue perch (halfmoon), and opaleye. Mid-pier toward the end, down by the pilings, some bass are also showing, both kelp bass (calicos) and sand bass, but most are 9-12 inch fish that are illegal to keep. As usual this time of the year some jacksmelt are also showing and some are good-sized. No sharks are being taken. It sounds like a fairly typical winter report.

February 2021 — Bill in Oceanside said it was a really rough month, big “king” tides made fishing very hard for a time, a lot of rain, dirty water with red seaweed, and now muddy water coming out from the harbor has made the ocean look like a muddy puddle. When the weather cooperates some big spotfin croakers are showing inshore, mackerel, jacksmelt and sardines mid-shore to the end. Quite a few kelp bass are found by the pilings and some halibut are even showing up when the weather cooperates.

March 2021 — Bill in Oceanside said that overall it’s been a slow month although there also have been some good days. It’s mostly mid-sized croaker inshore while out at the end action has largely died. The mackerel are gone but jacksmelt show up along with quite a few salema. Every few days the herring (queenfish) will also show up as well as a few short halibut. It’s been windy some days but overall the weather has been good. A big white shark was hooked but the regulars climbed down the ladder and released it, something that has been fairly common lately. Final note — 2/21 was the last day for Ruby’s at the end of the pier, it’s now closed.

April 2021 — Bill in Oceanside said that overall it’s still been slow but fish are being caught. Inshore, the regulars are getting spotfin croakers on baby mussels while mid-pier a few halibut have been taken. The end is producing a few Pacific and Spanish mackerel but they still aren’t in big numbers. The herring fishermen are also seeing some of their fish show up but again, not in big numbers. A great white, 10-12 feet long has also been cruising the pier and luckily no knucklehead has tried to catch it.

June 2021 — Bill in Oceanside said that overall it’s still a little hit and miss. The mackerel are still gone but sardines are available and some people are using them for sharks; so far they haven’t had much success. Spotfin croaker are showing up inshore while mid-pier is seeing some short calico (kelp) bass along with halibut, most of the hallies being shorts 16-18 inches long but a 27-inch fish was recorded this week. What’s also showing up are a lot of lizardfish and salema along with increasing numbers of herring (queenfish). He said the pier’s expecting big crowds this weekend. A report from Evanluck on May 10 said, "Fished Oceanside Pier for the first time on Sunday. We arrived at 9:30AM and found a great parking spot at a 4 hour meter caddy corner to the entrance of the pier. Inshore area was crowded so we made our way mid pier and set up on the northside between the bait and tackle shop and the next landmark. As we were just starting to fish a guy fishing the south side just a bit father down than where we were setup landed a keeper sized halibut (estimate around 24”). We setup two hi lo rigs and started fishing shrimp and lugworms. We caught a handful of small sand dabs and also got many bites. Some felt like smelt bites. Others seemed like bigger fish but we could not hook one to identify. I made my way to the end of the pier and fished a larger hook sabiki. A decent sized horn shark was caught at the end earlier in the morning. There was slow but steady action on mackerel for guys fishing floats. I dropped my sabiki to the bottom tipped with shrimp and caught 4 queen fish in fairly short order. To get the queen fish to strike it seem like both jigging and bait were required. Just one or the other did not seem to produce fish. I made my way back to the mid pier section and started catching smelt to use as bait. I baited a smaller sized smelt on a size two mosquito hook on a carolina rig with a 1.5 oz egg sinker. After about 30 minutes of waiting the tip of my rod bent in small jerks 3 or four times and then stopped. I put some pressure on the rod and a small 12" halibut was on. The first small jerks were the bait fish trying to run. The halibut struck and then did not move. I was happy to land a notable fish mid pier as the area is not one that I spend a lot on time at. We stopped fishing at 1:00PM. Final fish count: 5 Sand Dabs, 6 Jack Smelt, 4 Queen fish,1 Halibut.

July 2021 — A report from my friend Bill said a decent mix of fish have been showing up. Most surprising was the number of small shortfin corvina that have been showing up inshore along with some good-sized spotfin croaker. Out at the end the mackerel are showing but it’s only in the early morning and early evening hours. Fish during the middle of the day and you will not see a mackerel. Some calico (kelp) bass are showing down by the pilings along with good numbers of herring (queenfish). He said he saw the largest shovelnose shark (guitarfish) he had ever seen along with a 50+ pound butterfly ray. A couple of threshers were also taken but they were just baby 6-7 footers. A midmonth report by Fishman Fishman showed a nice variety of fish being caught— calico (kelp) bass, sand bass, mackerel, sculpin (scorpionfish), white seabass, spotfin croaker, and a 7-foot long thresher shark.

August 2021 — A report from my friend Bill said a tremendous run of sardines earlier in the month (they were everywhere) has been followed by a drop in water temperatures and a drop in fishing. The key word right now is a few, a few croaker, a few bass, a few halibut, etc. Mackerel are missing but a few bonito (5-6 a day) are also caught each day. Everyone is waiting for the water temperatures to go back up.

September 2021 — A report from my friend Bill said anglers had caught several STRIPED bass the morning I called, all by the regular halibut fisherman that are in the medium shallow waters around the bait shop and using live bait (smelt). Further inshore, the regulars were picking up some croaker. Out at the end anglers have been picking up mackerel but not in big numbers and a few, half dozen of so a day, bonito. Shark anglers are absent because they’ve had a hard time getting the mackerel for bait.

October 2021 — A report from my friend Bill said fishing has slowed down. Some bonito were hitting but they’ve moved on and though mackerel are still available they are not in big numbers. Inshore croaker action is slow while mid-pier some short calicos (Kelp bass) and sand bass along with a few short halibut have been landed. Shark anglers were crowded out during the bonito bite and have not returned even though the bonito action has died down.

December 2021 — A report from my friend Bill said fishing has picked up this month. Although there was red tide at the start of the month, it cleared and the fishing improved. Tons of sardines, Pacific mackerel and Spanish mackerel (mackerel jack) have been in the top waters although few bonito. On the bottom he’s seen a few halibut but none over 23 inches. He did see a couple of sheephead and they are getting good numbers of sargo inshore. Not much in the way of shararys with the exception of lots of bat rays and a single horn shark. Good improvement over last month.

February 2022 — A report from my friend Bill said fishing has been slow most days interchanged by spurts of activity. About the only dependable action is on big jacksmelt but the end most days sees either mackerel, sardines, jacksmelt, or all three, and they are in and out. Inshore a few barred surfperch show up along with an occasion croaker while mid-pier sees some small kelp bass, an occasional sargo, and small leopard sharks. Mid-pier to the end is seeing good numbers of small walleye surfperch. Halibut? Only a few, most are shorts, and generally most are caught by the regulars using live bait. Note the two words slow and small. Sharary action has been slow with no great whites this month although another giant sea bass was hooked and released.

June 2022 — A report from my friend Bill said the pier’s seeing some improved action. Inshore the croakers are biting but it’s not hot action nor are the croaker very large; it should soon improve. Mid-pier to the end sees a lot of mackerel, sardine and herring (queenfish) but it seems like each day sees one or the other; rarely are all three present. Some sharays are showing up but at this time it’s more rays than sharks and the threshers really haven’t made much of an appearance. Bill said the week I called the tides were very low in the morning and going out which meant most fishermen (who arrive early) were not seeing too many fish. The tides will change. He also said the cost of bloodworms is now up to $8 a half dozen. He says many locals are switching to artificial bloodworms and bloodworm juice (apparently available in a bottle) and it seems to work. I asked him to experiment and let me know how the fake bloodworms/juice works. I paid a short visit to the pier myself on 5/15 when I saw a good bite on sardines, mackerel, jack mackerel and walleye surfperch.

July 2022 — A report from my friend Bill said the pier’s said he’s seen good improvement the past two weeks and expects a good 4th of July weekend (although it will be too crowded). Out at the end the mackerel are hitting while right where the pier widens will see herring (queenfish) anglers filling their buckets. Mid-pier to the end will see some sardines and small smelt if looking for bait. Inshore (inside the lifeguard station) is seeing increasing numbers of croakers both yellowfin and spotfin; use fresh mussels or lugworms for bait. Mid-pier has seen a few small halibut while one large thresher shark was hooked and lost at the end. Lastly, two bonito were caught on 6/29. He says July 4th is the traditional opening of the bonito season with anglers getting their bonito balls and feathers ready to go. Two being caught means that more are around.