A Tribute to Boyd Grant — Pierhead

Ken Jones

Staff member
A Tribute to Boyd Grant — Pierhead (Part One)

Rest In Peace My Friend — Boyd Grant aka Pierhead

“There is more to fishing than catching... slow down and enjoy the whole of creation. You only go around once.”


Those words well describe Boyd Grant’s outlook on life and though he was hard working, dedicated to many different causes, and unflinching in his search to improve the environment, he also took the time to sit back and enjoy the world around him.

Most special I think was the time he spent at the Goleta Pier and the times he could sit back and simply enjoy the scenes at the pier. The excitement of a large fish or the mystery involved when an unknown species was pulled up to the pier. The always interesting visits to the pier’s waters by the cetaceans, the dolphins and whales. The funny antics of the sometimes too intrusive pelicans and the not-so-funny sea gulls and cormorants.


Sometimes it was the people, the lovers strolling hand in hand out to the end of the pier, sometimes those young and fresh on the journey, sometimes the elderly who had survived the journey. At times it was the joy of watching fellow anglers. A child’s first fish, a friend’s prize catch, or the shared frustration when the “fish just weren’t biting.”

Sometimes it was something as simple as the beautiful sunsets that could provide a spectacular end to a long day at the pier. Santa Barbara, Goleta and the Goleta Pier—it’s not a bad area to spend a few days—or years.

In 1997 I began the Pier Fishing In California website, a site much more simple than that seen today. It didn’t even have a message board but I did try to post monthly pier reports. An early question for those who watched the site was help with the monthly reports — I needed some local reporters.


Then, on July 4, 1997, I received the following Email from Boyd: “Thank you for capturing in words so many of my impressions from almost 50 years of fishing that historical pier. My father first fished the wharf with his father before 1920... By the way—I'm 53—I started fishing the Wharf when I was 5. And yes, I still fish one of the local piers at least once a week. For the past 7-8 years I fished Goleta exclusively trying to recapture the morning when I took 3 10#+ shovelnose sharks off the west side 3/4th of the way out. I was using 20# mono and anchovy cut bait, casting out over the kelp (which follows the outfall line). Apparently they were congregating there (late spring) and for weeks I had been taking 3-4 pounders. I got 13#s of tail meat. Goleta hasn't been too hot this year so I went back to the wharf starting 3 weeks ago—my first day (in search of some action ... ANY action!) resulted in 16 small (9-11") calico bass, 2 mackerel, 1 small shovelnose, 2 white croakers and a senorita fish. I've been there 4-5 more times since and the calico and mackerel action has been consistent. That first weekend a woman tourist snagged a baby whale that took out several hundred yards of line before it surfaced and the line broke—maybe it was 15’ long. By the end of the day it had become (for her) a 30’ blue whale. Guess it just goes to show any fish, no matter how big, can always stand some exaggeration.” Boyd.


That Email message was only the first of literally hundreds (if not thousands) of messages over the years. And, it would begin a friendship that lasted more than two decades.

PFIC did eventually get a message board and an early discussion concerned Boyd and his residence on “Pier Street” in Carpinteria. His friend Sinker said, “You gotta love being a pier fisherman and living on Pier Street.” His friend Gordo Grande said “That's just too cool!!!!!” And everyone seemed to want to live on “Pier Street” (I know I did). Meanwhile Boyd decided to give he and his friend GreenRag the name “Pier Street Irregulars.” It just all seemed right.

And though the messages continued, they evolved into much more than simple fish reports. Adopting the screen name Pierhead, Boyd became one of the most valued and respected members of the Pier Fishing In California family. His reports were accurate, his comments insightful, and his advice generally heeded. They reflected his beliefs on how the pier environment could be improved and provided useful suggestions on how to actually make the improvements.

He was part of the early group that helped shape the ethos of PFIC. It was a group that not only stressed the joy and value of recreational fishing, both for individuals and family, but it also brought into play the ethical approach that angler’s should apply to the sport—and Boyd was a leading exponent of that view.

His ideas provided me with insights on Boyd’s philosophy of life and helped me gain an appreciation for Boyd as a person, one who was willing to “make the walk as well as talk the talk.”


For myself, looking back on our collaboration over the years, I can see that although I often did most of the writing and the talking (he preferred to take a behind the scenes approach), much of the message came from Boyd. I would have an idea, call Boyd, and generally he would offer new, different or additional insights that I hadn’t considered. Early on that collaboration resulted in “The Pier Rats Code” which is still posted on PFIC to this day.

The Pier Rats’ Code

As responsible anglers, we recognize that our actions should always be governed by what is right—ethically and legally—and we understand and agree that the best ways to accomplish our goals is through personal example and education.

We’re dedicated to preserving the pier rats’ environment in the following ways:

We will work to protect all species of fish. Fish that will be kept for food will be killed in a humane manner. Fish that are to be returned to the water will be handled with care in an attempt to assure their safe return to the water. All species of fish—both sportfish and incidental species—will be given the same respect and treatment. We will attempt to avoid the capture of unwanted or prohibited species.

We will work to improve the environments of the piers themselves as well as the waters around the piers. We will dispose of trash in trash containers, make sure there are no lines or discarded tackle on the pier, and clean up bait from the surface of piers as well as the railings. Where possible, we will assist in the removal of lines and tackle from pilings and pier structures. We will not throw pollutants (of any type) into the waters adjacent to the pier. We will always try to leave the pier as clean or cleaner than when we arrived.

As guardians of the pier environment, we will, to the best of our ability, try to reason with and correct anglers observed to be acting in a manner detrimental to that environment. We will, if necessary, report cases of abuse to the relevant authorities. Observations of illegal fishing methods will be reported to the Fish and Game Department (CalTip). Observations of destruction to the pier will be reported to local agencies.

We will encourage good fishing etiquette. We will learn and obey all fishing regulations. We will treat fellow anglers with courtesy and respect. We will endeavor to educate our fellow anglers in sound and safe angling methods and fishery conservation.

The code reflects an ethical approach to angling and though written by me reflects Boyd’s philosophy and outlook toward fishing in every paragraph. I think it also reflects Boyd’s even larger views about life and leading one’s life in an ethical manner.

Without Boyd we may never have started United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC) in 2003. His ideas, support, and sometimes prodding were invaluable in moving the organization from a “thought” into reality. And once started, his time on the Board of Directors for over a decade, helped shape the organization given his ideas and direction. He offered up valuable insights time after time.

Without Boyd UPSAC may not have obtained a grant from the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary Foundation and been able to develop and give the educational classes at Goleta Pier (Goleta Pier—A Learning Platform).

Without Boyd we would never have had the outstanding “Get Togethers” that took place in Goleta in 2003, 2004 and 2005.


Nor would we have had the amazing “Get Togethers” that began at Avalon on Catalina Island in 2003.


Ken Jones

Staff member
A Tribute to Boyd Grant — Pierhead (Part Two)

And, without Boyd, we could never have had the successful Kid’s Fishing Derby that took place at Goleta in 2010.


Perhaps most important, without Boyd we would certainly never have been able to have the UPSAC Angler Center on the Goleta Pier. The center, which opened in 2008, was the direct result of Boyd’s vision and passion for the pier and was the culmination of Boyd’s dream. He became the “Pier Host” and would spend hour after hour on the pier—cleaning it, policing it, answering questions about the pier and fishing, teaching newbie anglers how to fish, and trying to provide a pier environment that everyone could appreciate.


In 2010, Boyd and UPSAC received a "Commendation" from the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. It thanked Boyd and UPSAC for many things:



Nevertheless, in just a few years Boyd and UPSAC were forced out of the Angler Center for reasons that still seem both petty and nonsensical. The closure of the Angler Center was, I am sure, a devastating blow to Boyd. Boyd wasn’t good at the charade often needed to put up with county politics and the power struggles among park personnel. Perhaps the dream was simply too personal and simple for those overseeing the bureaucracy of the county parks.

I tried to capture the dream and its end in a story back in 2012 (and I apologize if some information is repeated).

I hoped the article reflected the respect I had for Boyd, his dream, and the pain that I knew he was undergoing. Life is often unfair and this was one of those times.

But life goes on and Boyd would see new venues, meet new people, and eventually meet a new love that, I am sure, erased much of the pain he had once felt. We each are different and we each see life through different lenses but I like to think Boyd and I saw many of life’s challenges in a similar way. Hopefully, I have been able to match his grace in meeting those challenges.


Perhaps the best review (and a broader view) of Boyd’s life come from his own words. One day I asked the “pier rats” to submit their autobiographies and this was how Boyd answered the request:

Pier Rat Name: Pierhead

Real Name: Boyd

Personal Information And Occupation: Born under the sign of Sagittarius in Santa Barbara, CA mid WW2. Spent my formative years under the 'cloud' of the atomic bomb — the good nuns did their best to comply with the mandatory duck & cover drills without unduly alarming their younger charges but it left a lasting impression of how temporary and insecure all life is - my outlook is clearly Carpe Diem (seize the day). And fishing became my escape from 'adult' reality as well as my entry into the world of nature.

During the early 60's I attended UCSB off and on while exploring first the civil rights movement and later the free speech and anti-war movements. Attended the Joan Baez Institute of Non-Violence in Carmel Valley; read Thoreau and Gandhi; practiced meditation and Yoga; hitchhiked the Big Sur coast and lived in a commune. Got lost in the haze of the Summer of Love and re-emerged in 1969 as a social worker in post-riot East and Central L.A. after completing my B.A. in Religious Studies.

By the mid 70's I was married and living the 'good life' in the new planned community of Mission Viejo. By the end of that decade I was divorced and living in Mammoth Lakes with my young son and trying to run the welfare department there in an increasingly hostile small-town atmosphere. Returned to LA to manage several restaurants and other pick-up jobs until signing on for a 20 year rollercoaster ride at GTE in customer service and sales. Retired in 2000 and now working nights as a DSL equipment installer doing contract work for Verizon in their central offices. Still unmarried and enjoying it! But if the right person came along I could easily assume the title of the Old Fisherman with the Catch of His Life.


Years Fishing: 50+

Years of Hardcore Fishing: 13. Prior to my father's passing in 1989, fishing was more of an escape than an active exploration. I had been estranged >from my parents since my marriage - I had made a poor choice for a life's companion and found it hard to admit. In early 1989 I called my father (my mother had died some time before) to effect reconciliation and invited him to go fishing with his grandson and myself. But when we got there we found him on the kitchen floor felled by a stroke. I still remember opening the refrigerator later that day and seeing the bait he had prepared for us to use. And the memories of a childhood filled with fishing adventures came flooding back along with the tears of regret for the estrangement. I returned to SB to take care of him until his death later that year but, due to his incapacity, we never fished together again. After the funeral my family and I went to Goleta Pier and soaked some bait in his memory. From that moment on I found myself filled with a desire to take fishing seriously...

First Memories Of Fishing: My first fishing trip was with my Dad and my two younger (twin) brothers around 1950. He took us down to Stearns Wharf in SB after spending the previous evening sitting around the kitchen table with him learning how to clean the poles and reline the reels that he hadn't had much chance to use following his marriage (5 children — 4 living at that time) some 15 years earlier. Stearns, in the 50's, had an abalone processing plant right at the end of the pier with an enormous pile of discarded shells and big buckets of guts. There was also an anchovy offloading siphon pipe with a large fish-spilling tear in the side that chummed live bait into the water below. We could hardly contain ourselves and Dad reigned us in a very forceful manner for 'our own good' — my ears burned for the rest of the day from that first lesson in pier safety! We caught a full gunnysack of what he called horse mackerel — enormous fish at least 24” in length. I was hooked. From that day on it was a weekly ritual to go fishing. On my own block alone there were 10 boys and 4 girls — quite a sight as we paraded the two miles down to the Wharf on our bikes with fishing poles in hand.

Favorite Piers (And Why): Stearns Wharf and Goleta Pier. My boyhood was spent at the Wharf... it was where my father had first fished with his father and where my maternal grandfather had his lumber company in the 20's. And fishing at Goleta for halibut had become my father's favorite form of outdoor recreation as my mother's incapacity increased during her final years. But, in actuality, any wooden pier anywhere on the coast. In fact it was my fascination with wooden piers that led me to pierfishing.com... I had wanted to write a book documenting the history and social import of wooden piers in honor of my father. Of course the first hit on the search engine was this site! Needless to say the book had already been written by the master himself. Finding this site completed a circle that had been broken by the estrangement and my father's death ... I felt like I had been reunited with the fishing community. In jimbojack's words: 'Like coming home'.

Favorite Fish: The first fish of any new species! My first halibut — lost around the pilings at Stearns wharf when I was 9. The 5# Bass at Cachuma Lake taken on a Black Bomber at twilight in a secluded cove shortly after my mother's last call for supper during the summer of my 10th year. The 3.5# cabezon that tumbled me off the riprap and initiated me into the Rincon Rock Diver's Club. A 3# Calico Bass which nailed a frozen anchovy floating on the top of the kelp reef at Goleta before I had a chance to recast. The 3 10#+ Shovelnose caught in a two hour period off the end of the Goleta Pier. My son's first fish memorialized in papier-mâché by his 4th grade teacher. My granddaughter's sanddab caught at Goleta. And last, but not least... the salamander fished out of the creek behind Mission Santa Barbara using a bent pin and a berry from a pyracantha bush when I was 7... my first successful catch!

Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (And Why): Every trip is memorable in some way — especially now that I am approaching my 6th decade! It used to be that the memories were created by the fish caught but in the last 3-4 years I'm noticing that people are increasingly at the center of those memories. I've always done poorly with names but since making an effort by introducing myself and keeping a list of the names that I have accumulated there are almost 20 people who I recognize at Goleta alone — not to mention the increasing number of Pier Rats I am running into. But overall — I have to say the Catalina Get Together 2002 is my fondest memory to date. And apparently I am not alone in that given the number and nature of posts on the subject since our return!


Words Of Wisdom For Pier Rats: There is more to fishing than catching... slow down and enjoy the whole of creation. You only go around once.

Rest in peace my fiend.

Ken Jones

Staff member
I also received from Boyd's widow the following obituary that is running in the Santa Barbara News-Press Jan. 22 to Jan. 26, 2019.

Kendall Boyd Grant

Kendall Boyd Grant ("Boyd") December 3, 1943 - November 9, 2018 was born in Santa Barbara to Kathleen Boyd Grant and Nelson Kendall Grant. Boyd graduated from San Marcos High School and U.C. Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Religious Studies. Boyd was a true child of the 60s exploring first the Civil Rights Movement and later the Free Speech and Anti-War Movements. He attended the Joan Baez Institute of Non-Violence and read Thoreau and Gandhi, practiced meditation and followed the teachings of Buddha. Boyd was a gentle, generous, peaceful soul who was happy living and traveling alone, playing his guitar and whose primary love was pier fishing. Over the years, Boyd held many jobs including that of a Social Worker in both Los Angeles and Mono Counties and retired after 20 years of service for the company known as GTE which later became Verizon. After his retirement, Boyd bought an RV and traveled throughout the Western United States collecting photographs and adventures which he faithfully recorded in a series of photo essays. After a year or so on the road, Boyd settled down in Goleta to devote his time and energy to the activity he loved most - pier fishing.

Boyd's first pier fishing trip was with his father and two younger twin brothers in about 1950 at Stearns Wharf. Boyd became, what is popularly known as a pier rat, and his boyhood was spent at The Wharf - the same Wharf where Boyd's father had fished with his own father and where Boyd's maternal grandfather had owned a lumber company in the 1920s. It was at Goleta Pier, however, that Boyd spent his retirement years. He had fished from that pier many, times over the years but in retirement, while doing research on the internet with the idea of writing a book about piers in honor of his father, Boyd found the site pierfishing.com which, in his own words, was "like coming home."It was on this site that he became known as "Pierhead." Boyd also learned that the book about piers had already been written by the master himself, Ken Jones. Wanting to stay in the pier environment and be with his friends, Boyd decided that cleaning the pier every morning, before sunup when he had it all to himself, was a way to stay connected and to enjoy nature. By spending so much time on the pier, Boyd had a good idea of the problems "out there" and began a blog discussing them. In his desire to improve life on the pier for fishermen while preserving nature, Boyd and Ken Jones founded an organization known as United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC). UPSAC was a non-profit educational organization that supported the interests of shore and pier anglers and operated out of a small building on Goleta Pier with the goal of being a laboratory to explore and develop a guideline of best conservationist practices. Through his involvement with UPSAC, Boyd organized and attended fishing trips, social gatherings, taught children and adults how to fish from piers and the proper way to catch and release fish without harming them. Boyd became the guardian, caretaker and host at Goleta Pier until 2011 when the County ended the program. He referred to his time on the pier as some of the happiest years of his life.

Boyd returned to his quiet life in Lompoc where he lived until he met his soul mate, Elaine, after which he referred to himself as "the old fisherman with the catch of his life." Boyd was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Jerry. He is survived by his wife, Elaine, his sister Kathleen, brother David (Nadine), his son, Joshua (Kimberly), three granddaughters, many nieces and nephews and countless others whose lives he touched. Throughout his life, Boyd cared for those in need and in Tibetan Buddhism lived the life of a Bodhisattva, living the vow: "May I be a guard for those who are protectorless; A guide for those who journey on the road; For those who wish to go across the water, may I be a boat, a raft, a bridge." A private celebration of Boyd's life will be held on Goleta Pier on January 26, 2019. In lieu of flowers, Boyd requested that his friends and family make donations to the homeless shelter of their choice. Namaste loving soul.


Well-Known Member
RIP He's lucky to have a friend like you.

I've seen "pier rats" come and gone.

I've met the old timers who knew everything and all the secrets of the local waters. They'd share stories if you would sit and listen. Most people today would be quick to call BS but if you live long enough and keep your eyes open, you will find most of it were true.

I've known "pier rats" who's bodies quit on them while doing what they loved and enjoyed, which was fishing. You hear about so n so? He was fishing on the pier and.....

Even friendly copetitors have come and gone... I'm lucky to have some of their work.. Oh yea so n so made that net. So n so wrapped that rod. I could only hope that somebody's gonna say that about my work some day.

So where am I going with this? I don't know. I'm just thinking of past fishermen that I knew and winging it. Lol All I know I'm not getting any younger. I believe it's important to teach the next wave of "Pier Rats". That's why when I see first time fishermen, people who really want to fish, I help them out and teach them. I don't leave them frustrated, regretting that they came out, while everybody around them is catching fish. Oh and teach that one guy that a clicker (fish alarm) is not a form of cast control. There's always one. It drives me nutz. All that noise for a 1 meter cast.

Ken Jones

Staff member
A couple of final thoughts were shared with me by Glen (Songslinger) — and I hope he doesn't mind me sharing them.

A haiku:

Practiced compassion
Hoped for the best in people
Honored the planet

And, "But words will never be enough. How we carry memories and how they are "activated" by moment and event...that's the nature of our grief and respect. I am better for knowing Boyd."

As I think we all were.