Great article showing the promise of becoming the author of a pierfishing bible!, Ken! I am so glad that I reported the salmon trip which enticed you to post this gem!
I see bottom fishing in Fort Bragg did not change much after 40 years. Regulations of course changed and fish size decreased, I see. More blacks and blues and less reds today. But boats are still with much fewer passengers and fishing the same reefs with similar rigs. I enjoy bottom fishing in SoCal but fish in LA area have become so small and boats are so packed. Still fun due to the variety of fish we find like you said. For trophys today in SoCal, we have to go to an overnight boat off Channel Islands to get similar sack you enjoyed 40 years ago. Still fun but more work and $$$
I noticed the difference in fishing style. Bottom fishing at Fort Bragg I tried used light tackle with feather jigs without baits. I have never seen this style in SoCal. Folks use simple hooks with strips of squids exclusively with much heavier tackle. I would get frowned upon by SoCal deckhands if I were to use the Fort Bragg tackle. Was it like that in Fort Bragg 40 years ago already?