California Pier Report
February 2023 Fishing Report, Southern California (#282)
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 — Unable to contact Ocean Beach Pier Bait and Tackle and I think the pier is still closed due to recent storm damage. 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. A report bfrom Ray619 on 1/24 said, “Not much action down here at Shelter Island. Only short Mackerel bites here and there. Nothing else biting. Tried hooping for lobster this weekend during the king tides. Only small crabs biting. Better and warmer weather so hopefully better days.” 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. The rain and river runoff dirtied the water, the water temperature is only 58 degrees, and they basically have the entire left side of the pier fenced off because the city is running several new pipes out to the restaurant replacing Ruby’s. He said about the only thing he’s been seeing are some small perch (probably walleyes). No mackerel, no halibut and no croaker. Given the water conditions, they may have moved out to deeper water. DSuch is the wintertime when it’s a rainy winter. 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 — Skyler at Hogan's Bait and Tackle (34320 Pacific Coast Hwy., says there’s been a decent bite on bass, both calico and sand bass, along with some croaker and perch action with the fish hitting both bait (worms, anchovies, squid) and soft plastics. Inshore, just past the breakers is also seeing some small halibut being taken. Action on top is slow with only a few mackerel although the jacksmelt bite can be good. He also said the lobster action remains fairly decent, which is good since it is usually slowing off by this time. Evenluck posted a report on 1/31 that said, “Fished the end of the pier at San Clemente on Tuesday casting out to the rocky bottom areas off the end of the pier. I fished from 7:15AM - 1PM. Was a tricky day for fishing. Bites were not hard to come by. I was able to get consistent, committed (fish would keep biting until bait was gone) but was having a very hard time hooking fish. I started out with a shorter casting setup fishing size 6 kahle hooks and lost a lot of bait (both shrimp and squid). I sized how one of the hooks to a size 8 mosquito hook but still was having a hard time. Finally I tried tipping my hooks with a piece of shrimp flavored Fish Bites and that seemed to do the trick. After the fish would steal the softer baits, the fish bites stayed on the hook. and the four better fish that I ended up landing on the day all were hooked using the residual Fish Bites. I broke the skunk with a good fighting fish that ended being by personal best garibaldi (plate sized). Then I doubled up on a pair of small blue perch and finished with a 13" Sheephead. Also hooked a couple walleye surfperch and a handful of smelt fishing a small hook Sabiki for live bait. Catch summary: 1 Sheephead (13"); 1 Garibaldi (PB); 2 Blue Perch; 2 Walleye surf perch; 5 jack smelt. There was a short sand bass landed by another angler, a big jack smelt and a large moray eel (broken off at the foot of the pier) caught by other anglers fishing the end with me.” Another report on 1/25 said, “I fished Sunday and Tuesday mornings at San Clemente casting out to the reef at the end of the pier. Bite was slower on Sunday but I did manage two better fish. The quality fish were caught on my shorter casting setup. I bought a Shimano Baitrunner 8000 reel to put on my Daiwa Emcast 12' Rod. This bigger reel balances this longer rod better. I then took my Baitrunner 4000 and paired it with a 8' Okuma Rockaway rod for a shorter casting, lighter setup. With the better Shimano reel, I can still hit the reef consistently on casts even thought they are significantly shorter than the long casting setup. I fished two size 6 Kahle hooks on my shorter casting setup and two size 1 Kahle hooks on the longer casting setup. The longer casting setup was quiet for most of the day and the bite in general was pretty slow on Sunday. I fished from 7:30AM - 2PM. On Sunday I ended up with: 1 Sheephead (15"); 1 Opaleye (13" - personal best); 5 Walleye Surfperch; 4 Jack Smelt; 1 Female Rock Wrasse; 1 Small Octopus. There were lots of tourists and kids on the pier and the octopus I got spiked everyone's curiosity. I let a little girl hold it and release it and she got a kick of seeing it swim off in a cloud of ink as it hit the water. The sheephead I caught was a fun fight on my lighter setup as it violent shook its head and swam laterally on its way in. The opaleye strike was also exciting and it hit on the edge of the reef while I was slowly retrieving. I was sharing the end mostly with anglers targeting sharks and the bite was pretty slow especially if you were unable to hit the reef with your casts, so I do not remember seeing any other catches on the day. Tuesday morning the bite was better although I had difficulty hooking fish with my new larger Kahle hooks. It was easier to find bites this morning but you still had to move your bait around until you were able to feel the bites. I fished from 8:30AM to 1:30PM and ended up catching:2 Sheephead (13" and a smaller one); 1 Blackperch; 1 Giant Kelpfish; 8 Jacksmelt; 3 Walleye surfperch. There was a decent size opal eye and black perch caught by other anglers while I was there. All in all a couple morning of fun winter fishing. I've really been appreciating the time I've been able to spend fishing. No matter what is happening, I am enjoying the things that I am doing and feeling a connection with the ocean.” 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 — Skyler at Hogan's Bait and Tackle (34320 Pacific Coast Hwy. says there’s still some bass and croaker in the harbor (Lugworms, mussels, anchovies). 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 has been great. The catching is bad! Haven't caught a good fish in a few weeks. No one else has either. The bait situation is very good with lots of sardines and smelt too but it’s hard to even get a strike. There have been some thornbacks caught, but that is about it. It has been very cold.” 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 still need a reporter. How To Get There: Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) to Huntington Beach and the pier.”
Seal Beach Pier — Although I thought the pier was still closed, I talked to Bat at Big Fish Bait & Tackle, 1780-C. Pacific Coast Hwy. He said the pier is open but that fishing is very slow; cold and dirty water is to blame. 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 — Bat at Big Fish Bait & Tackle, 1780-C. Pacific Coast Hwy. said he hadn’t gotten any reports from the pier. 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 I imagine the water is really dirty with lots of trash, which can sometimes make it hard to fish. 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 and perch depending upon the condition of the water. 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 things are really dead, at least as far as anglers. He said it’s cold and the people just aren’t out. He said a few halibut are still showing up for the regulars as well as some decent action on sand bass (bait and plastics). Basically nothing is showing on top; no mackerel. 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 fish-ninja on 1/24 said, “As @EgoNonBaptizo put, this is yet another report of fishing at Avalon you have seen enough of. After a couple months of no fun and too much work and duties, I finally found some time this week to spend for myself. I chose to spend it at Avalon. My last fishing of 2022 was at the mole so it is fitting to have my first one for 2023 there as well. There were a couple of report-worthy events I had there so here it goes. It was a few days after a new moon with clear sky and high Santa Ana wind warning above 20mph. High tide was at 9:48am with -2 minus tide after 5pm. This matched with my regular day trip leaving Long Beach by a 6am ferry. Coming back, the winter schedule offered a less choice so I took 4pm return. Ferry schedule and tide matches fine but why do I choose a day with a high wind advisory? I had a couple of reasons. First, the mole has been packed with anglers lately and I wanted to avoid them. I thought they would pass on braving to go out in this condition. Second, I wanted to test a theory that rougher water gives better fish bites. Water motion in the seascape would loosen little creature attracting little fish, which in turn attract larger fish that prey on them. Hard to go out on small boats in such conditions but the mole would stand...The ocean was rougher than usual but the large catamaran had no issue with it and we arrived at Avalon without delay. The mole was not crowded. In fact I was the only angler there when I got there. A well come change! So I thought. But then I found the reason why they aren’t there. Swell. Probably it was highest tide I saw at the mole letting splash of waves exploding in the middle of the entire thing. It was quite a show! Swell was pretty high. I felt I could touch water looking down from the rail but after careful inspection, I deemed both the water splashes and high swells are safe enough. And despite the high wind warning, it was pretty manageable fishing wise so I decided to stay owning the entire mole to myself. Wind was against but not too strong throughout the day and there were a few pockets of no winds. Temp was low 60s with clear winter sun. I fished my rotation of metal jigs between 30-50grams on 30lb braids with an arm of fluorocarbon 30lb leader. Tackle was my trusty JDM 10 feet shore-jigging MH rod with 4000cxh Daiwa reel. The first cast with gold-red color gave an immediate hook up with a schoolie bonito. But it died down and went on slow sporadic bites. Water surface was rough and no tourist boats around feeling quite empty there except a few sea lions scouting around. Another angler showed up around 9 and we fish and chat together for a while. His brother lives in the island so he has access to a golf cart. After not getting bites he decided to leave and invited me to join him on fishing on rocks by the quarry. Very nice invitation! But my bites were alright so I decided to stay. Back to being alone, I managed a limit of schoolies by 11. I tried a dropper rig on bottom with a few shrimp I brought with. No takers on them. After lunch, some life duty caught up on me and I ended up on phone for a while. By the time I ended a call, it was 2pm. I thought I tried a few more cast then call it a day. Since I had already reached my limit, I tuned my jig with a bit heavier one with larger hooks then started to fish deeper in column with multiple drops. Don’t recall exactly but it was a few cast after starting with the new jig. A heavy thud that almost took my rod away from my hand came and my body immediately reacted setting the hooks. Rod was bent deep and drag of my reel screamed. Fight was not too long thanks to less kelp around and lucky hook-set on the side of mouth. But I realized it was too heavy to bounce it up. There was no one on the mole. Not even a tourist or a worker. The fish brought me to the other side of the mole section and my net (thanks god I brought it with me) was at the other. I needed to carefully guide the fish hoping my leader won’t break and sea lion does not notice. My luck was with me then. I managed to land this 26” Pacific bonito. I learned from this outing that persistence can pay up sometimes. The total landed was 6 bonito and 1 Spanish mackerel. What made me feel real good was that I did not lose any hook ups. 7 fish hooked and 7 landed. What made me want to learn more is bait fishing. May be next outing, I will focus on it before barracuda comes back…” 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 — The pier is currently closed due to damage from the winter storms. Bo date yet for reopening. 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, said the main news was that of an angler catching a 7-gill about 6-feet long. Other than that it’s mostly been jacksmelt on top and smaller fish like perch on the bottom. He did say quite a few rubberlip perch have been showing up and that crabbing has remained steady; lots of rock crabs and some spider crabs. He also mentioned they started to dredge the harbor which typically messes up the fishing. He said they are almost done but expects this weekend to still be slow. Typically it takes 3-4 days after the dredging for the fishing to pick up so it should be better by about the first part of the week. 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 the pier has been closed for nearly three weeks following the heavy rain and the runoff in the slough. Apparently it is being cleaned up and should open soon but he didn’t have any opening date. 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 although no work has been detected. My fingers are crossed. How To Get There: From Highway 101 simply take the Gaviota State Park turnoff down to the beach and pier.