California Pier Report December 2022 Fishing Report, Southern California (#281)
Remember that all lobsters must be caught in the appropriate lobster nets, none can be kept when hooked on a fishing line.
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 — Liz at the Ocean Beach Pier Bait and Tackle said most of the recent action has been on mackerel. Not too much else. She didn’t know how the lobster hoopin’ was at night. 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 – Unfortunately the bait shop has closed and we now need a reporter. 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. We need a reporter. 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) always 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 and we need a reporter. 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 — Bill at the Oceanside Pier reported that things are really dead. It’s been cold and even rainy a couple of days and not too many are even fishing. Those that are there find good numbers of sardines mid-pier to the end but both the mackerel and bonito are slow. Inshore small perch are biting while mid-pier sees a few bass being taken by locals. Halibut fishing sounds dead. It’s that time of the year. A report from bassfanatick on Nov. 25 said, “No family turkey this year, so fishing it is!!! Beautiful day, clear water, baits plentiful, I tried something new, a new technique for catching Mackerel at night, I use bicycle light shining onto the water, and the result is awesome, once the fish are attracted to the light I use metal jig and Sabiki, just like daytime fishing!!!” A report from bassfanatick on Nov. 12 said, “Water is beautiful, sunny, warm, baitfish plentiful, Sardines, Jacksmelt, jack Mackerel species, I was able to land one Bonito around 15", a Sandbass around 14 1/2 inches, a small white Seabass, all in all a great day in November!!!” How To Get There: From I-5 take Mission Blvd. west to Pacific, turn left and follow it to the pier.
Oceanside Harbor Pier — No recent reports but expect an occasional croaker, sargo and bass on the bottom, jacksmelt on the top. 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 it’s been a little cold and windy with even a few showers. The result is not as many people are fishing but some fish are still being caught. Most of the action seems to be inshore with (1) natural baits like lugworms, ghost shrimp and mussels or (2) Gulp with scent, mainly bringing in a few croakers (but not too many perch). A couple of halibut have been taken and some mackerel are available out toward the end of the pier. Bonito action has been dead. Also available are the normal sharays, everything from small thornbacks to larger bat rays and an occasional shark. She also said the recent rains seem to have stirred up the water and got the lobster crawling a little better so more of the bugs are being taken. A report from evanluck on Nov. 13 said, “Quick report. Fished the end of San Clemente casting out to the reef at the end of the pier. Fished from 7AM-11AM using hi lo with size 6 and size 8 hook and fished with mostly market shrimp and a little squid. Final catch tally for me: Calico Bass, White Perch, Rock Wrasse, 4 Blue Perch, 4 Black Perch, and a bunch of smelt. There were about 5 bonito caught while I was there on sabikis tipped with stick baits as sinkers. The bonito were all caught off the right side of the end. The was also a good size shovelnose guitar fish caught off the left corner of the end using squid on a bottom rig. Crazy thresher story. An angler hooked a thresher and fought the fish for about 30 seconds before the fish broke the line. Soon afterward another angler with a bottom rig starting fighting a fish. He landed a pretty big thresher shark and it turned out that he caught the same fish that the other angler was fighting after the fish tangled the broken off leader/rig on the bottom rig as it was trying to swim away. The fish was landed and sure enough the original anglers float rig and hook were in the shark's mouth. There was an ensuing argument and negotiation about who had the rightful claim to the fish (all in good fun) and the angler who intially hooked the fish abdicated his claim without much fuss. 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 there’s still some spotfin croakers being taken in the harbor (and apparently at the pier). Expect a few bass to also be around. 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, “I have not added any keepers to my 10 keepers for the month but I have caught a number of smaller ones. The bait and the halibut availability has been good. No more bonitos, but a lot were caught for several weeks. We are catching quite a few white seabass, but not big enough. A lobster was caught yesterday, but it was small so he threw it back. It was very cold yesterday and we had a 13 mph wind from the east all day. We all had our coats and hats on so we were comfortable. There weren't any big swells just wind waves so it was easy to fish, but I only caught 2 small halibut, one of which was 18 inches. I lost a big one in the surf. Others had strikes but no other fish were landed but mine. We were almost the only people fishing. Don't know where the others went, but it was nice for us.” A report from blfishing on Nov. 19 said, “Wanted to see if Bonito was still around at balboa. Nothing, dead. No bait, no even mackerel from 3 to 6, the time I fished. Saw no one get anything but smelt. So adjusted setups from bonito to halibut. C rig with of course a lively smelt. About an hour got this big boy. 30-inch on the dot. Had no light, no net to land him. Ran around pier to see anyone has one while my lady held it. No luck. Had to walk it to the beach. Surprisingly, my 12-lb leader wasn’t snapped or sawed off. Thanks to a guy assisting me at the surf to land it.” 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 — Generally the action mirrors, for the most part, that seen at Balboa although when the fishing is hot the mobs will be bigger and the railing space more limited. 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 need a reporter. How To Get There: Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) to Huntington Beach and the pier.”
Seal Beach Pier — Waiting for a report from Big Fish Bait & Tackle, 1780-C. Pacific Coast Hwy. 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 — Waiting for a report from Big Fish Bait & Tackle, 1780-C. Pacific Coast Hwy. 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) — Expect the usual when casting straight out from the pier(s), some white croaker (tomcod) on the bottom and possibly some mackerel or jacksmelt on top. Casting parallel to the shoreline rocks should produce a few croaker, sargo or perch using mussels, lugworms, or shrimp. 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) — White croaker are available most days as are a variety of fish, mackerel on top and rock frequenting species like perch and opaleye along the rocks. 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 Pier (San Pedro) — Alex at the Rusty Hook, 245 N Gaffey St., San Pedro, said it has been absolutely dead with no pier fishermen to tell him how action on the pier has been. Alex did say there has been a pretty good bite on spotted bay bass in the harbor recently while the last report showed things slow on halibut but with a few perch and bass. 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. Expect a few lobster from the pier at night although I’m told the pier has been hit pretty heavy so the numbers are probably decreasing. 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. A report from EgoNonBaptizo on Nov. 27 said, “I took the 6 am ferry out to Avalon. There were several other people who were planning to fish the Mole, perhaps some of them were the same regulars that Fish-Ninja reported seeing, as some of them were talking about the fishing earlier in the week. Once docked, there was a rush for the best spots at the Mole. I lost out and was relegated to the corner by the ramp(?) near the middle of the Mole. I started off fishing a 40 gram Zakana jig. I immediately hooked up on a nice 24” fish [bonito] on the first cast. Around me, the others were catching schoolie-size bonito and large mackerel on splasher rigs and Sabikis. I stuck with the jig for the rest of the morning until I had filled out my limit of <24” fish. I caught and released a few more, with a couple jack mackerel in the mix, and helped out some kids hook up on their own fish before the bite fizzled out around 11 am. After an hour of fruitless casting, I decided to slow down a bit and do some bottom fishing. I wasn't too concerned with catching larger fish, so I downsized to a size 8 hook and squid on a dropper loop and caught some various kelp forest fishes. The others continued to cast tirelessly for bonito and picked a few off here and there to add to their already way over limit catches. At ~2 pm, I decided I wanted some opaleye to take home, and switched to float fishing peas. I could not get away from the blacksmith, juvenile halfmoon, and garibaldi. At some point, a lone opaleye showed up in the chum cloud. All the competition must have made it particularly ornery, as it charged and chased off some smaller fish pecking at the pea before grabbing the bait. Over the next hour, I hooked two more opaleye, losing one and landing the other. The wind began to pick up at 3, and with the sun beginning to get low in the sky, I decided to stop sight fishing and tried for some whitefish from the northern corner. The bonito chasers had largely packed up by this point, and I had more room to cast and fish. I caught four decent sized whitefish and released a couple smaller ones, while several much larger fish dove into the kelp and got off. Sometime during this session, one of the last people casting for bonito got a hard strike and started fighting a fish. The others sprung into action and partially unpacked to get a couple last casts in, including myself. The fish came up, and it turned out to be a halfmoon foul hooked through the side. I then got back to fishing for whitefish, and found an unending horde of smaller fish (as usual). As the sun was going down, I hooked into a larger fish that immediately dove into the kelp. I managed to rip it (and about a 20 lb. stringer of kelp) loose, and brought it pierside, where it turned out to be a sheephead. I was using light line, and couldn't hoist the entire mass over the railing, while the leader was hopelessly badly tangled in the kelp, so I couldn't just shake it off. I dragged it over to the rocks at the end of the Mole, clambered down in the dark, and secured my prize. After that, I was feeling pretty out of it, so I packed up and waited for the 6:30 pm boat home.” A report from fish-ninja on Nov. 23 said, “It’s been so long (so I feel) since I last wetted my line. My work has taken over my time in past weeks but finally I found a free day. I joined Mahigeer to visit the mole for some fishing. He stayed over for lobster but I planed to leave making it as a day trip. After a beautiful ferry ride, a half dozen regulars from Redondo piers and us fished for bonito in AM. Bites were good and constant. Small colt sniper like jigs produced a quick limit of school size bonito for me, mixed in with a really nice fat mackerels. Our neighbors were landing a couple of nice sized ones over 24”. Some of the bonito spitted out good size anchovies and a nice fresh market squid. I used them to bait fish for some fun too.” 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 — No report this month but mackerel should be available. 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 — Waiting for a report from Ginny at Wylie’s Bait & Tackle (18757 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu). The last report said some sargo were being taken along with some perch and sharays. How To Get There: The pier fronts on the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) so just drive until you see it.
Paradise Cove Pier — Waiting for a report from Ginny at Wylie’s Bait & Tackle (18757 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu). 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 — No report this month but a variety of fish should be available. 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 — Waiting for a report from Boyd Larson at Hyun’s Tackle, 3695 E Harbor Blvd., Ventura. The action recently had been excellent. 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 — Ben at Hook Line & Sinker, 4010-5 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, says that once again much of the action is on crabs, both rock crabs and spider crabs. Apparently both are in good supply. It’s not the same on lobsters, the wharf had never really been considered too good on the bugs. As far as fish, there are a lot of BIG jacksmelt with smaller numbers of mackerel and sardines. He says the sharay action remains decent, everything from thornbacks to shovelnose guitarfish to bat rays to smaller sharks. 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, reports that there were a couple of good runs on kelp (calico) bass and sand bass but both seemed to slowed after the recent rains. He says the pipe reef is still kicking out some fish including cabezon and some small rockfish (both brown rockfish and olive rockfish aka Johnny bass). Sharays have also been in evidence including thornback rays, bat rays some leopard sharks and even what sounded like a horn shark. 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 but I have been told that the state has now allocated money to repair the pier (or at least make it safe enough to use). Rumors say some work will be done starting next spring. My fingers are crossed. How To Get There: From Highway 101 simply take the Gaviota State Park turnoff down to the beach and pier.