Pacifica Pier Monthly Reports
March 1997— Joe at the Community Bait & Tackle shop in Pacifica reports that kingfish (white croaker), jacksmelt, and Dungness crabs have been the main focus of attention in recent weeks. Most of the jacksmelt and kingfish are biting on cut anchovies, while inshore anglers continue to pick up a few redtail and barred surfperch using mussels. Of interest is the fact that a couple of stripers were landed in the surf near the pier and five or six small shaker salmon have already been taken on the pier. Is it a sign for a good striper and salmon season at the pier? One key at the pier remains the weather; some recent days have seen near hurricane strength winds. When the winds are blowing like that, it's a good time to stay home and organize the old tackle box (or check out the Pier Fishing in California web site).
April 1997— Joe at the Community Bait & Tackle says he thinks it will be an early season for both king salmon and striped bass. Anglers already have taken a few shaker salmon and a few stripers, all on bait, and conditions look optimistic for a good year. Most fishermen currently are fishing for perch or dropping nets for crabs. Lots of barred surfperch and walleye surfperch are being caught along with a few calico and redtail surfperch. Interestingly, the perch are being caught almost everywhere around the pier (although the bigger fish are typically near the surf area). Most of the perch are falling for pile worms or fresh mussels although the walleye like pieces of anchovy and a lot of the small fish are caught on Lucky-Lura type bait rigs. There continue to be kingfish (white croaker) and jacksmelt but most other species are sparse. Night fisherman have been landing a few sharks, mainly sand sharks (brown smoothhounds), but one angler did land a small thresher shark last week. Action on Dungness crabs remains strong and many are large sized crabs.
May 1997— Joe at the Community Bait & Tackle continues to say it will be an early season for king salmon. Why does Joe think so? Because the kingfish (white croaker) are already thick and the salmon follow them in. We'll see. It's actually been a little slow with the exception of the kingfish. Winds (up to 70 mph) have hampered fisherman and most have stayed home. However, a few hearty souls have managed to land starry flounder (up to 12-pounds???) and lots of small walleye surfperch and barred surfperch. The kingfish are hitting on cut anchovies and pile worms while the perch are falling for pile worms. Crabbing remains excellent; most people are able to fill a bucket with a combination of Dungeness crabs and rock crabs.
July 1997— Tina at the Community Bait & Tackle says that fishing is picking up. King salmon have finally appeared and anglers are getting a few every day. The fish are hitting on whole anchovies fished under a float and are running 5-20 pounds in weight. Striped bass are also beginning to show and most have been caught on anchovies or Hair Raiser lures. Lots of kingfish (white croakers), jacksmelt, and a few rockfish although most of them are smaller pan-sized fish. Tina hasn't seen any halibut but has seen some starry flounder. Anglers at night continue to pull in a few sharks but they're mostly babies. It's picking up but still has a way to go.
August 1997—Joanne, at the Community Bait & Tackle, reports the arrival of king salmon. Anglers are getting a minimum of 50 salmon a day (and one report said 400 salmon the weekend of the 19-20th). Striped bass have also invaded local beaches (and surf anglers netted 300 of the stripers in just one afternoon). Even though most of the big fish are being landed in the surf, quite a few stripers are also being landed from the pier. Small fish like walleye surfperch, kingfish (white croaker) and jacksmelt are still available but few people are fishing for these species. The salmon are hitting on whole anchovies fished under a float and are running 5-20 pounds in weight. Most of the striped bass have been caught on anchovies, bloodworms or lures. (Brian Hoffman in his San Francisco Chronicle report says that Hair Raiser-type lures in yellow, chartreuse and black lead the field, while some anglers have also had success using motor-oil colored plastic grubs. He says the linesides have ranged in size from the low teens to 40 pounds). Yes, the pier will be crowded, but now is the time to go get the large fish if you want them!
September 1997— Joanne, at the Community Bait & Tackle, says that the salmon action has slowed. Although some days may see 30-40 salmon, other days may only see 4-5. A few striped bass continue to spark interest while the smaller species—jacksmelt, kingfish (white croaker), walleye surfperch, and silver surfperch, are abundant. (There have also been reports of a few bonito landed at the pier). Dwight Hwang reported that he saw a couple of nice bat rays caught at the pier while Arvid Evans spotted a LARGE sunfish (which thankfully nobody tried to hook. (Many years ago I spotted a large ocean sunfish on top of the water, cast out a jig, and snagged the weird looking fish. I then fought, landed and released the fish, which we estimated to weigh about 75-pounds. I've regretted the entire incident ever since. Leave those peaceful fish alone.)
October 1997— Tina, at the Community Bait & Tackle, says a few king salmon and striped bass continue to be caught but the numbers are way down from those seen June-August. Kingfish (white croaker) are common, jacksmelt are plentiful, and small perch are thick but the rough seas and big waves are cutting down the number of anglers. Crabbing has been slow.
November 1997— Tina, at the Community Bait & Tackle, says that action on striped bass has been good lately with most of the fish falling to bloodworms. There are also a few king salmon falling to anchovies or herring fished under a float, and lots of kingfish (white croaker), jacksmelt and perch available for those content with smaller fish. However, the last couple of days have seen some rougher weather and waves.
December 1997—Joe, at the Community Bait & Tackle, says that the sanddab action has been phenomenal, the best he has ever seen. He says hundreds of the small flatfish are being landed every day and the action has been going strong for the past two weeks. Anglers are also managing to catch 2-5 legal-size striped bass per day (together with smaller stripers) and who ever heard of December stripers? Kingfish and jacksmelt add variety as do an increasing number of barred surfperch inshore and walleye surfperch in the mid-pier area. Crabbers are also getting busy and lots of big Dungeness crabs and rock crabs continue to add action to the pier. Matt, our new reporter for the Pillar Point Pier, says he went over to Pacifica on the 22nd with a couple of friends. They fished most of the day and caught between 50-60 fish (and yes, most were released). Included in the catch were many, many sanddabs, some kingfish (white croaker), jacksmelt and colorful perch. The only unusual fish he saw that day was a medium-sized leopard shark. People are starting to catch some huge Dungeness crabs and a few rock crabs. By the way, Matt says he caught most of the fish on pile worms, bloodworms, and some squid tentacles.
January 1998— Joe, at the Community Bait & Tackle, says that fishing is good when the weather cooperates. Anglers are catching a nice mix of perch, barred surfperch and redtail surfperch up to four pounds, and the smaller walleye surfperch. Anglers also continue to pull in buckets of sanddabs; the 6-12 inch fish seem to carpet the ocean floor and the run has been going on for over a month now. Crabbers are also pulling in nice sized Dungeness crabs, 2-3 per person. Finally, the striped bass run appears to finally be over although the December run was one of the latest on record.
February 1998— No report this month from the Community Bait & Tackle shop at the front of the pier; when I called, waves were breaking over the pier and basically a lot of people were just standing around admiring the waves. Not too many anglers! Matt Shockney visited the pier mid-month. He reported that it was a beautiful day but the fishing was slow. He said what he mainly saw were some big crabs, small perch and sanddabs. He said he caught a few large walleye surfperch, a few kingfish (white croaker) and one jacksmelt but he only stayed an hour. He also said people were talking about a lady who had pulled in a 17-inch perch that morning (which is a nice perch). Andy Llora reports: "If you can stand the near gale force winds during the late evenings, the Pacifica Pier is good for smelt, kingfish, and sanddabs. I was there on the 24th and someone in the middle of the pier pulled in a small 3-4 lb. striper."
April 1998— Jo Ann, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop, said that the regulars are concentrating on striped bass and the bite has been pretty good for the past week (I called on the 29th). Lots of fish over ten pounds have been landed and one lucky angler nabbed a 35-pound lineside. Most of the stripers have been caught on anchovies. There have also been some perch and kingfish caught but the bigger fish are getting most of the attention. Dungness crab remain in good supply but it depends on the weather and the day I called it was too windy to be heaving the crab pots over the side. Our local reporter Matt Shockney visited the pier mid-month and reported one lady caught a 13-pound striper but the wind came up and made the pier unfishable. He then made another visit on the 28th and sent the following report: "Hey Ken, Just your Pillar Point reporter here. I visited Pacifica yesterday and the 35 mph hour winds just about scared everyone off the pier. There were still quite a few brave anglers going for stripers. Stripers this early? Well, I saw one guy hand line in a nice 20” keeper and some other guy was hauling out leopard sharks right out of the surfline. The waves were strong but not too big I guess. I was about midway out with my medium outfit fishing a high low leader with anchovies when I had a tremendous bite. I started to fight the fish and I drew a small crowd of people. After about 5 minutes I got the huge striper to the surface. It was estimated by me and everyone to be about 36-40 inches in length. It was my first striped bass! Well, we all had difficulty getting it up to the pier. After a failing attempt with a screwed up crab trap, and trying to lift him up (a ranger who helped me couldn't even lift the striper out of the water), a large wave came and took the striper away and broke my 30-pound test. I was shattered!
June 1998— Jaye, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (near the entrance to the pier), said that fishing is only fair at this time. A few king salmon and striped bass are being caught but action isn't exactly what you would call hot. At this time probably less than a dozen keeper-sized salmon and bass are being caught daily although the small species (surfperch, jacksmelt and kingfish) are plentiful. She hadn't heard of any halibut lately and even the crabbing seemed slow.
July 1998— Jaye, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (near the entrance to the pier), said that fishing is still only fair at this time. Some king salmon are being hooked but many are attacked by sea lions (and lost) before they can be brought up onto the pier. Jaye said most of the salmon that are landed are keeper-size fish. Some striped bass are also being caught but more are being caught by surf anglers. Action on kingfish and small perch (walleys and silvers) remains good while jacksmelt and other species seem to come and go. A few people continue to drop nets for Dungeness crabs. Matt Shockney reported a visit to the pier on the 6th and said the pier was under attack from a large school of jacksmelt. Matt and a friend caught over 40 of the large smelt which were promptly released or given away to less fortunate anglers. People at the end of the pier were catching salmon! Most of the kings were shakers but a guy in a wheelchair hooked onto a huge salmon that he got to the top of the water (allowing the people to see it) but then his luck ran out. Before it could be netted the salmon decided to circle the piling and, as so often happens, it soon broke free to fight another day. Another angler hooked something big which turned out to be an estimated five-to-six-foot-long thresher shark! Matt said the fish looked huge but just before they were going to net it the fish made a powerful run which the guy's drag couldn't handle and the line snapped. Matt made a final visit on the 29th; he said the score was fishermen = 2 salmon, sea lions = 27 salmon. The fish are there but how do you get them up to the pier before the sea lions attack?
August 1998— Al, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (near the entrance to the pier), said that the fish quit biting last Friday at 1 p.m. Why, no one is sure. Before that day the king salmon and striped bass were fighting each other for the bait. The water is great but Al feels the tides must be wrong. He says that anglers are still getting kingfish (white croakers), jacksmelt and perch, but the mobs who came to the pier on the weekend expecting limits of salmon were very disappointed. However, it is too early for the kings and stripers to leave, they'll be back. I did get a couple of e-mails regarding fishing at the pier. The first was from Matt S: “last weekend I made a couple of trips to the Pacifica Pier and it was more crowded than sardines in a can. When I managed to get some rail space near the end, I noticed people catching salmon and near the mid-pier they were landing some nice stripers. Some stripers were as big as the benches they were sitting on. However, something was troubling me. I was stationed near the cleaning table (translation: getting skunked) and I saw people cleaning tiny salmon. I mean, they had to be about 12 to 18 inches long. That's illegal isn't it? I was to afraid to say anything though.” That's one result of the new fishing regulations, you keep the first two salmon you catch no matter the size. The second message was from Larry: “although I don't fish everyday I do fish often and I thought I might drop a line or two. I have fished piers and shore line since I was five years old (I am forty-six this year) and I still enjoy going to the pier with my daughters (sometimes) on the weekends, which brings me to this letter. Yesterday, Sat. July 11th, a friend and I arrived at the Pacifica Pier about 6:00 am and it was already crowded with anglers. The lady at the bait shop at the end of the pier said the fishing had been pretty good (which was an understatement). By noon (high tide) over one hundred salmon had been taken (not counting the ones taken by sea lions and seals). By early afternoon over two hundred salmon were taken (to 25 lbs.) and a large number of stripers (to 25-30 lbs.) were landed. My fishing buddy later told me if he wasn't there to witness it he wouldn't have believed if I told him about it. In all, it was a good day (I hooked one but it shook free).”
September 1998— Jo Ann, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (at the entrance to the pier), said things are slow. Three striped bass had been landed the day I called but the salmon were absent. Evidently there were only about four short runs of the salmon this summer unlike the tremendous runs of some past years. Anglers continue to pull in a few kingfish (white croaker), jacksmelt, and a variety of perch—redtail, calico, barred, walleye, and silver, but the perch action isn't hot. It's been a disappointing season for Pacifica.
October 1998— Cheryl, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (at the entrance to the pier), said that anglers continue to pull in a few striped bass every day but that the salmon action has slowed. There have been a few halibut but more anglers are catching perch and kingfish (white croaker). (I did hear reports of a 50-pound salmon taken at the pier but so far have been unable to verify the report.)
November 1998— Al, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (at the entrance to the pier), said that striped bass continue to be caught although the numbers of fish (and anglers) dropped last weekend from the storm that passed through. Before the storm, anglers were catching 12-15 fish a day while it's been about 6-12 fish a day since then; the stripers are ranging up to about 10 pounds. Barred and redtail surfperch fishing is still slow although some rubberlip seaperch and cabezon were landed out at the end of the pier last week (an uncommon occurrence). People are still getting jacksmelt and kingfish (white croaker). People are reminded that the Dungeness crab season opens November 7 and it may be a good year. Crabbers dropping nets for red rock crabs have been getting some big rock crabs along with some big Dungeness which must be returned although some anglers seem to learn that lesson the hard way.
February 1999— Joe Tex, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (at the entrance to the pier), said that anglers are pulling in some barred and redtail surfperch inshore along with a few rubberlip perch down by the pilings. He's also seen quite a few leopard sharks recently but not too many stripers, only an occasional fish every couple of days. Crabbing for Dungeness has been fair, people are getting the big crabs but most people aren't limiting out. Got some bad news from Matt S who sent the following: "Hey Ken, Some pretty bad news. I hear that they are supposed to take out the Pacifica Pier sometime after next summer because of the new facilitation plant that is being built. The city complains that they just don't have the funding to take care of the pier. If it goes, it would be like a nightmare to me. I love the place and I sure hope there's something we can do to save it. Just thought I'd let you in on the info." This is news that has been floating around since last year and I've been told by several sources that the city plans to shut down the pier. Since this is the Number 1 pier in the state (at least as far as the fishing aspect), every concerned pier fisherman should write a letter of protest to the Pacifica City Council. Let's put the pressure on these people.
April 1999— JoAnn, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (at the entrance to the pier), says the fishing has been up and down depending upon the weather and wind. The day I called anglers were bringing in perch and kingfish (white croaker) but little else. The day before, the wind was blowing and it was hard to fish or crab. If the weather settles down the fishing should improve. She also said she hasn't seen any stripers recently. Got a mid-month report from Matt Shockney who visited the pier during a squall. He said the “wind was very cold and blowing about 40-50 mph creating waves and whitecaps. As for the fishing/crabbing, it was rated as very poor. Some other lady and I were the only ones to catch fish. I caught a small lingcod or greenling (very difficult to tell what it was) and the lady caught an average-sized striped sea perch. All that I got in my new crab trap was a few small rock and Dungeness.”
July 1999— Shannon, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (at the entrance to the pier), says anglers are picking up a few striped bass and shaker salmon but the typical July 1st salmon run is not present, at least not so far. Anglers do continue to catch smaller perch, kingfish, smelt and assorted other fish. Got the following report from Agustin Ariel on June 28: “I went crabbing/fishing at Pacifica Pier on June 26. I got there around 6 AM. There were big waves and a moderate wind blowing. There were about 20 people, mostly fishing for stripers, a couple trying for salmon at the end. Spoke to one of the early birds and he said there were about 2-3 stripers being caught per day lately, then he flew off with the other 'gulls (just kidding!). I caught 5 Dungies total, 3 keepers. Also caught 8 kingfish & 9 walleye surfperch, before I went home at 8 AM. I still didn't see a striper caught on the walk back to my car.”
September 1999— Tex, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (at the entrance to the pier), says that anglers are picking up salmon and some are good sized, up to 20 pounds. The striper action has slowed but a variety of perch are now starting to hit. Not much on the bottom as far as sharks or rays. However, it's crowded on weekend days. Got two reports from Matt Shockney this month: (1) On August 13. “Hey Ken, Well, I finally caught and landed a salmon at the Pacifica Pier today. It was about 4 lbs. and it put up a great fight. There were a lot of salmon being caught today as well as an excellent run of jacksmelt. I had another salmon too, but he just chewed on the bait and spit the hook. All in all, a good day of fishing. I think that I'm finally getting the hang of this salmon deal. (2) On August 19. “Made a trip to Pacifica today. There were a lot of people and only a fair number of medium to small sized salmon caught. Also mixed in were anchovies, a bat ray, and a thresher shark that broke the line. The water had "stripes" of rust colored water with a dark blue. then it all turned reddish brown. Red tide? I was also reeling in a small bullhead, and right before it broke the surface, a large salmon swam up and bit the tail.
November 1999— Cheryl at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (at the entrance to the pier) said that the pier was closed for several days due to high waves but now it is open. Anglers are picking up a few striped bass (5-12 pounds) and an occasional salmon (one was landed the morning I called). Barred and walleye surfperch are also hitting as are a few leopard sharks. She says most anglers are getting ready for the start of the Dungeness crab season on November 6. (10/30) there was also one report on the Message Board. On October 11 Stew reported “Hi, Fished Pacifica Pier yesterday (10/10) 8 am to 12 p.m. Sunny all morning (rare for this pier). Friend and I caught several walleye surfperch, jacksmelt, and 2 salmon. The salmon were too small and had to send them back. Other pier rats close to the shore were hauling in stripers. Saw 3 good size ones hauled in while I was there. I think I'll fish closer to shore next time.”
December 1999— Cheryl, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (at the entrance to the pier), says that it has been rough weather for a week so about all that is being caught is perch and kingfish. She says before the weather worsened some starry flounder were being caught and some nice surfperch. It’s been too rough for crab pots but some Dungeness continue to be taken with crab snatchers.
April 2000— Cheryl, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (near the entrance to the pier), said that anglers are beginning to pick up a few striped bass in the 20-22 inch size range. Other than that it has been mostly kingfish (white croaker) and perch. Crabbers continue to pick up some Dungeness when the winds cooperate.
May 2000— Cheryl, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (near the entrance to the pier), said that stripers have been showing up in good numbers for both surf fishermen and anglers on the pier. Surf fishermen are casting Hair Raisers for the linesides while pier anglers are catching them on anchovies. Many of the stripers are hitting the 10-15 pound size. Most of the other action has been on perch and kingfish while crabbing remains good when the wind lies down (and many days lately it was howling).
July 2000— Cheryl, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (near the entrance to the pier), said that it’s been cold and windy the past few days. Some, but not lots of striped bass and salmon. Nowhere near the kind of action seen some years in the past. Anglers are continuing to get lots of kingfish and crabs and hoping for the big schools of salmon to show up. Sounds like they need to see the schools of baitfish that are down at Santa Cruz.
August 2000— Cheryl, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (near the entrance to the pier), said that the salmon have finally arrived (they’re late). Lots of salmon are being caught but the crowds are also large. Mixed in is some good fishing for jacksmelt and perch for those seeking them. She’s also seen a couple of halibut during the past week.
October 1999—Cheryl, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (near the entrance to the pier), said that not too many salmon are being caught but some nice-sized fish are being taken. Fish to 30 pounds and two halibut were reported the morning I called. Slow on kingfish but apparently there is a big school of white seaperch hanging by the pier. There’s lots of baitfish so bring your bait rigs.
November 2000— Jo Ann, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (near the entrance to the pier), said that there was rain and big winds the day I called which meant there weren’t many fisherman around. The salmon season appears over while a few stray striped bass still show up at the pier most days, but only a few. Most action is on perch and, when the weather cooperates, crabbing.
December 2000— Debbie, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (near the entrance to the pier), said that recent winds, combined with huge waves, have limited the fishing and crabbing. She said several anglers lost fishing rods and/or crab nets when they tried to fish/crab. The day I called (12/1/) conditions had finally improved and anglers were getting some perch together with Dungeness crabs. She was praying that the conditions would stay the same for a few days.
February 2001—Jo Anne, at the Community Bait & Tackle shop (near the entrance to the pier), said that recent weather conditions have just about killed off the fishing and crabbing – too windy and cold.
July 2001— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says action is still a little slow. Anglers are catching jacksmelt, sardines and anchovies while using bait rigs together with lots of small walleye surfperch. However, the salmon are still scarce, only a couple a day and some of those are lost to sea lions on the way in. He says there is a lot of bait on the beaches so striper action should really take off almost any day. In fact, he predicts it will be good striper action by the 4th. Finally, anglers were getting a lot of Dungeness crabs and a few rock crabs but he reminds anglers that the Dungeness season closed on June 30.
August 2001— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says action is still a little slow. There is good action on perch and kingfish and anglers using bait rigs are getting anchovies and jacksmelt. But the salmon action is slow, 4 to 5 a day (although one day saw about a hundred salmon landed). He say's the water is too warm. He does say stripers are all over the place; all the local beaches are hot and a few are being taken from the pier.
September 2001— Shirley, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says that the wind has knocked down what was a pretty good bite on salmon and perch. Before the cold and blustery winds hit, anglers were catching good numbers of legal-size salmon together with a mixture of various sized and species of perch.
December 2001—Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says most people are going for the Dungeness crabs and the average is about three keepers per person. Other than that about all that is showing up are a few surfperch.
February 2002—Joe Jimno, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says that anglers are mainly getting walleye and barred surfperch (he estimates 5-6 each) using pile worms (and sand crabs if you can find them). Dungeness crab action has also been good with an estimated 2-3 per person. He says the waters are calming down. The pier is closed during high seas and will be closed from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. when a permanent gate is erected. Currently workers are working on the pier at night. If in doubt as to whether or not the pier is open, call him at the shop; his number is 650-355-8303. He’s glad to help out.
May 2002— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says that anglers are getting limits of Dungeness from the pier along with a few perch–walleyes, redtail and barred together with some kingfish (white croaker). A few stripers are hitting on the beach, fish up to about 15 pounds. They are hitting on Hair Raisers and bait. The water is still a little rough. By the way, the state has taken back the money it committed to fix the pier. Says it is broke. But it’s still going to spend a million dollars for a parking lot for surfers in Linda Mar.
June 2002— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says that anglers are still getting limits of Dungeness from the pier along with lots of jacksmelt and a few perch. He says 3-5 striped bass are being caught each day on the pier but the real action on the stripers is on the beaches where fish ranging from 10-15 pounds are making a good showing. So far the salmon are absent at the pier; the bait just needs to move in.
August 2002— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says that although the salmon action isn’t hot, there are some good-sized fish. Last week one angler caught a 51-pound king salmon while another angler got a 24-pound halibut. The salmon, halibut and striped bass are present, just not in the numbers seen some years at least so far. He’s also heard of a few white seabass being taken down by the point.
September 2002— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says that salmon are still being taken: 5-6 most mornings, 10-20 in the afternoon. Says there are lots of kingfish (white croaker) and jacksmelt along with a few striped bass. He also says there’s good perch action on the beach with fish averaging up to a pound each.
October 2002— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says that it’s been real slow due to the heavy wind that has just about knocked out all the action. A few perch are still showing but the salmon have departed and it’s too rough for the stripers.
March 2003— Sheryl, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says there’s been decent action on barred surfperch, walleye surfperch and kingfish. Crabbing also remains good for Dungeness when the weather cooperates.
June 2003— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says fishing for perch and kingfish remains good at the pier together with decent crabbing action. One 10-pound striped bass was taken on Thursday along with a couple of shaker salmon. Salmon action should be about 2-3 weeks away. There just isn’t enough bait in the pier water’s to attract them yet.
October 2003— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says fishing for perch and kingfish remains good together with some action on sardines and anchovies but it’s mostly slow after that. A few striped bass are showing but salmon action is dead, the water temperature has been too high for the salmon.
November 2003— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says fishing has been very slow, mainly just kingfish and perch. The good news is that the Dungeness crab season starts November 8, next weekend. He also reports that the Fish and Game is impounding the cars of suspected poachers. Even if the judges give the poachers a slap on the wrist for breaking the rules, it’s costing them a couple of hundred dollars to retrieve their cars from the impound lot. A round about way to make change but Joe says it’s having some impact. Interesting!
December 2003— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says fishing has been very slow, mainly just kingfish and perch. The good news is that crabbers are getting 3-4 Dungeness crabs per person including some nice-sized one. He said a 28-pound striped bass was also taken accidently the last week of November and also says it’s VERY COLD.
January 2004— Fred, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says fishing has been tough due to the weather. The pier was closed due to wind and high waves one day and said anglers should call before driving to the pier. Fishing has been slow but it’s been good on crabs so far this year.
June 2004— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says fishing is picking up with a few stripers being landed on the pier. (However, the surf continues to yield the most stripers, fish to 35 ponds in size.) Lots of sardines and anchovies are in the water but only two salmon have been reported from the pier and both of those were attacked by sea lions before being netted; but at least the salmon should be showing up this year (due to colder water and more bait). Perch, kingfish and crabs continue to be taken from the pier.
August 2004— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says fishing is finally picking up with lots of salmon being taken on the pier and quite a few stripers being taken inshore. Unfortunately, sea lions are getting a lot of the salmon that are hooked. There’s also a lot of small perch and the usual kingfish (white croaker). Zak reported on 7/25—“Fished from 6 am to 12 noon just like I did yesterday. There were lots of salmon in early morning till about 8 am. This was the same yesterday as well. The weather was cloudy but no wind and it wasn't cold (with t-shirt/sweatshirt and a windbreaker jacket). Caught a 25" one today at around 7:30 am. Yesterday, my friend caught one around 7:10 am. Low tide was around 11 am today. Used floating bobber trolley rig with 3/4 oz. sinker and 6-ft leader with size 3 barbless circle hook. If you go there by 6 am, you'll probably find a place to fish somewhere around the middle of the pier where there is the red/brownish construction thing. The salmon were running both day, yesterday and today, at around 7 am and I saw salmon every 15ft till past a little past the middle of the pier. Sad that some people were using barbed circle octopus hooks. Lots of anchovies and sardines in water and people were catching hundreds of them with the Sabiki rig. Kingfish, perch was also easy to catch. Saw 3 or 4 people on the beach of Pacifica probably going for stripers.”
October 2004— Joe, at the Rusty Hook in Pacifica, says a few stripers and salmon continue to be taken but action has shifted to perch and kingfish. Anglers are awaiting the opening of crab season (although a number of people have already been ticketed at the pier for illegal Dungeness).
January 2005— Joe, at the Rusty Hook in Pacifica, says it’s just been too windy most days for fishing (and some days the pier was closed). In between the storms people continue to crab and continue to pull in some decent numbers of crabs.
April 2005— Joe, at the Rusty Hook in Pacifica, says the weather is beautiful and the fish are starting to bite. Lots of perch (big and small), stripers to ten pounds, plentiful kingfish, and 3-4 crabs per person for the crabbers. What more do you need?
June 2005—Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says conditions are turning right for the yearly run of salmon but so far they’re still missing in action. One lone salmon was caught when a school followed some sardines in by the pier a couple of weeks ago but only one angler was lucky enough to get a fish. However, the day smelt (surf smelt) are thick at the beaches and striped bass are gorging on the baitfish (and being caught). Most are landed by surf casters but some are being caught from the pier. Mix in some perch, kingfish (white croaker) and crabs and you have a still somewhat slow but promising season. The water looks good and the bait is there so the salmon shouldn’t be too far behind.
July 2005— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says the salmon finally are showing up but they come and go with the bait. Some days see 25-50 salmon, some days less. Striped bass are still found on the beaches while perch and kingfish are common on the pier. Remember that the crab season on Dungeness is over.
August 2005—Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says there are numerous salmon and stripers being taken but only when the bait schools are around the pier. If the bait schools are there the fishing is good, when the bait schools move on the fish disappear. There is steady action on perch and kingfish but most of the anglers are seeking out the salmon.
November 2005— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says it’s mostly perch, kingfish and a few sharks (leopards) that have been showing up. Dungeness season starts this weekend so there should be lots of people out there for the season opener.
March 2006— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says THERE WAS good action on perch and kingfish (white croaker) from the pier along with crabs. Then the storm moved in. The day I called, Monday, the pier was closed due to unsafe conditions. Winds were predicted to 65 mph and the waves were splashing over the pier. It’s not supposed to improve until the weekend.
April 2006—Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says there is some decent action on perch and kingfish at the pier along with good crabbin' when the weather cooperates. 4-9 pound stripers are showing up on the beach.
June 2006— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says it’s the usual with some decent action on perch and kingfish at the pier along with a few striped bass (although the beaches are better). An occasional shark and ray spices up the action.
July 2006— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says it’s the usual kingfish, jacksmelt and perch action. Joe reminds people that the Dungeness crab season closed Friday. A few striped bass are still being taken from the pier and good schools of bait have moved into the area but the water temperature at 59 degrees is still a little warm for salmon. But, he’s hoping the salmon show up any day.
August 2006— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says things are relatively slow. Some striped bass are available (although more are being taken by the surf anglers), while a few salmon are showing up when bait moves in by the pier. He says the ones getting the salmon are the regulars putting in the time. They’re there when the fish swing by the pier. Other than that it’s the usual kingfish, jacksmelt and perch action.
September 2006— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says things are hit and miss with quite a few fish being taken but most of them are of the small size variety—kingfish, jacksmelt, perch, mackerel and anchovies. One salmon—or possibly a steelhead—was taken the day I called (8/31) and some stripers are still showing up. The stripers are running good size and hitting on both bait and lures. Also, a reminder that the pier is closed 10 PM till 4 AM. PFIC reports included a nice lingcod from the pier and a good-sized and pretty starry flounder.
November 2006— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says a few perch are being taken from the pier along with an occasional striper (but not too many). Some rock crabs are to be had but he warns people that the Dungeness season doesn’t open until November 11.
April 2007— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says a few stripers have been landed at the pier but most were too small. Instead, the main fish continue to be perch (redtail, barred, walleyes and silvers), kingfish and crabs. Surf anglers are picking up some keeper stripers but the numbers are still fairly small.
June 2007— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says a few stripers have been landed at the pier and they’re starting to be a little bigger; try bloodworms or sand crabs. Beach anglers have caught stripers to 28 pounds, mostly using Hair Raisers. Some rock crabs are also available at the pier along with the normal perch and kingfish.
July 2007— Still waiting for the salmon although apparently a couple have been almost landed, almost because sea lions got them first. Small perch are around as well as some kingfish. Some stripers can also be expected.
September 2007— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, just around the corner from the pier, says there’s still no salmon, in fact he only saw two at the shop all summer long. He says most of the action on the pier is for perch, kingfish, jacksmelt, and anchovies. He says there is an occasional striper but not too many (it’s better on the beach). He says a few stingrays (bat rays) have also been landed.
February 2008— Joe, at the Rusty Hook, says some Dungeness are to be had on those days when the weather cooperates—which hasn’t been all that often lately. It’s mainly a few surfperch on the fishery side of the equation.
April 2008—Joe, at the Rusty Hook, says the crabbin’ for Dungeness remains strong although the perch bite has slowed somewhat. He’s also getting reports on stripers (to 15-pounds) but most are on the beaches where they’re falling to anchovies and Hair Raisers.
July 2008— We lost our long time reporter this month—Joe Jimno, at the Rusty Hook—RIP Joe. As for the pier, last time I checked it was mainly perch and kingfish with some stripers being taken on the beach.
August 2008— Cheryl at the Rusty Hook says some stripers are being taken in the surf while further out on the pier anglers are getting some perch, anchovies and sardines. She says a few sharks have also been taken.
June 2009— Cheryl, at The Rusty Hook, 2120 Palmetto Ave., says some stripers are being taken, most from the beach but a few on the pier. She says the perch, kingfish, and Dungeness crab (till the end of June) action remains fair to good.
September 2009— Cheryl, at The Rusty Hook, 2120 Palmetto Ave., says things are slowing down and although a few stripers and perch are being landed most people are concentrating on the mackerel and sardines (that come and go).
December 2009— Rough seas have put a damper on the Dungeness crabbing at the pier but when things settle down there should be some redtail and barred surfperch to go along with the crabs.
April 2010— Cheryl, at the Rusty Hook B&T, said that rough sea conditions (waves and wind) continue to hamper anglers on some days and closures of the pier continue to be seen sporadically. When the weather cooperates, the main action continues to center on fair to good numbers of crabs (mostly Dungeness) with a mix of baits and techniques producing crabs. Inshore a few surfperch are showing—mostly barred and walleyes along with a few calico and redtail.
July 2010— Cheryl, at the Rusty Hook B&T, said the kingfish counts are going up, along with more and more stripers on the beach, but she hasn’t heard of too many other fish. Bait? She says sardines are south and north of the pier but so far have been largely absent at the pier. They need some bait to move in for fishing to pick up.
September 2010— It sounds like it’s mainly a few perch and kingfish at the pier although a ten-foot thresher shark was reported. What has happened to the salmon?
March 2013— Cheryl at the Rusty Hook reports it’s the normal stuff for this time of the year—perch and crabs. A variety of perch show—barred surfperch, calico surfperch, walleye surfperch, silver surfperch, and others, while Dungeness top the list of crabs being sought and landed. She says things have been fairly calm and not too much wind—at least the last few days.
November 2013— With Dungeness crab season opening, the pier is expected to be packed with crabbers for the next few weeks. As for fish, expect a combination of surfperch species—silvers, walleye, barred, calico and maybe a redtail.
June 2015— Marque at Coastside #2 Bait & Tackle (1604 Francisco Blvd, Pacifica) said most of the action lately has been on mackerel (and most are being taken on green colored Sabikis). Perch action has been slow as has been the take on Dungeness (the seasons almost over). A couple of striped bass have also been taken from the pier but most of the bass action is on the beach.
July 2015— Marque at Coastside #2 Bait & Tackle (1604 Francisco Blvd, Pacifica) said a few stripers are being taken at the pier as well as some mackerel (both Pacific and Spanish). Try the green colored Sabikis for the mackerel. Perch action has been slow. Expect crowded conditions most days.
November 2015— Marque at Coastside #2 Bait & Tackle (1604 Francisco Blvd, Pacifica) said a few stripers, 20-22-inches, continue to be taken at the pier but it seems the mackerel action has slowed. Everyone is anxiously waiting to see if they are going to open the Dungeness crab season but it doesn’t look good.
April 2016—The pier is closed.
July 2016—Mark at Coastside #2 B&T (1604 Francisco Blvd, Pacifica) said the mackerel have moved out but have been replaced by huge numbers of anchovies that are attracting striped bass. Anglers using Sabikis to snag the anchovies and then using the anchovies as live bait are catching stripers to 36-inches.
October 2016— PFIC reports indicate some mackerel are available when the water is calm and some striped bass should be available inshore.
February 2018— Marque at Coastside #2 Bait and Tackle, 1604 Francisco Blvd, says the surf is calm and action has been pretty decent. Anglers are catching barred and calico surfperch using worms and shrimp while the crabbers are getting good number of crabs.
March 2018—Marque at Coastside #2 Bait and Tackle, 1604 Francisco Blvd, says the action on Dungeness crabs has really picked up (which is a good thing since most people are crabbing). Not too many fish with the exception of various surfperch.
September 2018—Bridget at Coastside #2 Bait and Tackle, 1604 Francisco Blvd, says mackerel are hitting at the pier but no salmon. In addition, there are the normal perch and kingfish.
October 2018—Marque at Coastside #2 Bait and Tackle, 1604 Francisco Blvd, says things are slow at the pier, mainly just a few perch. Everyone’s getting ready for the Dungeness crab season and hoping for the best.
December 2018— Marque at Coastside #2 Bait and Tackle, 1604 Francisco Blvd, said the pier had been closed for several days due to high winds, heavy surf, and fire but it had reopened the morning I called. Anglers were starting to pick up some nice surfperch and the normal mix of kingfish and smaller perch. He said the crabbing had been good when the weather cooperates.
February 2019— Marque at Coastside #2 Bait and Tackle, 1604 Francisco Blvd, said the weather’s been rough but anglers are hanging in there. Dungeness are still the main goal of most anglers but some surfperch (mostly barred) are showing inshore and some jacksmelt are available in the top water areas throughout most of the pier. The perch are mainly hitting on cut shrimp and sand crabs; the normal pile worms are not available due to the cold weather conditions back east. Marque said some striped bass are still being caught on the beach even though it’s late in the year for them.
August 2019— Marque at Coastside #2 Bait and Tackle, 1604 Francisco Blvd, said it was practically raining the day I called (“stand outside ten minutes and you’ll be drenched”) but it hasn’t helped the fishing. However, striped bass are being taken from the pier! Unfortunately it’s not the same story with the salmon. Marque said it’s about one salmon a day although a lot of guys were fishing the day I called in response to a large mass of anchovies that was spotted south of the pier the previous night (that appeared to be heading north). Hope springs eternal. Other than that it’s the usual mix of surfperch, jacksmelt and a few small flatfish (although a few halibut have also shown up recently). He also mentioned that although the Dungeness crab season is over crabbers are still going out, and getting, rock crabs.
September 2019— Marque at Coastside #2 Bait and Tackle, 1604 Francisco Blvd, said small perch are being taken on Sabikis and some stripers are showing up inshore but the salmon action has been basically dead. It’s not too exciting! Luckily the Dungeness season isn’t too far away. ] PFIC also had an early in the month report from StripeDoc who said: I went to Oyster Point on Sunday around 1pm with a dropshot/gulp mullet setup to plug for a bit. Pier was dead after 1hr, on my way out I met a fish counter from DFW who interviewed me. I asked him where he'd seen action lately and he mentioned Pacifica pier had quite a striper bite from late July into early August. While I assumed this info was probably stale, I decided to give the pier another shot, as I had a bad experience when I had tried for surfperch in March (belligerent homeless, lots of trash, crab lines EVERYWHERE with nonstop tangles). Found parking and got onto the pier, which was wall to wall along the first 2/3. Saw lots of surfperch in buckets (mostly smaller walleyes) and everyone who was fishing for them seemed to be catching jacksmelt. I kept throwing my gulp (3" white mullet on a size 1 hook with a 1oz ball sinker drop shot) and first cast I got hit by a 12" white croaker. I threw him back but was immediately elbow to elbow with three more folks who were excitedly shouting "kingfish!" Got hit on the second cast and missed him, but realized my hook was likely too large... switched to a half gulp (just the curly tail) on a size 4 but unfortunately had no more action over the next 45 mins. Went down to the beach where there were several folks fishing sand fleas [sand crabs-KJ] on fish finder rigs and saw one had a 24” striper in the cooler. I started throwing a Kastmaster and came back with sand fleas snagged on 2/3 treble points. I could take a hint, so I went home and grabbed a bigger surf rig with a 3oz hi low (size 2 hooks) and a sand flea scoop... first two scoops were loaded with nice sized fleas, including soft shells and several with eggs. I got perch hits on the soft shells but the outgoing tide and swell made it hard to hold bottom, even after going up to 4oz. Also tons of seaweed in the water so I moved back up to the pier. I got up there and found out the angler next to me had caught a 25” striper 30 mins before so I was hopeful. Unfortunately all of my soft shells got picked off by tiny perch (probably more walleyes) and I had trouble keeping the crabs off as well. Hooked/landed two legal dungies that evidently liked sand fleas but threw both back (out of season) to the chagrin of the woman next to me who asked if she could keep both! Eventually got late (~7pm) and witnessed a pretty heated altercation between a homeless man and a fisherman, so I decided it was time to head home.” One reply by Astralography said: “Fished at Pacifica Pier yesterday. One salmon was caught in the morning on a trolley rig. Nothing else came up the rest of the day. The locals said it has been the worst year there for salmon in memory. Striped bass in the surf appear to be gone. Didn't see any come up. There were nice size anchovies to be had and I went home with about 20 and a few nice Kingfish. Weather was nice and two huge humpback whales came in very close to the pier, which was just an awesome sight. Also saw a 10 to 12 foot plus shark wander on by... right between my two trolley rig bobbers. Not overly crowded, and people were friendly and in good spirits. A couple of guys were crabbing and keeping Dungeness out of season. Best bait for the Kingfish were small pieces of anchovy cut up on small hooks. Anchovies were hitting bare Sabiki with #8 hooks.”
January 2020— Marque at Coastside #2 Bait and Tackle, 1604 Francisco Blvd, said the pier has been closed off and on due to high surf advisories and he says the sea has been messed up. When open, 90% of the anglers are seeking out crabs with so so success. As for fish, it’s primarily people fishing for perch in the inshore section and they are getting perch but almost all are small, under 8 inches in length.
December 2020 — Stephanie at Gus’ Tackle, 3710 Balboa St., San Francisco, says the reports she getting, all having to do with crabbing for Dungeness instead of fishing, is that the crabbing from the pier has been terrible. As a result, most people are looking for shore spots that will produce. With the recent death of Marque at Coastside #2 Bait and Tackle I’m looking for a new reporter. Although this time of the year is primarily the time for Dungeness, some fish, especially surfperch, should still be available.
January 2021 — Stephanie at Gus’ Tackle, 3710 Balboa St., San Francisco, says the water has been rough and the pier has been closed down several times. When weather and sea conditions do cooperate, the pier is crowded with crabbers and crab are being caught (perhaps because the commercial boys have been shut down?). No reports on fish at the pier.
August 2021 — Sue at Coastside #2 Bait & Tackle, says most of the action is on kingfish (white croaker) but a decent number of striped bass are also showing up inshore. She didn’t have the weight but said a good-sized white seabass had also been taken on 8/4.
April 2022 — The folks at Coastside #2 Bait & Tackle, said fishing is very slow but crabbers are doing good on the Dungeness. Remember to get a new crab hoop net stamp.
July 2022 — Mark at Coastside #2 Bait & Tackle, said the fishing is pretty good right now with quite a few salmon being caught each day along with excellent fishing for kingfish (white croaker) and good perch fishing (a variety of species). Crabbing is still taking place but it’s winding down.