California Pier Report
August 2023 Fishing Report, Southern California (#287)
Lobster season has now ended.
San Diego County Piers
Imperial Beach Pier – No report, need a reporter. How To Get There: From I-5 take the Palm Ave. (Hwy. 75) exit and follow it to where Palm Ave. and Hwy. 75 divide. Follow Palm Ave. to Seacoast Dr., turn left and it will take you right to the pier.
Ocean Beach Pier — Dominic at the Ocean Beach Pier Bait and Tackle said things are very slow right now. There’s a lot of anchovies around the pier but he hasn’t seen many fish being caught other than by the sharkers out at the end who continue to pull in a variety of sharks, rays and other fish. I visited the pier on July 16 to do a YouTube video and though we got (I think) some interesting footage, I didn’t get much chance to actually fish. One hour produced one white seaperch, one kelp bass and one jacksmelt. However, I did get a chance to talk to Jose and the other sharkers out at the south end of the pier and they had been catching fish. Included was a 7-gill shark estimated at 150-pounds a few weeks before and a variety of other fish including some nice size bass and smaller mackerel and salema. I heard later that Jose also caught a triggerfish that same day after I left. I also saw two nice corbina caught closer inshore (by the green box) by guys using live ghost shrimp they had pumped up. Using the right bait and knowing how to use it makes a big difference. How To Get There: From the north, take I-5 to the Sea World Dr. exit and follow it until it turns off to Sunset Cliffs Blvd. From the south, take I- 5 to the Nimitz Blvd. exit, then follow that road to Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Follow Sunset Cliffs Blvd. to Newport Ave., turn right and follow the road to the pier parking lot.
Crystal Pier – No report from the new tackle shop. I was down there mid-month expecting some good croaker action but the action was VERY DISAPPOINTING. I didn’t see a single croaker even through about a dozen people with obvious know how were lining the rails for croaker. I really didn’t see anything except for a few mackerel and a baby shovelnose guitarfish. Even the top action was slow with maybe a half dozen mackerel on the entire pier. I only managed two mackerel and what I thought initially was a sanddab but now think was a small fantail sole based upon the pictures I took. At least that was something different. It’s hard to say why the croaker haven’t made their annual mid-simmer spawn at the pier. How To get There: Take I-5 to Garnet Ave. then take Garnet west to the foot of the pier.
Pepper Park Pier — No report. We need a reporter! How To Get There: From I-5 take the 24th Street off-ramp west to Tidelands Avenue and go left (south) on Tidelands to the end.
Bayside Park Pier — No report. We need a reporter. How To Get There: From I-5 take the J Street off ramp and go west. Take J Street to Tidelands Ave.; turn right. Take Tidelands to Sandpiper Way; turn right. Take Sandpiper to Bayside Parkway, turn left and follow the road to the park.
Embarcadero Marina Pier — No report. I thought I had a new reporter but he hasn’t answered my calls. I’ll keep trying. How To Get There: From the I-5 south, take the Front Street exit south to Market (just stay on Front Street, it runs into Market), take Market west to Harbor Dr. Turn left on Harbor Dr. and take it to 8th Ave., turn right onto Convention Way (formerly Harbor St.). Follow it a short block to 5th Ave. and the pier. It seems that with the new Convention Center the city is constantly working on these streets near the pier and renaming them; if you get confused remember that the park and pier are immediately to the southwest of the Convention Center. From I-5 North, approaching from the south, take the J Street exit, then go straight, three blocks up to Market, turn left and take it from there.
Ferry Landing Pier (Coronado) — Need a reporter although bass (kelp, sand and spotted) generally seem to be around as well as a mix of sharays (mostly round stingrays and bat rays). How To Get There: From San Diego, take the Coronado Bay Bridge (Highway 75) to Coronado. Once over the bridge you are on Third Street. Simply follow it to B Avenue, turn right, and follow it to the front of The Old Ferry Landing — the intersection of First Street and B Avenue. The pier sits behind the shops in the complex.
Shelter Island Pier — No report from the Shelter Island Pier Bait & Tackle at the end of the pier. We did get a PFIC report from Ray619 on 7/20 who said, “warm weather and ideal tides but catching was slow. Went out tonight from 9:30 pm to about 1am to cool down from hot weather. Mackerel bite was off tonight. Angler next to me caught an angel shark. I caught some small bass, croaker, and sculpin. Mainly using salted anchovy on a light spinning reel and 6-pound test. Fun on light tackle.” How To Get There: Take I-5 or I-8 to Rosecrans (Hwy. 209) and go west, turn left at Shelter Island Dr. and follow the road until you see the pier and the entrance to the parking lot.
Oceanside Pier — Kind of “Yin and Yang” reports. Bill Litchfield at the Oceanside Pier offered the bad “Yin” report saying things are slow and the people are a little frustrated. There’s no mackerel, no bonito (that usually show up by July 4), and few of the regular resident species like croaker, bass, halibut, etc. He says an occasional fish is caught but nothing is steady and the regulars are a little hesitant to spend big money on things like bloodworms if the fish aren’t hitting. There are some queenfish (herring) to be had out at the end but even there it’s a problem because the city is doing construction under the pier and boards stick about four-five feet past the pier. That makes it hard to do an underhand cast or to pull up a big fish if one is hooked. On top of that, the entire south side of the pier remains closed behind a fence the same way it has been for months. Supposedly they are replacing water pipes out to the end of the pier and the old Ruby’s (scheduled to be a new restaurant) but little work seems apparent. It simply is one of the worst reports from Bill in quite some time and an unusual one for August when the water temperatures should be up and the fish should be biting. On the other hand we got a PFIC good “Yang” report from Bendopolo on 8/2 who said, “Oceanside Pier report is good, people catching croakers and stuff, Mackerel at night and there was a 30” halibut caught three days ago. The sardines are starting to school up in large numbers. This year the bonito are late, they coincide with the large school of baitfish being born, and tiny baitfish are not plentiful yet.” How To Get There: From I-5 take Mission Blvd. west to Pacific, turn left and follow it to the pier.
Oceanside Harbor Pier — Bill Litchfield in Oceanside said he’s heard of a few perch being caught by the inshore rocks and a few croaker and sharays at the pier but not much else. How To Get There: From I-5 take the Harbor Dr. exit off the freeway, follow it and it will wind down to the harbor; where the road splits stay to the right on North Harbor Dr., and follow it to the pier.
Orange County Piers
San Clemente Pier — Stephanie at Hogan's Bait and Tackle (34320 Pacific Coast Hwy. says she’s been getting reports on decent spotfin croaker action at the pier (and I imagine there are also a few yellowfin croaker). Use mussels or lug worms for the croaker. In addition, the mackerel seem to have finally shown up (they’re late). However, not much news from the sharks. No news or no fish? PFIC also got a report from Fishman Fishman who reported on an August 1 visit to the pier. He said, “Great weather at the pier. Fished mid pier and caught a Yellowfin and Spotfin Croaker on fresh mussel. Caught three short Sandbass on whole anchovy. Surprise catch was a lobster that went after an anchovy. First time catching a lobster! It was released.” How to Get There: From I-5 take any of several exit streets west to El Camino Real, follow it to the center of town, and from there take Del Mar down to the pier.
Dana Harbor Pier — Stephanie at Hogan's Bait and Tackle (34320 Pacific Coast Hwy. says the main things being mentioned about the harbor are decent fishing for croaker and bass (mainly spotted bay bass and calico (kelp) bass. Halibut are also showing up but seemed to have slowed a little. Try using Carolina-rigs with lugworms or plastics. How To Get There: The pier is located in the Dana Cove Park area of Dana Point Harbor. From the Pacific Coast Highway take Green Lantern Road south to the harbor, turn left on Cove Road, and follow it to the pier.
Balboa Pier — Our reporter Snookie says, “The fishing is improving with good bait available such as smelt and small herring. I had a 24 ½-inch halibut on a herring and lots of strikes. Also some calicos. There are a few mackerel on the end. Saw one thresher shark caught and landed a few weeks ago. Also saw a beautiful sargo caught in the surf on a bait. It was about 15 inches. This is the last week for the Jr. Lifeguards so we won't have them to worry about. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway take Newport Blvd. which will turn into Balboa Blvd., follow it west to Palm Street. Turn right and follow it to the pier and the adjacent parking lot.
Newport Pier — No report this month but the action is usually similar to Balboa. A one-hour, early evening visit by myself on June 13 basically yielded nothing—1 topsmelt. The end of the pier was crowded with anglers catching nothing. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway take the Newport Blvd. turn off and proceed west watching for signs directing traffic to the pier. The pier sits at the foot of McFadden Place.
Huntington Beach Pier — We still need a reporter. How To Get There: Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) to Huntington Beach and the pier.”
Seal Beach Pier — Rada, at Big Fish Bait & Tackle. 1780-C. Pacific Coast Hwy, said things are fairly slow. Some mackerel are being caught but no bonito while inshore some croaker, perch and corbina continue to be caught but not in big numbers. Surprisingly the herring (queenfish) haven’t really shown up and not too many halibut that like to feed on the queenfish. He says the weather continues to be overcast and muggy which is unusual for this time of the year. Things just sound slow. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway simply take Main St. west and follow it to the pier.
Los Angeles County Piers
Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier — Rada, at Big Fish Bait & Tackle. 1780-C. Pacific Coast Hwy, said the reports he’s getting are much the same as at Seal Beach. Some mackerel, no bonito, a few croaker and perch inshore, and a few sharks and rays out toward the end. He did say more halibut are being caught at Belmont than at Seal Beach. We also got a PFIC freport from Brock Norris on 7/12 who said, “Good fishing on the Belmont pier today, plentiful mackerel of all sizes taken on small pieces of anchovy and shrimp under a float, corbina caught inshore, some nice ones caught today. Sharks and rays at the end. Lots of bait fish in the water. I tried a live smelt for halibut but no takers, saw one guy catch a needlefish pretty rare for that pier. I fished from730 to 930.”How To Get There: From the north take I-405 to the Lakewood Boulevard turnoff, and then go south to 7th Street, turn west (right) until you come to Ximeno Ave. and then turn left. Follow it to Livingston Dr. and go west. You will see signs by Ocean Ave. and Termino Ave. indicating the pier. From the south take the Pacific Coast Highway to 2nd. Street (Westminister becomes 2nd. Street when it crosses PCH), go west, follow to Livingston Dr. Follow it to signs by Ocean Ave. and Termino Ave. indicating the pier and parking lot.
Shoreline Aquatic Park Piers (Long Beach) — No reports but the usual tomcod (white croaker) should be available with a cast out from the pier and the usual perch and sargo should be available with inshore casts parallel to the shoreline. Foe the perch and sargo use ghost shrimp, worms or mussels. How to Get There: From downtown Long Beach, take Pine Avenue south to Shoreline Drive. For the northernmost pier #1 follow Shoreline Avenue west and follow it around the lagoon to where the street ends. For the southernmost piers #2-#5 follow Shoreline Drive east to the markings for Shoreline Village, continue past the shopping complex, and follow the road out to near the end of the peninsula. You will see the piers.
Pier J Piers (Long Beach) — The normal fish should be available—white croaker, queenfish, perch and perhaps some mackerel. How To Get There: From I-710 follow the signs saying S. Harbor Scenic Drive. From downtown Long Beach follow Queens Way past the Catalina Landing and on to the Queens Way Bridge over the water and take the S. Harbor Scenic Drive.
Cabrillo Beach Pier (San Pedro) — Alex at the Rusty Hook, 245 N Gaffey St., San Pedro, said there’s a pretty decent bite going on for sand bass and those with the know how continue to pull in the occasional halibut. The bottom waters also yield an occasional sculpin (scorpionfish) but there’s been limited action in the top waters. Mackerel make an occasional appearance but it’s nothing you can depend upon and there haven’t been any reports o0f bonito. Sharays, mainly small smoothhound sharks, bat rays and an occasional shovelnose shark (guitarfish) finish the mix. How To Get There: Take the Harbor Freeway (I-110) south; it will turn into Gaffey St. Follow it to 22nd Street and turn left. Follow 22nd St. to Pacific Ave. and turn right. Follow Pacific Ave. to 36th Street and the entrance to Cabrillo Park.
Green Pleasure Pier (Avalon, Catalina Island) – Expect the normal species—kelp bass, rock wrasse, senorita, opaleye, halfmoon, and sheephead. How To Get There: The trick here is to get to Catalina. Ships and helicopters make the journey several times a day from the Port of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Newport Beach (near the Balboa Pier) and Dana Harbor. Information is available on all of these by calling the Avalon Chamber of Commerce on the Pleasure Pier (213) 510-1520 or the Visitor's Information & Service Center (213) 510-2500. Once in Avalon there should be no problem in finding the pier, which is located at the foot of Catalina Avenue.
Cabrillo Mole (Avalon, Catalina Island) — Expect the normal species—kelp bass, rock wrasse, senorita, opaleye, halfmoon, sheephead and ocean whitefish. Some bonito and barracuda may also show up. How To Get There: The trick here is to get to Catalina. Ships and helicopters make the journey several times a day from the Port of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Newport Beach (near the Balboa Pier) and Dana Harbor. Information is available on all of these by calling the Avalon Chamber of Commerce on the Pleasure Pier (213) 510-1520 or the Visitor's Information & Service Center (213) 510-2500. Once in Avalon when you walk off the ferry onto the landing you are at the Mole.
Redondo Beach Pier —Hond at the Redondo Beach Tackle on the pier says people are catching mackerel but not much else. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway, take Torrance Blvd. west to the foot of the pier and the parking lot.
Manhattan Beach Pier — No report this month. Need a reporter. How To Get There: From Sepulveda Boulevard, turn west on Manhattan Beach Drive and follow it to the pier.
Hermosa Beach Pier — No report this month. Need a reporter. How To Get There: Take the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) to Pier Avenue and follow Pier Avenue west to the pier.
Venice Pier — No report this month. Need a reporter. How Get There: Highway 1 to Washington St., turn west and follow Washington St. to the pier.
Santa Monica Pier — No report this month. Need a reporter. How to Get There: From I-405 take Santa Monica Blvd. west to Ocean Ave. Turn left, go to Colorado Ave., and turn right onto the pier.
Malibu Pier — Ginny at Wylie’s Bait & Tackle (18757 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu) says she’s getting really good reports. Apparently quite a lot of halibut are being taken from both the pier and the shoreline. The only problem is that most are in the 15-18 inch range and thus need to be returned to the water. She’s also hearing tales about good sand bass action along with lesser numbers of kelp bass. Mid-pier and inshore some sargo, croaker and even corbina are being caught. Out at the end there has been some thresher shark action but it sounds like all of the fish taken were small, basically baby threshers. Hope they were returned to the water. As for her injuries, she’s slowly recovering. How To Get There: The pier fronts on the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) so just drive until you see it.
Paradise Cove Pier — Ginny at Wylie’s Bait & Tackle (18757 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu) said she’s gotten some reports of good halibut action at the pier including a 28-inch fish a couple of weeks ago. That fish was caught on an anchovy but she said some of the halibut are being taken on artificial lures. She’s also getting reports of really big bat rays at the pier, a pier long noted for big bat rays. Most of the rays are being taken on squid. How To Get There: Take Highway 1 to Paradise Cove Dr., turn west, and follow the road back into the parking lot. It’s very expensive unless you buy a meal at the restaurant and then you are allowed to fish for, I think, three hours.
Ventura & Santa Barbara County Piers
Port Hueneme Pier — Ludia at Hyun’s Tackle, 3695 E Harbor Blvd., Ventura, said the pier is producing a lot of fish but it’s a little crowded because of the Ventura Pier being closed. Perch are available inshore while halibut are showing up mid-pier and mackerel are mid-pier to the end. Anglers are also catching a lot of bat rays. Last but not least is the good number of crabs. How To Get There: From Highway 1 take Hueneme Rd. west until it turns into Port. At Ventura Rd turn left and follow it to Surfside Dr. Turn left again and follow it to the park.
Ventura Pier — The folks at Hyun's Tackle, 3695 E Harbor Blvd., Ventura, said the pier is still closed due to damage from the winter storms and may be closed until the end of the year. How To Get There: From Highway 101 take the Seaward Drive exit west to Harbor Drive, turn right and follow it to the pier.
Stearns Wharf (Santa Barbara) — Ben at Hook Line & Sinker, 4010-5 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, said the big news lately was a run of thresher sharks. One day saw five of the big beasts hooked but only one landed. Given the publicity the next day saw an increased number of shark anglers and more hooked and lost. One fish estimate at 9 ½ feet was fought to the pilings but the guys in trying to gaff the fish proved less than sterling and the fish was lost on the pilings. The action on the threshers has continued but has abated somewhat. On the bottom fair numbers of kelp bass also continue to be caught along with lesser numbers of sand bass while the crabs, as is almost always the case at the pier, continue to show in good numbers. As for action in the top waters most of the action is occurring in the afternoon when good numbers of Pacific and Spanish mackerel make a daily showing. Some of the mackerel are decent-sized fish exceeding a pound in size. How To Get There: From Highway 101 take Castillo St. or State St. west to the beach and follow signs to the pier.
Goleta Pier — Ben at Hook Line & Sinker, 4010-5 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, said action has been decent but is still a little disappointing compared to usual for this time of the year. He said action on sand species—sand sharks, thornbacks, guitarfish, etc. has been good while some halibut are also being taken from inshore to mid-pier. One halibut measured out at 31-inches. The lucky angler caught a mackerel on a Sabiki, rigged it up for sharks, and proceeded to catch the large halibut. The inshore waters are also producing some croaker and perch while the pipe reef has been a little slower than normal producing some small rockfish (probably brown rockfish), a few Johnny bass (olive rockfish), some kelpfish, but not much else. Ben did say maintenance and repair has been a problem at times. The pier has had to be closed at times but is open right now seven days a week. When the materials arrive for the next maintenance the county has said the pier will be closed from Monday to Friday at 5 p.m. when it will open for the weekend. How To Get There: From Highway 101 take the Hwy. 217/Airport exit. Follow it to Sandspit Rd. and the Goleta Beach Park turnoff. Follow this to the park and the pier.
Gaviota Pier — The pier has now been closed for somewhere around eight years and the rumors of repair and reopening continue. There are all kind of reports on the Internet but don’t hold your breath. How To Get There: From Highway 101 simply take the Gaviota State Park turnoff down to the beach and pier.